TV review: Person of Interest (season 1)

This is the modern day version of the classic 80’s show The Equalizer. The main characters are vigilantes (ex-CIA & rich programmer) who mysteriously appear in peoples lives, save them from trouble then vanish.

Jim Caviezel is for some reason sleepwalking throughout the entire season. It’s baffling. Maybe it’s some hardcore method acting that’s flying over my head, but in my eyes it just looks like he’s utterly bored and phoning it in. Sure there are moments when his stoic manner is in favour of his character, but for the most part it’s just not engaging. What saves the show is Michael Emerson, fresh off his career-defining role of Benjamin Linus from Lost, he shines in every episode, providing humour and pathos.

So as a result of the two characters’ unusual lifestyle, they end up manhandling a NY cop to help them in their noble quest through subterfuge. Roping in a corrupt cop (played by Kevin Chapman)  is interesting, except after the first episode the cop is not corrupt but just witless. The show could have been interesting if he had continued to fuck things up for the protagonists, but unfortunately he’s their poodle for the most part.

You can’t have a show like this without a hound dog of a detective who chases the vigilantes, and we get that in the form of the mis-cast Taraji P. Henson who for the first half of the season is just a seething humanoid form of rage, just angry all the time about everything and dressed like she’s ready to go partying rather than actual police work. From the mid-way point however she becomes more integral to the season-wide narrative, though still never won me over.

Person of Interest
The story has flashback sequences exploring the shady pasts of both main characters. The standalone tales are for the most part generic predictable fare, you’ll always guess the twist or villain, and things have a tendency of working themselves out in contrived ways. The writers always take the easy way out of whatever predicament the two main characters find themselves in. The dialogue is also horrendous all across the board, even if the actors reading them are generally decent.

What gives the show a slight edge is the thought-provoking premise of a machine that can tell when a crime is going to be committed, and after a key episode late into the season there is some light shed on how it’s able to do this which changes things dramatically. This aspect of the show is the single major reason why the show is worth a watch, and why I will continue to forge onwards to season two to see if the online word-of-mouth is indicative of an upswing in quality, or just fans doing their usual ‘support no matter what’ thing.

There are much better modern shows than Person of Interest that are worthy of your time, but if you really have nothing else to watch, then you might find some enjoyment from Jonathan Nolan’s foray into TV. It’s a mix of episodic and serial procedural crime, with a subtle element of science fiction hovering tantalisingly close. Here’s hoping they go for broke in season two…

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