TV Review: ‘Motive’

Motive Review ABC

Crime procedurals exist in such abundance that the challenge has become how to dribble new dabs of paint around a chalk outline. “Motive” — another Canadian import receiving a summer showcase on ABC — seeks to brighten up the formula, unsuccessfully, by shifting the focus from “who”-dunit to “why.” It’s an exceedingly mild tweak, with Kristin Lehman (most recently off “The Killing”) as the hard-bitten detective providing the only real incentive to tune in. While the network has found a steady utility player in “Rookie Blue,” getting lucky twice would merit a trip to Vegas, not Vancouver.

Crafted by “Dexter” producer Daniel Cerone, “Motive” begins by almost immediately introducing “THE KILLER” (it’s right there, in all caps on the screen) and “THE VICTIM.” Next, it’s body time, which sets in motion Lehman’s Det. Angie Flynn and her bickering partner (Louis Ferreira), who is kind of bad at his job.

For whatever reason, both of the initial killings involve a teenager: In the first, a high-school student is responsible for the death of a teacher, while in the second, a young girl is run over by a mayoral candidate. While the show does build some suspense regarding the motive, in neither case is the “aha” moment particularly stirring.

“Motive” also betrays its Great White Northern roots, from a closeup of a search warrant written in French as well as English to the conspicuous accents, such as a suspect who demands, “What’s this all aboot?”

Lehman’s character is allowed to exhibit a bit of a personal life, but for the most part the series doesn’t stray far from its criminal motif. Nor do other members of the squad have enough material to register beyond a blip.

“Motive” will get a boost by premiering behind “Dancing With the Stars,” before shifting to Thursdays paired with “Rookie Blue,” creating what ABC hopes will be a winning Canadian combo. While acceptable as summer filler, it’s the sort of show where financial advantages built into the license fee clearly outweigh the creative merits. That might create a scheduling incentive for ABC, but for viewers, the show doesn’t provide much of a, well, you know.


Series; ABC, Mon. May 20, 9 p.m.


Filmed in Vancouver by Foundation Features and Lark Prods. in association with Bell Media and distributed by NBCUniversal Intl. Executive producers, Daniel Cerone, James Thorpe, Louise Clark, Rob Merilees, Rob LaBelle, Erin Haskett, Lindsay Macadam; co-executive producers, Daegen Fryklind, Bronwen Hughes; producers, John G. Lenic, Wil Zmak; director, Hughes; writer, Cerone; camera, Mathias Herndl; production designer, Don MacAulay; editor, Stein Myhrstad; music, Shawn Pierce; casting, Corinne Clark, Jennifer Page, Sara Isaacson. Running Time: 60 MIN.

Kristin Lehman, Louis Ferreira, Lauren Holly, Roger Cross, Brendan Penny, Cameron Bright.

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  1. Stephen Coles says:

    Best show on the air. It requires audience to think in order to follow the plot. A show for intelligent people. Most shows are too formula and the ending is predictable. I find the endings in this show unpredictable and refreshing. I make sure that I never miss an episode.
    I give it 10 out of 10.

  2. Margaret says:

    I am watching the new episode of TV Motive which started today. it is a real turn off. why is it so very dark. its just disgusting. it looks like filmed in the dark – very dark and you lose interest in watching. this must be a very low budget movie. the way its filmed. this is the last one I am watching. no more

  3. June says:

    is the movie filmed in the dark. very badly filmed – it is always dark and just don’t feel like watching. it started off really good.

  4. lpmeyer says:

    The show was okay. However, not a new twist remember Monk or Columbo. The victim and killer was shown in the beginning of each show. Not to crazy about the lead character’s parent skills.

    I do hope it gets better.

  5. Mary C says:

    I had a hard time following the story because the “background music” was too loud and drowned out much of the dialog. If this continues, I won’t be tuning in anymore.

  6. Linda Grijalva says:

    Most of the show’s characters seem to be based on other shows for example:
    The medical examiner is a sexier version of the one on Body of Proof
    The partners remind me of those on Body of proof; law and order; law and order: criminal intent; and other police shows.
    At least those cast members went together but on motive they don’t connect with each other.

    As for the first show tell me how do they not know there is an attic in the house (just look at the outside of the house) and having a big dog you would have a doggie door in which a person could fit into to get in (house was locked up and the didn’t know how they got in).

    and is for putting the knapsack in the dumpster someone would have found it (people who are looking for something to sell for cash usually check dumpsters).

    Also they leave a house full of teenagers by themselves when they can tell there is alcohol being consumed?

    So when it comes to it the so-called detectives really aren’t that smart and the stories are full of holes.

    Didn’t watch the second one and I know I didn’t miss anything.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I’m all for woman-power, but I don’t care for the female lead here either. What, another brash, intuitive, tough, smarter-than-everyone-around-her detective? Rizzoli does it much better, plus having the foil of the even-more-brilliant Isles for balance (to name just one show that springs to mind). I’m watching the second episode now and already wondering how soon something else will be on to replace this.

  8. Dave James says:

    I lost interest within the first five minutes and I didn’t care much for the female lead. I believe there’s way too much scene hopping which makes it somewhat confusing at various times. It’s going to have to get a lot better before I’ll return to this program. I thought Dexter was a brilliant show…..this one, not so much.

  9. zaniacmedic says:

    Wow. The reviewer (whoever he is) sure ain’t watching the same show as I am. This is entertaining drama. And the detective duo are hardly “bickering”. Quite the opposite, their banter is refreshingly not about interpersonal conflicts, but instead smacks of a real-life partnership. Forget this bass-awkward review. “Motive” is actually a fun, intelligent, entertaining show.

  10. Sylvie says:

    I’ve been watching “Motive” since its debut here in Canada and completely disagree with the review. By giving you the “victim” and “killer” at the onset, the rest of the episode is the denouement of how these 2 people could ever be linked. Some of the twists are pretty original. Love it and hope it comes back after the first (short) season.

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