'Motive': Lauren Holly Previews ABC's Crime Drama With a Procedural Twist
With the victim and suspect identified at the beginning of each episode, the summer series takes a page out of "Columbo's" book, the "NCIS" alum tells THR.
Motive isn't your everyday crime procedural.
From Dexter executive producer Daniel Cerone, Motive doesn't focus on the search for the suspect. Instead, the beginning of each episode identifies the victim and the killer, with the question of why the crime was even committed serving as the main mystery.
Leading the way is Detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman), a single mother and proven asset to the department, along with her partner, Detective Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira). The team also includes quirky medical examiner Dr. Betty Rogers (Lauren Holly), Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom (Roger Cross) and rookie Detective Brian Lucas (Brendan Penny).
"It's just a simple change that makes it completely different," Holly, best known as Jenny Shepard on NCIS, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's almost amazing that it's not done all the time, but I'd like to think that it's almost a little old-school. It reminds me of a show like Columbo."
For the veteran actress, embarking on a journey in figuring out the motive was just as important as finding the suspect. "Things are so slick now, it's fun to go backwards. When you're first introduced to the victim and the killer, you really wonder how do their paths cross?" she says. "When you think you've figured it out, along with the detectives, there's usually yet another twist."
As Holly tells it, the procedural feel maintains itself through the first season, which just wrapped up May 16 in Canada. (Motive has been renewed for a second season in Canada.) But there is something for those seeking a longer arc. "The loyal viewers are rewarded by learning more and more about each of the characters," she says, "and what's going on at home or outside of the work or things that are going on that inform who the characters are."
Dr. Rogers, as Holly describes her, is the "sassy" one in the group, "who tends to have the humor and probably -- one suspects -- has an active and full nightlife, which she seems to relish." Dr. Rogers' relationship with Detective Flynn is one "of mutual respect," Holly says, but her dynamic with Detective Vega is more of the sexual nature. "She loves being the confident sexual being that she is around him," she says. "It's a personal favorite of mine to see when we're [she and Ferreira] in a scene together if I can make him [Ferreira] blush."
Over the course of 13 episodes, the types of crimes the team go about solving "run the gamut," Holly says, from "hit-and-runs to poisonings."
The premiere, however, is near and dear to Holly's heart -- and it includes Dr. Rogers' introduction, which the actress singled out as a highlight. "You know exactly who everybody is and how [the show] works. That's very satisfying. You don't have to wait for it to evolve over the season," she assures.
New Kids on the Block's Joey McIntyre makes an appearance in the first episode, which airs after the first of the two-night Dancing With the Stars finale, playing a well-liked, karaoke-singing high school teacher who is found murdered in his bedroom. "It's so funny!" Holly says excitedly. "I wanted him to sing to me but I didn't ask him because I figured that every guest star always ends up naked on my table so it's kind of fun."
Motive will be previewed at 10 p.m. Monday on ABC, before debuting in its regular time slot at 9 p.m. Thursday.