Monday, October 02, 2023

Found, on NBC

It must be a nightmare to work in HR at Gabi Mosley & Associates. Almost everyone on staff carries massive loads of psychological and emotional baggage. In fact, that is exactly why Mosley hired many of her employees. She might carry the most herself. As the teenaged victim of a kidnapper, she has dedicated her life to rescuing others. However, her cellar hides a dark secret in creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll’s Found, which premieres tomorrow on NBC.

Mosley constantly insists everybody deserves to be found—not just little blond girls. Okay, so can we agree defunding the police is a bad idea? Naturally, her recovery and “crisis management” agency often clashes with the DC police, except her primary contact, Det. Mark Trent, with whom she has some serious sexual tension percolating.

Regardless, it is hard to see how GM&A stays in business, because in the first five episodes provided for review, they only take on pro bono cases, searching for missing sex workers, illegal aliens, and gay senior citizens. A case like the U.S. senator’s missing daughter Sarah sure would pay a lot of bills in the pilot episode, but instead, Mosley and Associates are looking for a teen who vanished from foster care. However, the cases intersect.

The pilot is probably the best written of the five initial episodes and it might be the least strident. Unfortunately, the scenes in which Mosley interrogates her former captor, only known as “Sir,” for insight into her current cases, while she holds him prisoner in her basement, are never remotely credible. They also lack any appreciable tension or suspense. Frankly, viewers will feel like they are the ones being held prisoner.

“Missing While Sinning” focuses rather unremarkably on the search for a missing escort, but at least the ultimate villain is slightly surprising (given the series’ ideology). Unfortunately, “Missing While Widowed” makes up for it and then some. Episode four, “Missing While a Pawn” could be the best of the series, if not the pilot, because it focuses on the very real evil of human trafficking. It also undercuts Mosley’s nauseating moral superiority, perhaps more than it intended. Yet, “Missing While Undocumented” is just all “Dreamer” PR, all the time.

Indeed, if
Found were a cartoon, it would run on the editorial page rather than funnies. Throughout each episode, it is clear the most important thing is the message. Lead thesp Shanola Hampton’s index finger must get sore from all the stern pointing and wagging. It is a real shame, because she happens to have some decent Tracy-and-Hepburn chemistry with Brett Dalton’s Det. Trent, who is one of the few characters network viewers will identify with.

Gabrielle Walsh is also very good as Lacey Quinn, one of Mosley’s associates who was also a victim of Sir. Unfortunately, much of the drama she has suspecting her boss’s squirrelly behavior is awkwardly contrived and poorly written—anyone who really has a serial abductor chained up in their basement would give smarter answers to basic questions. The agoraphobic computer analyst is an overly familiar cliché by now, and Mosley’s gay enforcer constantly over-compensates for the sake of contradicting stereotypes. Given the beatdowns he administers, it is a miracle any of their cases end with prosecutions.

However, Kelli Williams is frequently devastating as Margaret Reed, who still diligently searches for the son who went missing years ago. Her subplot in “Missing While Undocumented” is especially heartbreaking. Nevertheless, her supposed powers of Cumberbatch-Sherlockian emotional detection yet remain over-hyped and under-defined.

So far, the writing on
Found has underwhelmed and under-entertained. Consequently, even if the cast grow into their characters more, it is hard to envision the series improving much. Of course, further episodes are sure to have very important points to make. Not recommended, Found starts airing Tuesday night (10/3) on NBC and streams the next day on Peacock.