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Person of Interest takes your basic procedural and flips it on its head, shoving in some vigilante justice and enough stone cold killing of the bad guys to keep the audience on its toes. The action may be the CBS drama’s best selling point, but its most valuable addition to the world of television is its surveillance premise and detail, which allows viewers to indulge in the idea there are London-levels of camera security in New York and to occasionally see more than would otherwise meet the eye.
Person of Interest’s premise is both wild and extremely simple. There’s a machine that was built by one of our vigilante heroes, Finch (Michael Emerson), after September 11 that tracks all of the would-be crimes in the continental United States. Each day, the machine spits out a social security number and it is up to Finch and his partner, Reese (Jim Caviezel) to figure out whether the number belongs to a potential criminal or victim and to use that knowledge to save the day. Yes, audiences need to buy into the premise, sort of like they would buy into the Cylons on Battlestar Galactica or the almost superhuman intuitive skills of The Mentalist. If you don’t, fine, but it will make you a very grumpy viewer.
We meet Reese in a pretty bad place, on a train, with a horrible beard, mourning the loss of his woman and his former life. Eventually, Finch and Reese find one another and form a ragtag team that is losing out in the confidence and understanding departments. Reese is staunch and too serious—a little like David Caruso’s character in CSI: Miami--however that personality is part of the fun and provides a great foil to Finch’s more paranoid and eccentric personality (Emerson is awesome at this, even perfecting a limp for the role). Toss in the easily blackmailed Det. Fusco (Kevin Chapman) and the no-nonsense Det. Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and you have the makings of a tough group of criminal catchers.
They have to trust one another first, and the writers do a great job of showing all of the subtle nuances and shifts in the characters’ behavior toward one another throughout the season. Season 1 features some steps to form legitimate partnerships, and as these steps are taken, the audience is able to learn more about the characters’ own lives and backstories. Additionally, those who purchase the Season 1 set will find an extended pilot that answers even more question and adds even more detail to who the characters are and where they came from.
Before you begin to think Person of Interest is a mushy relationship-driven story, it’s not. Viewers get a nice balance of intrigue in to Finch and Reese’s relationship and in to Carter and Fusco’s partnership (In one of the most brilliant sideplots ever, neither realizes the other is helping Reese and Finch) and action. A lot of the time Reese and Finch are busy worming their way in and out of tight corners and Reese is exerting his right to use force. Reese is cold and calculated, but never angry, and the audience never really knows quite how he is going to react.
Which means there are dead bodies and injured bodies left and right on the show. There are also suspect surveillance tactics used by both the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ and the audience gets to see a lot of technology that creator Jonathan Nolan says is only “five minutes in the future.” “Living in the Age of Surveillance” goes into detail about the technologies used during filming, including the famous ‘bluejacking’ scenes, and also notes our current lawmaking system is not keeping up with the technologies being introduced. Well, obviously. If copyright laws were written for books like 100 years ago, I can’t even imagine what year surveillance laws are stuck in.
The Person of Interest: The Complete First Season set offers the show on Blu-ray, but also gives buyers a full set of DVDs. As such, it’s packaged more like a movie release, but with less bonus features. The set is streamlined and the picture looks great. We even get some commentary from executive producers Nolan and Greg Plageman, which goes a long way to explain how the show came together and why the pilot was initially 71 minutes long. The set is really nice, and the show’s occasional cold openings and intricate stories are really fun, but Person of Interest never quite borders on perfect, especially since the asking price for the set is a whopping $69.97.
Length: 1012 min.
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Release Date: 09/04/2012
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Taraji P. Henson
Directed by: Richard J. Lewis, Jeffrey G. Hunt
Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Denise Thé, Greg Plageman