The Forgotten (ABC)
Premiered September 22 at 10pm
Enough jokes were made about this title when a film of the same name starring Julianne Moore came out in 2004. I never saw it, though I have a sinking feeling that, bad as it was, it may have been more intriguing and less forgettable (had to say it) than this show. It’s essentially a far less sleek version of “Cold Case” with a civilian volunteer team trying to solve murders instead of actual police officers. One of them even wears his telephone repairman uniform all the time, to drive home the fact that these people are sacrificing their free time to help families get closure by knowing what happened to their lost loved ones. It’s a cool premise, but an unremarkable execution. What’s supposed to be intense and powerful comes off instead as painfully hokey, particularly the telephone repairman’s perpetual sporting of his uniform. Christian Slater isn’t a great lead, and this show feels like a slower-paced “Dark Blue,” just as over-the-top but not even trying to be anywhere near as dark. The cast as a whole doesn’t display much talent, and while it’s great to see “Jericho” alumni doing work, Bob Stephenson can’t save this show and the telephone service all by himself. The pilot also contains the most typical and overdone of storylines, where the new kid on the block joins the team and gets the expected “you’ll see how all this works” from everyone else consistently throughout the episode. Unfortunately, the new kid (Anthony Carrigan) is perhaps the lamest and most boring of all the characters, and he doesn’t contribute a single thing to the team. The notion of the Forgotten Network sounds cool, but it just doesn’t make for a remotely enticing show.
How will it work as a series? On the one hand, it’s a crime procedural and shows like “Cold Case” have been running for ages. On the other hand, the show needs a unique hook of some sort, and it’s just not serious enough to make its own mark. The recurring theme of Slater’s character as a parent of a missing person himself will probably drag the show down also, providing only occasional highs but leading to a dip in quality once it’s been inevitably resolved.
How long will it last? This one isn’t likely to be on for too long. ABC has concentrated all of its marketing on “Flash Forward” and its new comedies, and I think this one will get left in the dust. Competing against Leno and CBS’ “The Good Wife” will probably lead to an early retirement for the show sometime later in the fall, though high ratings could save the show temporarily.
Pilot grade: F