The Finder Still Hasn't Found What It's Looking For

Fox's new Thursday-night addition, The Finder, is a lighthearted procedural with an extraordinary color palette, and while I wish that were enough to hook me on this Bones spin-off series, the pilot's heavy reliance on expository dialogue and narrative fluff left me lukewarm. Creator Hart Hanson has developed an interesting cast of characters who live in an idealistic world where the good guys are quirkily upbeat, the bad guys are bumbling caricatures, and the scenery is always stunning. But last night's debut gave us an easy-bake oven episode: Not a whole lot went into the execution, but if you fed it to a couple of six-year-olds, they'd still say thanks. To put it bluntly, The Finder's intentions are good, and it's enjoyable enough to watch if you've already got the TV on, but if you're serious about your television you probably recognized "An Orphan Walks Into a Bar" as suffering from a classic case of pilot-itis.

Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults) is an ex-military cop who was honorably discharged from service after an injury left him with excessive brain damage. It was a blessing and a curse, I guess, because he ended up with an extraordinary ability to find things. The brain damage also obstructed his personality, giving him the quirky, pseudo-sociopathic trait we call "lack of empathy," along with some acute paranoia that provokes him to ask offensive, outwardly extraneous questions when he's in search mode. (Gregory House, anyone?) He's got the makings of a great, if familiar, character.

The supporting cast is also promising: Walter's ex-con business partner, Leo Knox (Michael Clarke Duncan) owes Walter his life, literally and figuratively. U.S. Marshal Isabel Zambada (Mercedes Masohn) barters her top-secret federal knowledge for Walter's services. And Willa (Maddie Hasson) is a young gypsy-turned-juvenile-delinquent-on-parole-turned-moonlighting-gypsy-again who lives under Walter's supervision.

The Finder is clearly a character-driven show, as most procedurals are. Characters' personalities and traits often supersede the case of the week, because their behavior (in this case, Walter's obsession with—and methods for—finding stuff) are what drive every storyline forward. The Finder has a lot to play with here, but I didn't feel like it gave us a real glimpse at the show's potential; on screen, the characters fell flat because they weren't driven by action, they were driven by dialogue. "An Orphan Walks Into a Bar" was all tell and no show (a common pilot problem). It opened in the middle of a 'find': a nameless band manager approached Walter with an, "Is it true? Did you find it?" Walter's response: "Yeah, I always find what I'm looking for. It's a fact of nature, like the world turning, or internet porn." Immediately, we were blasted with expository dialogue. The following five minutes unfolded as follows: Walter chased an armed man with a guitar case through a series of hallways, distracted him with a zany robot wearing shoes, nabbed the case, dodged about a zillion poorly fired bullets while running down a very straight, not-so-narrow hallway, and lead the armed man directly into U.S. Marshal Isabel's eager hands. The scene may have been an earnest attempt to illustrate Walter's quirky on-the-job personality, but it didn't include any actual finding.

The rest of the pilot was mostly expository dialogue heavy. The plot—a young man in the Air Force was searching for the body of his father, an Air Force pilot, in order to give him a proper burial—felt weirdly unimportant. First Walter didn't want to help the young man, then he did, then he offended the kid (who called off the whole thing), then Walter had a dream about the kid's father, who basically told Walter through MORE dialogue where his dead body was, and then the kid got back on board and the whole team flew to some island off the coast of Florida and discovered a perfectly visible-from-the-air downed plane with the young man's dead father still inside. Walter just doesn't seem very driven; it was like he arbitrarily took the case without being at all motivated by the hunt. And the way he connected the dots lessened its importance even more. The case was so conveniently spelled out that it lost its appeal. I didn't have fun finding things with Walter, and isn't that the point?

When the characters weren't talking about clues, they were talking about each other. Leo yammered on about Walter's quirks to anyone who'd listen, which was too obvious an attempt to tell us about Walter's quirks. I didn't mind Isabel's descriptive explanation to Leo that Walter had brain damage, because it allowed Leo to express (somewhat naturally) that he didn't care: Walter saved his life and got him out of trouble and for that he's forever indebted. But when Willa's parole officer, who I swear would have fit in perfectly alongside Miss Hannigan in Annie's orphanage, showed up out of nowhere to talk to Leo and Walter about tossing Willa back in juvie for no apparent reason, I was sort of over the whole talky-talky thing.

