April 5, 2014

THE SKED Midseason Premiere Review: “Unforgettable”



UNFORGETTABLE, the CBS procedural whose title practically begs to be a punchline, is back.  Although “back” isn’t exactly the word:  Unforgettable was famously canceled after its initial 2011-12 season, and then uncanceled to serve as filler for CBS with a 13-episode order.  7 of those episodes aired last summer, and the back 6 hours have been slotted into the remainder of the season’s Fridays now that Undercover Boss is done for the year.  (Season 3 will follow much more quickly, intended for this summer.)

The gimmick of Unforgettable, for those who’ve forgotten, is that Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery) is an NYPD cop with hyperthymesia, which means she has a photographic memory that can recapture every visual detail of every moment she’s ever experienced.  The glaring exception was the murder of her sister when she was a child, which was a major continuing plotline during the first season of the series, but more or less abandoned in the lighter Season 2.  That reboot also transferred Carrie and her partner Al Burns (Dylan Walsh) to a Major Crimes Unit in Manhattan, run by the amiably bureaucratic Eliot Delson (Dallas Roberts).

Tonight’s episode, written by Consulting Producer Barry Schindler and directed by Jan Eliasberg, was routine in the extreme, as Carrie and Al went undercover as a married couple to trap a killer targeting couples whose husbands were dallying with hookers.  The gag was that Carrie and Al really did have a past together, giving an undertone to all their pretend romance.  Montgomery and Walsh played it well together, but the whimsy was laid on with a trowel.  (I was one more remembering-our-favorite-sushi joke from hitting the DVR fast-forward button.)  In the end, the killer turned out to be the classic Guy Who Turned Up Briefly In An Early Scene, who went from seemingly normal to full-on popeyed Norman Bates (he started calling Carrie “Mother”) in mere seconds.  Carrie’s phenomenal memory was invoked a couple of times, but in truth it added little to the story.

Unforgettable is exactly the kind of procedural that’s given CBS its reputation for stodgy, arthritic scripted hours, and nothing at this midway point of its second season suggests that it has any ambitious of becoming anything else.  The best that can be said for it is that it pays the mortgage for talented performers like Roberts and Jane Curtin (as Carrie’s favorite pathologist).  It’s the kind of show that, in the absence of hyperthymesia, you could watch for 45 minutes before realizing you were staring at a rerun you’d already seen, because all the episodes are almost exactly alike.


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."