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Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Finder looks for a couple of "Bullets"

     FOX launched the Bones spin-off, The Finder, last week. This week, episode two, "Bullets," finds Bones character Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) arriving in Florida to determine if Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults, October Road, 7th Heaven) is crazy or not. Sweets's opinion will determine whether Walter will be permitted to continue to work with Deputy U.S. Marshal Isabel Zambada (Mercedes Masohn, Chuck, Quarantine 2: Terminal), or any other government official, for that matter. Sweets accompanies Walter as he searches for two bullets, in a swamp that has been paved over, in order to save a man from execution. What Sweets discovers doesn't exactly put his mind at ease. But the good doc does get to see the benefits of Walter's work, which is enough to convince Sweets to clear him for six months.

     Admittedly, The Finder seems like a slight twist on a tired concept. There are so many crime series already clogging the network television airwaves, that another one is rarely welcome. Yet, The Finder bubbles with unique characters and amusing situations, so much so that it manages to be highly entertaining. Considering it is a spin-off of Bones, arguably one of, if not the, best procedurals currently running, this shouldn't be all that surprising. And yet, it is, especially with this smaller cast, and a setting that is featured in many competing shows like Burn Notice, Dexter and CSI: Miami. Somehow, The Finder manages to be more than watchable, and slightly addictive after a mere two episodes.

     A large portion of that can be attributed to the cast. Stults is perfect as the brain-damaged man obsessed with finding things, and with a knack for uncovering the truth of any situation. Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, Armageddon) shines as Leo Knox, Walter's soft-spoken, extremely loyal lawyer, who devotes his life to protecting Walter in a variety of ways, from preparing food, to running interference on those who would disturb Walter's work. Mashon has had less to do in the first couple of episodes than the guys, but is likable enough to spark some interest and the hope she becomes more developed soon.

     Rounding out the cast is Maddie Hasson (God Bless America) as Willa, a troubled teen who is on probation, and looked after by Leo. She might be, perhaps, the most interesting of the group, given that her history remains her murky, and her motivations unclear. Willa gets some really interesting plot in the "Pilot," but less so in "Bullets." This week, she merely hangs out with a cute guy, then, learning he is a douche, walks away, leaving him to take the rap for a car they steal. She is a bad girl, who can be good when she wants to be, which certainly isn't always. Of course, Leo will rub off on her, and she will turn over a new leaf soon. But what will be the result of that, and what will she bring to the team when she starts helping them on their missions, as she eventually must? These question make her pretty darn intriguing.

     The case of the week in "Bullets" is pretty neat. A cop is killed twenty-years ago, and Walter is asked to clear the convicted murderer's name. The swamp where everything happened is now paved over, so finding the bullets proves difficult. Plus, colorful characters, such as a couple of Miami Vice knockoffs, a slimy IA officer, and an exciting, humorous shoot out keep things interesting. And yet, even with all of these distractions, Walter somehow manages to find what he is looking for. Sure, sometimes the plot stretches reality here, but the writing is clever enough to seem plausible, if unlikely. It's also really cool to see how Walter's brain works, including figuring things out while hypnotized, resisting control from Sweets, and building models.

     A story point that is a bit odd is that Sweets is sent to Florida, since surely there are qualified mental health professionals nearby, and one does not need to be sent from Washington D.C. Though not mentioned, perhaps Sweets's friends, who met Walter last spring, pull some strings to send their guy, thus providing Walter with someone they think will give him the fairest chance. And Walter is a great character to pair up with Sweets because of the various neurosis both have. So it works out very well, and hopefully Sweets will return in six months to re-evaluate Walter.

     In summary, The Finder manages to be a pretty great show, despite a number of factors working against it. Only time will tell if it can maintain some of the elements that make it great, which, by necessity, will have to evolve. But it's off to a good start.

     Watch The Finder Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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