Poppy Montgomery can remember every tiny detail in her new crime drama on Nine, a series which owes a debt of gratitude to The Mentalist.

Calling a TV drama Unforgettable is quite a bold move. It lends itself to all sorts of headlines from critics if it doesn’t perform.

The title is probably the boldest thing about this CBS police procedural, with the majority of the show planted firmly in familiar territory.

The opening episode isn’t exactly unforgettable, but it does manage to pitch itself confidently at those who are a fan of the genre.

Australian actress Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) plays Carrie Wells, a New York woman who has hyperthymesia, which allows her to remember every detail that has crossed her path. From the pill dosage that an elderly man has popped at the nursing home where she volunteers, to each episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (the poor thing!), nothing gets by her.

Apparently there are only a handful of people in the US who have the skill. Presumably they differ from the handful of mathematical smarties who have inspired Numb3rs and the observant tricksters that gave rise to The Mentalist. I’m guessing those Medium psychics also number a few more.

Finding a point of difference in this crowded genre is the real challenge, but having two strong leads in Montgomery and Dylan Walsh (Nip / Tuck) as Det. Al Burns surely helps.

When Wells discovers a slain body at her apartment block, Burns and his team are called to attend. It turns out both have a past, but let’s leave the rest of that for the episode.

Like Patrick Jane in The Mentalist, Carrie is lured into assisting the cops solve the murder by employing her powers of memory. Flashback scenes are used to visualise her recall. Reliving the moment she stumbled upon the body we watch Carrie watching herself, literally, as she picks up on the telltale signs she missed in the moment of panic.

These replay scenes, which will obviously become a mainstay across the series, work quite well and the viewer may enjoy playing detective, identifying key clues in scenes they have seen before.

Walsh impressed with his melodramatic performances on Nip / Tuck but here he is denied any moments of humour. Instead he works hard at being serious cop, with flashes of emotion. Count the number of times he asks Carrie “are you ok?” when she is deep in recall.

The plot is fairly routine, right up to the moment when Carrie foolishly puts herself in a moment of jeopardy. She remembers a lot, but not the basics of self-preservation it seems.

There is also a backstory invested into the series in which her sister was murdered when both were children. This adds some depth to her character and should serve as an unfolding series arc.

Adding this to its schedule along with CSI, CSI: Miami, Prime Suspect and The Mentalist will see cop shows return to Nine’s evening schedule, but will there be enough appetite for all?

In fact Unforgettable owes much to The Mentalist, which works so well thanks to the understated performance of the charismatic Simon Baker. If the material is strong enough Poppy Montgomery could ultimately prove memorable in this role too.

I guess it was too much to shell out for the rights to Nat King Cole’s song of the same name?

 Unforgettable airs 8:30pm Thursdays on Nine

12 Responses

  1. Yet another series that should have been a TV movie. There are just way too many crime dramas on television. At least Unforgettable has an interesting twist with the perfect memory angle but after a week or two it will be just one more “who did the murder” show.

  2. But honestly this is a terrible show, lazy writing and sorry the whole concept just doesn’t work. Besides that fact this is just another cop show with a gimmick, having scenes of someone remembering stuff does not make for entertaining viewing, there is no good way to dramatize people having memories. I mean i have heard of photographic memory, not 360 degrees of HD holographic memory.

    Also she was only of use because she happened to have been in the victims home once, so how on earth is her superpower going to be of use in crimes? Is everyone that she has ever met going to be victims so she can remember things? Perhaps she is actually a serial killer who is putting on the whole memory act (Dexter crossover anyone?). Also the back story is so pointless and is just trying to copy the mentalist, we all know it will be tediously revealed throughout the season, probably ending with her remembering she killed he sister.

    Oh and by the way, terrible american accent, the aussie slips through quite often.

  3. I’ve been holding out for another stronger female lead crime series to follow with The Closer’s run almost over. After enduring the pilots for both this and Prime Suspect, it seems the wait will continue.

  4. I watched the pilot of this and thought it was pretty good

    The second episode was worse, though. Very derivative plot…by 15 minutes in I had switched off.

    As David said the two lead actors are what make this show (somewhat) engaging.

  5. Interesting idea but not worth a whole series. By episode 2 writers are already stretched to try an find things for her to remember. What use is being able to remember everything You have experienced when solving a crime of which you know nothing? It ends up being just another ‘observant trickster’ type show – nothing special at all with the ‘remember’ situations so contrived it is laughable.

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