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The case of the missing 'Motive': Will the U.S. ever see season 3?

This Sunday, Motive will air its third season finale on Canada’s CTV. There’s just one problem: American viewers haven’t even seen the season premiere. ABC, which has broadcast the Kristin Lehman–led whydunit for each of the last two seasons, has not announced a return date for Motive and has no current plans to air season three at all. So what are American fans of the show supposed to do, and how did this still-great series get so suddenly dropped?

Unfortunately, there’s little that stateside viewers can do to keep up with Angie Flynn (Lehman) and her cadre of Vancouver detectives. While seasons one and two are available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, there’s currently no legal way to watch or obtain the new episodes. Motive‘s onetime programming partner, Rookie Blue, comes back to ABC on June 25 in Motive‘s 10 p.m. time slot, with the new season of Mistresses as its lead-in. All signs point to American fans not being able to see season three or any potential season four, and that’s just not fair to them—or to a series that’s earned a loyal audience. Here’s why:

Motive is a solid crime drama with an exemplary cast. Lehman is the type of strong female lead TV audiences always seem to complain that we don’t have enough of. Angie has a more-than-watchable partnership with the delightfully cantankerous Oscar Vega (Stargate Universe‘s Louis Ferreira, who, by the way, won a Leo Award for this role), and a warm friendship with Dr. Betty Rogers (NCIS‘s Lauren Holly). Rookie detective Brian Lucas (Brendan Penny) is finally coming into his own.

And season two got even better when it brought on Warren Christie—an underappreciated actor in his own right, going back to Alphas—as Angie’s new supervisor (and former boyfriend) Mark Cross. With this many reliable performers on one show, even the usual procedural happenings are fun to watch.

The series’ concept is to tell us who the killer and victim are, and make the mystery be about the why instead of the who. This requires that it truck in some remarkable guest stars. Every week, it’s a little gift to see who the casting directors have landed, whether it’s Jennifer Beals, Jason Dohring, Molly Parker, Noam Jenkins, Enuka Okuma, Carlos Bernard, or AJ Michalka, just to name a few. We even got a little Alphas reunion when Laura Mennell booked a recurring role. The material is elevated because this is one of those shows where you just sit back and enjoy talented people at work.

That’s what makes it so frustrating that Motive is getting short shrift here in America. It brings in lower ratings for ABC than Rookie Blue, but not by a tremendous amount; season two averaged 4.32 million viewers, while the first half of Rookie Blue‘s fifth season pulled in roughly 5.21. Both are quality shows with wonderful ensembles; in fact, as you might have noticed above, they share actors quite a bit. So why can’t Motive get the same consistent support in the U.S. that Rookie Blue has? Is it because it airs on a different Canadian network? Or do we viewers not quite understand what a great show we have?

If you haven’t seen Motive, you’ve missed out. In one of TV’s most-seen genres, the strength of its cast has made this procedural stand out. Angie is one of those characters you can always root for, which is why it’s driving us crazy not knowing what happened to her after her past was dug up in last season’s recurring story arc, which culminated in a truly entertaining finale. From what we’ve heard, Vega has his own personal subplot in season three; you could give Ferreira the phone book and he’d find something worthwhile to do with it.

It was nice to see Warren Christie turn up as Scott Rice on NBC’s Chicago Fire, but the material he got there wasn’t the same as what he has on Motive. He plays exceptionally well off Lehman, besides. Those two have the kind of give-and-take that so many other series try to capture. And when it seems like every show wants their coroner to have some sort of quirk, Holly’s Dr. Rogers is able to actually be quirky in a way that doesn’t detract.

This is the TV equivalent of putting a veteran baseball team on the field, except we’re not being allowed into the stadium to watch the game. And while ABC obviously has a reason for not yet broadcasting season three—be it ratings, schedule space, finances, or whatever—there’s nothing wrong with saying that Motive‘s absence is an unfortunate situation all around. Fans won’t get to see what comes after a second-season-ender that left us wanting more. The cast and crew don’t get to share their hard work with a broader audience. And it even hurts the network a little bit, because Mistresses won’t mesh with Rookie Blue the way that Motive did. ABC really has been a great home for the show. Everyone is giving up something with this series being kept off the air.

We can only hope that whatever is holding it up, ABC and CTV will find a way to bring season three of Motive to American airwaves sometime this year. As a consistently well-produced show with a top-notch cast, it’s one of the best programs to have come out of Canada. We’d welcome it back with open arms.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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