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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

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