Fall 2011 Review: Person of Interest

23 Sep

Person of Interest has a high concept, but the high concept here is surprisingly beyond the point or so it seems from one episode.  It’s really a classic CBS procedural disguised as a JJ Abrams complex serial show.  The premise is that a super rich programmer, portrayed by Lost’s Michael Emerson, has after 9/11 tapped into the wide range of data collected on everyone and everything by the federal government, and can get a list of social security numbers which refer to people who will be involved somehow in a violent crime.  Unfortunately, Emerson can’t get any more data than this without getting caught stealing the information from the government.  Emerson, through his eyes and ears everywhere, finds Jim Caviezel’s character, an ex-CIA agent who looks like a homeless person and is drinking himself to death due to his life falling apart by death of loved one or government betrayal or a lack of purpose or all of these things.

The show tries several times to tap heavily into a post 9/11 PATRIOT Act Big Brother paranoia theme but it seems a little clumsy and obvious.  It’s kind of screaming YOU ARE BEING WATCHED ALL THE TIME!  It’s not really bad so much as it seems kind of pointless.  They could be doing it for major use of a paranoid angle but the first episode didn’t do a whole lot with that and it doesn’t from that episode seem like it’s planning to (Contrast it to say, Rubicon, where good, or bad, that was a critical element of the show).

As I mentioned before, it seems like it’s going to be a procedural.  Every week the machine will spit out a number and Cavaziel will go on the wild goose chase and figure out where the crime is and how to stop it using his CIA bad-assery skils.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing in the big picture, but it’s a bad thing in terms of getting me to watch every single week.  With the Jonathan Nolan and JJ Abrams name attached, I thought there would be a little bit more of a serial plot.  Procedurals are generally eminently watchable, but they also are rarely compelling enough to warrant regular viewing.  I could sit down and watch a couple of NCISs easily but that doesn’t mean I’m going to set my DV-R for it.

I posted a review earlier yesterday about Boardwalk Empire and about how the show seems to lack any fun.  Interestingly enough, watching this, I sort of thought the same thing.  It doesn’t have to be a USA show to have fun or have cheesy one-liners.  Even Emerson’s character on Lost, Ben, the creepiest, and most villainous character always seemed to be having his own fun.  Right now, I’m putting this mostly on Cavaziel.  If the show is going to be a procedural it could use it.  I think a more charismatic lead could easily inject just a little bit more life.  All serious all the time can be fine, but if you’re going to do that, you better be doing something that warrants it.  Cavaziel is kind of boring and bland, at least through this one episode.

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.  I don’t mean I won’t ever again;  I could easily find myself taking in a repeat on an early Saturday afternoon.  Am I going to watch it next week, though, or on a weekly schedule?  I highly doubt it.

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