There is something infinitely appealing about Kristin Lehman. The 41-year-old Toronto native has an air about her that makes you want to just sit quietly and listen to whatever she’s saying. Her character, Detective Angie Flynn, however, tends to do her best work while listening.
It’s a beautiful balance that seems to help guide “Motive,” which returns for its second season Wednesday on ABC.
The Canadian-made police procedural drama takes full advantage of Lehman’s charms as it weaves its way through the picturesque cityscapes of Vancouver. And it does so via a peculiar take on the procedural format: It tells you right up front who did it – similar to classic “Columbo” – and spends the rest of the time searching for the “Why?”
Instead of the traditional ‘whodunit,’ we have a ‘whydunit,’ ” said executive producer Rob LaBelle. “It’s unique. It tends to draw people in, and then they stick around. It engages the viewer, and it’s challenging.”
But in a good way.
“Our killers are regular people,” added LaBelle. “They’re not criminals. They’re not gangbangers or violent thugs or drug dealers. They are ordinary people who are driven by extraordinary circumstance to commit the most heinous of acts – taking the life of another human being.”
Last season in Canada, the show became the No. 1 new homegrown scripted drama. It felt different, and just as importantly, it looked different, thanks to the talents of cinematographer Mathias Herndl.
“He is a genius and a superstar along with his entire crew,” said LaBelle.
The show looks and feels like a motion picture, which is pretty astounding. But without the strong presence of Lehman, along with co-stars Louis Ferreira, Brendan Penny and Lauren Holly, the show might ring a bit hollow.
And yet, with the success of Season 1 still fresh in their minds, many people would say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But the producers decided to add a couple of new characters to the mix and have given the series added depth where we didn’t realize we needed any.
The main addition comes in the form of Sgt. Mark Cross (Warren Christie). He and Flynn have a past – an inconvenient truth, as it were.
“They were rookie partners out of the academy and also had a relationship,” said Lehman. “And when it ended, it ended poorly. … Suddenly they’re thrust together professionally, as he is her acting boss. What we see is the tension and the comfort of having that come back into your life. But we also see them examine some of the decisions they made as a team early in their policing careers. It’s a real joy to explore that storyline with him.”
But the truth is they are fairly toxic for each other.
“They’ve made questionable decisions,” said Lehman. “And then the fact that they’re together over the course of the season, some of the repercussions of fast and loose early police work comes back to haunt them. … The storytelling this season allows her to go a lot of places. So I hope it’s a journey the audience wants to take along with her.”
Producers say the storyline is purely organic.
“There is still the murder of the week, and there is a closed story. It resolves,” said LaBelle. “So there is that satisfying thing where you have some finality. But there are some more serialized elements this season. They are more engaged with the character on a week-to-week basis.”