Carrie Wells never forgets where she put her car keys. Or anything else, for that matter. A New York City detective, Wells is blessed (and cursed) with hyperthymesia, a condition that allows her to remember everything. Not just important birthdays or when to change her oil, but what she ate for breakfast … seven years ago. The spoon she used for her oatmeal. The consistency of the grapefruit. Whether the orange juice was pulpy or not. Everything.
She can remember the last day she forgot—the day her sister was murdered about 30 years ago when both of them were still children. Had she been able to remember the details from that day, she believes she would've found the killer. So, from that day forward, she says she promised herself "that I would never lose anything again." And she's devoted herself to not only solving this long unsolved crime, but other crimes too.
While Wells has yet to make much headway in her sister's case, you can see how her extra-special skill could come in handy as a detective. While the rest of her cohorts, particularly her partner-in-crime-busting Al Burns, are all dandy detectives (and generally nice folks), having Wells in their corner is a little like having a superhero at their beck and call.
But, frankly, Unforgettable might've been a more—ahem—memorable show had Wells actually been a superhero. She could wear a snazzy metallic hat that she'd call her "thinking cap." And maybe Burns would call her into the office by way of a spotlight called the Brain Signal. As it is, Unforgettable is one of the most misleading titles in today's television landscape, a landscape already littered with cookie-cutter cop procedurals. Every episode begins with a crime and ends with someone going to jail, with the 38 minutes in between filled with lots of scenes devoted to scanning for fingerprints and tense interrogations and, of course, several examples of Wells' fantastic memory. (But even that little shtick has been done before. USA's Psych and CBS' own The Mentalist both feature protagonists with spooky-sharp memories.)
Like most procedurals, content can vary widely from episode to episode. Some will deal with horrific murders or sex crimes, for instance, while others concentrate on more mundane matters. Unforgettable has kept the content throttled back, though, and that's at least something. This isn't CSI, where every case eventually winds up on the autopsy table. It's not Law & Order: SVU, where viewers squirm through the explicit details of rape after rape after rape. But neither is its content completely unremarkable. Read on for the details.
Carrie and Al are asked to come work for New York's snazzy Special Crimes Section to rescue an 11-year-old girl from serial kidnappers. They learn that the last boy kidnapped died in the wake of a botched response by law enforcement. Then, when the two prove instrumental in solving the case, they're invited to the team permanently.
People are shot and stabbed. Three corpses are found. (We see one of them close-up; the body is covered in discolored skin.) Blood stains a car floor and windshield. There's talk of poison. Guns are pointed at little girls. Participants are "shot" during a training exercise.
Lies are told to police. Characters say "h‑‑‑" (five or six times), "d‑‑n" (three or four), "a‑‑" (once) and "freaking" (once). God's name is misused a couple of times.
A woman is found murdered in her apartment. We see her body, pants pulled down (her long shirt covering her mid-section) and a bloody wound on her head. Detectives suspect rape and murder, and they question a man earlier convicted of sexual assault, asking why he hammered on her door at 2 a.m. after she rejected his advances. "It's romantic in the movies," he says.
Another suspect is found sleeping in his car with a bloodied hand. But the blood turns out to be his own, and he was apparently too drunk to stand, much less kill someone. He confesses that he had a whole host of shots at a local bar, and the friend who went with him admits to downing several beers.
We hear sexually frank discussions. Characters point guns at one another. We learn that a suspect's father and brother were killed in an explosion. A detective shatters a car window. A suspect repeatedly lies. Characters say "h‑‑‑" about half-a-dozen times; someone misuses God's name.