“The Finder” is about, you guessed it, a guy who finds whatever he might be looking for — people, clues, connections, links. Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults) is a former Army military policeman who was honorably discharged after an improvised explosive device put him in a coma. The brain damage he suffered has given him either a dangerous compulsion or an amazing gift. He works with Leo Knox (Michael Clarke Duncan), his friend and legal adviser, and consults with Isabel Zambada (Mercedes Masohn), a deputy U.S. marshal. Leo believes Walter has a remarkable talent, while Isabel thinks he needs therapy. So what's meant to be at stake is Walter's sanity. The problem is that “The Finder” doesn't make you care much about it.

“The Finder” is about, you guessed it, a guy who finds whatever he might be looking for — people, clues, connections, links. Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults) is a former Army military policeman who was honorably discharged after an improvised explosive device put him in a coma. The brain damage he suffered has given him either a dangerous compulsion or an amazing gift. He works with Leo Knox (Michael Clarke Duncan), his friend and legal adviser, and consults with Isabel Zambada (Mercedes Masohn), a deputy U.S. marshal. Leo believes Walter has a remarkable talent, while Isabel thinks he needs therapy. So what's meant to be at stake is Walter's sanity. The problem is that “The Finder” doesn't make you care much about it.


Walter states simply: “I always find what I'm looking for,” and he does and that's pretty much it. If a detective character is set up as “gifted,” he or she needs to demonstrate an inexplicable quality — superior intuition, a photographic memory, an uncanny ability to see cause and effect or read behavior. (Think: “Monk” and Detective Goren on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”) Walter doesn't come across as uniquely talented because his “gifts” are either too mysterious or not mysterious enough. In the pilot, he uses an interesting method to find a fugitive who Isabel is hunting, but it happens entirely off screen so we don't witness even a small part of Walter being clever. When we are brought into Walter's process of detection, his explanations of how he “found” things sound too simple. Walter and his skills should be intriguing not ordinary.


The other possibility the show offers is that Walter's ability is the result of mental trauma. Again, a workable premise, but only if Walter acts unhinged. Working on the case of a missing pilot whose plane goes down in a Florida swamp, Walter is insensitive to the man's young son (who has hired him) and his methods are reckless (they lead to a dangerous confrontation), but his actions never reach a level that would reserve him a spot in the psyche ward or even raise eyebrows that he might need to visit a therapist.


Walter is not extraordinary or damaged enough to make either of the options that form the core of his character worth caring about, and this makes it difficult to rate “The Finder” as a promising addition to the 2012 schedule. Looking back on my notes while watching the first episode, I wrote: I would watch this series if everything else was a repeat. It's a sad reflection on Walter as a character. He's a guy you would hang out with if everybody else was out of town.


It's not a spoiler to tell you that in the first episode Walter finds the missing pilot. What spoils this show is that, despite its hook, he does it so conventionally.


“The Finder” is on Thursday at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.


Melissa Crawley credits her love of all things small screen to her parents, who never used the line, "Or no TV!" as a punishment. Her book, “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing,’” was published in 2006. She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned2011@hotmail.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.