If there's one thing Unforgettable successfully taught us in its pilot episode, it's that having hyperthymesia -- the condition its protagonist Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery) has which gives her a photographic memory -- is not all fun and games. Sure, you can count cards, but you'll quickly get caught and have to turn all of the corrupt casino goons against each other. You can solve crimes, but that includes the one where your kid sister was violently murdered. You can impress a few old folks at the retirement home, but that comes with the unfortunate burden of remembering every single second to all of the Everybody Loves Raymond episodes you've seen. There are drawbacks.
Carrie has a whole mess of problems in her life, really, and not all of them are strictly because of her amazing memory. For one, she does have that deceased sister whose case has never been solved. She was the youngest detective in the history of the Syracuse, but these days, all she really wants is a peaceful little life in Queens that doesn't involve having violent crimes etched into her brain forever. When she's reluctantly asked by her ex-boyfriend and former partner, Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh) to join his homicide unit, she realizes that she can no longer escape what she's been running from... especially if she literally can't get it out of her head. There's definitely actual storyline happening here -- sexual tension between Carrie and Al and the mystery of her sister's homicide -- while still holding the elements of CBS' other zillion police procedural shows. Between the way her condition is integrated into each story, and the show's episodic mysteries (the pilot's wasn't exactly Wire-grade, but it was alright), Unforgettable comes across like Monk meets Law & Order.
I think the reason to watch Unforgettable is really for those moments where we're inside of Carrie's memory, seeing her past in action. The attention to detail, the second when she sees a missing piece of the puzzle, the connection she makes to the crime she's solving... that part is great. It's not as on-the-nose as I had feared, and the show really does take its time peeling back the layers until we can finally see the big reveal. Had they paid as much attention to the score -- was that a Staind song I heard in Carrie's flashback to her in bed with Al? -- the show would have been that much better. And then there's the typical whodunit of each episode, with nothing particularly interesting about the first case; it has your standard twists, and probably could have eventually been solved by police who weren't gifted with hyperthymesia. It would've taken longer, but Carrie isn't exactly a superhero.
All in all, Unforgettable does a decent job balancing the dark with the light, giving us sweet moments in Carrie's memory mixed with creepy flashes of her witnessing her sister's murder. I wouldn't call it "must-see TV", and I imagine the premise will get very tired very quickly, but as much as I wanted to go the low road and use a joke about the title changing to Unwatchable, it's a perfectly fine series. DVRable, even.
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