Saturday, September 24, 2011

Person of Interest has some interesting persons

     CBS's newest drama is Person of Interest, which comes from J.J. Abrams's production company. John Reese (James Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ, The Prisoner), a former special forces soldier, lost the woman he loved, so now he rides the subway and drinks a lot, looking like a bum. After being picked up by Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson, Boston Legal, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Reese is recruited by Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson, Lost).

     Finch developed a complex tracking system to determine when crime is going to happen. The government uses it to find terrorists, but Finch builds himself a back door, and gets social security numbers of people about to be involved in something bad, non-terrorist related. These people may be criminals or victims, and Finch would like Reese to help him track them down and stop the bad thing from happening. Reese reluctantly agrees, and convinces a dirty cop with redeeming qualities named Fusco (Kevin Chapman) to be his man on the inside.

     Yes, Person of Interest is a crime procedural, but it's a damn good one, far better than the tons currently polluting the airwaves. One reason is the concept of the super computer that can warn of future events, but many crime shows have unique hooks. Another is the editing that often makes bits appear to come from various cameras, but again, that isn't the whole story. What raises Person of Interest to a whole other level, one that will make it a fantastic series, is the writing and the acting. With a movie-quality cast, and intense sequences that one would expect from film, there is a cinematic quality and weight to the proceedings. Maintained week after week, this could signal a whole new type of procedural.

     The two main characters are both interesting men, with tragic back stories. While Finch remains mostly a mystery, there is a reason he is haunted by the crimes he could prevent, but doesn't. Reese needs a purpose. Though they both understand they will likely die during one of their cases, they don't care. They both need a reason to live, and this gives them one.

     Another positive is that J.J. Abrams is involved. Not all of Abrams's shows run for years, but he's not made a bad one. Remember a unique little procedural called Fringe? It sure didn't stay static for long, and hopefully Person of Interest will not either. Of course, it is on CBS, a network renowned for crappy, same-thing-every-week, crime series. But even if Person of Interest stays in a case of the week format, the talent involved will raise it befor the standard fare.

     In the first episode alone, the show proves its mettle. Reese and Finch follow an assistant district attorney (Natalie Zea, Justified). They assume that she will soon be attacked by a corrupt group based on a case she is working on. Given Zea's usual roles, and the manner in which she plays this part, that seems safe. So when Reese discovers she is the ring leader behind the bad guy gang, it's a shocker. It shouldn't be, given the reminder that the person of interest could be victim or perp, but it is.

     Person of Interest is definitely worth your time. Watch it Thursdays at 9 p.m.ET on CBS.

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