When Body of Proof returns for its third season on Feb. 5, it sounds like medical examiner Megan Hunt may be trading in her lab coat for something much more — ahem — revealing.
"It's a little silly in the high heels, I have to admit. I feel like I should be wearing a catsuit or something," star Dana Delany said with a laugh of the new season's increased action sequences at ABC's winter TV preview Thursday. "I've even had a gun in my hand a couple of times, which medical examiners don't normally do. There's a lot more action and it's a fun show to watch."
Hunt will indeed be getting more action this season as part of a larger plan to try to reenergize the ABC procedural after ratings spiked for the final three episodes of Season 2, which revolved around a serial killer. "We've decided to continue that momentum to make stories that are more thrilling and have more stakes," said executive producer Matthew Gross, who noted that now Megan and her team will not only be solving murders but also trying to stop something bad from happening. "We wanted to inject more octane in the show."
One way to inject some new fire into the show? Adding longtime 24 executive producer Evan Katz. "We open the season with a two-parter that's part thriller that I think we're very proud of. There's no large animals of any kind on the show," Katz said, when asked about the possibility of a cougar appearance (a reference to a 24 story line) on Body of Proof. "There's some thriller aspect to it. It was kind of interesting to combine that with a procedural and it's not that commonly done."
Added new star Mark Valley: "I feel like there's a little 24 time clicker in the bottom of the screen."
In addition to Katz — as well as a slew of new directors, editors and even a new composer — Valley is one of two new cast additions made to the show this year after the loss of series regulars Nicholas Bishop, John Carroll Lynch and Sonja Sohn. "I've been retooled myself," Valley joked. "I feel bad for some of the people that have moved on. ... I just decided to come on and do my best."
Valley will play Tommy Sullivan, a detective whom Megan was once romantically involved with. Unlike Megan's previous will-they-or-won't-they tension with Peter (Bishop), her relationship with Tommy will be much more combative. "Megan is a force to be reckoned with, and very quickly people sort of fall in line behind her," Gross said. "We wanted someone who would stand up to her."
Added Katz: "This is someone who's afraid to love. Who's afraid to let someone else have the upper hand."
Aside from adding a more explosive tension to the show, Valley's character was added to more effectively combine Megan's personal and professional worlds. "We started thinking about how do we bring Megan's personal life into the actual cases," executive producer Christopher Murphey said.
That new focus means Megan's daughter, Lacey (Mary Mouser), will pop up more at her mom's office. "In the two-parter, she's part of the plot no doubt about it. We just tried to integrate the aspect of Megan's personal life into her work and bridge the gap," Murphey said.
Look for Megan's parents to also play a heavy hand in her emotional growth (or lack thereof) this coming season when a mystery comes up related to Megan's father's suicide. "Megan begins to try to understand and come to grips with her father's suicide and how that affects her relationship with her daughter and her mother and how that changed her life," said Gross, who also noted Joanna Cassidy will be back "often" this season as Megan's stubborn mother. "Eventually, hopefully, they'll come to some understanding."
Although there will be serialized storytelling through the characters — i.e. this season will see Megan's boss Kate (Jeri Ryan) run for Congress — producers said they were also more focused on making every week its own event, like the more flashy Season 2 serial killer mystery. "We really wanted to look at them as separate movies, as they were. What would you do if you were going to make a pilot every episode," Gross said. "This year we wanted to give [ABC] something to promote every episode. This year it's more exiting, it's more thrilling, it's more adventurous."
When Season 3's 13-episode run comes to an end, producers promise at least some resolution. "We have a really nice end to this season that sort of revolves what happened to Megan's dad ... and, to an extent, the relationship with Mark," Katz said. "We've sort of designed in some interesting twists."
No matter what happens this season ratings-wise, the Body of Proof team sounded happy to simply have been given another chance. "It's not every show that gets the opportunity to revamp like this," Murphey said. "We're very grateful to ABC."
The new season of Body of Proof premieres on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 10/9c on ABC. Will you watch the new season? Are you excited to see Valley join the cast?