How unforgettable is "Unforgettable"?

Heather Wines

Poppy Montgomery and Dylan Walsh in "Unforgettable."
Heather Wines

(CBS) For "Unforgettable," there's a bumper crop of everything you could ever want - or not want - in a police procedural. Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery from "Without a Trace") is a former police detective from Syracuse, N.Y. She now lives in Queens, one of New York's five boroughs, and she gets by counting cards at illegal casinos.

See, Carrie can count cards because she has hyperthymesia. In other words, she has superior autobiographical memory and can remember anything from her life almost instantly. Except who killed her sister, Rachel, whose murder she witnessed.

Pictures: CBS fall season
Read more: Understanding the gift of endless memory

And that's one of the many problems with "Unforgettable." The show manipulates how well Carrie may use the condition. In one scene, a man in a retirement home asks Carrie to tell him what happened on a particular date and she does. But she can't remember who the man is standing over her sister's dead body.

Maybe forgetting like that happens in real life. In TV, it's lazy writing. Pilots are tough - there's always a ton of information to get across - and "Unforgettable" nearly collapses under the weight of forced coincidences, thousand-yard stares and convenient plot developments.

In the opening scenes, we see that Carrie can handle a gun (remember, she was a cop). Then a woman is murdered in her building. Then the police detective in charge of the case, Al Burns (Dylan Walsh from "Nip/Tuck"), just happens to be her ex-boyfriend, with whom Carrie happened to work in Syracuse. And of course he knows all about Carrie's sister. And he closed the investigation into the sister's murder. And Carrie resigned from the police force. And...and...really?

It's all too much. It's also all too much to watch the five or six times Carrie uses memory skill - by staring into the distance and walking through a memory. What are the chances a murder witness just happens to have hyperthymesia, was once a detective and can help the cops?

Montgomery and Walsh are appealing actors and maybe after a couple or three episodes, the show will find its stride and turn the memory gambit into something other than a tease that doesn't deliver. The one character development that seems intriguing - hyperthymesia as a curse, not a gift - may build into something. But otherwise this is a standard cop show with a not-so-well-played twist. As it is, you can forget "Unforgettable."

  • David Riedel

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.