TV - Watching the Detectives: The Finder

The Finder

In a series of articles, Susan Omand and Steve Taylor-Bryant are going to remember the policemen, spies and criminal specialists that entertained them over the years. Today, Steve Taylor-Bryant finds The Finder...

Not all criminal specialists work directly for the police force or wear white lab coats and, of those that do, sometimes even they need some outside help. Therefore I’d like to remind you about The Finder. I am currently about half way through season 11 in my massive rewatch of Bones for a future article but it was during Season 6 episode 19 that something happened that really excited me. There’s a body in Florida that needs examining and it turns out a treasure map has been stolen so reluctantly Booth (David Boreanaz) allows an old army buddy, Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults) to use his “finder” skills to help. It was an okay episode of a good show but not the best ever, not even the best of season 6, however I instantly took to Stults’ performance of Walter and wished that he had received more screen time, definitely with his legal representative Leo Knox (Michael Clarke Duncan) but not with his bar tender and helper Ike (Saffron Burrows) who I really didn’t take to at all and felt her stilted performance would end any more involvement of this wonderful team in future episodes. Anyway I went about my life and a while later discovered almost by accident that most of the team had in fact been given their own short lived show so instantly ordered the DVD boxset of all 13 episodes.

The Finder is excellent escapism television. Walter Sherman is an Iraq war veteran who suffered brain injuries during an IED explosion. The injuries have left him with the strange ability to see connections in events or objects and links between people that others can’t find. The injuries gave Walter a gift he truly values and, once he has agreed find something or someone, he will never stop until the job is done, whether you want him to or not and whether you like what he finds or not. Due to the injuries though there are side effects and Walter suffers extreme paranoia. There is treatment available but Walter is so scared of losing his gift he refuses to receive it, despite the fact that the brain injury could maybe kill him at any time. The adventures are pretty well laid out, intelligent even for what is essentially just a weird twist on a conventional cop show, but it is most definitely the cast that make it work as well as it does. Luckily there was a reason why Saffron Burrows wasn’t available so the one thing I didn’t enjoy from the Bones debut was taken out, leaving Walter, Leo Knox, and Isabel Zambada (Mercedes Mason) a U.S Marshall on probation with the agency. Based out of Leo’s bar the team either accept a challenge or choose not to and Walter has a secret vault buried in the yard where he from time to time disappears to find things he has collected that may help him. As part of Leo’s legal work he cares for a young gypsy girl, Willa Monday (Maddie Hasson), who is on probation for various theft and assault issues but Willa is part of a family run by Uncle Shadrack (Eric Roberts) and that brings with it its own problems.

Mason and Hasson do well without huge involvement, and Eric Roberts chews up scenery whenever he’s on screen like you hope he would. There is also the inevitable Bones carry over with certain characters making guest appearances, the episode with Dr. Lance Sweets is a particular favourite, but it is Clarke Duncan and Stults that steal this show and really make it work. Michael Clarke Duncan is a huge loss to screen culture. He was an actor with phenomenal presence and, in The Finder, shows a comedic timing that I hadn’t seen before and truly wish he had lived long enough to show this skill in a more mainstream setting. He was a behemoth of a man but had a sense of love and care that really shone in Knox and knowing he can never produce that character again saddens me. Stults is one of those actors you swear you have seen in everything you have ever watched but never remember what it was. He takes the insanity levels to a great place as Walter without ever becoming a parody and it’s to his credit that the show works. His chemistry is perfect with everyone no matter how small or important their role and a 13 episode run was nowhere near enough to show what he could do. The show though ended perfectly and with great emotion that could have left it open to a follow up season but with the sad demise of Clarke Duncan it ends just as you would want it to, Walt in an asylum, Willa on the run and Knox just running a bar and looking lonely.

As spin offs go this was amazing. It held its own without having to rely on the sister show’s storylines or characters to thrive, a problem I had at the start of NCIS New Orleans. Each appearance of a Bones cast member worked within the find that Walter was on, they weren’t there to remind you that the network had a bigger show. The fact it only ran for 13 episodes, whilst sad, makes it a perfect slice of television and proves what can truly be achieved in a small matter of time.

Follow Steve on Twitter @STBwrites
Image - IMDb.

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