TV Review: CBS’s ‘Unforgettable’ Doesn’t Live Up to Title

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CHICAGO – Despite the best efforts of TV veterans Poppy Montgomery (“Without a Trace”) and Dylan Walsh (“Nip/Tuck”), “Unforgettable” is another dull CBS procedural, a show with some decent characters and a relatively-intriguing premise that is undone by weak writing and a silly presentation. CBS is such a juggernaut that anything can become a hit but it’s hard to believe this one will love up to its title for most viewers. TV Rating: 2.0/5.0
TV Rating: 2.0/5.0

Remember that “60 Minutes” about the people with extreme memory? The one with Marilu Henner? It’s almost as if someone saw that excellent piece about folks who can tell you if it was raining on any particular Tuesday in the last fifty years and realized there could be a procedural buried in there. Imagine the potential crime-solving of a woman with perfect memory. Such is the high concept of “Unforgettable,” a show with echoes of “Medium,” “C.S.I.,” and even “Psych” or “The Mentalist” with their focused heroes. When a pilot reminds you of other programs more than creates an identity of its own, that’s a problem.

Photo credit: CBS

The best thing about “Unforgettable” is its charming star, the talented and beautiful Poppy Montgomery, who fans will recognize from “Without a Trace.” Montgomery plays Carrie Wells, a woman with a rare condition that allows her perfect memory. Imagine a detective who not only doesn’t need a notebook but can remember everything the witness said and immediately pick out when it doesn’t fit with another memory of the details of the scene.

Photo credit: CBS

Careful readers may be able to pick out an instant problem — watching someone remember isn’t exactly thrilling. To try and combat this dilemma, the producers of “Unforgettable” actually have several scenes in which Carrie stares off into the distance as if in a trance and her memory sort of plays out around her. They’re awkward, horribly produced, embarrassing moments that look more silly than dramatic. If “Unforgettable” is going to survive, they need to be dumped. Just have Carrie know the details and have all the answers. We don’t need to visualize her pulling them from her remarkable memory bank.

Of course, every heroine needs a fatal flaw and Carrie’s is that the only day that she can’t remember is the one on which her sister was murdered. The failure to remember those details have left Carrie shattered and even pushed her off the force. In the first episode, she’s reunited with her former partner and ex-boyfriend NYPD Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh) when she helps out with a case. It’s not spoiler to say that she’s back crime-solving for good by the end of the premiere. Such is the set-up/concept for the show.

Much like “The Mentalist” weaves a mystery-of-the-week structure around a larger arc, Carrie’s personal issues about the death of her sister will probably pop up occasionally but “Unforgettable” will be mostly another procedural-with-a-twist. As talented and charismatic as Montgomery can be, even she falls victim to the generic, dull nature of the program, one that doesn’t qualify as one of the worst new shows of the season by virtue of being too easy to forget.

“Unforgettable” stars Poppy Montgomery, Dylan Walsh, Michael Gaston, Kevin Rankin, and Daya Vaidya. It premieres on CBS on Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 at 9pm CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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TV Review: CBS’s ‘Unforgettable’ Doesn’t Live Up to

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