Ignore The 'Whydunnit' Marketing
Motive's promotional angle is Amish, it's so clueless. "A thrilling crime drama with a unique twist focusing not on who did the crime, but why the crime was committed in the first place" -- oh, you mean like Criminal Minds? And The Mentalist? And the NCISes? And every other police procedural currently airing, the vast majority of which rely on profiling to a large degree, as most police procedurals have for the last 20 years? Anyone involved in that campaign go near a cable guide since Clinton was in office? Come on. Motive is interesting; the name is a score, honestly, since it's hard to believe nobody else had TM'd it by now; Motive as a show is decent, and does have a unique twist or two. Concentrating on the killer's motivations is neither of those things.
Watch it anyway; it's good. It's not great, but it's got a bunch of things to recommend it over and above "it's summer, what else ya got anyways":
In addition to lead detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman, so deliciously hateable as Avery on Felicity), you've got cutie Brendan Penny as frosh dick Brian Lucas; Roger Cross as the grumpy boss (a.k.a. Curtis Manning on 24); and Lauren Holly as a Briscoe-in-lipstick coroner who's way more fun than she was on NCIS. Well, the one time I watched that show. Shut up, it was in a hotel. The guest casting is great in the pilot as well -- and can Joe McIntyre just be in everything? I've loved him every since the NKoTB Behind the Music when he was making fun of himself for having his face in a marble, and he turned out very handsomely.
The relationship between Flynn and her son Manny
We all know parents shouldn't try to be their kids' friends, but this seems like that rare instance where it's going to work out. Plus, Manny does real-kid sucking up (offering Flynn pancakes when she catches him having a sleepover with his girlfriend, Crystal) and has real-kid interests (stock cars) (I think? I can't know every boy thing, don't email me).
Manny's girlfriend Crystal
Super-proud of her new boobs she got for her birthday; offers to let Flynn look at them. She's only onscreen for, like, 30 seconds but I still kind of wanted a buddy spin-off with her and Lauren Holly's character.
Realistic teen dialogue
HAAAAA HA HA HA not really; the show's pretty terrible with that, actually. "Making the beast with two backs"? "The chronic"? Manny and Crystal were fine, but the killer's BF Willie (the marvelously monikered Iain Belcher) sounded like Steve Sanders wrote his lines. No bueno.
A detective who loves her job, without any undertones of "because she's crazy" or "because she's a spinst" or "because she can't get along with anyone."
Flynn obviously likes her job, obviously does it well, and isn't saddled with pre-existing neuroses (SVU's Benson) or a dicky attitude (Prime Suspect's Tennison/Timoney) to make that more palatable. I've always hated that lady-detective "character" "beat," and it should have gone out with Cagney & Lacey, so I hope it doesn't crop up here. So far so good.
Motive isn't brilliant, but it's good summertime fare with likable actors, and if you're down a cop show for whatever reason, it should fill in nicely until September.
Motive's regular timeslot is Thursday nights at 9 ET on ABC.