ABC’s Body Of Proof is undergoing a rather extreme makeover in its third season — but one that is designed to give the show’s storytelling a jolt and not trim overhead.
In fact, on the heels of the three announced cast cuts — Nicholas Bishop (who plays Peter), John Carrol Lynch (Bud) and Sonja Sohn (Sam) — showrunner Matt Gross says that two new characters will join the mix.
The first, Det. Tommy Sullivan, is a former love interest of Megan’s who transfers to Philadelphia to win her back. The sexy cop will give his strong-willed ex a flirty hard time as they work together to solve cases. The second newbie, Det. Adam Schaeffer, is a smart (and smart-mouthed) rookie who routinely gets ahead of himself, and that will cause him a bit of trouble.
Here, Gross — along with executive producers Christopher Murphey and [former 24 executive producer] Evan Katz — details for TVLine why and how the Dana Delany-fronted procedural is being retooled.
TVLINE | For starters, I understand that what’s going on here is not about shaving dollars.
MATTHEW GROSS | No, not at all. We were fortunate enough to get a Season 3 of our show, and in trying to bring more eyeballs to our show, we wanted to change some of the dynamic and create new characters. And that’s the purpose for all of this. Also, we just brought on Evan Katz as one of the heads of the “three-headed hydra” — that’s what we refer to ourselves as.
EVAN KATZ | A very nice hydra by the way. It’s sort of a creative reboot of the show with the goal of being more dynamic, higher stakes, everything that we can do to amp up the stakes of each episode –
GROSS | — and create promotable opportunities for our storytelling.
TVLINE | I was going to say that given all the show’s strengths, casting-wise and plotting-wise, for a couple of seasons now it has failed to really “pop” out there.
KATZ | It has a core audience, which is a beautiful thing, and we’re going to try to reinvigorate a little bit, remain true to the audience, but give people satisfaction and engagement on more levels. Toward the end of the second season, I was not here, but these guys started to tell slightly higher-stake stories, and that’ll continue. On a character basis, and I think this is the interesting thing that’s got all of us excited, we’re going to give her a male co-lead. [Someone] is going to come back into her life, a stormy relationship from her 20s.
TVLINE | That’s the detective, Tommy Sullivan?
KATZ | Det. Tommy Sullivan. [Megan’s] strength is that she can run over pretty much everybody. But she can’t run over this guy. And it will enable us to really see what it’s like when she gets flustered.
GROSS | The show is a very interesting hybrid. It’s murders solved through a medical point of view, but by the same token, it has a strong procedural, police track as well. So by giving Megan Hunt an interpersonal relationship from the past, it gives us a stronger point of view coming from that angle.
CHRISTOPHER MURPHEY | And it gives subtext and tension in their relationship that’s integrated into their investigation. So we just see it as making their personal and professional dynamic more compelling.
TVLINE | And the other new character, Det. Adam Schaeffer, what’s he going to bring to the mix?
MURPHEY | Youth. A different perspective. Energy. Our lead, Tommy, is coming from New York. Adam is a born-and-bred Philadelphian, his father’s a big defense attorney. So he has a perspective; his joining the police force was kind of a rebellion against his father, but it’s not that he’s some do-gooder. It’s that for every defense attorney out there in the world who bends the rules, we need a cop who knows how to bend the rules the other way and get away with it.
GROSS | He knows the system from the inside out.
MURPHEY | Yeah. He’ll be something of an operator. So again, really we do need two cops on the police side of the investigation, just for practical purposes, but we also feel like these are two dynamic characters we can get a lot out of.
GROSS | Adam is a guy who thinks that he knows it all. He’s wise beyond his years, but doesn’t have the experience to back it up. And he might get himself in some trouble along the way for running his mouth off.
TVLINE | Are you saying whether this means that Peter died in the Season 2 finale?
GROSS | You’re going to have to see the opening episode. [Laughs] You have to make your own conclusion.
TVLINE | How did you get the word out to John, Sonja and Nick about what was going on?
GROSS | Well you know, these are very difficult conversations to have, because we really enjoy collaborating with them as artists and have gotten to know them personally over the years. But truth be told, we were taking the show in a different direction. Some of those characters sort of had played out and other characters would be marginalized with these new dynamics. Nothing they did wrong at all, it’s just we’re taking the show in a different direction.
TVLINE | I can totally see your point. Because although you spent two seasons trying to build a simmering “thing” there with Megan and Peter, why not just bring in a character who already had that combustible relationship in the past and revisit that?
KATZ | It’s a way to jump-start that relationship, and that’s exciting.
MURPHEY | It was also difficult for the role of Peter to have that kind of relationship with Dr. Hunt when he’s subordinate to her.
KATZ | He worked for her. She’s a very strong character. Dana is very strong in her persona. It makes her a great character, and really fun to watch but sort of impossible for a man who works under her to have a relationship with her.
GROSS | We took a lot of time to think about this at great length, lots of discussion, really thinking about every character, their interpersonal dynamic, how they fit together. This is ultimately where we came out. And we’ve been given this tremendous opportunity to get a season 3 and we want to raise up our demo numbers and we also want to make the show engaging at a different capacity.