Spotlight on … Motive

As you’ve guessed by now, I love me some nifty crime drama on tv. So this post I’m going to talk about one that might not be so well known but is, in my book, worth watching. It’s a Canadian production and it’s called Motive.

Motive has an interesting and not-often used format of spending as much time with the criminal side of the story as it does with the crime fighters. This is a tricky balancing act, because I think viewers tend to get invested in the regular characters and don’t like being dragged away to spend time with the guest-of-the-week. Well, I know I do. And when they did this in the sometimes excellent Flashpoint, they ended up going too far in that direction so it felt like the regulars were just cameo actors in their own series. So far Motive has avoided that trap – but I wouldn’t want to see them push that envelope any further.

The series stars Kristin Lehman, who’s had a long tv career. She’s the co-lead in this one and she’s definitely got the chops to carry a series. Her partner is played by Louis Ferreira, and fans of Stargate Universe will immediately recognise him because he played Colonel Young. (Also immediately recognisable is Amanda Tapping, who guests in one episode. Stargate fans really need to check it out – she does a great job in a part that’s a complete 180 turn from Sam Carter!) The third immediately familiar face is Lauren Holly, who plays the coroner/medical examiner. She was last seen as Director Jenny Shephard in NCIS.  And Alphas fans will recognise Warren Christie, who comes in as squad leader. Across the board, the regular cast and the guests are strong, the writing and directing are strong, and the crimes each week are nicely complicated. Canadian crime dramas tend towards the morally/ethically ambiguous, with far more sympathy towards the villains than you usually find in US crime fare. Sometimes that makes me yell at the tv, and sometimes I really appreciate it.

The character work in this show is great. Again, it’s one of those quietly feminist pieces that treats everyone as a regular, competent person without fanfare. No soap boxes, no lecturing, just great people and nobody made to look stupid in order to bolster someone else. No political agendas, no social agendas. Strong storytelling, plain and simple. Which makes it a huge winner for me.

Again, this is a shorter run tv show – 13 episodes per season. I’m getting more and more fond of this shorter-run format. Too often the writing weakens out over 22 episodes – few show runners are as strong or as focused or have as talented a team as Jonathan Nolan on Person of Interest.

Motive‘s third season is due to air this year. The first season is currently out on dvd.


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