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DVD Review

DVD cover

Person of Interest
The Complete First Season


Starring: Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman and Michael Emerson
Warner Home Video
RRP: £39.99
Certificate: 15
Available 18 March 2013

Following the atrocity of the twin towers attack, the American government fast tracks the development of a machine which can gather all the data from CCTV and other public surveillance equipment to discover terrorist plots before they have a chance to go forward. The machine is more successful than even its creator can imagine and is able to spot the beginning of almost any violent and terminal crime, the problem is that the Government aren’t interested so the machine's creator builds a back door into the system which would forward him the national insurance numbers of the victims/perpetrators. Now, posing as Alex Finch he enlists the help of ex CIA agent and together they set out to save as many as they can...

Persons of Interest (2011) is an American crime drama, based on a screenplay by Jonathan Nolan.

The show uses the same multi-thread structure used in Lost, where the story of the week not only deals with a particular event, but also includes flashbacks to the characters back story and the growing inclusion of a greater conspiracy theory.

As television this has worked well for a number of shows, although the shows which have posed more questions than they have answered no longer have a long life cycle as audiences are no longer willing to put up with that sort of tosh.

After staring in Lost, Michael Emerson’s (Finch) CV probably just has the word ‘Enigmatic’ written across the top of the page. Having constructed the machine, presumably under his real name his character, Finch, decides to go underground, although not very far underground, as he still has access to both money and influence, not bad, given that it is intimated that he is supposed to be dead. Regardless of his real name he uses a number of aliases based on the names of birds.

Jim Caviezel’s character, Reese, also has a past; it seems everyone in the show has a past. When he is first found he is living as a bum, on the street, but makes a miraculous recovery once Finch finds him, his recovery is so swift it makes James Bond look like a loser, having to do all that physical activity to get back into shape.

There are a number of ancillary characters. The first one is the Machine itself. The show occasionally cuts between the main action and the Machine's viewpoint as it tags people with various boxes and symbols denoting its level of interest in them.

In episode one, we are introduced to two characters which allow our dynamic duo access to police resources. NYPD Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) is framed by Reese, implicating him in the murder of his partner and Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), a detective who initially investigates the series of killings connected with Reese before becoming a valuable asset.

The inclusion of the police also helps introduce one of the conspiracy sub-plot, involving corrupt police who are aiding gangsters, another deals with Finch’s partner who has also added something to the Machine, but it is not revealed what this is or what it does. In the background you also have the government wanting to extend the machine from just predicting crime.

All of this probably plays better in the States where paranoia regarding Government surveillance and intrusion into ordinary citizen’s lives is a growing concern. It doesn’t resonate as well in Britain where our main concerns are having a government, none of which appear to be able to count. CCTV has grown exponentially in this country with barely a whisper of discontent.

Season one is presented in a six DVD set, with a number of extras. You can choose from three audio tracks, the original English plus French and Castellano, plus eight subtitle tracks. On disc one you get the original broadcast pilot episode with commentary from the producer. The majority of the extras are on the sixth disc, including an extended pilot, with or without producers’ commentary, a gag reel (2 min, 38 sec) and Living in an Age of Surveillance (14 min, 25 sec) which looks at the background to the show.

The show is well made and well-acted, but I can’t help but feel that there is little here that has not been explored before. Still it has gathered enough of a fan base to be commissioned for a second season.


Charles Packer

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