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Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

FOX's The Finder

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Taking a page from NCIS, Bones regular Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) visits the Finder to recertify Walter to work on federal cases. Sweets rides shot gun as Walter attempts to locate evidence to at least stay the execution of a cop accused of killing another cop. A couple of Miami Vice homage’s with Sweets being adorable later and Walter has his man. Well, he’s pretty sure. The B-plot with Willa is kind of dumb but at least shows some character development which isn’t as cliché as the pilot. With the inclusion of several wonderful scenes and The Finder shows marked improvements and a steady gait.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

We begin with a rather zealous warden who believes X-Files’ Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is an innocent man on death row. There’s a reminder that Leo is a full fledge lawyer, in case anyone missed that between the backdoor pilot and first episode, and we’re also treated to an interesting spin on Walter’s irreverence. Walter wears a suit, an honest to goodness suit, with no arguments, no jacket over a shirt, etc. It’s an interesting touch, which may or may not have been deliberate, but it is subtle character development. Of course, as soon as he’s back at the bar he strips down to his usual polo and shorts in front of Sweets.

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Dr. Lance Sweets accompanies Walter.

Another nice touch is we learn that the bar is actually Leo’s and it runs on the honor system… which is a nice way to address and lampshade the fact that if they are always off finding things then who is watching the bar?

Walter then sets out in search of evidence in the form of a bullet, Sweets in tow. Sweets is a fun character and Bones fans will enjoy this crossover and I think the same is true for non-Bones viewers. Sweets has a certain cute charm which is pretty endearing. His cameo does serve a purpose though, and that is to be the fulcrum in which the missed exposition and background from the first episode is finally lifted out of the way.

Sweets inadvertently gets Leo to admit that his wife and daughter have been killed and that sent him into a very angsty and dark depression. One can guess it was the murderer which Walter stopped Leo from killing, or maybe who Leo thought was the killer. Hopefully we’ll get a little more here and there about this before the inevitable flashback episode because we know one is coming.

Also, best line of the series so far comes from Sweets asking if Walter ever considered committing suicide. His answer: “I can think of at least ten people I’d kill before I’d kill myself.” This really locks in the tone of the series, sharp, witty, and blunt.

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Possibly one of the funniest gun battles... ever.

The rest of the episode is either a lampoon of 80s cop shows or an overly sardonic and sarcastic treatise on 80s cop shows. I’m not entirely sure what that means but it feels right. Under the obvious Miami Vice pot shots there is the now classic comment “it was a different time in the 80s, a simpler time”. This refers to the concept that before cops became more accountable for their actions, civil liberties were really championed, and a public became more aware of their ability to fight back via video, internet, etc, cops tended to rule as they saw fit. It was the wild west without the tumble weeds in the 80s and cops were on the take, roughed up anyone, and generally acted as seen on tv about the 80s. (How much of this is true and Hollywood hyperbole I really need to look into.) This idea of the 80s has become a fixture in modern procedurals like CSI, Castle, and Cold Case, anytime the leads look into an old case which took place in the 80s.

Walter gets tired of the constant over use of the phrase “it was a different/simpler time” and I’m left wondering just how deliberate this was. Is it a comment on an overused trope or about the misconception of the 80s or a reflection of what the writers think of such an excuse? I might shrug it off it not for Sweet’s later proclaims that the actual murder wasn’t that interesting, it was the finding of the bullet that was fascinating and fun. Could this be reference to the fact that most people don’t watch murder mysteries for the murders themselves but the process in which the detective figures out who the killer is? It’s all about clues that need to be found and pieces together… and what does the Finder do?

Could I be giving the writers too much credit here? Only time will tell.

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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Television

 

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Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

ABC's Castle

Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

A pretty plain murder starts off what is a pretty plain episode of Castle. A woman found strangled leads back to the Mayor’s office and Castle doesn’t want to believe that his friend is a murderer, a plot device we’ve seen before. The killer is pretty obvious from the get go if you understand how the series is put together, but there is at least one interesting twist. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much of the wit and zaniness that we’ve all come to know and love from Castle. It continues a trend of blasé episodes which I guess is the Dramady’s attempt to be more Drama, less Comedy. At least the episode leaves us with a very interesting question that needs to be answered about Joanna Beckett’s murder, a story arc that while decidedly interesting, is woefully lacking.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

A woman is strangled and left in a car. Nothing macabre or remarkable, just plain old murder. The interesting part is that the car belongs to the City Hall motor pool and leads back to an event Mayor Robert Weldon (Derek Webster) was attending. This leads through a typical storyline of the Mayor being a suspect in the crime as evidence points to him but Castle believes he’s innocent. We’ve seen this plot before which was the first clue to the Mayor being innocent. The other was the innocuous placement of Bones semi-regular Michael Grant Terry in the perfect position to be the murderer.

