In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, TNT. Starts June 16
The procedural is killing mainstream US TV. It really is. On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with a procedural, whether it’s cops, doctors, firefighters or soldiers. As a format, the procedural is versatile since if you’re going to produce 13-24 episodes of something that doesn’t necessarily have a linking narrative, you’re going to want to have a reason for things to happen - and if your characters’ job is to go and find things, that really does help.
Trouble is when everything has to be crowbarred into that format, even when there’s really no good reason for it. You can just about forgive something like Stitchers - who else would bother trying to insert themselves into dead people’s fading consciousnesses every week apart from a shadowy government agency? Once would be enough for most people and you’d probably pick people who hadn’t died traumatically, which would be dramatically dull, of course.
But now we have the ludicrous Proof on TNT, a network that I thought was trying to get away from the fact that 90% of its content is procedural but here are showing that like some teenager after a break-up, they can’t quite get over their first love.
Jennifer Beals (Flashdance, The Chicago Code) is a powerful, high flying surgeon who is a sceptical woman of science. However, following the death of her teenage son, her family isn’t quite so happy, with Beals and husband David Sutcliffe (Cracked) getting divorced and her teenager daughter being none too happy with her either.
Then one day, tech billionaire Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Weeds) bribes hospital administrator Joe Morton (Terminator 2, Grace and Frankie) into ordering Beals to meet him. Modine is dying and hasn’t long to live, but being the prepared type, he wants to know exactly what’s going to happen to him afterwards. So he offers to give Beals his entire fortune on the event of his death - provided she can bring him proof of what happens, be that ascent to Heaven, everlasting blackness or partying in Valhalla until Ragnarok. And rather than investigate plausible cases in a long-drawn out research project, she's going to look at a different phenomenon every week.
Yes, that’s right, we have the first ever ‘investigate the afterlife’ procedural. That’s… plausible.