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The Listener is Undateable ’cause he’s on The Night Shift with Derek? TV must-sees for the week of May 25

- May 25th, 2014

Capture undateable

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of May 25

1 Undateable
Debut with back-to-back episodes: The premise in this sitcom from Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) is that all of us go through stages where we’re undateable. For some it just lasts longer. Chris D’Elia stars.
When: Thursday on NBC

2 The Normal Heart
Debut: Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch and Jim Parsons star in this powerful drama about the onset of the then-mysterious AIDS-HIV crisis in New York City in the early 1980s.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

3 The Night Shift
Debut: Not another movie about late-night TV, I pray. Oh, wait, this is a scripted hospital drama about the men and women who work through the wee hours. With Eoin Macken and Jill Flint.
When: Tuesday on NBC, Global

4 Derek
Second-season debut: Ricky Gervais is back as Derek Noakes in this bittersweet series about a retirement-home worker whose caring attitude provides acute moments of comedy and sadness.
When: Friday on Netflix

5 The Listener
Fifth-season debut: Snakes on a plane! Well, not quite. But snakes on a body? Toby (Craig Olejnik) investigates a serial killer who has a habit of leaving snakes with his victims. Ewww.
When: Monday on CTV

6 The Sixties
Debut: Documentary series executive-produced by Tom Hanks kicks off with an episode titled Television Comes of Age, looking at shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive and Laugh-In.
When: Thursday on CNN

7 MasterChef
Sixth-season debut: Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot return as judges on the American version, coming off the successful rookie season of the Canadian version.
When: Monday on Fox, CTV

8 Motive
Second-season finale: When a major case from the past resurfaces, it may prompt Detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman) and Sergeant Mark Cross (Warren Christie) to come clean about their history.
When: Thursday on CTV

9 Crossbones
Debut: You have to wonder if we’ve reached the saturation point with all this historic/fake-historic/fake-historic-with-magic TV. Anyway, this stars John Malkovich as the pirate Blackbeard.
When: Friday on NBC, Global

10 So You Think You Can Dance?
Eleventh-season debut: Justin Bieber will be introducing a new “dance crews” component and encouraging viewers to vote through Twitter. Bieber’s bits were shot in Cannes. That sounds dirty.
When: Wednesday on Fox, CTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

CTV hopes to “Motive-ate” viewers with post-Super Bowl premiere

- January 29th, 2013

Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn in Motive

The Motive is the message.

But how will the message be received by a viewing public that claims it wants something new, yet often sticks with the tried and true?

That’s the challenge for the Canadian series Motive, which debuts Sunday, Feb. 3, in the plum time slot following the Super Bowl on CTV.

Through the years we all have seen enough police procedurals – the CSI franchise, the Law & Order franchise, etc. – to understand the basic format. But Motive takes that dramatic model and twists it.

In each episode of Motive, viewers are told fairly quickly who “the killer” is and who “the victim” is. What we don’t know is “why?”

How are the killer and the victim connected? What were the circumstances that led the former to murder the latter?

That’s where Vancouver homicide Detective Angie Flynn, played by Kristin Lehman, enters the fray.

Angie and her team – Detective Oscar Vega (played by Louis Ferreira), Detective Brian Lucas (played by Brendan Penny), Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom (played by Roger Cross) and Dr. Betty Rogers (played by Lauren Holly) – spend each episode piecing together what happened. Therefore, until the very end, the team always is more “in the dark” than the audience, which already knows who committed the crime.

The first episode of Motive focuses on a creepy, picked-upon high school kid in a marching band (do Canadian high schools even have those? Isn’t that an American thing?).

When we first see the victim, an adult, he’s singing in a karaoke bar. The connection between the two, and the reasons for what occurs, certainly can’t be predicted or foreseen at first blush, so that’s a good thing.

I had a few different reactions to the debut episode of Motive.

First, it looks great. The production values are top-notch.

And I did like the two leads, Lehman and Ferreira. Lehman has kind of a Marg Helgenberger thing goin’ on, while veteran Ferreira is good in everything he does (including a recent guest spot on AMC’s Breaking Bad). However, I hope it’s not a pattern moving forward that Oscar thinks everyone is guilty and Angie thinks everyone is innocent.

Cinematography and characters aside, Motive‘s format can be disorienting when it comes to sustained attention.

I was interested in the first 10 minutes. I was interested in the last 10 minutes. But that left 20 minutes in the middle where I kind of drifted away, since I already knew who the killer was. It felt like there was some padding going on, and I’m not at all interested in the side story about Angie’s troubled teen.

Those middle 20 minutes also jump around in time, because much of the story has to be told through flashbacks. It never was confusing, that would be overstating it. But it can be a tad dizzying if you’re not right on top of it, which, as I stated earlier, is an issue.

Kudos to Motive for trying something new. A straight-forward police procedural in 2013 would seem at least five years behind the times.

What we’re about to find out is whether the world is open to a police procedural that doesn’t follow procedure.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv