April 04, 2011 12:00 PM

Body of Proof

ABC, March 29, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

DRAMA

Dana Delany, formerly of Wisteria Lane, is now in Philadelphia: She’s a crime-solving smarty-pants named Megan Hunt. Medical examiner Hunt had to give up a dazzling career in neurosurgery after a car accident, and she’s also lost custody of her daughter to her ex-husband. These events have left her with a sour, superior intelligence that, in the pilot, makes her close to insufferable. She solves the murder, all right, but never manages to suppress a vindictive smirk as she outwits the cops. She’s the cat that ate the canary after performing an autopsy on it. With the second episode, though, the whole tone improves: Delany’s performance seems to have caught some of the coppery warmth of her hair, and we spend more time with a good ensemble that includes Jeri Ryan as Hunt’s boss and Sonja Sohn as a detective. Body turns out not only to be alive, but kicking.

CRITIC’S CHOICE

Mildred Pierce

HBO, March 27, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

DRAMA

Director Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven) has taken James M. Cain’s 1941 novel-best known for the movie version that won Joan Crawford an Oscar-and filmed it with a slow reverence (five hours!) suited to Madame Bovary. The approach makes sense, though, when you have an actress as unfussily powerful as Kate Winslet playing divorced Mildred, who suffers and suffers, even after she becomes a rich restaurateur. Winslet’s Mildred moves with a thick, staunch humility, reserving her inner fire to raise history’s worst daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). This is an epic portrait of a woman who’s monumentally single-minded yet uncomprehending, and watching her rise and fall inspires a sick awe.

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