There is really only one reason to watch ABC's Canadian-import place-holder crime drama "Motive" — Kristin Lehman.
Seen most recently as the political aid/abuse victim/classic schemer on AMC's "The Killing," Lehman swaggers into Daniel Cerone's series not just like she owns the joint but as if there were a joint to own. With her square jaw and nimble wisecrack timing, Lehman radiates the knowing yet secretly hopeful energy of a '40s female film star — Barbara Stanwyck, say, by way of Rosalind Russell.
Unfortunately, it's not quite enough to support a show born of shtick — here, the killer and victim are identified almost immediately in each episode; the trick is discovering the, well, motive.
That's Lehman's job, of course, via the tough but tender Angie Flynn. The way-cool but still firm single mom is a homicide detective with a gut instinct that just won't quit and a partner, Oscar (Louis Ferreira), whose skepticism is outweighed only by his loyalty.
Aided by Betty (Lauren Holly), the hot 'n' cougar-ish medical examiner, Angie and Oscar manage to connect the dots of every case they touch, even when the dots don't appear to be on the same page. In the first episode, a teen's prank appears to go hideously awry; in the second, a teen's death by hit and run was, of course, no accident.
The problem with the upside-down conceit, and there are so many that it's difficult to choose one, is that anyone who's ever watched television can figure out the why a few minutes after meeting the key players. Which means that instead of looking super smart and insightful, Angie and her team appear slow on the draw.
Even so, the means by which they get from crime scene to arrest requires some baffling bits of logic and not a whole lot of police work.
Still, it's fun to watch Lehman nail her lines; she just needs a different show in which to do it.
When: 10 p.m. Monday
Rating: TV-PG-DLSV (may be unsuitable for young children with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language, sex and violence)