We were watching Bones last night. I think the writers may actually be pulling that show back from the train-wreck that they permitted it to become. After we finished the most recent episode, Hulu sort of automatically plays episodes of similar programs. This time it chose to play Body of Proof, which is essentially a cheap attempt to copy Bones. Apparently, television networks simply copy the success of others if they can’t come up with anything original (read: most of the time). I don’t recommend Body of Proof: it’s written poorly, the characters are stereotyped, and the directing…well, the directing…
I looked up from reading whatever it was I was reading in the middle of the show, because it had digressed into background noise for me. The scene that was taking place when I looked up involved the protagonist talking to a child in a living room. Her partner enters the scene behind her, standing next to the front door of the home, and tells the protagonist that they have to leave. She acknowledges her partner, says goodbye to the child, and then exits the scene…off to the viewer’s left, leaving her partner standing beside the front door behind her. The show promptly cut to the next scene.
That sparked some conversation in our living room. I feel bad for the actors. I feel bad for them because I can’t tell how good they are, and, if I never see them cast in anything else, I’ll never know, and always have a bad impression of them. I’ve worked in a lot of live performances in my life, and, although most of that time has not been on stage, I’ve learned some important things. An actor can be incredibly gifted, but if they’re working under poor direction…and especially if they’re working under poor direction of a poor script…they’re going to look like they don’t know what they’re doing.
There are other examples, though, of actors that have saved projects with just a little extra help. I’ll use The Happening as an example. The Happening is the only screenplay I’ve seen from Shyamalan that wasn’t outstanding…all of his other films have been superb. The Happening was, however, well directed, and gave the actors, especially Zooey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg, an opportunity to work with the screenplay in a way that breathed some sort of life into it. Deschanel, in particular, literally transformed some of the scenes with facial expressions alone. The film wouldn’t have survived without their excellent performances, and the direction that permitted them to develop those performances.
My issue with Body of Proof is that it has neither. The direction is poor, and the writing is forced, contrived, and even melodramatic at times. The actors, as a result, appear clueless. Here’s to hoping I manage to see these actors in something else sometime…I’d love to see what their abilities truly are.