I had no real problem with the bad guy caricatures, overall—the parole officer, the weird trumpet-bearing druglord lady on the yacht, etc.—because this show isn't trying to reach for realism, but when they didn't serve an obvious purpose, they just felt like filler. We know Willa steals; we don't need to see a parole officer hanging around to prove she's bad news. That said, the tension she has with her gypsy brother is a great story device because it's a way to set her up for future challenges that will expose the depth of her character.

If you think I'm being too hard on The Finder, I understand. At first, I thought I was being too hard on it, too. And in an effort to give it the benefit of the doubt, I revisited the Bones pilot. I figured, if Bones is such a great, long-running show, then maybe it also stumbled through a mediocre pilot only to blossom later into the fan-favorite series it's become. I wish I had better news: The Bones pilot was great! It was all about character development but didn't sacrifice on plot. Bones was held at the airport because her carry-on had a skull in it, but not before Angela flashed an airline employee to get information on her whereabouts. What better way to introduce those two? You could watch the TV with the sound off and still get the gist of who they are. (I really couldn't say that for The Finder.) After that, Booth showed up to flash his FBI badge and get Bones out of airport custody. She immediately called him out for setting up the entire thing just so she'd owe him a favor and help him on a case. That's when the whole push-pull, love-hate quarreling thing began. And as soon as she struck the deal that got her on the field with Booth, the opening credits started to roll. Yes, all of that happened within the first five minutes, which proves that characters can be developed through situational circumstance, not just self-referential dialogue.

If Walter is truly a 'finder' savant—if he's driven to find—then I want to see him live, breathe, and eat to find things. My impression of the guy so far is that he's kind of apathetic. He found what he was looking for, but he didn't really seem to care. What does Walter get out of all this? If The Finder can show me that, I might jump back on board. But if future episodes continue to favor fluffy dialogue over genuine exploits, I'll be likely to "find" myself another Thursday-night-at-9pm pasttime.


Did you like the pilot? Do you think The Finder has the potential to become the next Bones?

Comments (27)
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I still think this show has more to offer if whe give it a chance.

The cast is alright its not that bad and tragic like most of the people are saying over here ^^

i have seen worse and more terrible TV Shows who lasted for couple of seasons and they where shit.

So i think whe have to wait until the full season ends to see how the story gonna developed.For now this show has my support.
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Swing and a miss! My wife and I were intrigued by the pilot, but the cast "re-conception" has exposed the program's major weakness, the main character's lack of credibility (you can only carry suspension of disbelief so far).

The only interesting thread of a story is the dynamic that occurs between Leo and Willa.

The reviewer, C. Killian, is far too generous.
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If the next few episodes are anything like the pilot, this show might not even last a full season. Let's see, hopefully, I am wrong and the rest of the episodes offer some action-driven content.
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I like the premise of the show -- I'm not a fan of procedural/case-of-the-week shows anymore, but if you're going to do one, it's more interesting to have them not be cops.



I also kind of like the characters. They're a bit quirky and silly, and the rest of the show sort of fits in line with that. I can dig light-hearted shows, but there may need to be a bit more humor to really pull it off though.



But the pilot didn't come close to reeling me in. As this article states, there was too much exposition. It also feels like they basically need to be more polished... the humor wasn't humorous enough and the drama wasn't dramatic enough. I'll stick with it for a few episodes more.
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This is an excellent review.



The exposition made 40 minutes seem like a 3 hour movie.



it's a show I want to watch, but not this...
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Waaaayyyyy too heavy on the exposition, but hopefully that's pretty much done with now. I'll at least do the 4 episode test for this one.
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It wasn't bad. However, I think it is trying to be too many things. Is it a buddy comedy? Is it a ensemble? A heartfelt rough girl trying to make it good. Etc. I think it is trying to be too many shows at once. You have Psych, which really set the bar. You have to a far lesser extent The Mentalist which took psych and tried to make an adult out of it. Then you have the unbelievable height of Sherlock. The Finder takes a lot from all of these shows and due to that it isn't any of those things.

