The high school loner named Tom is the killer in the series premiere of the new crime procedural "Motive" (9 p.m. CT Monday, ABC; 2 stars out of 4). Before you dash off an angry email or tweet to me crying spoilers, understand that I've spoiled nothing the show doesn't within the first minutes of each episode.
Created by "Dexter" producer Daniel Cerone, "Motive" begins by introducing THE KILLER (yes, in all caps on screen) and THE VICTIM. It then dives into the gimmick signaled by its title—the whydunit, if you will.
But for viewers, unraveling the why is neither as fun nor as interesting as discovering the who. Look at it this way: Would "Dallas" or "Twin Peaks" have branded themselves into the pop cultural landscape with teaser lines like "Why did someone shoot J.R.?" or "Why was Laura Palmer killed?"
I don't think so.
That's not to say that "Motive" doesn't have anything going for it. Kristin Lehman, whom some might remember from the whodunit "The Killing" (which, coincidentally, used the line "Who killed Rosie Larsen?" in its promotions), plays Det. Angie Flynn. Both believable and appealing as the hard-bitten homicide investigator, Lehman provides the only real motive for tuning in.
Her Flynn is a single mom who has the uncanny ability to ferret out a murderer within 20 minutes of each episode. She and her partner, Det. Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira, not given enough to do) spend the rest of each hour trying to make an arrest after proving the murderer's motive.
In the premiere, Tom (Tyler Johnston) doesn't have much a motive for killing a popular teacher (played by former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre), which is an unfortunate way to kick off a show called "Motive."
The show's better second episode, airing Thursday when "Motive" moves into its regular time slot, is about a mayoral candidate who runs over his babysitter because—I can't tell you! That would be a spoiler.
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