The Finder (Thursdays at 9:00 on Fox)
Everything from the get-go seemed to point toward The Finder being nothing more than schedule filler for Fox, something to keep Bones fans occupied while that show is on hiatus due to Emily Deschanel's pregnancy. It received little promotion and had almost no buzz going into its pilot, though it did get a prime post-American Idol timeslot. But to spin this show off of Bones late in the season, while the parent show's ratings are starting to lag, starring a character who only ever appeared in one episode... it was an odd choice. But the resulting series is surprisingly entertaining on its own merits.
The Finder centers on Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults), a former Marine captain who was discharged after a bomb caused him brain damage. That "damage," however, turned out to be a gift in the form of connecting dots and lines not typically perceived by the common person. This ability to read people, language, and situations has led to his reputation as someone who can find anything (or anyone) which is lost. Walter also owns a dive bar in the Florida Keys; he is joined in both ventures by his friend Leo (Michael Clarke Duncan) and is often aided by US Marshal Isabel (Mercedes Masohn), with whom he has a give-and-take relationship. The bar has also recently taken in Willa, a teenage criminal who is working the bar as a means of probation after being busted for theft.
As far as crime procedurals go, The Finder has an interesting enough twist to stand out from the pack. Like its sister series, it follows a quirky and socially awkward main character with an incredible mind who solves cases unconventionally. The pilot sees Sherman searching for the downed plane belonging to a man whose life he saved in Kosovo; Sherman warns that he often finds more than what his clients ask for, in this case uncovering a drug-smuggling operation of which the plane's pilot was a part. Sherman's methods are often hilarious (re-enacting the moments before and during the flight with model airplanes, etc) and never quite unbelievable. Sherman is clever; the "connect-the-dots" of the case solving never makes it feel like he's stretching (unlike on Bones, where Brennan is all but a walking encyclopedia).
Geoff Stults (Happy Town) is totally charming and often very funny as Sherman, and he is easily the most adept comedian in the cast. Michael Clarke Duncan (Academy Award nominee for The Green Mile in his first TV gig) is a bit awkward as the repenting Leo, as if he's not sure when to play for laughs. The rest of the cast is universally strong, finding their footing with characters whom have taken a backseat to the introduction of Sherman and Leo. Bones creator Hart Hanson has written a smart introductory episode and some relatively intriguing characters. The Finder has a silly, lighthearted feel; the sunny Florida setting perfectly reflects the show's laid back, easy to swallow storytelling. It's a breezy, entertaining hour that is ideal escapism for the dreary winter months