Ex-‘NCIS’ Star Lauren Holly Has a New ‘Motive’ to Come Back to TV

Lauren Holly of "Motive" (Photo: ABC)

When “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” hit TV screens back in 2000, it changed the face of cop shows forever. No longer were detectives supposed to rely on their intuition to solve cases, but instead, the evidence became key.

With ABC’s “Motive,” the newest entry to the crime-drama genre, we take a step back and focus not just on who did the crime, but why the crime was committed.

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“It reminded me of old-school television like ‘Columbo,'” Lauren Holly, who plays Medical Examiner Dr. Betty Rogers, tells xfinityTV in an exclusive interview when asked about her first impression of the series.

What also makes “Motive” unique is that it identifies the killer and victim at the beginning of each episode, so the audience can work the puzzle along with Detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman, who is best known to American audiences as the Billy Campbell’s campaign adviser on AMC’s “The Killing”) and her partner Detective Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira). The story is told with the aid of some revealing flashbacks that provide clues as to what drove the killer to commit murder.

Holly, who played NCIS Director Jenny Shepard on “NCIS” for three years, takes on the Medical Examiner role that David McCallum (Ducky) plays on her old series, but she says she didn’t check in with him for advice. She does joke that “Ducky is slightly better behaved than Betty,” who it will turn out has a quirky sense of humor that helps her deal with her grim job.

“I went and spent time in morgues with real M.E.s, which was scary but quite informative,” Holly says. “I’ve never been as scared to do that kind of research for a job before. The first time I went to the basement of Vancouver General Hospital, the elevator to the morgue is very large and very slow. It gives you plenty of time to wish you weren’t on it. When the door opened, there were actual covered bodies on gurneys blocking my exit. I thought it was a joke — and it was not.”

While the real-life bodies gave Holly pause, she says she is good with fake blood, “I have been doing this for so long that I have had so many opportunities to work with all of that stuff. I quite relish all of that.”

Monday night’s premiere of “Motive,” opens with the murder of a well-liked, karaoke-singing high school science teacher (guest star Joey McIntyre) in what appears to be a home invasion gone wrong. His wife, of course, is a suspect, but somehow, despite the fact that she is cheating on her husband, it doesn’t feel like the right motive to Angie and Oscar. And Angie’s instincts point her to a student at the high school where the victim taught.

“I really like the first episode,” Holly says. “It sets up our show and who the characters are really well. Because of the twists in the episode, you think you know but you don’t know until the end. I think it looks amazing. I love the way it is shot and it is really interesting characters. It is a little bit different than the normal crime drama is out there.”

Holly also is happy with the way the relationship between Angie and Betty is written, finding it realistic. She says, “Our characters both think that the other is really good at our job. We are hashing it out together. We respect each other’s opinions. Socially, it seems like when we have time, we get together. It is very easygoing. It is more like what female relationships in the workplace are, as opposed to what it is on television.”

“Motive,” which is about to start filming its second season for airing in Canada, also stars Roger Cross (“24,” “Arrow”) as Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom, Brendan Penny (“Whistler”) as Detective Brian Lucas and Cameron Bright (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2”) as Manny Flynn.

“Motive,” created by Daniel Cerone, premieres Monday, May 20 in the 10/9c timeslot on ABC, then moves to its regular timeslot on Thursday, May 23 at 9/8c.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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