Turning to Jerry Bruckheimer’s procedural factory to gain its own slice of CBS’ pie, ABC delivers “The Forgotten,” a series about identifying anonymous corpses that’s been seemingly stitched together, Frankenstein-like, from pieces of “Without a Trace” and Bruckheimer’s “Cold Case.” Christian Slater assumed the lead as the head of a team of volunteers who seemingly have nothing but time on their hands — or at least, more hours than the actual police to devote to some 40,000 unknown remains. The series would have been a fine fit for CBS, and might be well positioned to draft off that net’s “NCIS” combo.
As Alex Donovan, Slater heads something called “The Forgotten Network,” and no, that’s not a nickname for NBC. It is, rather, a quartet of people — each apparently drawn to this work by something in their pasts — who take over when the police give up, trying to ID bodies and bring closure to families before their loved ones are dumped into nameless graves.
Alex’s team is a fairly efficient bunch, inasmuch as members have to identify the victim, drum up a couple of suspects and solve the case all in an hour. The trademark Bruckheimer gimmick in this case is that the corpse — in the premiere, a young girl — narrates the episode and keeps visually popping up in places where she might have been, thus evoking a glancing resemblance to the soon-to-be-adapted novel “The Lovely Bones.”
The fifth member of the group, Tyler (Anthony Carrigan), is essentially sentenced into their company as community service, while Alex gets regular help from a Chicago cop (Rochelle Aytes) who periodically chides him for behaving like he’s a member of the force. Gee, can’t imagine why he’d be confused, as he bounces all over doing her job.
CBS’ has certainly gotten extended mileage out of Bruckheimer’s fleet of vehicles, with director Danny Cannon — who set the “CSI” franchise rolling — reprising those chores to put the wheels in motion.
Like most of its procedural ilk, “The Forgotten” is slick, plucks the right emotional chords and dribbles in a smidgeon of character development — though frankly, after his toothy dual role in NBC’s “My Own Worst Enemy” (and of course his film resume), Slater feels a trifle under-used here.
In short, while the pilot is a polished enough product, the term “product” clearly applies. In that respect, “The Forgotten” might hang around for awhile — but the show proves utterly forgettable.