If Christian Slater's last show, My Own Worst Enemy, had been a little less high-concept, it might still be on the air today. After all, Slater is eminently likable, and he played two great characters alongside a strong supporting cast. But the plot, in which Slater flip-flopped between a spy persona and a suburban dad cover, could get confusing, especially since the line between his two lives was shattered from the word "go." (The fact that Dollhouse has made it to a second season with a similar plotline is a testament to Joss Whedon's fan base and Eliza Dushku's workout regimen.) So what do you do with a charismatic lead like Slater now? You put him in an incredibly familiar show, one that your viewers can understand easily, since it's pretty much a duplicate of the popular show Cold Case.
...At least, it seems pretty similar to the one episode of Cold Case I've ever seen. While they're not actually police, ex-cop Alex Donovan (Christian Slater) heads up the Forgotten Network, which is not only annoyingly named, but also wildly inaccurate, since the John Does they investigate aren't forgotten, just unidentified. Somebody remembers them, they just don't know where they are. For instance, Christian Slater's eight-year-old daughter was kidnapped, and has been missing for two years -- is she forgotten? Of course not. And besides, it seems like the network gets their John Does the minute the police run out of leads, or can't dedicate any more time to it, so their leads are still pretty fresh. How an ex-cop and a group of hobbyists with no real criminal training can discover things the police can't is a little depressing, but it does seem to involve a lot of canvassing, and scouring of vintage clothing shops, and checking out the goth nightclub scene, which can certainly be time-consuming, believe me. (Yes, the first victim is a goth girl.)
Also on the team: Lindsay Drake, whose home is the team's HQ. She seems to have a famous (absent) husband she doesn't want to talk about. (His damage is on the Web, but I won't spoil it here.) Walter Bailey is a bumbling phone company employee with an overly dramatic approach to investigating he seems to have learned from movies. Candace Butler hates her day job, but feels strongly about what she does with the network, and is easy to talk to. The newest team member is a paroled young graffiti artist, sculptor and ex-med student, Tyler Davies, who has been assigned to the team by a judge, and actually creates a lifelike sculpture of the victim -- from photos of the heavily decomposed body, mind you. He seems incredibly useful, which will make it suck all the more when his 200 hours of community service are up. He must have burned through at least 48 of those in this episode alone. Here's hoping they can find another artist with his skills who's maybe a little bit less sullen.
The team also has a police liaison, Detective Grace Russell, who turns up a lot considering how little time she was able to give the case before. Of course, once they find out who the girl is and where she lives, the case gets re-opened, since now they can actually try to find the murderer, so that actually makes sense. The show has the standard false leads, which are eliminated one by one until we find out the murderer is the person we never suspected, but who seemed to be a better actor than the role called for, or at least more attractive than your standard character actor. I don't know if we'll get a murderer every week, though; I have to imagine they could do a whole episode about just figuring out who someone is. Giving closure to the family seems to be what all of these people do the job for, and catching the perp is secondary, although Donovan does seem to enjoy it. He even identifies himself as police as he chases a guy down, which could probably get the guy off the hook in a court of law.
The show seems like it could have promise, but it really is a procedural in the strictest sense of the word, despite their nonprofessional status. The characters go through a ton of steps to get their end result, and while sometimes a step seems silly and pointless, it's actually a necessary link in the chain of gathering evidence. Donovan obviously has ulterior motives to be doing what he's doing, as does Drake. Hopefully Bailey and Butler have good stories, too, and maybe Davies will even live up to his mad sculpting skills by not being such a Debbie Downer all the time. Not sure I'd choose it over Sons of Anarchy, but to each their own.
Did you watch The Forgotten? What did you think?
MOST RECENT POSTS