Saturday, 1 October 2011

PERSON OF INTEREST, 1.2 – "Ghosts"

Saturday, 1 October 2011
written by Greg Plageman &Jonathan Nolan / directed by Richard J. Lewis

I have to say, "Ghosts" was a strong follow-up to the already promising pilot, which gave some persuasive reasons to consider adding Person Of Interest to your weekly schedule, beyond the delight of watching Lost's Michael Emerson. If there was any doubt of the show's Dirty Harry influence, that would have been laid to bed here. This week's villain actually shared Harry Calhoun's surname, while Jim Caviezel's grouchy performance felt very Clint Eastwood at times. I'm still mostly underwhelmed by Caviezel, however. He looks the part, but John Reese is such a distancing bore. I'm not expecting laughs and smiles, but it feels like Caviezel's settled on one gear and he's not prepared to change.

Emerson remains the biggest reason to watch, and I was pleased to see creator Jonathan Nolan has avoided the rather obvious trap of making Mr Finch too much of a background character. He got involved in this story in some interesting ways, we were given an intriguing flashback to 2007 when he was demonstrating The Machine's abilities to a business partner, and I loved the Secret Millionaire-esque idea that Finch's "alter ego" is that of a cubicle drone in a busy office, with the whole workforce unaware that unassuming software programmer "Harold" is the owner of their company. One question though: did Finch have a pronounced limp in the pilot, or has one been added to give his character some visual flavour? I don't remember him having mobility issues last week.

Person Of Interest is going to be telling standalone crime stories every week, which isn't TV's most compelling format in my mind, but it's somewhat leavened by some intriguing serialized mysteries (specifics of Reese's life as a spook and the death of his wife, the mystery of Finch's business past and current circumstances). And the show's vigilante aspect allows for some exciting action (T-boning a bad guy's car with a truck, beating up scruffy men in a downtown bar, avoiding a dead-eyed assassin stalking the corridors of a hotel). I even like the way flashbacks are visualized from within The Machine's all-seeing eye, as the system literally scrolls back through its memory banks to see was happening years ago.

I can't say this show's conducive to weekly reviews (which is why I've barely touched on the plot of "Ghosts", which involves real estate market crime), but there's enough good stuff here to keep me watching. It could get repetitive within the next five episodes, I'm not keen on the subplot with Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) trailing Reese's activities around New York City, and I still wish they'd cast a more expressive actor than Caviezel as the introverted hero, but... there's a steady stream of good moments, a strong idea, great action, excellent location shooting, some intelligent plotting, some interesting influences ('70s paranoia thrillers, William Gibson novels, '80s high-concept TV shows, George Orwell's 1984), and at least one irresistible performance from the bespectacled Emerson.

It's earned my interest, what more can I say. Has it earned yours?

29 September 2011 / CBS