You would think that might be the minimum we could expect from a network series, but we all know how infrequently that “piques your interest” threshold is passed — particularly with procedurals, which litter the broadcast landscape.
Any show in that seen-it-all-before genre that can intrigue, involve and even fool you in its first hour, while leaving you curious to see where it heads in the next, is a show that has accomplished something. Consider it proof that in the right hands, even a seemingly played-out format can produce a fresh twist.
And Person of Interest has been placed in the right hands. Behind the camera, you have creator Jonathan Nolan, an Oscar nominee for Memento, and producer J.J. Abrams, a master of modern entertainment. On screen, you have Jim Caviezel, Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson and Lost‘s fascinating Emmy winner Michael Emerson. And behind them all, you have America’s most successful network, CBS, which pushed CSI out of this slot to make room for them.
What they’ve teamed for is a show that’s less about solving crimes than stopping them, thanks to a computer program that announces in advance that something bad is about to happen. Finch (Emerson), the billionaire software genius behind the program, has two problems. One is that his program spews out a number that tells him who will be involved in a crime, but not whether the person is the victim or the criminal. The second is that he’s not exactly a man of action.
“Knowledge is not my problem,” Finch tells Reese, the damaged former special agent played by Caviezel. “Doing something with my knowledge, that’s my problem. And that’s where you come in.”
Person of Interest
CBS, Thursday, 9 ET/PT
* * * 1/2 out of four
Tonight’s goal is to help, or hinder, a district attorney (Justified‘s Natalie Zea). They also have to sidestep two cops who have taken an interest in Reese, one who’s sympathetic (Henson), one who isn’t (Kevin Chapman).
That may sound like standard stuff, but Abrams’ productions and Emerson’s performances seldom settle for standard. Emerson has a way of infusing even the simplest line with a level of menace or humor — and sometimes both — that makes you think something a tiny bit dangerous is going on beneath the placid exterior. It also makes him a good match for Caviezel, who is similarly intense in his own brooding way.
They may not enchant you, but they and their series, the best new hour this year, are unlikely to bore you. Would that every new show could say the same.