Two leftover series show promise

Beau Bridges plays the deceased wealthy father in "The Goodwin Games."
Beau Bridges plays the deceased wealthy father in "The Goodwin Games." (RAY MICKSHAW / Fox)
Posted: May 19, 2013

Shows that debut on broadcast this time of year, just as the season is ending, are generally remainders. They're series the networks bought and paid for, and then, for one reason or another, had second thoughts about.

But this inauspicious out-of-season interval has spawned such significant hits as Seinfeld, Castle, The Office, Northern Exposure, and American Idol.

The two shows debuting Monday have, to varying degrees, promising pilots. We'll see if they survive the summer.

In The Goodwin Games (8:30 p.m., Fox29), the three adult (and I use that term loosely) children of Beau Bridges return home for his funeral. To their shock, their penurious math-instructor father left an estate of $23 million.

One and only one of them will inherit the riches if they follow his extensive prerecorded last wishes. This sets off a feverish rivalry among siblings who were inordinately competitive to begin with.

There's Henry, the oldest child, a family hero with feet of clay. He's a ludicrously overscheduled Type A surgeon. Henry is played by Scott Foley, who has been persistently trying to find his prime-time niche since Felicity. Most recently, he was seen gumming things up on Scandal.

Chloe is a struggling but sharp wannabe actress, played by Becki Newton, who fulfills the comic potential she showed on Ugly Betty.

Then there's the baby black sheep, Jimmy, a simpleton and small-time thief just sprung from his latest jail term. He's played by T.J. Miller, who's always oddly appealing despite being typecast as a clueless loser.

The writing is clever and crisp at times, but there's little chemistry among the actors. And the premise is contrived and confining.

Bridges keeps popping up, dressed like Orville Redenbacher, via a box of VHS tapes maintained by his lawyer, presciently anticipating every move his kids make. About the third time Bridges nails a perfect posthumous reaction or rejoinder to his kids' shenanigans, the gimmick is already tired. And that's in the first episode. Wait until Week Six!

The drama debuting Monday also uses a conspicuous plot device, but this one is intriguing.

Motive (10:01 p.m., 6ABC) is a police procedural that identifies the killer and the victim right at the top of the show. Then it uses flashbacks and multiple vantages to show how the crime took place and how the case gets solved.

Its nonlinear, whydunit approach makes the show stand out. The fractured loop-de-loop narrative creates not just surprise but suspense.

Kristin Lehman ( The Killing) is fearless, funny and convincing as Detective Angie Flynn. Canadian TV veteran Louis Ferreira plays her partner, and Bristol's Lauren Holly ( NCIS) is the salty coroner. Lehman actually resembles the younger Picket Fences-era Holly, so much so that at first I though she was performing a double role.

And keep your eyes peeled in the pilot for a New Kids on the Block band member.

ABC must have some confidence in Motive, already a hit on Canadian television, because it's giving the show the post- Dancing With the Stars finale launching pad.

If Motive consistently finds imaginative ways to work its formula, it may be with us for a while.

Television

The Goodwin Games

8:30 p.m.

Monday on Fox29

Motive

10:01 p.m.

Monday on 6ABC


Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_TV.

Read his blog at www.inquirer.com/daveondemand

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