Written By: Mark Friedman
Draft Date: January 12, 2009
Category: Thumbs Down
Continuing our trip down suckitude lane with The Crappy Crime Show Gang, we have Exhibit B of this season's evidence that ABC can't develop a crime procedural.
The Forgotten / The Unknown is, unlike Brothers & Detectives, a show with a premise that could work. Regular citizens / amateur detectives solving unidentified persons cases. I mean... that could work, right? Do-gooders doing good. I believe there's still a place on TV for that without moral ambiguity and anti-heroes.
Then we get to the execution which - for me - just fails. Did I read this script ages ago? Yes. But it's not that none of the characters stuck with me for months... it's that none of them stuck with me immediately after reading. Which really pissed me off. What a waste of time! Also now I have to comb through the script for review details. SIGH. The amateur team is part of "The Identity Network," which the script describes (in dialogue to a potential new member) as "volunteers across the country, connected on the Internet. We share tips, ideas, we use our own knowledge and expertise... and we're all committed to finding out who these people are." Noble. A tad weird, but, hey, it's apparently a real thing. And they do it from a suburban living room with a billboard and a broadband connection!
The team is led (ish) by Alex Donovan, an ex-cop/detective in the Chicago PD. The rest team is made up, generally, of a bunch of neurotics which, individually, could play as comedy relief but together form an unserious mess. Bones gets the balance right with the squints. This... misses the mark. The team includes new guy / graffiti tagger Tyler, who does facial reconstructions with clay models (IIRC), agoraphobe Linda who (gasp!) can use a computer to post to message boards and read things, Candace, who is the pretty girl (yeah, apparently this group has one of those!), and Walter, a phone company repair tech whose specialty, I believe, was canvassing the community with flyers. There's a female detective character Alex knows and uses to get information, and I kept expecting a flirtationship that never materialized.
The case in the pilot revolves around a Jane Doe who was murdered and dumped into a ditch near a highway. And we voiceovers form and flashbacks of her throughout as the team figures more out (called a "Doe Moment" in the script...) The script thinks these things are awesome. I think they're intrusive. Of course, the more information the team collects, the more we see of her until we eventually see who she is and, voila, missing person's case solved.