This show has nothing to do with traversing a country bordering Israel (although the title comes from crossing the river of the same name) or with a certain former Page Three Girl.Instead, it is an ensemble Forensic Drama centered on the life of Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh (played by actress Jill Hennessy), a rather tempestuousmedical examiner in the Massachusetts State Coroner's office. Jordan is something of a Cowboy Cop, due to the murder of her mother as well as considerable additional exposure to police files and procedures at a young age by her now-retired cop father, Max Cavanaugh. As a result, she regularly ends up trying to solve homicides and other crimes herself.The rest of the main cast consists primarily of Jordan's coworkers at the morgue and colleagues on the Boston PD, who get roped into helping with Jordan's investigations on a surprisingly regular basis:
Dr. Garret Macy, Jordan's crotchety superior (played by Miguel Ferrer)
Dr. Mahesh "Bug" Vijayaraghavensatyanaryanamurthy, a fellow medical examiner (played by Ravi Kapoor), his nickname refers to his knowledge of insects
Nigel Townsend, the morgue's resident lab rat and hacker (played by Steve Valentine)
Lily Lebowsky, a sweet but eccentric grief counselor (played by Kathryn Hahn)
Woodrow "Woody" Hoyt, a detective for the Boston police and Jordan's on/off love interest (played by Jerry O'Connell)
This series provides examples of:
Ambiguously Gay: Nigel. An entire episode is devoted to this. It isn't until several seasons later that the question is finally answered. Ironically, he's not.
And I Must Scream: A particularly dark example. The victim is shot and spends the most of the episode paralyzed. He used to be a prosecutor and Macy's friend, but underwent a Face-Heel Turn to Amoral Attorney when Macy refused to falsify evidence to put away a serial killer. He keeps pleading with Jordan and Macy not to autopsy him, promising he'll change. He's only saved when Macy digs the bullet out and realizes he's still bleeding. Turns out he and his two guests (who were killed) had improperly prepared Fugu, and his secretary shot him. On his way out of the hospital, Macy gives him a bell, and tells him that people used to be buried with strings attached to bells in case they were buried alive. The lawyer points out that Macy just effectively admitted the coroner's office is at fault, and he'll both be suing and representing the woman who shot him. Then he walks outside and gets hit by a bus. The last shots of the episode is the team looking down into his body bag, and their evaluator asking if they're sure he's dead. The bag is closed up, using the same POV shot from the lawyer's perspective as earlier, and then we hear a bell tinkling.
Ascended Extra: Steve Valentine's Nigel was just a background character for a handful of scenes in the first episodes, but the producers liked the way he demanded your attention on just those scenes, and turned him into a regular...
Asshole Victim: Where do we start with Shelly Levine? He used to be an ADA until a series of errors lead to great embarrassment when he prosecutes a guy that is actually innocent. He blames Dr. Macy for his failings on the case and becomes a defense attorney and takes great pride in making the morgue staff look like idiots. He's constantly taunting them, and even threatens to have Nigel deported. He collects trophies, weapons that where used by his clients to commit murders for which he has gotten them acquitted. While being shot at, he used his client as a human shield. Needless to say that the morgue staff are more than pleased when they see him on a slab. Woody stabs him with a needle out of sheer hatred.
That is after he spends almost entire episode being mistaken for dead, having been paralyzed during the shooting. He is saved towards the end of the episode by the morgue staff, but instead of being grateful, he gleefully threatens to sue them all (and takes up the defense of the woman who shot at him, his assistant, and his client, just to spite the morgue staff). Then he is hit by Karma Houdini, eh, a speeding car, and dies just in front of the morgue.
Back-Alley Doctor: After a number of heroin overdoses are reported by one person, Dr. Macy and Dr. Winslow decide to investigate and find a former medic running an unlicenced clinic. Dr. Macy realizes that even though the clinic is not up to the standards of a real hospitical, it is doing good for the people it serves.
Berserk Button: Bug in an episode where a murder appeared to be racially motivated.
Broken Pedestal: Jordan find out that many of the people she idolizes and has known for a long aren't that great. Her father was a crooked cop who regularly planted evidence and framed a guy so he could steal his money. Her mother had another child in an affair and her mental state made her a danger to both children. Garret once ruled an obvious murder a suicide in order to help a politician.
Clear My Name: Jordan is on the run after her boyfriend is murdered.
Cliff Hanger: Several. Subverted in the final episode which was originally written to be a Cliff Hanger but was then rewritten into a Happily Ever After when it became apparent that the series would be canceled.
Double Standard: In the first episode Jordan's co-worker Trey Sanders tells her "I don't date white women." Had Jordan said the same thing regarding black men it would have undoubtedly been viewed as racist.
First Dayfrom Hell: Twice. One doctor showed up just in time for a massive blizzard plus an in-morgue E. Coli outbreak, and Dr. Devan Maguire got kidnapped on her first day after the team was caught up in a poorly-conceived government terrorism drill.
A man kidnaps and imprisons a boy in his basement. Garret correctly deduces that the chains had been previously used to chain up the man when he was a child.
Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: There was an episode where the Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult in Jordan's childhood neighborhood had recently died and a skeleton was found in the baseboards of her floor soon turns out that it was the remains of her husband who she killed several years ago to protect her mentally disabled son. This trope was played with in the sense that over the course of the investigation, she was shown to be a more of a human being. Though they did find the cedar chest where she kept all of the toys.
Heel-Face Turn: Subverted. An imprisoned serial killer genuinely wanted to make amends, and strived to become a better person, eventually becoming a model prisoner and devout Christian... too devout. When he caught a pair of guards getting frisky in the prison chapel, he was enraged that they would dare desecrate a house of God, so he murdered one of them, and tried to frame the other for it, completely convinced he was doing the right thing.
Hidden in Plain Sight: The morgue staff are sure that a guy has been murdered in the same building they work in. They just can't find where the corpse was hidden. It's in the crypt.
Homage: An episode with Quincy star Jack Klugman as an aging medical examiner.
Jack the Ripoff: "Road Kill" is about a series of murders that emulate too many details of a pervious serial killer. Many of them are details that where never released to the public.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In "Wild Card" Eric Brazil most definitly is a jerk. He seems to be unaffected by the murder of a teenager and is more concerned with taking down a gangster. Later he is suspected of killing said teenager and framing the gangster. In reality he was deeply affected by the death.
Off on a Technicality: In one episode, a judge overturns the convictions against a child molester/murderer because the prosecutor (now the DA) had failed to disclose evidence to the defense.
For all the Non-American tropers that's not a technicality. That is such a huge thing that not only can it ruin a prosecutor's career and get them disbarred but it also can cause every case that the prosecutor to have done be up for a retrial.
There Are No Therapists: Subverted — morgue employees are required to go through a yearly psychiatric evaluation, which they all dread
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: One episode had a crooked FBI agent being hired to take down a high-profile witness, which he tries to do by shooting up the crowded diner she is in... he ends up killing everyone but her.
Throwing Out The Script: In the first episode, Garret is supposed to do a presentation about coroners at a career day. So he starts off with a fairly dry presentation with no enthusiasm, and then ends up in a rant practically driving people away with the lucid descriptions of his work.
Subverted in one episode, where it was just some kind of government sponsored test (which severely pissed Macy off).
Will They or Won't They?: Jordan and Woody, as Jordan's inability to commit to a relationship is best described as "homeric". During the Las Vegas crossovers, they would frequently hook up with Danny and Sam, respectively.