Thursday 20 June 2013

Motive: Universal TV review

Motive is a new television series shown on the Universal channel which began last week. I decided to watch the first episode of this North American cop show because it has an unusual premise. The viewer knows throughout who is the killer and who is the victim. This is because they are captioned "KILLER" and "VICTIM" in large letters on the screen at the start of the show. The real question is - what is the motive for the crime?

This is a clever spin on the classic detective plot. It was Richard Austin Freeman, back in the early years of the last century, who first came up with the idea of the detective story which starts out by showing the reader the culprit committing the crime, and then describes the detective work that led to the solution of the mystery. Freeman was a talented and inventive writer, and I mean to say more about him on this blog in the future.

Freeman's idea of the "inverted" story has been adapted many times, for instance by Roy Vickers in his stories about the Department of Dead Ends, and in the hit TV show Columbo. But I can't think of anyone who has tweaked the detective story in quite the same way as happens in Motive. For that touch of originality alone, the show deserves praise. Slightly less original is the decision to cast two exceptionally attractive women, Kristin Lehman (as the cop, Angie Flynn) and Lauren Holly (as the pathologist) in lead roles.

The first episode involved the killing of a teacher by a pupil. Why did the lad do it? I have to say that the mysterious motive wasn't especially memorable, and this was a bit of a disappointment. Overall, I'd say that the show was efficient rather than brilliant. But the premise alone makes it worthy of note. Will I watchi it regularly? Unlikely, because life is short. But I'd be quite happy to watch an occasional future episode.

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