Shows You Should Be Watching is a hopefully recurring feature where I will write passionately about TV shows I love, and I think everyone should watch. This feature came about because I love to talk about shows, and when no one else watches a show I want to talk about, its insanely frustrating. So, this is where I will not so subtly encourage the world in general to change its viewing habits.
There is a certain stigma attached to being a network drama these days. Almost none seem to click with audiences, even if they seem to be sure-fire hits (see Agents of Shield) and if they do happen to get an audience, they don’t tend to be that good (see NCIS or The Blacklist). I wrote that sentence-long preamble to lessen the shock of the next sentence. CBS’s Person of Interest is one of the best, if not the best drama on broadcast TV right now.
“WHAT? That CBS show with Jesus in it? It’s not possible” is the response I imagine your feeling right now (In my head everyone who reads this is an easily angered Passion of the Christ fan). It’s not for everyone, and Person of Interest will never win any Emmy’s, but its is easily the most entertaining hour on broadcast TV. So, as Person Of Interest enters into a three-episode arc two and a half seasons in the making, here is everything you need to know, pretty much spoiler free, about Person of Interest.
Person of Interest (“POI”) was created by Jonathan Nolan, co-writer of the Dark Knight Trilogy, and produced by J.J Abrams through is studio Bad Robot. The series stars Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Taraji P Henson, Kevin Chapman, Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker. I would describe the series premise, but the opening credits explain it better than I can.
It’s way more than that though. POI takes this already unique premise and matches it with ambitious storytelling and morally complex characters that aren’t the straight good guys that can be found in almost all other procedurals. It then gives it’s “heroes” a comic book like number of villains each of then unique to fight. “Heroes” is in quotes because all of the characters make immoral decisions that you would never see characters on such steadfastly good shows like NCIS or CSI make. Each episode centers on a number, which is the social security number of someone who is going to be involved in a crime in future. The Machine gives the number to Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) a wealthy technology genius who built the machine for the government. He and John Reese, (Jim Caviezel) a former CIA agent, track the number and either protect them if he/she is a victim, or bring them down if they are the perpetrator. Reese currently reigns supreme as the biggest badass on TV, here’s an example of that:
Two police detectives aid Reese and Finch’s dynamic duo. Detective Fusco (the bad cop) a former corrupt cop who now works for Reese and Finch and helps them stay up to date on corrupt underground organizations like HR. Fusco is also usually the one called on to do the dirty work. And Detective Carter (the good cop) a former Army interrogator who initially is dead set on bring Reese to justice, but ends up joining the team. She eventually ends up playing a Commissioner Gordan like role on the show. So that’s the set up, now we get to the fun stuff.
WHAT MAKES THIS SHOW SO GOOD?
That’s an easy one, the writing. Damn, this show has good writing, and I’m not referring to Aaron Sorkin good writing (More wit per line than the human mind can process) I’m talking about storytelling. This show has so many different stories all going on at once and at different levels. The show has an ever-expanding mythology that makes it more of a comic book type show then a crime show.
Each episode has an episodic plot, a person of interest whose story carries the main point of the episode. The show also employs flashbacks, which are usually part of a larger character arc to be revealed as the season goes on. Season 1’s flashbacks focused on Reese, Season 2 revealed the reason Finch began to become a vigilante. Then the show has seasonal serialized arcs, usually led by a villain. The season introduces villains and characters that seem unrelated until it all comes to a head at the end of a season. The show is always building to something, whether it’s the twist at the end of an episode or the introduction of a new character Person Of Interest always has a purpose to what it does.
The villains, to me at least, are the best part of the show. It’s like a comic book. The show has aired just over 50 episodes, and here is a list of all the villains that have threatened our heroes for more than one episode.
- Elias (A Crime Boss trying to reunite the five families)
- Root (A computer programmer trying to access the machine)
- Agent Snow (Reese’s former CIA handler whose trying to arrest him)
- Agent Stanton (Reese’s former CIA partner, who now works for Decima)
- Decima Technologies (A British Organization trying to shut down the machine)
- The Government (You can never trust the government, man, they are always bothering Reese and Finch)
- Vigilence (An internet freedom group, trying to protect online privacy)
- The Russians (According to POI the Russians rule the ghettos of New York)
And then there’s HR. POI has been planting the storytelling seeds of HR since the pilot. HR is a crime organization full of corrupt cops and along with the weekly numbers; Reese and Finch have been trying to take HR down. Each season the characters have been putting the pieces together, figuring out who the players are and what the chain of command is, and now it seems like the payoff is about to happen.
No other procedurals can tell serialized stories like POI can. Root’s (Amy Acker) Season 2 arc culminated in one of the best two-episode arcs since BBC’s Sherlock introduced Moriarty and Irene Adler back to back (Season 1 Ep. 3/ Season 2 Ep. 1). It’s honestly one of the best shows on TV and it boggles my mind how little people on the internet seem to care about a show that seems tailor-made for it. Seriously intewebs, get on this show it so good. WIth such a nerd-friendly premise, and people like Jonathon Nolan, JJ Abrams, and Michael Emerson behind it I don’t understand why the show has virtually no following online, but that’s a different conversation.
Overall, POI is a show that finds the perfect balance between case-of-the-week stories and larger, more mythology based stories that expand the universe in which the show exists. POI has developed into a show no one could’ve seen coming from the pilot. It’s a show with the best, most intriguing mythology since Lost and with just the right amount of realism to keep it from going crazy like Lost.
THIS SHOW SOUNDS AMAZING, WHY THE HECK AREN’T I WATCHING?
I have no clue! It’s easy to imagine you were put off by the shows procedural nature or by the fact its on CBS, but please watch this show. Its incredible and I would do anything to keep it from getting cancelled. It’s on Tuesdays at 10 on CBS! Unfortunately, POI is not on any sort of legal streaming service, but is on iTunes if that helps.