The crime does lead to a sex-talk line which should have been fun, seeing as this is Richard Castle we’re talking about here, but it read almost like an episode of Law & Order. Eventually the trail stumbles upon a plot by persons unknown to ruin the Mayor’s bid for Governor and perhaps later the Presidency.

Castle – S04E12 – “Dial M for Mayor”

Castle and Beckett speak to Mayor.

The twist comes when the mysterious man who previously contacted Castle to tell him to back off of Joanna Beckett’s murder, for the sake of Beckett’s life, contacts him again and gives Castle the vital clue to solve the case. Why did he do it? To keep Castle in the game. If the Mayor is gone, Castle is gone, and there is no one to keep Beckett on a leash and therefore save her life.

So just who is this man? How much power does he hold? Who is this other group who wants to destroy the Mayor and kill Beckett is she gets too close? It’s definitely intriguing to say the least.

It could be nothing, but right before the mysterious man speaks to Castle using a chessboard metaphor, Captain Gates says something similar to Beckett, chess and all. Could be coincidence as it’s a common metaphor… or does it mean something? Gates comes from a family of cops, was in I.A., and says that she likes cops and only wants to look out for them. Could it be she’s in on this game, somewhere? Depending on how that is played out, this could be a fantastic or horrible plot thread.

We’ll just have to see where this leads us.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Television

 

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The Glades – Overview – 2 Seasons

The Glades on A&E

This overview is based on the first two seasons as that is all that has aired at this time.

When I first saw the promo for A&E’s The Glades I didn’t think anything of it. Then I stumbled upon the second season premiere and realized that this was something worth watching. A marathon of the first season (and keeping up with the second season) later and I have to say, this is a pretty darn good show. It’s a mix of House and Colombo if you can get that wrapped around your head.

Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore)

Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore)

The series centers around Detective Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore), a Chicago homicide cop who moves to Florida after an incident with his last Captain. Seems Jim was the only one not sleeping with the Captain’s wife but the only one the Captain accused… and the Captain shot him for it… in the butt. A bit different from the usual and shows just how quirky the series can be at times. But all this is in the past, barely touched on except to explain why he’s there and lend possible credence to his irreverence nature.

Like Dr. House, the guy is a bit of a jerk because he knows he’s just that good at his job. But much like Colombo he’s smart, clever, sees things others don’t (though they don’t really make a big deal out of that with any special effects or anything, refreshing in today tv market) and he has that “just one more thing” quality in how he goes about solving crimes.

Cast of The Glades

Cast of The Glades

He’s aided by forensic pathologist Carlos Sanchez played by Carlos Gomez, and he really does steal the show when he’s on screen. The man has perfect comedic timing and plays the straight man so well I would hazard to say he is the best character of the series. Definitely need to see more and more of him in coming seasons.

The requisite love interest is single (sorta) mom Callie Cargill (Kiele Sanchez) who thankfully is able to make herself more useful than just a love interest. Her son has never been annoying either, so kudos to the writing department on making characters which actually work and do something productive to the story instead of being dead weight.

Lastly you have Jim’s Captain who is just the right mix of strong female/ball breaker/babysitter to Jim’s character as well as the tech savvy intern who is so much fun to get picked on. He also helps with the product placement the series is also forced to endure, one issue that tends to grate a bit but at least can be overlooked.

As for the crimes themselves, nothing too terribly gimmicky, which is also different from today’s CSI, Bones, etc style tv shows. They are usually a little off, a little different, but they don’t take away from the real focus and that is Jim solving the crime.

That is really what makes this show watching, the fact that it is a really well put together show. Nice, straight forward, detective series, a throwback to shows like Columbo and Quincy. Definitely worth checking out and if you can look past Jim’s initial off-putting nature then you’ll not find a more solid hour of crime solving on television.

Score after 2 Seasons: 4 of 5

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Television

 

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The Finder – Overview – Pilot

FOX's The FinderThis overview is based on the pilot only. Updates will be forthcoming as the show progresses.

FOX’s new series The Finder is based on The Locator books by Richard Greener which I haven’t read so I can’t say much on that subject at this time. The series was created by the same creator/exec producer as the popular series Bones and he used the show to introduce The Finder as a backdoor pilot. Basically, Bones produced a normal episode for them only with the The Finder characters prominent in it. This way the creators of The Finder received an instant test audience to see if the show was viable on its own. However, The Finder is not really a spin off in the same sense shows like NCIS are spin-offs. Sure, Bones and The Finder share the same universe but that is about it. If there was no Bones backdoor pilot and you put them up next to each other you really wouldn’t be able to see the resemblance.

This is one of the most obvious yet sneaky moves made by FOX lately but it might have paid off. The Finder did premiere with so-so ratings but its lead-in Bones underperformed as well so it could just be a matter of external factors keepings the fan base away from the television that night. Since both shows were down it’s too early to judge if this is a bad sign for Finder or not.  If The Finder can rise up to Bones’ average audience share, and scare up some more, then it’s got it made as a Thursday night television show that competes against powerhouse Grey’s Anatomy.

Does it have what it takes? Let’s take a look.
Cast of FOX's The Finder

The story centers around Walter Sherman, an ex-military, PTSD suffering, savant played by Geoff Stults. After a combat injury Walter gains Sherlockian level observation skills but he has the tack of a fifth grader (which makes the character similar to Bones’ Dr. Brennan but that is where the similarities end). Walter also has a compulsion to find things and once he’s on the trail he won’t stop until he finds the item, hence the title. Other characters make the obvious comparison to blood hounds and worry he will run himself to the ground.

He’s accompanied by his own Chewbacca in the form of Michael Clarke Duncan’s Leo Knox. Leo basically owes Walter a life debt and so faithfully follows him around acting as financial advisor, Jiminy Cricket, and steam roller. Michael Clarke Duncan is great and really underappreciated, he pulls off the subtle, Zen-like, traits of Leo despite being, well, Michael Clarke Duncan. He’s a big, intimidating looking man and one hell of an actor.

The love interest (because there is always a love interest) is Mercedes Masohn ‘s Deputy US Marshal Isabel Zambada. Walter helps her with catching felons and she gets him information. There is a sexual relationship between them, a friend’s with benefits situation, which is positively underplayed.

The main cast is rounded off with the troubled gypsy teen, Willa (Maddie Hasson), a seemingly pointless addition to the cast from the backdoor pilot. She is the ‘daughter never had/just needs someone to believe in them’ cliché and might be a possible grab at pulling in younger audience members. At first she reminded me of Zoey Carter from Eureka, styling and all, but Zoey was better acted and had more depth in her debut episode. Still, some promise here as long as they avoid the obvious cliché pitfalls.

As for the show itself, the tone is very similar to Bones as to be expected. With a smaller cast and no ‘outsider’ character the story can skip the ‘breaking in’ period of story arcs. Since everyone already knows each other it’s just a matter of showing those relationships to the audience. Dropping the viewers into a show without the benefit of story arc exposition required from having a character get to know other characters is always a plus in my book.

There is also a strong comedic element of quick witted dialogue and visual (non toilet humor) gags in the pilot which I hope carries into the series. I am a sucker for snappy one liners as long as those speaking them can pull off the timing and Stults and Duncan play off each other quite nicely. There is something about Walter’s socially recluse scrawny neurotic to Leo’s gentle giant who could kick your butt that works wonderfully together in that ‘odd couple’ way.

In the pilot they had a celebrity guest star, John Fogerty, and it’s unclear at this time if this was a one-off because Fogerty wrote the theme song or if the series will employ more guest stars to jazz up the place. Could be interesting. Fogerty was looking for his favorite guitar, makes you wonder what other celebrities might need located.

On the technical side, the pacing of the pilot episode was off but this is the pilot episode. The writers and director had more exposition and groundwork to lay than usual so hopefully that’s a one-off. The ending was also very ‘scooby doo’ but again, that could be pilotitis (yes, I think I just made that word up). Thankfully everything else in the pilot was spot on from the camera work to the set pieces. Let’s hope they keep that up.

Overall, the pilot did its job and peaked this viewer’s interests. The show has lots of potential which it has already touched on (always a good sign). Next week it will have an American Idol lead in so hopefully it can get those ratings up. I should have an episode specific review of the pilot with more details up soon, so look for that too.

Score: 3 1/2 Ratings Star

Here’s a question, if you could have the The Finder find you anything, what would it be? And no, your dignity after your 21st birthday party does not count.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Television

 

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