Person of Interest: Season 1
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Person of Interest: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line), Michael Emerson (Lost) and Taraji P. Henson (Hustle & Flow) team up in this thought-provoking crime action drama from The Dark Knight's Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions (Fringe, Lost, Alias). Set in New York City, this procedural centers on an ex-CIA agent, presumed dead, who partners with a mysterious billionaire to prevent violent crimes.]]>
A high-concept show that isn't afraid to get down and dirty, this latest exercise in paranoid worldbuilding from producer J.J. Abrams provides an addictive combination of action and future tech. Series creator Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) lays out the premise at a furious clip: an eccentric tech genius (Lost's Michael Emerson) enlists a shadowy soldier-of-fortune (Jim Caviezel) to help with his pet project--a machine with seemingly endless surveillance capabilities. Utilizing the device's ability to identify threats before they happen, they set out to right future wrongs, attracting the attention of a dogged New York cop (Taraji P. Henson) in the process. Were Person of Interest content to remain at the level of weekly procedural, it would be a very good one, with every installment boasting well-choreographed fight scenes, Emerson's impeccably weird comedy timing, and a thorny morality that keeps the methods of the protagonists edging into the black. (A standout early episode, featuring Linda Cardinelli as a doctor with a hidden past, boasts an open-ended resolution that would do Elmore Leonard proud.) Thankfully, however, Nolan and co. also show an ability to play the long game, cannily inserting flashbacks that hint at a bigger mystery, introducing a strangely empathetic recurring supervillain, and laying out minor plot elements that pay off big further down the line. The show's impressive planning also extends to the supporting cast, with Henson given a character arc that many leading characters would envy. (Kudos as well to Kevin Chapman, as a former dirty cop whose slowly growing conscience provides many of the best moments.) The best element of the show, however, may well be The Machine itself, an initially implausible gimmick that quickly becomes a character in its own right; an omnipresent asset that--pay close attention to the evolving graphics overlays--may not be quite as passive an observer as its creator insists. By the time the final cliffhanger episode of the season rolls around, it's apparent that the show's mythology still has plenty of unexplored depths to delve. Extras include a lengthier cut of the pilot, a fascinating/scary look at the current state of surveillance tech, and a brief gag reel showcasing Caviezel's ability to do a killer Christopher Walken. --Andrew Wright
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JUST EDITED this review to add that I would LOVE to see "Person of Interest" added to the Amazon Instant Video Library. I would purchase the entire season AND also the DVD when it becomes available. This show is worth every penny, trust me.
Each episode begins with a worrisome opening voiceover: "You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because... I built it." You have to admit it's a good hook.
Somewhere in the afterlife a smug George Orwell is raking in the "Hey, good call, buddy" comments from his dead brethren. We're one step closer to his nightmarish vision. But you can look at it thru a rosy lens. When the Towers came down a decision was made by our government to step up its anti-terrorist activities. So, like it or lump it, the Patriot Act. And then there was Mr. Finch's baby.
The reclusive billionaire/computer genius Mr. Harold Finch (not his true name) some years ago created a revolutionary security software that accurately predicts acts of terrorism by sifting thru and analyzing random emails, phone conversations, and surveillance systems. It then alerts the relevant governing agency: the FBI, the NSA, whichever. But here's the catch: Finch's program sees everything. It doesn't only predict threats on a national scale. But the government deems the smaller crimes - crimes that target the ordinary individual - to be irrelevant. Mr. Finch, before his change of heart, argued for that: "We didn't build this to save somebody. We built this to save everybody."
But Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson, excellent), whom everyone now believes dead, has had a change of heart. It bothers him that these "irrelevant" crimes are being neglected. He has an expanding list of social security numbers the computer spits out daily, social security numbers belonging to ordinary folks who will shortly be involved in something shady, folks who will either be victims or perpetrators. Mr. Finch decides to do something about this, on the sly. He can't do it alone. He's not a man of action. He's got a bum leg and he's perpetually uneasy in his own skin. He needs someone on the field. He's sizing up that homeless gent what just had a skirmish on the subway train.