The buddy comedy aspect between Walt and Leo is all right. But it is no Shawn and Gus. Walt is crass and callow and observant but he is no Sherlock. Sherlock dismisses cases with biting insolence and with a quick decisive''Boring!" Walt, just seems that he doesn't have that in him.



The back and forth between him and The US Marshal is interesting but if they are already sleeping with each other on occasion, there is no sexual tension like there was with Bones and Booth. Or even the unlikely friendship between Thomas Jane and Lisbon. And worse their friendship seems more unlikely.



And the Willa aspect and the Gypsies aspect just seems so out of the blue that it is odd. I think she could have been written or introduced better. Have her be someone that he found. A task given to him by a dying so and so. It seems they used the gypsy aspect in order to drop in random story lines later on in the season. Same with the Parole Officer. And not too be real harsh on the writers. PO's have dozens of cases they have to go through. One isn't going to keep popping up on the island all the time.



So you have all of this wrapped up in a procedural that will hit or miss depending entirely on how interesting the case of the week is.



The biggest problem of the show is we are dropped into the middle of their world and are to accept things as they are. The backdoor pilot didn't reveal enough about the people and didn't even have half the cast in order to give us an inclination to who these people are. We are just to accept it as is. This is in contrast to Bones because it was a slower introduction into who the characters were. And how they came to be the group. This we just have the group as is. And as they limits the content of what the writers are going to want to convey. Should we have seen the Marshall in her undies first episode or should it have been a are they sleeping together aren't they kind of guessing game. I would have preferred the latter.



Will I keep watching. On demand, sure. I think it is fun enough to toss on when there is nothing on. Will I be waiting and yearning for each episode per week. Nope.
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I didn't watch the whole episode. Let me rephrase. I couldn't get through the whole episode. The review above filled in the gaps for me. But you're right.

It seems like the show was trying to add different elements (each in moderation) to see which one would click (and as it turns out, none of them did).

Psych & The Mentalist are two quality shows with a solid reputation. Psych relies on its flawless quirkiness which The Finder tried to emulate and failed miserably.

The Mentalist relies on charm and substance which this show didn't have..at all.

Sherlock is in a league of its own, and The Finder will never even come close to it, even if the show ends up having 200+ episodes.

Walter Sherman will never be a Shawn Spencer or a Patrick Jane. He could be the next Jim Longworth, from "The Glades". Another show with a similar main character.

Who knows? The show could get better if given the chance.

But I'm too lazy to stick with it for now.
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I am not sure about Jim Longworth. I don't even think this show is up to The Glades. Though with you raising that, the similarities are apparent. I think Longworth is a more compelling character simply because he is above all likable. Walter at this point is unlikable, he is kind of an arse but not in the way where it is likable in Sherlock. And the combination of the characters in the Glades worked better from the start.



There is little to no need for Willa, aside to gain a teenage audience and provide a quick lets do a gypsy episode when they are lacking in ideas. And there is nothing compelling between any of the characters, Walt saved Leo's life, ok, so Leo will back anything and everything he does, so there is no point where he will go "hey buddy, this may be too much". And my above statement about him and the US Marshall stands. So even The Glades this is not, The Glades is one of those shows that even on their off days are still pretty watchable.



I feel there is a show in The Finder somewhere, but I think Fox is starting to have a problem. Their shows are trying to be everything to everyone and with that it ends up lacking in all things. We saw the perfect example of this in Terra Nova. It is trying to hit so many audiences at the same time that it dilutes the quality of what could potentially be two great shows.
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My 16 year old son loved it. I found it mildly amusing and yet oddly enchanting. Not sure if it's the behemoth Michael Clarke Duncan who has this charm that makes you just want to hug him or the juvie Willa who's about as a charming as a nest full of hornets with massive chip on her shoulder yet has a heart of gold.
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The finder has now had two pilots the backdoor pilot on bones. Which was very odd because the storyline was all over the place. Now the show had the actual pilot which was terrible. I lost interest fifteen minutes into the show and I believe the actors lost interest to. This felt more like a show in it's 10th season and they ran out of storylines but it isn't it's a pilot so this was pathetic. I give the finder 13 episodes before fox drop the axe.
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I liked it enough to give it a chance :)
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I thought it OK. I would have preferred Willa's story to be the pilot rather than having her seemingly tossed in.



