Months back, the trailer of TNT’s newest medical drama Proof didn’t promise a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising, with the pilot episode not presenting much to cheer about either.
Medical dramas have been around since the Stone Age, so whenever a new one rolls around, there has to be a unique selling point. A twist, like a weekly evaluation of the operations performed and doctors basically getting roasted by the hospital’s chief of staff. Sound familiar? It was the original concept of TNT’s short-lived other medical show, Monday Mornings. Despite having heavy hitters on its cast, like Alfred Molina, Ving Rhames and Jennifer Finnigan, not even mentioning the fact it was written by dialogue mastermind David E. Kelley (Boston Legal, The Crazy Ones), it quickly got cancelled. Something similar will happen to Proof, for no other reason than it’s not even half as good as Monday Mornings.
The Concept, his Angle and his Fortune
Proof’s concept is pretty thin, so thin in fact, I don’t see the story really going anywhere. Dr. Carolyn Tyler (Jennifer Beals) is asked by billionaire Ivan Turing (Matthew Modine) to find proof of an afterlife. He’s dying, probably won’t be around for another year, and wants to know if there’s life after death. The angle he has to ask Carolyn, is her son, who died. Wouldn’t she also want to know for certain that he’s still out there and she’ll see him again one day?
O, and let’s say she does find proof, Ivan will leave his fortune to her, there’s that, too, of course.
ER, House, MD and A Gifted Man
The show’s got similarities to A Gifted Man, which also dealt with doctors and ghosts, and it borrows a little bit of House, MD and ER, as well. In a typical case of the opposite of ‘show, don’t tell’, it‘s said that Carolyn is ‘not too good with people’. I’d say she gets along great with everybody; they’ve clearly confused tell and show. She’s a bit on the tough side, but nowhere near as cynical and obnoxious as Gregory House.
We don’t spend too much time in operating rooms, but when we do, instead of House, ER is more of an influence. House, MD has shown us how to make hospitals warm, tidy and sexy, but Proof prefers them hectic, topsy-turvy and cold. Probably much more accurate, but you don’t want your viewers to walk away to turn the heating up.
Carolyn doesn’t want to hear it, but she’s had a near death experience herself. She’s seen something too, a glimpse of the afterlife, but stubbornly denies it was anything other than a hallucination. The scene is a testament of the lack of creativity of everyone involved with the show. They’ve actually come up with a bunch of people, back lit, standing around. Shadowy figures waiting for the bus, that’s what the afterlife looks like, according to Proof. It’s such a simplistic visualisation, they should be ashamed of themselves.
Apart from the two leading characters – at least their (two) scenes together do spark a little flame – the show’s proof of a lot of things, except compelling TV. There’ll be life after this one, because this one’s already gone. You’ll have your proof when it doesn’t get past its first season.