Philadelphia's Medical Examiner Dr. Megan Hunt is good at her job and seems filled to the brim with self-esteem. A law unto herself, she rides roughshod over all in sight, often ruffling feathers but gradually gaining respect. Disregarding protocol, she ventures far beyond her remit, ensuring that by each episode's forty second minute yet another killer is brought to justice.
Multi-season box sets can prove wonderful buys, for a week or so evenings enhanced by watching a show from its very start and admiring how it evolves. Reviews help to determine what the next purchase will be. Hopes were high here, after all the praise.
Firstly let it be said this is ideal escapist fare for those simply wishing to relax at the end of a long day. Often most of us fall into that category. And why not indeed!
Those hoping for more than this may be disappointed. Fiercest critics may claim that here all is gloss and no substance: from some, posturing a substitute for acting; weak story lines; trite dialogue; blatant spacefilling with superficial romantic subplots and domestic interludes. There is even the tired cliche of a bull-at-the-gate detective whose role is to spend the bulk of most episodes jumping to conclusions and accusing the innocent. Close-ups of mortuary scenes are supposed to be an innovatory feature, but these have been around for years in such series as "Silent Witness" and "Bones" (without long hair being dangled over the corpses being sliced open).
For almost two seasons the show barely evolves, each episode largely a variation of those gone before. Suddenly (Season 2, Ep.14) everything changes: a plague deliberately spread by a terrorist, for once a genuine threat.
Season 3 propels the series into a higher league, as though the creators have taken on board criticisms perhaps made. Certain characters have gone, their replacements with greater depth. Episodes are more unpredictable and challenging. In one of them Megan is even spectacularly wrong. The show has evolved into "sit up and take notice" fare. All the stops are pulled out for Ep.11 which really delivers the goods. (Full marks to all who anticipate the surprises in its final minutes.)
The three seasons comprise 13, 16, 13 episodes. The very last one solves a mystery that has troubled Megan for years and seems a fair enough way to round off the series. Interesting bonuses reveal life behind the scenes. As ever, it amazes how green screen is so often used to such good effect.
It saddens not to be able to share fellow reviewers' enthusiasm on this occasion. Perhaps it is because I have often seen much that is similar but better. There were, though, incidental pleasures along the way. Curtis and Ethan proved an amusing double act. Season 2's Ep.1 in-jokes also did not go unnoticed - here is a murder in "Desperate Housewives" circumstances, Megan feeling obliged to comment. (Dana Delany used to be in that show.)
Three stars, Season 3 having boosted.
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