September 20, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>Disclaimer:  Network pilots now in circulation are not necessarily in the form that will air in the Fall.  Pilots are often reedited and rescored, and in some cases even recast or reshot.  So these critiques shouldn’t be taken as full reviews, but rather as a guide to the general style and content of the new shows coming your way.

UNFORGETTABLE –  Tuesday 10PM on CBS:  Change the Channel

UNFORGETTABLE is a CBS procedural, which is as specific a term as any that exists in current network television.  Those who adore these shows should by all means tune in; for those of us not in the club, it’s the very definition of wearily predictable. 

This one belongs to the Mentalist/Monk/Psych DNA strain, where the star sleuth has a preternatural ability to instantly absorb the tiniest details of a crime scene, unearthing clues no one else possibly could (the tip-off that it’s CBS and not USA is because it’s humorless). Our heroine is Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery, a CBS favorite from Without A Trace), who has an–apparently real–rare condition that permits her to recall every instant she has ever experienced in her life, down to the most random detail, with one glaring exception.  Like Monk and Patrick Jane, she has a calamitous murder in her past; in her case, she discovered her sister’s dead body when they were children, and she’s never been able to recall exactly what happened that day.  Her search for the killer will be the continuing story thread that runs every so often through the series; meanwhile, she’ll solve a crime-of-the-week.

Unforgettable is written by Ed Redlich and John Belucci, both also from Without A Trace, so they know how this game is played.  The pilot crime is more or less interchangeable with the murders on any other procedural.  There’s a visual gimmick to illustrate Carrie’s powers, a la Psych:  when she uses her super-memory to search for incriminating details, she travels back to the moment she’s recalling and watches herself in the present tense, sort of like Ebenezer Scrooge but without a Ghost of Murders Past for company.  Romantic sparks are intended to fly between her and the head of the homicide unit, also conveniently her ex-love; he’s played by Dylan Walsh, a long way from Nip/Tuck  Other detectives, complete with ersatz New York accents, include Michael Gaston, Kevin Rankin and Daya Vaidya.  The cast goes through its paces adequately under the direction of Niels Arden Opley, himself a walking footnote in movie history as director of the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (aka the one that’s already been eclipsed by the David Fincher remake that won’t open till December); Opley doesn’t bring anything to the project that a CBS house director wouldn’t have done.

There’s clearly an audience for a show like Unforgettable (Mitch Metcalf’s Tuesday analysis has the series winning its timeslot thanks to those fans, handily beating Body of Proof and–sob–Parenthood); for the rest of us, even the pilot may feel like a rerun we can recite line by line and shot by shot, without the need of a freakish memory.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."