Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Unforgettable actually the opposite

     CBS's newest crime drama is Unforgettable. The series follows Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery, Without a Trace), a former cop, who now volunteers at a nursing home and counts cards to earn money. Carrie has a condition that gives her a perfect memory. Well, except for the day when her sister died, while Carrie was still a child. The pain of that event, as well as the cases she used to work, drive her away from the profession. Until her neighbor is murdered in "Pilot," and former flame and co-worker Al Burns (Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck) coincidentally shows up. He pushes her to help him solve the crime, which she does, then entices her back to work.

    The memory thing is the "unique hook" that is supposed to set Unforgettable apart from the approximately ten thousand other crime procedurals currently running on the network. It's a weak one, and one that seems lazy for the writers. When the cops run out of clues on a case, they just stand around while Carrie examines her recollection, and surprise, finds something that will help the investigation. This sure is convenient for the police force, and it's a wonder she was ever allowed to leave her unit. Surely the governor could have drafted her back into service or something. But that would be a more clever, far more intelligent series. Not what CBS thrives on.

     Which is kind of the point. CBS knows exactly who it's demographic is, mostly older viewers who don't seem to want to think while they watch their television. Almost every series cranked out is geared towards that demo, and those people will love Unforgettable. Why not? Attractive, capable actors working on cases that will be solved at the end of every hour. For those seeking deeper fare, though, that is, television actually worthy watch, Unforgettable is a disappointment. It's completely generic and predictable, and will likely be pretty much the same week in and week out.

     That's a shame, because the "Pilot" of Unforgettable actually sets up some interesting story. The nursing home where Carrie spends so much of her time actually houses her mother. The elderly woman has Alzheimer's, and asks about dead sister Rachel without recognizing Carrie. Also, the murder of Carrie's sister is still unsolved, and Al promises to help Carrie figure it out. Were this the plot for the next several episodes or the season, Unforgettable could be quite good. Instead, the tiniest bits of screen time in future episodes will occasionally hark back to this story, until years later Carrie solves the case in the series finale. Certainly not worth sitting through year after year of the show to see.
     My opinion on Unforgettable is obvious, but if you're a fan of crime procedurals, you may want to check it out. Unforgettable airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.

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