Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Living in Person of Interest - The Real Deal or Telly Paranoia Run Amok?

I happen to love the show Person of Interest. I like all the actors, as well as their characters. I do feel a bit bad for Jim Caviezel - this guy takes a beating in every episode! I wasn't too thrilled with him when he did The Passion of Christ - a movie I did not see and wouldn't due to the abysmal violence - but I'd read about it and his feelings on it and just did not see the value of either. My bad, right? Actors tell stories - sometimes ones they like and sometimes ones they do not - and who am I to criticise? So I have long since gotten past this.

Good thing.

Person of Interest is - no pun intended - interesting. One man, Harold Finch (well-played by Michael Emerson, who is eminently likable), developed and built a super-computer colloquially referred to as "the machine" which sees and hears everything and identifies people just by their nine-digit social security number. Originally, this computer was developed to alert the government (the inference is that this will alert the Federal government, not local) to potential terrorist threats. Period. However, Harold Finch noticed that the machine was also producing a different list of numbers. These numbers showed no terrorist threat, but a threat of a different nature. The machine passes these number(s) on to Finch, who wants to save the person or people as they will be involved in some kind of crime outside of terrorism - possibly the victim, the perpetrator, or just someone who witnesses something - but he cannot act alone. Finch is the computer person, his job is the surveillance via computer, phones, etc. He is the brains behind this.

What Finch needs - and finds in John Reese (also well-played by Jim Caviezel) is someone who will be the brawn and make the connection with the person or people involved. He also does surveillance but via following the mark and taking pictures with a telephoto lens and camera. He is most definitely not the computer-savvy type. He was in the Special Forces and has a range of rather dubious talents, including killing without any remorse (this certainly takes a unique personality, of course. And I don't mean unique like serial killers, but especially unusual in that he has a strong moral compass pointed (in general) in the right direction). As a pair, they are extremely effective in helping victims get out of their special situations.

However, just the two of them was not quite enough, so they brought a "dirty" police detective into their fold: Lionel Fusco (played by Kevin Chapman, who played Bunny in Unstoppable, one of my favourite movies) and, after she tried chasing John and gave him up to the CIA, who shot the hell out of him and she helped Finch to rescue him, also became one of their outside world contacts. She is Detective Joss Carter (played by Taraji P. Henson, who was in Boston Legal and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, two of my most beloved shows). The two detectives at first worked separately without knowing that the other was involved but at some point in Season 2 this was fixed to avoid issues.

There is a sub-plot to the show regarding a sect of very corrupt police officers called HR which to date has not been explained and we still haven't the idea of what "HR" stands for. I am not tickled by this - I didn't spend decades doing Human Resources to have some telly writer dump on the initials for this group. But it is television, so I'll deal with it (it's not as though I have a choice, other than not to watch it and that, frankly, isn't an option). At any rate, it is a poor secondary plot compared to the main thrust of this. Finch and Reese help people who need help. It is a delightful sentiment and thought.

I was pretty proud of myself for noticing a small but key feature in the intro of the show: If you watch, they show the person whose number comes up just at the end of the intro. The reason I'm proud of this is because Luis did not catch this little detail, and normally I'm the one who misses things. I was quite happy I noticed this. (I also have a tendency to see and realise errors in movies and telly shows, such as the scene in The Goodbye Girl, where Richard Dreyfuss (a huge favourite of mine) is bombed in a play, shows up drunk, knocks over a table by the window. When his girlfriend pulls him back in, the table is righted and everything as it was before! And in the Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, he and Michelle Yoeh need to escape Jonathan Pryce's lair, so they tie each others hands together, and run to jump through a window - except they jump through two windows, separated by a section of concrete... without losing their hands. How special...) Usually I'm clueless and Luis catches the weird little details. but not those...

Back to Person of Interest. The only episodes I did not care for where the first two of Season Two involving a character called Root. (I've forgotten the real name of the character.) She was one sick twist, which once the mystery was solved made sense, but I prefer violence to be inferred, not obvious. She was obvious. And so was the female spy whose name I have forgotten... let me see... is it Samantha Shaw? I think so... not completely sure.

I do very much like Zoë Morgan, and Carl Elias, who is a criminal who is trying to take over the city's crime ring and become the overlord of the entire New York City crime syndicate. He's overly intelligent, suave, well-spoken, soft-spoken, and loves chess. He first shows up as a victim - a school teacher named Charlie Burton, who witnesses a violent crime and has some Russian guys trying to kill him. By the end we find out he is Carl Elias, mastermind criminal. But he just seems far too smart to end up in a short-term career like that. Still, he is very likable. He is played by Enrico Colantoni, who has been in NYPD Blue, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Bones, all shows we love(d).

I love watching old episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation because I recognise all kinds of actors after the fact - he will be one, so will Amy Acker and a whole host of others. In fact, I think I will do that now. I have every season on DVD, right up to last season. This will take me bloody weeks to watch!

(My fingers and arms hurt from so much typing...)

I'm back a few hours later. I feel I need to explain the title of this post, not just natter on about the show and the actors but to address the title, which connotes a different angle of looking at Person of Interest. It is a show that bears a certain amount of scrutiny. Ever since the 9/11 attacks and the development of the Patriot Act, how unreasonable is it to think that maybe someone, somewhere hasn't developed a super-computer that has everyone in a geographical area mapped in with all their little details (not just the public record items such as school attendance, criminal records, physical and/or psychological information; but things that we put up on our social networking sites and personal blogs and private Web Sites. A scary thought when you look at it that way, isn't it?

It is hard to imagine that every move I make outside of the house is noted and logged and pieced apart by some benevolent (I hope) computer. The idea is that once this machine went online, it had no back door (good thinking as there is always someone who can get in that way), it will update itself and is impervious to malware (a little unrealistic that, but this is television). It is secreted away physically. Human hands are no where near it. An interesting theory, isn't it?

And the intro starts with the very seriously uttered words, "You are being watched." This is enough to give anyone slightly paranoid to get the screaming memes and run into their homes and lock up everything! For the seriously paranoid I would not even want to think about it. I delight - evil person that I am - in playing the intro of this show loudly to scare the outlaw, who thinks the FBI has our house infiltrated. Heh, heh, heh...

So that explains the title of this post. No matter what, whether it is somewhat true, very true or completely false, it is an excellent show. Of course, actors are storytellers and the best of them deliver stories that they tell so well we can believe them!

1 comment:

Cathryn Smith said...

Person of Interest is one of the few shows I watch on TV anymore.

Can you believe that I didn't realize that Jim Caviezel was in The Passion of Christ - and I actually did see that film!