FOUND: NBC offers worthy idea that gets lost in execution…

NBC's latest returns to a topical concept, but doesn't add more than gloss and an unlikely, unworkable 'twist'...

In any given year, more than 600,000 people are reported missing in the U.S. Gabi Mosely once survived a long period as a captive under an abductor she was forced to call ‘Sir’… and now, over a decade on from escape, she runs a company that specialises in bringing people home… especially those whose names or demographic don’t make them ideal for templated headlines.  

Her team is also made up of misfits and survivors, but she has one ace in the hole that not even her closest friends and associates would understand. And for the sake of the lost, she’s willing to find a way to use it whenever necessary…



There’s some interesting ideas and a sense of righteous indignation in NBC‘s new drama Found, but it’s ultimately just a little too slick for its own good – coming across as a by-the-numbers street-level version of Missing by way of Scandal but without the actual savvy intrigue of either.

Found makes some salient, if not unfamiliar points about how missing people are often treated by the media. The search for a senator’s missing blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter gets hours of air-time, while a black foster-child with a history of turbulent placements barely gets a green light, never mind an amber alert. But in highlighting the disparity, it makes many of the under-funded, over-stretched police-officers sound simply biased or uncaring – the local police-chief (who admittedly comes from the central casting of the ‘gruff and brusque’ method academy) baring the brunt of most of Gabi Mosely’s sound-bytes. In doing so, it simplifies a genuine problem down to bite-size chunks where the audience can feel satisfaction they’re walking the moral high ground in simply rooting for Gabi’s underdog team, despite the fact that you could also level accusations of risky and questionable brutality against her ‘vigilantes’ if you so wished. That’s the problem of trying to be simultaneously dramatic and preachy.

In a pilot loaded with awkward exposition (admittedly the curse of any premiere setting out its mission statement) our heroes walk around with furrowed brows, talking about life-events that led them here and quoting damning statistics… but they do so with designer finger-nails and suspiciously bespoke clothing. Kerry Washington and Scandal could be excused because of the Washington DC circles in which they operated, but here it feels very much like a network trying to be topical but not wanting to stray out of its demographically-approved template or get those manicured hands too dirty. Shanola Hampton’s Gabi certainly struts and gives off a commanding demeanour that gets things done by fair means or foul, but we’re going to have to see more (particularly the disparity between how she acted in captivity and how she operates in the world) to actually feel more invested.

The supporting cast are introduced but few make a serious impression out of the gate, even as their requisite traumas are ticked off.  Arlen Escarpeta plays Zeke, an ex-kidnap victim now burdened with agoraphobia, but able to provide top-notch IT back-up from his apartment; The Flash‘s Karan Oberoi plays Dhan Rana and is another survivor (“abandoned and betrayed by people who looked out for me…”) who finds it easier to help strangers than maintain close relationships; Gabrielle Walsh plays Lacey Quinn, a law school student who works at Gabi’s firm and with the job of keeping them just on the right side of the law when possible. Speaking of which…  Agent of SHIELD‘s Brett Dalton is Detective Mark Trent who is the group’s actual police liaison, more often having to calm the waters with his department to get a mutually appreciated result (and who has a previously-existing relationship with Gabi that seems to have a few embers left).  Familiar tv face Kelli Williams plays Margaret Reed, the team’s resident expert in reading people’s body-language and who still mourns the fact that her son went missing years before with no resolution to the anguish. The thing is, bar the family-status, Williams’ character feels like it could have been lifted directly from the FOX‘s 2009-2011 show Lie to Me in which she played Dr. Gillian Foster part of the team headed by Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) that dealt in problem-solving via micro-tells.

There’s one interesting last-scene twist, one that could make the show far more interesting (or send it careering off the rails) and yet one that marketing chose to bizarrely reveal in trailers even before series broadcast. Yes, it turns out that while Gabi is smart and savvy, she secretly has the inside-track on the way abductors think… not only because of the abduction she suffered a decade previously… but because she has that same abductor-  Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s ‘Sir’-  now  locked in her basement, forcing him to help her with cases. It’s ludicrous on one level, potentially meta-textual in another, but one wonders if any serious thought has been given to how this will or even could play out in any meaningful way?  Redemption? Sadism? Romance? All seem rather yucky options. Gosselaar, capable actor though he is, hardly gives off the Hannibal Lector or even Michael Sheen / Prodigal Son vibes necessary and there’s no sign of any real charisma or chemistry between the two leads in the scenes we do have. (Even the flashbacks to Gabi’s days of captivity at his hands seem tailored to be PG-levels of intimidation rather than chilling menace).

Found feels like a pitch for a series rather than the finished article, a mission statement that wants to be edgy and topical but is mostly stripped of complexity and sprinkled with affectations. Given NBC‘s fickle record with renewals, at this point it’s hard to see Found not getting lost in the shuffle…

'Found  S01 EP01  - Pilot'  (NBC premiere review)
'Found S01 EP01 - Pilot' (NBC premiere review)
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Direction
  • Production Design / VFX