'Unforgettable': What the Critics Are Saying
CBS' new procedural Unforgettable debuted Tuesday to solid numbers despite a mixed critical reception. The drama, starring Without a Trace alum Poppy Montgomery and Nip/Tuck's Dylan Walsh, won its 10 p.m. time period in all categories (14 million, 2.9), helping CBS rank second in the night's ratings (3.6 average) and maintain its "most-watched network" title by drawing 16.7 million in primetime.
Montgomery plays Carrie Wells, a former police detective with the rare disorder known as HSAM (highly superior autobiographical memory), which allows her to recall everything she's ever seen. (Actress Marilu Henner actually has HSAM and serves as a consultant on the show.)
The Hollywood Reporter's chief television critic Tim Goodman called the show "particularly tedious," noting that "once called upon to remember every single important detail of a day or scene, Montgomery's character basically goes mute and looks around in slow motion while the camera replays what we've already seen." He concludes, "It's a new kind of plodding -- so slow, you are almost begging her to stay retired so you don't have to witness her gifts in action again."
The New York Times' Neil Genzlinger wrote that Montgomery is the key to the show's success: "Because the structure and plot points are so familiar, whether it succeeds will depend largely on the appeal of its star, Poppy Montgomery."
The Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin complemented the program as "a quirky, captivating take on the police procedurals that have been a staple of the CBS schedule over the past decade." He added, "Even considering Unforgettable as pure cop drama, you could do much worse. Its action sequences are energetic, its crime scenes shot with noirish gloom. And the video effects that allow Montgomery to stand outside her own memories, examining them for telltale clues, are eye-popping."
USA Today's Robert Blanco did not buy Montgomery's character Carrie's crime-solving abilities: "Unfortunately, as a mystery, Unforgettable does not always play fair with its gimmick. Carrie's memory isn't really what solves [Tuesday's] crime; it's her near-miraculous ability to be at just the right place at the right time. You have a decent show going there, Carrie, with a fine cast and a dependable premise. Just don't forget we've been down this block a few times ourselves."
CBS' David Riedel also pokes holes in the show's premise: "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."
Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara said, "As terrific as it is to see Without a Trace's Poppy Montgomery back in action, her timing is not great. Coming in at the tail end of the 'detective with something special' that is currently in vogue, Montgomery got gypped. Based on a J. Robert Lennon story called 'The Rememberer,' it isn't the worst conceit every imagined. But it isn't the best either, and what with all those con men/novelists/lie experts/anthropologists out there using their specialized skills to solve crimes, Unforgettable creators Ed Redlich and John Bellucci will need more than a rare disorder to separate itself from the pack."
CNN's Breeanna Hare has given up on the show altogether: "By the time Unforgettable ends there was little to convince me that this was worth tuning back in for. There was the hint that Wells will continue to uncover what happened to her sister, and the chemistry between Burns and Wells was entertaining, but neither caused me to care enough to watch another episode."