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“Motive” Skews the Cop Procedural with a Whydunnit Twist

By on May 21, 2013
ABC's "Motive" stars Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn. (ABC/Kharen Hill)

ABC's "Motive" stars Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn. (ABC/Kharen Hill)

By Catherine Cabanela

This show does what? Yes, Motive, the number one Vancouver-based crime procedural, or whydunnit as it has become known, reveals both the killer and the victim right from the outset. That’s what makes executive producer Daniel Cerone’s (Mentalist, Dexter, Charmed) new crime procedural different from its primetime competitors. All in all, it’s a decent show with an interesting premise and some great one-liners.

Starring Kristin Lehman (Judging Amy, The Killing) as self-assured, intuitive Detective Angie Flynn; Louis Ferreira (SGU Stargate Universe, Missing) as her partner, the seasoned and cynical Detective Oscar Vega, and Lauren Holly (NCIS, Chicago Hope) as the sassy medical examiner, Dr. Betty Rogers, Motive has been wowing Canadian audiences since February 2013. Oh, and did I mention this cute little piece of eye candy: Brendan Penny (True Heroines, Supernatural) as Detective Brian Lucas? I hope we see more of his beautiful baby blues in future episodes!

But is the whydunnit premise sufficiently entertaining to warrant a spot on your DVR or a live viewing?  The short answer is yes. Motive’s concept does work. The debut episode, ‘Creepy Tom’ begins before the murder occurs, identifying the victim, Glen Martin (Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block) and the killer Tom (a young Tom Cruise-ish first-time tv actor, Tyler Johnston) in their day to day lives as alcoholic moonlighting karaoke fanatic and downtrodden ‘invisible’ pubescent miscreant. Then we’re swiftly directed to the scene showing cops swarming the murdered victim’s home.  As the investigation advances, we are given a series of cinematographically ominous flashbacks depicting the fated events leading up to the murder, and eventually, the murder itself. I tell you, folks, it really works.

The troubled high school marching band drum-player, Tom, kills the cuckolded singing science teacher, Glen when he awakens unexpectedly as Tom is creeping through his house. Though ‘creeping’ has become a pastime for Tom and his best friend, Willie (Iain Belcher), a messed-up dead ringer for Ron Weasley, this time Tom goes alone on a mission to retrieve some confiscated property including a diary filled with frightening images and ominous manifesto-worthy thoughts.

After bludgeoning the awakened teacher, a frantic Tom, unable to flee the scene, hides in the attic, terrified to the point of messing his drawers. When the two time periods collide, the killer is frantically trying to unscrew the vent screen to escape the attic while Detective Flynn is climbing up the ladder to pop open the trap door leading to the attic. Without giving too much away, let me just say that the motive did surprise, as did the final revelations about both the victim and the killer.

Pilots are challenging to review, people. We aren’t yet invested in the characters and their relationships. What we can do is figure out who’s single (everyone), who’s hot (Flynn, Lucas), who’s a little bit naughty (Rogers), and how plausible the premise is. In other words, we see all the ingredients on the table, but can’t quite taste the cookie yet. So the question is, do we like it enough to sign it up for a season pass on TiVo? You will have to be the judge of that.

As for me, I give this baby a 6/10 and have already programmed my TiVo for Thursday when episode two, “Crimes of Passion” will air in its usual timeslot.

Best lines of the show:

Flynn: I got a way with animals.
Vega: Thought you had a way with men—
Flynn: Well, the same principles apply … you just gotta take control.
(Flynn gets chased out of the room by the boisterous canine)
Flynn: Usually takes a couple dates—

Flynn: There’s no good or bad news in homicide. Just news.

Flynn: Nothing says Friday night like a homicide.

Rogers to a young police officer as she gives him a salacious once-over: “They told me you have a body and I see that they were right.”

Lucas: I’ve never been to an autopsy.
Rogers, in a suggestive tone: Always happy to be someone’s first!
Manny, Flynn’s son: Can Crystal stay for breakfast?
Flynn: Can her boobs make coffee?

Willie: Check out this molester van. Shag carpet, wood paneling. Ahh, where can I get one?

Willie to Tom: Those gloves were so emo. I don’t care about fingerprints. We’re minors. What are they going to do if they catch us? Put us in counseling?


  1. myrnama

    May 21, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Enjoyed your review C.C, haven’t seen the episode yet, got it on my DVR!!

    • Catherine Cabanela

      May 22, 2013 at 2:25 am

      Excellent! Let me know what you think. We have twelve more episodes already in the can and ready to Rock ‘n’ Roll!


  2. Diane W.

    May 22, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Great review. You make me want to watch.