There is no dearth of police procedurals on television these days with many based on their own unique angle. Castle has the witty, conspiracy-theory-ready writer as a sidekick, while The Mentalist has a consultant with a keen sense of observation that uses social manipulation to assist with cases. ABC is launching a new procedural with a twist this summer, Motive.
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Instead of having a quirky sidekick as the show's center, Motive shakes up the traditional episode format by revealing the killer and the victim at the beginning of the hour. While the audience is aware of whodunit, the detectives investigate the case to find the killer.
When I first heard about Motive, I wondered how it would be able to maintain any hint of suspense when viewers already know the killer. In most detective shows, the fun is trying to uncover and analyze the clues in order to identify the perpetrator, but not here.
I was pleasantly surprised by how suspenseful the premiere episode, "Creepy Tom," was to watch. As the title suggests, there is a mystery to be solved with clues to be uncovered. Instead of them revealing the killer, in this show, they unfold the motive behind the killing.
In addition to trying to figure out why the killer murdered the victim, there is a cat-and-mouse chase feel to the way it plays out too. As the police investigate the murder, the killer tries to stay ahead of them in order to keep from being caught.
In the premiere episode, the victim is a well-liked high school science teacher played by New Kids on the Block singer, Joey McIntyre. And, yes, he does sing in the episode.
Motive stars Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn, Louis Ferreira as her partner Detective Oscar Vega, Brendan Penny as Detective Brian Lucas, Lauren Holly as Dr. Betty Rogers and Roger Cross as Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom.
Det. Flynn and Det. Vega are the leads on the case. Flynn has an impressive ability to read people and situations to help in the investigation, while Vega is driven by the evidence and most likely outcome. While they have differing perspectives, they respect each other and work well together.
Detective Lucas is a newer detective. He's willing to learn from the senior detectives and in the premiere is fascinated by the autopsy. Dr. Rogers has a wicked sense of humor and is more then willing to let him take a look. She's an experienced doctor, who transferred to the medical examiner's office.
Staff Sergeant Bloom was put on desk duty after being shot and would prefer to be in the field than in his leadership role. His prior experience though helps him relate to those officers that he oversees.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the premiere episode. Most police procedurals these days are predictable and even repetitive, so I appreciate Motive's fresh approach. "Creeping Tom" had me guessing from the beginning to the end how the crime happened, why it happened, and then how the police would actually catch the killer.
If you aren't a fan of police procedurals, then this show is probably not for you. While the characters are introduced and their backgrounds will be revealed throughout the series, this isn't a character driven drama. The driving force of the series is in its episode format and the unraveling of the mystery.
Motive premieres on Monday, May 20 at 10 pm ET and then moves to its regular night and time on Thursday May 23 at 9 pm ET.
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(Image and video courtesy of ABC.)