“What happens when the one thing that keeps you centered in the world is suddenly taken from you?” Even after the first episode we know very little about the characters. We have Mr. Reese, played by Jim Caviezel, who is a former government agent torn down by the loss of his girlfriend. Michael Emerson, formerly the contagonist Ben from Lost, is an eccentric billionaire genius, Mr. Finch, who created a super computer to isolate and identify potential illegal activity. Mr. Finch seeks out Mr. Reese in an effort to prevent the crimes being ignored by the computer he built.
The new CBS pilot, airing on Thursday’s, is the latest brain child of Producer JJ Abrams of Alias, Fringe, and Lost fame, and Jonathan Nolan, the co-screenwriter with his brother Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, The Prestige, and the upcoming Man of Steel. First impressions, this is a cross between Burn Notice and Minority Report.
The show’s tether to reality is the very real reaction of the world to the events of 9-11. It is said that there is not a square block in the city of New York City that is not covered by some sort of surveillance camera; big brother in the big city, right? Well it takes this premise to the extreme, whereas Finch’s computer is able to predict major crimes and the people involved by watching the real life scenes of the city unfold. As this computer was created to isolate major terrorist threats, it was also programmed to discard anything that does not fit the spectrum of focus.
Mr. Finch realized that the discarded data is as valid as the focus data, but on smaller crimes. The challenge being, the computer only provides one detail to the events it has witnessed, a social security number.
The premise seems confusing, but is in fact very simple and brilliant. Mr. Finch has a social security number. He does not know the what, where, why, or even how the person attached to the identifier is involved. All he knows is that the computer tagged them as a person of interest. This, of course, will have to make it through the three episode test. However, I can say right now I am hooked. I do not want to give too much away, but the writing, acting, and directing is brilliant. They have taken a movie style drama and turned it into a television show with endless appeal and possibilities.
The characters have been set up in a strong base as well, lots of secrets to reveal, but enough for the audience to identify with. The pilot episode also set up the branching of other relationships, such as a dirty cop who is spared in return for his assistance in the future. There is also a clean cop, played by Taraji P. Henson, who wants to know who the hero solving these mysteries is.
One of the high points of this show is the lack of violence. I remember when I was a kid watching the A-Team I thought it was all violent. As I look at them now, I realize that no one ever died on the show. If they did it was usually at the beginning and never shown. The case is the same here. All of the ‘victims’ are shot in the leg. The two deaths that did occur were barely shown, and left more to the imagination and then confirmation in dialog. This is a refreshing change of pace. I am not one to knock violence. The world is violent. The truth is it takes a lot more skill to not kill someone with a gun, which for me is not only an intelligent writing, it is also a sign of story focus.
So I am giving Person of Interest a high mark, and hope that you will give it a try. It is definitely worth a shot.