Motive and Mistresses

The smash hit band of the summer! 

Actually those are the titles of two shows that aired on ABC over the summer season.

Motive is a Canadian series about two detectives solving murders in Vancouver. There are no standout performances from the cast. It doesn’t have any of the hallmarks you would look for in a great television show. Motive makes its mark in the way it presents its story.

Most whodunnits are about finding the bad guy before it’s too late. Motive gives you the killer and the victim each week in the opening scene. Viewers know this but the detectives don’t, so the show plays a little bit of a game with you. As you watch the detectives try to find the killer you are trying to figure out the killer’s motive, hence the title. I can’t think of any other show I watch that gives you the viewer a different reason to watch the show than the characters within it are experiencing. It draws you in to make you feel like you are solving the case along with them.

Like I said, nothing outstanding from the actors but nothing bad either. The chemistry is good, the dialogue is sharp and the stories are pretty tight. It’s a textbook procedural, so much so that the season finale was indistinguishable from a regular episode. But regular episodes are fun to watch for the different way they are presented. If you have Netflix or Hulu Plus, Motive is a nice simple show you can watch without feeling compelled to watch five more.

Mistresses

When you put four attractive women in a show, call it Mistresses and market it for the sex appeal you are inevitably going to get comparisons with Sex and the City. I would compare them like this: If Sex and the City was about sex, Mistresses is about consequences. Only one of the four sexcapades her way thru the season but it’s rarely gratuitous and always part of exploring her faults. That’s the purpose of sex in Mistresses: It exposes faults.

The premiere episode showed the conflict each of the four would face as their sex lives fail them. Karen slept with a client, Savannah can’t get pregnant, Joss can’t carry on a meaningful relationship and April is getting back into dating after her husband’s death. Unlike SATC they deal with their problems like adults whose decisions hurt other people. It’s a mature show in this way.

There is some good acting, most notably the chemistry between Alyssa Milano and her husband, played by Brett Tucker. Their scenes are the best of the series. It’s good to see Yunjim Kim back on American TV, but her performance is pretty ordinary. Jes Macallan is perfectly cast as Savannah’s sexually liberated sister. Shannyn Sossamon plays her client-turned-girlfriend. I don’t have anything to say about that other than Sossamon’s first child is named Audio Science Clayton.

The season finale appeared ready to go completely off the rails but righted itself in time to end with a cliffhanger that I totally bought. The show definitely earned itself a second season. I have an idea forthcoming as to a great way that could unfold.

What you see with Mistresses is what you get. It less opaque than a show like Longmire. It is more like Motive. You don’t have to put much thought into it to enjoy it. In that way these two shows are perfect for the summer. In the fall or even the spring season they might not make it. When there’s nothing else on, both work just fine.

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