I also discovered that guest star "H.G. Wells" from Warehouse 13 does not look that great in a swimsuit.



I'll give it a few episodes too.
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I enjoyed it. I'll keep watching it.
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Color me not surprised at all. The pilot that masqueraded as a Bones episode was just terrible. And compared to this week's stellar Bones offering, this episode was utter crap.
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I agree, I really did not enjoy The Finder, and I don't intend on continuing it.

Bones is FAR, FAR better!
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I like it coz its a bit quirky and different! It has lots of room to develop the characters and storylines, and hey---NO LAUGH TRACK!!!!!!
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After the gore of Bones it was nice to have something similar but less gory to watch. I'll probably try to catch it for the rest of the season, since the ending of a few shows will leave room in my schedule, but it's really going to come down to ratings as to whether this one is even available to watch next season.
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I enjoyed it, its a drama that doesn't take itself too seriously. It felt like Monk and Psych spawned a child and that's how The Finder came to be... And maybe The Mentalist is its uncle. Maybe it was a lazy pilot at times, and I do think the Bones' episode "The Finder" did a better job at telling you who the characters are.
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You hit it exactly, lol!
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Yep, I think this review is a bit on the harsh side... A flawless pilot it was not... but the characters have improved from the Bones ep when they were introduced (they got rid of a very irritating bartender lady) and there is potential for the show to work on quirkier less crime-focussed cases... Say like finding guitars? trumpets? whatever...
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I watched thirty minutes and then switched it off. It was too fluffy for my taste with no substance. I'll give it a miss for the time being.

I might start watching again if it starts to get better.

The main guy was irritating. Really?? That guy's an ex-marine??
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I have to fully agree with you on this, which doesn't make for an interesting debate. I liked the characterss but it really annoys me when writers are lazy and get the characters to tell you who they are and what they are about rather than have them show you. And they don't have to do all of that in the first episode either. I really don't mind if it takes two or three episodes to really get a feel for each of the characters individual personalities and how they all interact.



The main 'find' for this episode was so incredibly dull, I truely didn't care about the outcome. I was expecting that this show would rely quite heavily on the US Marshall providing the team (which is actually just a duo) with their case-of-the-week style 'find'. This would make the case more criminal based and more interesting, but the US Marshall could have been completely absent from this episode, along with the gypsy-girl-on-probation & her probation officer, the evil trumpet playing (very hot) villain and probably the US soldier that was also a bad guy, and the duo could have still figured out which way their target had flown and then easily discovered him after a quick fly around in a microlight.



The case-of-the-week is going to have to get much, much better than that if this show is going to survive. They are also going to have to start SHOWING us what these characters are really like and actually give them some motivation for their actions. As I said, I like the characters, I do believe that they have the potential to become an interesting team, but the writing needs to improve or the only redeemable assets from this pilot episode are going to become 2D and that will be it's death sentence.
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I didn't hate it, I especially liked Willa's story. I also like the overall premise, that usually you don't like what you find. If they work that out, I'm going to love it a hell of a lot more than when everything turns out just fine and the people they find ARE good...

I think the finding thing is supposed to be compulsive, when he's given a clue he'll not let go. So convincing him to take the job was kind of senseless. I don't care for the actor playing the lead, but I did forget that for a little while because the other characters were enough to entertain me - for now. This is such a typical "we'll-see-in-four-episodes-if-its-going-anywhere", that I'll get back to you in four episodes. If i'll make it to that.
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"we'll-see-in-four-episodes-if-its-going-anywhere". I definately agree with you on this point. This show is going to need the Four Episode Test.
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Why is it that the first sentence I thought of when reading the title of the show was "Hufflepuffs are particularly good finders."? lol
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Looking back on it I can understand your criticisms, but I still quite enjoyed it and will keep watching it...this was only the first episode, I usually judge a show after watching the whole first season! :)
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