Person of Interest
is a crime thriller about a presumed-dead former CIA agent, John Reese, who teams up with mysterious billionaire Harold Finch to prevent violent crimes with high-tech surveillance and their own brand of vigilante justice. Reese's special training in covert operations appeals to Finch, a software genius who invented a program, aka "The Machine," that can identify people soon to be involved in violent crimes. Tapping into ubiquitous surveillance feeds throughout the city, the two work outside of the law, combining Reese's black ops skills with Finch's technological prowess and unlimited wealth to unravel the mystery of the person of interest, and stop the crime before it happens. Reese's actions draw the attention of the NYPD, including by-the-book homicide detective Joss Carter. After initially pursuing Reese as a criminal, Carter now shares in his pursuit of justice. Also working with Reese and Finch is Detective Lionel Fusco, a onetime corrupt cop who began as Reese's unwilling pawn, but now views their missions as a chance at personal redemption. With infinite crimes to investigate, Reese and Finch find that the right person, with the right information, at the right time, can change everything.
A high-concept show that isn't afraid to get down and dirty, this latest exercise in paranoid worldbuilding from producer J.J. Abrams provides an addictive combination of action and future tech. Series creator Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) lays out the premise at a furious clip: an eccentric tech genius (Lost
's Michael Emerson) enlists a shadowy soldier-of-fortune (Jim Caviezel) to help with his pet project--a machine with seemingly endless surveillance capabilities. Utilizing the device's ability to identify threats before they happen, they set out to right future wrongs, attracting the attention of a dogged New York cop (Taraji P. Henson) in the process. Were Person of Interest
content to remain at the level of weekly procedural, it would be a very good one, with every installment boasting well-choreographed fight scenes, Emerson's impeccably weird comedy timing, and a thorny morality that keeps the methods of the protagonists edging into the black. (A standout early episode, featuring Linda Cardinelli as a doctor with a hidden past, boasts an open-ended resolution that would do Elmore Leonard proud.) Thankfully, however, Nolan and co. also show an ability to play the long game, cannily inserting flashbacks that hint at a bigger mystery, introducing a strangely empathetic recurring supervillain, and laying out minor plot elements that pay off big further down the line. The show's impressive planning also extends to the supporting cast, with Henson given a character arc that many leading characters would envy. (Kudos as well to Kevin Chapman, as a former dirty cop whose slowly growing conscience provides many of the best moments.) The best element of the show, however, may well be The Machine itself, an initially implausible gimmick that quickly becomes a character in its own right; an omnipresent asset that--pay close attention to the evolving graphics overlays--may not be quite as passive an observer as its creator insists. By the time the final cliffhanger episode of the season rolls around, it's apparent that the show's mythology still has plenty of unexplored depths to delve. Extras include a lengthier cut of the pilot, a fascinating/scary look at the current state of surveillance tech, and a brief gag reel showcasing Caviezel's ability to do a killer Christopher Walken. --Andrew Wright