September 21st, 2011
02:56 PM ET
I’m willing to wager that John Bellucci and Ed Redlich, the creators of CBS’ “Unforgettable,” are starting to wonder if they should’ve gone with a different title.
The latest in a series of crime dramas from the network feels awfully familiar – the New York City streets filled with crime, the cops who manage to crack the case by the end of the hour – and even with a unique ability for the series star, “Unforgettable” is precisely the opposite.
“Without A Trace’s” Poppy Montgomery stars as Carrie Wells, a former police detective with the ability to recall everything that’s happened to her, as she has HSAM (highly superior autobiographical memory), or hyperthymesia, as it was formerly known. (“60 Minutes” actually did a piece on the rare condition, which highlighted the experience of “Taxi’s” Marilu Henner, who serves as a consultant for “Unforgettable.”)
Detectives and doctors with special abilities that come in handy on the job is not new, but Montgomery’s Wells does a fair job of carrying the burden it must be to never be able to forget a single detail, even those you wish you could. As she explains in a conversation with her ex flame and ex partner Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh), that means she can’t forget the professional trauma of seeing so much violence (or the personal hurts like the former couple’s arguments, as we see in a great bit of dialogue between the two when they initially meet again).
The inability to forget, plus the one thing she can't remember, is what caused her to leave behind her badge and move to Queens, where she volunteers with those suffering from Alzheimer’s and counts cards in underground casinos to pay the bills. Wells’ Achilles heel is that she can’t remember what happened when her sister was killed when they were kids.
Wells falls back into police work when a neighbor in her building is murdered, and Burns sweeps back into her life as one of the cops working the case. Soon enough, we see Wells’ ability in action: As she’s recalling past events, the scene the viewers have watched is replayed from Wells’ perspective as she watches herself take in the events in question.
The character literally steps into the frame and looks for clues - a shadow here, a photograph there - that further the case. It's basically like playing a memory game, but with more grisly details.
Visually it's a stretch, but it's better than simply watching her furrow her brow and "concentrate" on her recall. The question remains as to how they’ll be able to use this ability in every episode, because she presumably can’t always be a witness to a crime.
By the time "Unforgettable" ends – eliciting major eye-rolling after Wells ventures off to try to apprehend the bad guy on her own, only to have Burns come to her rescue – there was little to convince me that this was worth tuning back in for. There was the hint that Wells will continue to uncover what happened to her sister, and the chemistry between Burns and Wells was entertaining, but neither caused me to care enough to watch another episode.
That being said, the verdict may be different for crime procedural junkies. With familiarity may come a comfortable relationship for those who fall for “Unforgettable’s” Carrie Wells (accent issues, and all). What do you think? Will "Unforgettable" be able to stick it out for a whole season?
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