Is it possible to catch a killer without knowing why they committed the crime to begin with? That’s part of the premise behind ABC’s new show “Motive,” which ended up revealing both the killer and the victim before the opening credits rolled. Only time will tell if this new concept will carry weight or just be another television gimmick to get viewers.
“Motive” followed Detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman) and her partner Detective Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira) as they solved a weekly murder case. Their goal was to catch the killer before they escaped justice for good, which often meant trying to think like them to beat them at their own game. The partners used their witty banter to lure their suspects into a false sense of security before arresting them. The partners might have seemed like total opposites but their different personalities complimented each other during and after work. Flynn and Vega also were tasked with grooming a Detective trainee named Brian Lucas (Brendan Penny) to become a cop in his own right, but he still had a lot to learn when it came to following the rules. Lucas also seemed a little starstruck by Flynn’s ability to solve cases and ignore the rules when it suited her agenda for the moment, which could lead to trouble. The Detectives relied heavily on their squad room Supervisor Boyd Bloom (Roger Cross) to keep them in line when necessary, because he was once in their shoes before an injury ended his career. Flynn also had an ally in Dr. Betty Rogers (Lauren Holly) who was the Medical Examiner that saw different types of bad guys in her career. Will Flynn’s work take her away from her son Manny (Cameron Bright) or bring them closer?
In terms of questions, the biggest one that the show’s series premiere asked was whether knowing who the killer was so early in the show was a good or a bad idea. Unfortunately, it’s too early to tell if the show was providing a unique spin to cop shows or just a show driven by a gimmick. CBS attempted with a story twist to draw viewers into their now cancelled “Golden Boy,” but it failed in the end. The “Motive” plot twist may be an unexpected one, but it also took away the element of surprise of finding out the killer’s identity. Sure, it was nice to figure out why they committed murder, but it made most of the episode drag on longer than it should have. Hopefully, future episodes will work on developing this story concept in such a way that viewers won’t lose interest too quickly. Another way to fix that potential problem would be to better incorporate the cops with the suspects to help make each episode fly by seamlessly. Future episodes can demonstate how Lehman’s Flynn and Ferreira’s Vega partnership began without doing too many flashback scenes. Maybe, an episode of two to provide some background on the show’s main characters, because their presence was the show’s main draw other than the quirky plot twist.
As for breakout stars, Lehman and Ferreira led the pack because they had a strong rapport that allowed them to play off each other in a way that went beyond most buddy cop movies. Sure, their characters occasionally fell victim of different Hollywood stereotypes, but Lehman and Ferreira tried to provide some realism to their characters’ professional dilemmas. Ferreira’s Vega brought a level of calm that made viewers want to root for his character no matter what. Lehman, on the other hand, had the challenging task of being the show’s live wire character as she constantly thought outside of the box to solve her cases. Her most memorable scenes actually involved Lehman interacting with her character’s son, played by Cameron Bright. When Lehman’s Flynn came home to find her son in a compromising position with a girl, she was understandably shocked but also accepting in such a way that was unexpected. The show needed to find a way to connect Bright to the rest of the cast, because he had a comfortable chemistry with Lehman that could provide more memorable moments down the line. Sadly, the show’s only casualty was Holly’s Betty who seemed out of place in the premiere. Let’s hope that the show will figure out the right way to use her or write out properly.
“Motive” aired its sneak preview on May 20th at 10:00 PM on ABC. The show will switch to its regular night on May 23rd at 9:00 PM.
Verdict: Lehman’s character had some serious charm, but the show’s concept could use some work to draw in viewers each week.
TV Score: 2 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)