Review: The Forgotten 1×1

Tugging at the heartstrings because your brain will reject it

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, ABC

For every hit like the CSI franchise that Jerry Bruckheimer produces, there’s a flop like Eleventh Hour or a Justice seemingly waiting in the wings to cancel it out.

You could already hear the sound of extreme flopping from The Forgotten before it even got to our screens. Featuring five citizen investigators who try to identify missing bodies for the police, the pilot for the episode starred Rupert Penry-Jones and Reiko Aylesworth and was officially classed, even by those in it, as ‘not very good’.

With a quick recasting of those two leads that saw Penry-Jones replaced with Christian Slater (just off previous flop My Own Worst Enemy) and Aylesworth with no one at all (they just dumped the character), the pilot was reshot and now here it is.

And it’s still rubbish.

Since ABC haven’t gotten around to creating a promo for the show that features Christian Slater, here’s one with Rupert Penry-Jones; I’ll have a Slater clip later for you. Close your eyes and pretend it’s him for now though, because it’s basically the same.

THE FORGOTTEN – In the United States, the remains of 40,000 people have yet to be identified. When police investigations reach a dead end, civilian volunteers across the country work to name — The Forgotten. "The Forgotten" stars Christian Slater as Alex Donovan, Michelle Borth as Candace Butler, Heather Stephens as Lindsey Drake, Bob Stephenson as Walter Bailey, Anthony Carrigan as Tyler Davies and Rochelle Aytes as Grace Russell. (ABC/ADAM TAYLOR) ANTHONY CARRIGAN, CHRISTIAN SLATER, MICHELLE BORTH, BOB STEPHENSON, HEATHER STEPHENS

Is it any good?
Nope. Not really.

It would actually be quite hard to create a show in which people find out their children/parents/friends are dead and for it not to be moving in some way. The Forgotten does at least jump that particularly minor hurdle.

But it’s a sentimental load of old arse, cobbled together from basic writing guides, that makes no real sense. Everyone has to have a very serious, hidden motivation for why they’re volunteering to investigate these missing people. These, however, are TV motivations and have the depth of the average TV motivation (ie not much).

Our crack team is a telephone engineer (special skills: none), a woman with a good knowledge of shopping, another woman with a good knowledge of shopping, an artist/doctor/sculptor (special skills: too many), and Christian Slater (special skills: an ex-cop whom cops keep calling on to be a cop again).

They go round asking lots of question, presumably during their lunch breaks because they have surprising amounts of time on their hands for people with jobs (at least the telephone engineer has ‘windows of availability’ he can work with). Then they found out whodunnit. It’s a police show that’s trying to avoid infringing on Waking the Dead‘s copyright by not being about police.

It’s really all quite insulting to the intelligence, and in particular the inability of the writer of this pilot to know the difference between goths, emo and heavy metal fans makes it look even more shallow than you might have already suspected.

Basically, quite painful to watch, and you can understand why Rupert and co wouldn’t have been too upset to have been given the push.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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