NEW YORK —
It's a fitting premise.
After canceling "Unforgettable" at the end of the 2012 season, CBS is now bringing it back, believing a recognizable name and familiar characters can sell a show with a new setup, tone and schedule. When the debut episode airs on Sunday, it will pose a fraught question: In this age of
"What became increasingly clear to us after we canceled 'Unforgettable' is that it made a very strong impression on fans," said CBS president of entertainment Nina Tassler. "So we decided to give it a second chance.
"Unforgettable" has a Hollywood back story as twisty as a prime-time plot. Developed by CBS and
Most passes don't get another shot, but after producers were able to cast former
After an aborted attempt by
CBS had wanted more original scripted programming to go with its big summer bet, the adaptation of
Writers also removed the haunting arc of the first season in which Carrie grapples with her sister's long-unsolved murder, and made her generally less burdened by her ability to recall every last painful moment. "We decided to have fun with her gift a little more," Redlich said. "I'm not sure we did enough of that in the first season." (Incidentally, Carrie's gift/affliction is similar to that carried by Marilu Henner, who serves as a consultant on the show.)
But true to form, there was another obstacle: Montgomery was now pregnant and would be in her third trimester as shooting was set to begin. She gamely agreed to start production barely a month after she would give birth, doing action scenes even as she recovered from labor.
"It's been a good way to get back into shape," said the actress, taking a break between takes on set. "But it also helps to have 19 red-haired [stunt] doubles of me running around," the ginger-haired Aussie laughed.
Still, the pregnancy meant shooting would need to be delayed by two months, forcing the show to debut at the end of July instead of early June — and five of its 13-episode order to be displaced to an as-yet undetermined place on the schedule.
But despite the challenges, the show's principals think they have a winning formula.
On location at a Brooklyn banquet hall overlooking the East River last week, that formula was on display. Amid extras dressed in SWAT uniforms, Montgomery brandished her weapon and used charm and steadfastness to talk down a post-traumatic-stress-afflicted former Army officer threatening hostages. "We can still be intense sometimes," she said, smiling to a reporter.
Whether audiences will respond to these new episodes is an open question. Despite its appealing star and recognizable name, "Unforgettable" is in the tricky position of trying to win back a fan base that may well have forgotten about the series in the 14 months it's been gone — and with episodes far different from the originals. (With the long-running murdered-sister story line scratched, for instance, the season is composed mostly of self-contained episodes and features no larger arc, a la early "Law & Order.")
And series comebacks are generally trickier than they appear, in part because new episodes, no matter how strong, must contend with fans' nostalgia about the quality of the original — see under:
's Arrested Development."
But CBS hopes the quality of its creative team (Redlich and Bellucci also worked on "Without a Trace") and the size of the initial fan base can overcome these obstacles. "What we have faith in is the track record of our show runners and our concept," Tassler said. "And," she added, "other networks have current shows on the air that do lower numbers than 'Unforgettable.'"
When: 9 p.m. Sunday
Rating: TV-14-LV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language and violence)