In Body of Proof, Dana Delany is Dr. Megan Hunt, a medical examiner with an attitude — the well-earned attitude that she’s probably the smartest person in any room into which she walks. A lesser actor would have made Megan a coy smuggie, but Delany commits to Megan’s ferocious approach to work in a way that lifts Body of Proof above its medical-mystery genre.

Megan Hunt’s backstory — brilliant neurosurgeon reduced to medical examiner after being in a car accident four years ago — was designed to set up sympathy in theory only, because Megan herself wants no sympathy at all: She wants respect. And she demands it, whether she’s at a crime scene out-guessing the homicide detectives or in the morgue lecturing about her “one rule and one rule only: The body is the evidence.” Hunt had me on her side — I find an intelligent, bossy, sarcastic woman highly appealing — but the murder case was pretty trite. And the testy relationship between Hunt and her daughter, while conceivably interesting, concluded the hour on a distinctly drippy note.

I wanted Body of Proof to be better, given not only Delany’s presence but also that of Jeri Ryan (“The knives will come out the moment you screw up”) and The Wire‘s Sonja Sohn (every time I see a Wire grad playing a cop on a different TV show, my heart aches a little…); the show clearly has a sense of wanting to include a variety of female images in its episodes.

The overriding question is why ABC chose to stick Body of Proof (a new show about a strong woman) up against The Good Wife (a hit show about a strong woman) and Parenthood (an ensemble show filled with strong women). How can Body of Proof compete in this time period? The best thing the network could do would be to relocate Body of Proof and see if this show can develop into a better vehicle for Delany’s talent than its debut episode suggests it is.

What did you think? Will you watch Body of Proof again?

Twitter: @kentucker