EXCLUSIVE: Look who might be coming back from the dead. I’ve learned that ABC is considering bringing back crime drama Body Of Proof. I hear the discussions started at the beginning of the season, with the network expected to make a decision whether to move on with the revival, likely for midseason, within the next month as it gets a more clear picture of how many of its new series would stay on beyond the fall. As Body of Proof’s cast, writers and crew have all moved on following the May cancellation (showrunner Evan Katz is executive producing Fox’s 24: Live Another Day), there is a lot of work to be done to re-assemble a team and bring back star Dana Delany to be able to get the show up and running for midseason.
Despite improving its ratings in the second half of its recent midseason run and getting good marks creatively, crime drama Body Of Proof couldn’t avoid the retool curse, getting a pass from ABC on Friday after three seasons, the latest series to get cancelled after being reworked. But the show is not as cold as the corpses on Megan Hunt’s (Dana Delany) table yet. I’ve learned that producer ABC Studios is actively shopping the drama series. In addition to the usual suspects for such a character-driven procedural with a strong lead — TNT and USA Network — I hear also in the mix is Tribune’s WGN America, which is in building mode, looking to join the ranks of cable networks offering original programming. With its average of 11 million viewers and 2.0/6 in 18-49 this season, Body Of Proof would bring a sizable audience to a cable network. (It ranked as the third-most-watched ABC drama this season, behind only Dancing With The Stars-buoyed Castle and flagship Grey’s Anatomy). The prospect of WGN America is particularly intriguing as the network only signaled its intention to get in the original scripted game in March, and acquiring an existing show is the fastest way of doing that. On the superstation, Body Of Proof would fit with the current off-network drama offerings, all crime procedurals, particularly the only contemporary hourlong series Bones.
This month marks the return after extensive retooling of three drama series fronted by bona fide TV stars — Fox’s Touch starring Kiefer Sutherland, NBC’s Smash starring Debra Messing and ABC‘s Body Of Proof toplined by Dana Delany — just as the proposed retooling of another young broadcast series with top-notch cast, NBC comedy Up All Night, is going up in flames. Touch opened its second season with an underwhelming 1.0 rating among adults 18-49 and this past Friday plunged to a 0.7 rating in its second airing, effectively sealing its fate. (For now, Fox is not talking about pulling the show the way CBS did with The Job after its 0.7 showing last Friday but that seems a matter of time.) Smash‘s second season premiere also crashed with a 1.1 demo rating.
Going against the second episode of Smash tonight, ABC’s tweaked Body Of Proof will be making its third-season debut as the crime procedural is looking to avoid the plight of many of its predecessors which didn’t survive a retool. Ironically, the biggest new addition to the cast of Body Of Proof as part of the overhaul, Mark Valley, was the star of another series, Fox’s Human Target, that was unsuccessfully revamped after its freshman season and didn’t last past Season 2. “This has been a unique experience in that… I’ve been actually retooled myself,” he quipped at the Body Of Proof TCA session last month. Other recent series that didn’t last after a revamp include NBC’s Law & Order: LA, retooled midway through a first season that became the series’ last, as well as NBC’s Harry’s Law and USA’s Fairly Legal, both rebooted after Season 1 and cancelled after Season 2. (In another coincidence, Valley was one of the new additions in Harry’s Law‘s revamp.) In most cases, the networks like the overall premise and love the show’s star (Sutherland, Delany, Up All Night‘s Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph; Human Target‘s Valley, Harry’s Law‘s Kathy Bates and Fairly Legal‘s Sarah Shahi) and/or the series’ auspices (Harry’s Law‘s David E. Kelley, L&O: LA‘s Dick Wolf) but are looking to shake up soft ratings. Unfortunately, a reboot almost never provides the desired ratings jolt and often has the opposite effect as fickle viewers are rarely willing to give a show a second look, and cast changes sometime alienate core fans. (Body Of Proof axed three regulars in the reboot: John Carroll Lynch, Nicholas Bishop and Sonja Sohn).
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The production team from the third-year ABC drama Body Of Proof was grilled at TCA this afternoon to explain the show’s significant retooling between seasons. The changes found three regulars (Nicholas Bishop, John Carroll Lynch and Sonja Sohn) being shown the door while two new actors joined with the casting of Elyes Gabel and Mark Valley as detectives — and Evan Katz jumping onboard as an executive producer. “We’re always thinking of ways to amp up the show and make it more exciting,” explained exec producer Christopher Murphey. “We didn’t want to take too much away from our A story, while still servicing separate B stories related to character.” So the production team began brainstorming ways to bring the personal life of star Dana Delany’s character into her investigative work. That meant adding a character with whom she had once had a relationship. And that led to the cast changes.
UPDATE FRIDAY 1 PM: Body Of Proof just issued a breakdown for the two new regular characters that will be added to the show next season: two male detectives, a former flame of Megan Hunt (Dana Delany) that is portrayed as the male lead, and his rookie partner: