Thursday, January 12, 2012

'The Finder' stays loyal while finding its own path

FOX’s new drama “The Finder” follows the exploits of Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults), a former Army MP who can find anything.

Though the series is a “Bones” spinoff, executive producer Hart Hanson and Stults feel that the show is unique enough to set it apart from its hit predecessor.

“It’s just fun and entertaining and that’s I think what our goal is. We’re just trying to have a nice 43 minute enjoyable show that people can tune in at any point and any part of the series and any part of the episodes and enjoy themselves and understand what’s going on,” said Stults in a conference call with reporters.

“The head of production at 20th Century Fox TV told all the line producers in order to prioritize what made it to the screen that they should ask their show runner what was first and foremost. And without a doubt I didn’t even have to think about it; it was entertainment; we just want to entertain an audience for an hour once a week,” Hanson said.

Like Emily Deschanel’s Temperance Brennan, Walter is a gifted genius with limited social skills. However, Walter’s lack of social graces are a byproduct of his PTSD.

“His PTSD, it manifests itself into a little bit of a, he lacks social grace. He’s a little paranoid. He’s not very trusting of people. And he isn’t the perfect dinner guest, but he’s fun,” Stults said. “If he’s thinking in terms of what he may say, he never intends to be insulting, but it’s just matter of fact to him.”

For Stults it is important to be true in his portrayal of Walter’s PTSD, while keeping some of the fun traits of his character.

“At the root of Walter, he’s a former military policeman who suffered a little brain trauma when he was serving in Iraq, so that’s what allows us the entry point into the series and also into Walter,” Stults said. “We certainly think it’s very important to hardenize it and in no way are we trying to make light of PTSD and those people that actually suffer from it because it’s a very real disease and a very real problem for our troops and other people for many other reasons. But it allows us this really interesting dramatic license too, it’s like the focal point for all these different things that Walter does.”

“The Finder” originally premiered as an episode of “Bones” where Walter was joined by Michael Clarke Duncan as his legal adviser Leo and Saffron Burrows as Ike the bartender. However, Burrows character was cut when the pilot was ordered to series and replaced with Maddie Hasson as juvenile delinquent Willa Monday and Mercedes Masöhn as U.S. Marshal Isabel Zambada.

Though “The Finder” is a “Bones” spinoff and is relying on its fans to help it gain success, the series is striving to stand out from its hit lead-in.

“Creatively this show stands on its own…it lives in the same universe as “Bones,” meaning that it’s a heightened reality. I hope largely humorous for people, we’ll make you cry; we’ll make you think a little bit of philosophy, a little bit of laughs,” Hanson said. “We are all trying to get the loyal kind of audience that “Bones” has, a nice chunk of people who followed “Bones” from time slot to time slot. If we can get a part of that audience on “The Finder,” then it benefits everyone.”

“We’re aware that we’ll be mixing, hopefully, obviously we’re going to be counting on some people coming over, Stults said. “We realize that there are some die-hard “Bones” fans. We realize that there’ll be criticism because we are not the same thing.”

“I guess we come from the same world…I actually called Bones the varsity team and The Finder is the JV team,” Stults said. “We’re born from “Bones.” We exist, “The Finder” and the 200 crew members of “The Finder” exist because of the success of “Bones” and David and Emily and the rest of the cast…so we really exist because of them and we’re grateful to that and we understand that without “Bones,” “The Finder” doesn’t exist, but yet we are different.”

“The Finder” premieres on FOX Jan. 12 at 9 p.m. following the winter finale of “Bones.”

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