[06/29/11 - 07:21 AM]
The Futon's First Look: "Lost & Found" (ABC)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2011-2012 season, now in its sixth year! Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!

[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]

(written by Marisa Coughlan; directed by Ted Wass; TRT: 22:29)

The network's description: "Meet Jo Hauser, a loveable train wreck of a bartender, living the party life in New York City. Jo (Jordana Spiro) spends her time chasing men and dodging responsibility, but now responsibility is about to show up at her door. Jo Hauser is, quite frankly, a mess - a loveable mess, but a mess nonetheless. Her therapist dumps her because her idea of a breakthrough is deciding to get a boob job, and her latest one-night stand leaves her stranded in her hallway outside her own front door. Luckily, she has friend and apartment manager Raj (Waleed Zuaiter) and bar coworkers Rosie (Diana Maria Riva) and Frank (Josh Casaubon) in her life. But now she's about to have one more person added into the mix: Leo (Gary Clayton), the son she gave up for adoption eighteen years ago.

He's the complete opposite of Jo, sheltered and conservative, and he's looking for the mother he never knew. At first Jo freaks out and pretends she's not herself, but eventually she comes clean. Or rather, Rosie accidentally makes her come clean. Jo's spent her whole life dodging responsibility, after all; she can't be expected to change overnight. But with Leo in her life, it looks like growing up and facing her responsibilities may not be so bad. Neither of them is what the other expected in their lives, but they just might be exactly what they both need. In Lost and Found, actress and writer Marisa Coughlan (Boston Legal, Bones) creates a wonderful story full of flawed but lovable characters that prove that family really is what you make it."

What did they leave out? Gary Clayton was originally cast as Leo before ultimately being replaced by Dean Collins.

The plot in a nutshell: It's been a year since cocktail waitress Jolene "Jo" Hauser (Jordana Spiro) began seeing her psychiatrist Harold (Ben Stein). And despite his best efforts, she's still something of a train wreck, using men and alcohol as crutches to avoid her real feelings. Fed up with her antics, he drops Jo as a patient, sending her into another emotional spiral. And so, after waking up on her own doorstep - yet again - she finally starts to wonder if some change would be good for her life. Change then arrives in the form of Leo (Dean Collins), an Opie-ish college freshman who claims to be the son she gave up for adoption 18 years ago. He's enrolled at NYU and thought it would be the perfect time to look up his long lost mother.

Jo's understandably stunned by said development and does what anyone with a screwed up life would do in the situation: lie. Whether it's saying she spent time in the Peace Corps or has been training for Cirque du Soleil, her fibs come fast and furious in an effort to impress her brood. In spite of his inherent gullibility, Leo ultimately catches onto Jo's web of lies and storms off. It's enough to send Jo running back to Harold for advice on how to handle the situation ("We spent three sessions picking your ring tone and you never told me you had a son?" he quips). He prescribes the obvious: she needs to overcome her embarrassment and come clean with Leo. She does and they agree to start over. Plus she's not completely helpless: she knows her way around the city and how to talk to girls, things that the sheltered Leo could use a few pointers with.

What works: Ugh...

What doesn't: Spiro, for whatever reason, plays Jo like an over the top crazy person, whether it's over-enunciating words (Leo: "It smells delicious." Jo: "Oh yes, those are my prize winning enchee-la-das!"), making random noises (on how she got pregnant: "I was madly in love with Ricky Kowalski. He cried at the end of 'Sleepless in Seattle.' I got caught up in the moment. And then oww, ooh, waaah!") or giving off a dead-eyed sociopath vibe in general. Said take gets even weirder when she breaks down over Leo's initial spurning of her and - gasp! - behaves like an actual person, making her usual histrionics seem even more cartoonish.

The respite lasts just a few moments though as she's back to her antics in the next scene. I'm not exactly sure what Spiro was going for here but to say it's off-putting and grating is an understatement. The rest of the cast - which also includes Todd Grinnell as her single dad neighbor, who pays the bills by playing a superhero for kids' parties; Waleed Zuaiter as Omar, her sardonic building super; Josh Casaubon as the slightly dim but well-meaning bartender Frank; and Diana Maria Riva as her best friend/fellow waitress, who's taken up Yiddish to land herself a Jewish husband - just seem to grin and bear their way through things. Everything's just big and broad in the worst way possible, overselling its premise instead of...

The bottom line: ...actually being funny.

  [june 2011]  


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