Friday, February 1, 2013

Motive Gets A Super Bowl Of A Launch

Sunday night after the Super Bowl comes an event of monumental importance on Canadian TV.
It's the greatest time slot on TV --the huge audience usually gets to watch a new series on American TV.
But Sunday night CTV is getting into the game with the premiere of a terrific new Canadian cop series Motive shot in Vancouver and starring the likes of Kristin Lehman, Lauren Holly and Louis Ferreira who used to be called Justin Louis.
CBS at the same time is showing a new episode of its struggling procedural Elementary but Global has the Canadian rights to that one.
So it's cause for celebration when CTV actually has a new Canadian show the network can truly be proud of.
Motive sets the standard police procedural up side down.
First of all viewers will get to know who is the victim and killer at the top of each hour. Then we can sit back and see if the law (including cops and the coroner) can actually crack the case.
The inverted storytelling worked on Columbo among others so why not here?
The premise was originally developed by executive producer Daniel Cerone (Dexter) for CBS about seven seasons back. CBS passed after much hesitation and only then did Canadian producers Rob LaBelle, James Thorpe and Louise Clark jump in to restructure the project for CTV.
And ABC has just announced it is picking up the first 13 hours as a summer replacement series.
But how Canadian is Motive?
"It is situated in and around Vancouver," says the big star Lehman. "I was a bit annoyed the first day to see 'Metro' over our police station set. But I was told that various police forces are in charge of various cities and we're shooting in Burnaby, Kitsilano, all over.
"But I never try to disguise my Canadian accent. And I use Canadian money in my scenes. So in my mind it's all Canadian."
I'm reminding Lehman we first met on a 1992 Canadian TV show set in 1992 --Forever Knight shot in Toronto.
And since that time Lehman, now 40, slowly but surely travelled up the ladder of  Canadian TV success: Bliss, PSI Factor, Due South, Kung Fu, Once AThief, Poltergeist.
And then one day she moved like most prominent young Canadian actors to L.A. and additional success in Felicity, Judging Amy, Century City until she hit it really big in Fox's 2007 hit Drive followed by AMC's murder mystery The Killing (shot in Vancouver).
"I took time off to have a baby and look after him. When CTV asked me to do this I thought it had everything to be a hit. And I'm the lead which is new to me. My character has decades of experience, she knows how to direct a police investigation. She sets the standard with her hard work."
For one thing Lehman's character, Angie Flynn, has a sense of humor to help her defuse difficult situations.
"She has great experience and great intuitive skills. The first mystery she's investigating in the house where a murder has occurred she just has that sense the killer must still be there somewhere.
Co-star Lauren Holly confesses she was seduced by the quality of the scripts.
"I had the best on Picket Fences. NCIS was equally challenging. I have three boys at home in Toronto and I couldn't possibly disrupt their lives so I get to fly in and out for a couple of days every episode to Vancouver and we do all my scenes one after another.
"I play a very upscale coroner, Betty Rogers. She's always dressed to the hilt, has a quip or two but she really knows her profession. She brings sex appeal and she's wonderful to play
"I've watched the first hour and it's so polished I'm just very proud. Because to become competitive Canadian TV has to be as good as it gets.""
The opening hour delivers on most counts. Excitingly directed by Sturla Gunnarsson, it examines the strange murder of a beloved high school teacher and packs surprises despite viewers thinking they know whodunit.
CTV has virtually sold out advertising for the Super Bowl.
Motive which moves to its regular time slot Sundays at 9 on February 10.
MY RATING: ****.

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