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TV’s ‘Motive’ is no whodunit

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The Details

MOTIVE
Two stars
Thursdays, 9 p.m. (premieres May 20, 10 p.m.), ABC

Given the sheer number of crime procedurals on TV, any new cop show needs some sort of hook to set itself apart. On Motive, a Canadian import airing as summer filler on ABC, the gimmick is that both the killer and the victim are identified at the beginning of each episode, making the show less a whodunit and more of a whydunit (with a little bit of howdunit). The twist aside, the show’s cases are generic and mundane, and knowing the identity of the killer from the outset mutes what little suspense the plotting might be able to generate. Kristin Lehman brings some gritty charm to her role as the main detective, but, as in most procedurals, the character details are parceled out stingily. In the meantime, the by-the-numbers cases play out with minimal excitement, and the outcomes are predictable even without being told the answers in advance.

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