Are we watching?
Hello Dear Readers
This blog does contain some spoilers regarding a television series so be warned.
Person of Interest is one of those television series that comes along every so often that just hits the marks. The basic premise of the program is about one man who appears to be fighting against the machine with a machine. Now that is not a concept that is new to television. Many series, mainly sci-fi, have used this idea. It lends itself well. This series has a slight difference. The man in question is called Harold Finch and he is not your typical hero as he has no genuine physical skills. He is the mastermind, the brains behind the scenes, yet Harold puts himself in danger.
Spoilers from now on.
Person of Interest is a very clever, well written action show with a huge set of twists. It has such a real feel to it, which gives the show that unnerving element. Here in the UK we have seen the first three series so far. The basic premise is that a man, Harold Finch, has created a Machine, which watches over everyone and gathers data. It’s function is to collect data on terrorists organisations, those who present an issue for the Government. In collecting that data, it see’s everything from the small to the large. Naturally the Government cares little for the small. They ignore it but the creator does not. So Harold Finch decides he has to do something but what? He teaches the Machine. He builds a ‘back-door’ allowing the Machine to give Finch a number. That is the curious part, it is just a number. No clue about what they have done, going to do or more importantly who might be waiting for them. Victim or foe, Harold has no clue.
The first season opens with a man on a train. He just looks wrong, unclean, unshaven, down and out. You think he is about to be set upon by some thugs. You quickly realise that this man has something about him as he quickly takes down all the thugs. It is a very one-sided combat. The man, known as John (Mr Reese), becomes the interest of the police and Finch. The police can’t hold John as he has no information and you do find out why. John Reese is a former CIA agent, presumed dead after the death of his girlfriend. Finch is a billionaire software designer who is as mysterious as Reese. In some respects I would liken the two to the ‘Odd Couple’. Poles apart in some many ways but drawn together by Finch.
I won’t go into details about each series you can read that here on Wikipedia Person of Interest. There are big spoilers there so be warned.
What drew me to this series was its idea. It is classed as sci-fi even though it is set in current times. It works because taking real incidents, 9/11 for example and makes you think. With all the technology we have in the world could it be used in such a fashion? It also explores the multi-threads of corruption, dishonesty and oddly enough, hope.
The character of Finch, knows he can do nothing about the bigger picture, so he fights for the little person. Throughout the series, so far for me, we see the team expand from Finch and Reese, to include people who can be used, like a corrupt cop named Fusco. There are good people as well one of whom at the beginning tries to investigate Reese but ends up helping. Joss carter, who is a very strong female lead. This is another element of the show which makes it standout from others. The writers were not scared of pushing characters forward regardless of their gender, hence we get Joss Carter an NYPD cop, Root a ruthless assassin and one of my favourite characters Miss Shaw. Shaw is the female version of Reese, just as deadly, just as forceful and just as complex. There is one slight difference between the two, one which is allowed to be humorous, which is Shaw’s aversion to dressing like a woman. You get the impression that she hates dresses unlike Reese who just wears a suit like a second skin. There are some wonderful moments when Shaw shows her feelings for looking glamorous. She clearly hates it.
As with any show there has to be interaction between the cast members to make it work and you do see that. The main cast started with Michael Emerson as Harold Finch, Jim Caviezel as John Reese, Taraji P. Henson as Detective Joss Carter and Kevin Chapman as Detective Lionel Fusco. In the second series they are joined by Sarah Shahi as Sameen Shaw and Amy Acker as Root. Root did guest in the first series but became a regular from series 2. There is also one more character who has a non-speaking part which is Bear a Belgian Malinois dog rescued by Reese and guard for Finch. Together the cast really do make this show a one to watch. Of course without good stories they would be wasted talent.
The stories are well written, balanced in pace and action. Everything is laid out and yet completely hidden, I know that does not make sense but the clues are all there. There is much more than just the normal guardian angel type, good-cop bad-cop routine, which adds levels all over the place. The use of technology, flash-backs, hints of conversations and the tease of what might be happening all makes this a critical success. In series 4, which I have yet to see, one episode gained what has to be the ultimate in television, a 10 out of 10. Not from fans mind you but from the really hard to please people.
At some point, sadly or not, this series will finish. In America, rating make all the difference. Some series in my humble view should have finished long before they made it past episode 2. They were already ‘lost’, one might say. There is the normal balance, do you go out at the top or just as it starts to become boring or when no one is watching but the harden fans? Some shows do seem to survive cast changes and all, like NCIS. Again, for me it’s down to cast, crew, writers and all to keep pushing the show and that fresh feel.
Person of Interest is a show I would recommend to watch and enjoy. It feels good, well written, beautifully crafted and flawlessly acted. For me a top 10 show.
As for my tagline, I can’t do any better than what Harold Finch says at the start of the show: “You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know, because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people; people like you. Crimes the government considered ‘irrelevant’. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up… we’ll find you”.