After a ten-month absence, “Body of Proof” returns to ABC tonight (10:00 p.m. ET), but fans of the show may be in for some surprises. After the series saw a ratings surge for the second season’s final three episodes, (which were driven by a ticking clock and higher stakes), the show was renewed with the proviso that it emphasize what was ratings gold — and lose what didn’t deliver.
That meant retooling the show from the ground up. Of course, that also meant cast and executive changes. While stars Dana Delany and Jeri Ryan return, Sonja Sohn, Nicholas Bishop and John Carroll Lynch will not. Plus, writer/executive producer Evan Katz (“24”) and Mark Valley (“Boston Legal”) joined the show. Valley, who will play Detective Tommy Sullivan, is the latest romantic interest for Delany’s prickly Megan Hunt. I spoke to Valley and Delany at TCAs this winter, and discovered that the two already have banter well in place. Plus, there were some changes to the show Delany was excited about — as well as some she wasn’t.
HitFix: So Dana, I take it you’re a fan of Mark’s? You spoke glowingly of him during the panel today.
Dana Delany: Yes, I’m a fan.
Mark Valley: And I’m a fan of hers, too.
HitFix: There were big changes to “Body of Proof” with recasting and revamping of the entire show. What is it like coming back?
DD: There’s always a period of adjustment. It’s definitely different. I do think it’s better, but it’s different. There’s more of a spark, there’s more police work than there was before, I think it’s more split between police and science. Before, it was mostly science. More action.
MV: My first thought was it felt like a whole new show starting over. Half the people kind of new each other and had been at some party together and had a really good time and I didn’t really know about it. And there were also strangely comfortable around the bodies and the gore.
DD: He didn’t go to the autopsy like everyone else did.
HitFix: Mark, do you want to go to an autopsy?
MV: For professional reasons, I should probably go. But I’m not really chomping at the bit.
DD: Some people like it, some people don’t.
HitFix: On the panel today, it was mentioned that attending an actual autopsy has a lasting affect on you.
DD: In a good way, though. Really. In a good way. It’s beautiful, it’s really beautiful. The body is a work of art.
DD: Well, once you pull the face off.
MV: Once you look inside, it’s about all those things fitting together.
DD: It’s so fascinating. You have to believe in God after you see that, because somebody had to come up with that.
HitFix: Mark, you do not look convinced at all.
DD: No, but he’s curious.
MV: Curious, yeah. I can get over that, yeah, it’s a person.
HitFix: So now that the emphasis of the show is more on the policing and less on the science, how does that affect Windell Middlebrooks [Curtis] and and Geoffrey Arend [Ethan]?
DD: They’re reduced. Yeah, they’re reduced. I think we’re all a little disappointed about that. I think they’re really funny and they bring the levity. They’re in every episode, but those roles are reduced.
HitFix: And we’re also done with the fighting between Megan and Kate [Jeri Ryan]?
DD: And I agreed with that. Neither Jeri or I likes the cat fighting. We thought it was silly. We’re past that. It didn’t last for very long because neither of us liked it. I would say we have a respect for one another, but we will never be best friends.
HitFix: What’s been the impact of bringing in Evan Katz [“24”] as a writer and executive producer?
DD: You’ll see. It’s like Mark said, there’s a clock ticking. There’s an urgency to things.
HitFix: I hadn’t really felt that being absent from the show before.
DD: I personally liked that about the show, because once somebody’s already dead you can allow a little more time to breathe and think about things. I liked that. It’s a little unusual in a show. It’s more European, more elegiac as opposed to move, move, move, which is more American. I had no problem. I actually don’t like it when directors say to you, pick up the pace, move faster. I like the little quiet moments.
MV: She takes them, too.
HitFix: What happens with Megan’s daughter, Lacey? Do we see more of that relationship?
DD: Not in a casual way, more that she’s growing up and is smarter than me in many ways. Emotionally she’s smarter than me in many ways.
HitFix: Megan isn’t going to change, though? Still her stubborn self?
DD: Well, he [Mark] tries. He does pretty good. He’s done better than anyone else has.
HitFix: We’ll be getting “Taming of the Shrew,” then?
DD: That’s right. That’s exactly right. That’s the problem.
HitFix: We’re going to see more of these two characters off the beat, then?
DD: You’ll see our background, how we met, that kind of thing.
MV: There’s some questions of trust. Tommy’s also kind of an opportunist when it comes to finding opportunities to find time with Megan. So he’s trying to gain her trust, but he’s kind of sneaky, too. So it’s tricky.
HitFix: He sounds like a player.
MV: He’s a player.
DD: He’s a lug. A lovable lug.
HitFix: It sounds like a lot of changes.
DD: It’s still the same show, but different.
MV: I’m just not used to working with so many drugs on the set before. It’s different.
HitFix: You’re very deadpan.
MV: It’s really a great bunch of people.