PERSON OF INTEREST - along with SUITS, ELEMENTARY, BONES, and CASTLE - is the show I look forward to the most. It's such good television. Partly, it addresses and gratifies that sense of paranoia in all of us. Partly, there's that question mark hovering over whether the person of interest of the week is victim or perpetrator. It's that the episodes are consistently well-executed and action-packed and that the mythology being constructed on a weekly basis is so compelling. The cast is across-the-board excellent. Jim Caviezel as the haunted ex-military, ex-covert operative John Reese is marvelous. I love that his laconic delivery, his cadence, reminds me so much of Clint Eastwood's. John Reese has bottomed out on that New York subway train, wracked with remorse, deadened by guilt, a man in need of purpose. Plus, his beard looks like a rat's nest. When Mr. Finch offers him a chance for redemption, he takes it. As he informs one thug: "Went around the world looking for bad guys. But there are plenty of you right here all along." Off they go, two men believed to be dead, working in secret and hand-in-hand with a godlike machine. This machine, too, keeps a secret.
It's gripping television. Watching the show, it does concern me that it's so easy now to invade someone's privacy. Reese and Finch don't think twice about cloning cell phones, hacking into computers, or applying radio telescopes to eavesdrop on their targets, and they're the good guys. But their activities soon capture the interest of NYPD, specifically Homicide Detective Jocelyn Carter (Taraji P. Henson). For most of the first season, Detective Carter serves what I'd like to call the "Jack McGee" role. Remember that persistent reporter Jack McGee doggedly pursued the Hulk but was always a step behind? Carter becomes obsessed with catching the mysterious man in the suit who frequently thwarted crimes in progress. She'd arrive at the crime scene afterwards and offer a recurring rueful remark: "Let me guess... tall guy in a suit."
It's a world of dark ops, deadly conspiracies, and shadowy omniscient machines. It's a riveting techno-thriller. It's got several ongoing story arcs that are developed throughout the entire season. PERSON OF INTEREST, you are being watched...
PERSON OF INTEREST - The Complete First Season presents 23 episodes on 6 discs. The rather skimpy bonus features are:
- Original Broadcast Pilot with Executive Producer Commentary
- Extended Pilot Episode (Unaired) wih optional Executive Producer Commentary
- "Living in an Age of Surveillance" featurette - Experts talk about the reality and alarming sophistication of today's methods for information gathering and capability for technological surveillance (00:15:01 minutes)
- Gag Reel (00:02:44 minutes)
1. This show is excellent and I am paying for the DVDs because some a****le over @ CBS decided to terminate the VOD ability around episode 8. I would have bought a season pass and the DVDs like I have for other shows that I enjoy and watch more than once.
2. $60.00 for a dvd set? That really leaves a bad taste in my mouth about how I as a customer and viewer am viewed by the CBS and the CW. Talk about fu***ng greed making bad buisness practices. I understand charging all the market will bear but at the same time it feels like CBS/CW is poisoning the well of Good word of mouth for the show by backtracking to late 90s-early 2000s in not allowing legal VOD and then charging twice the amount of a good DVD set.
Unless I don't buy the set I am left with two options:
a. surrender to the reanactment of Deliverance with me in the Ned Beatty part or
B. steal it by copying someone else's set.
I am not a thief, but I may reconsider if this treatment continues.
I am surprised though that they are waiting this long to release the DVD. The DVD release is just prior (I believe) to the start of the 2nd season. I would have thought that, based on word of mouth from people telling their friends how good the series is, that the producers would want to get this DVD out sooner so people who didn't watch it could catch up. I'm sure they have their own reasons.
Regardless, an excellent show, and the best I've seen since 24. Of course can't comment on the quality of the DVDs or the extras (not released yet) but I have a feeling that I will be purchasing this DVD when it is released.