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Person of Interest: Pilot

Person of Interest Person of Interest: Season 1

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#1 Christopher

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 09:31 PM

This was pretty well-done.  The promos have been playing up J. J. Abrams's name, but it's clearly much more Jonathan Nolan's baby.  It had a very Nolanesque feel to it, with the nonlinear storytelling.  And Jim Caviezel's Reese did somewhat remind me of Christian Bale's Batman, though rather more comfortable with firearms and without the growly voice.

The total-surveillance premise is rather creepy, and I'm not sure whether to be reassured that the protagonists are co-opting it for the sake of helping the little guy or concerned that they're using such benevolence as an excuse for employing these questionable methods.  Maybe we're supposed to be unsure of that.  But maybe the idea is, in a world where Big Brother is a reality, the best anyone can hope for is that someone would try to use the cold, detached machinery of the state to undertake a more human-scale benevolence.

I was concerned that I wouldn't like the violence Reese employed.  I'm somewhat mollified by the portrayal of him as someone who doesn't like to be violent and who goes for nonlethal takedowns whenever possible.  Still, I wasn't happy about the resolution of the climactic standoff, or what he did afterward.  Not to mention that it's a TV myth that shooting someone in the leg is reliably nonlethal.  If you hit a major artery, they could bleed to death pretty quickly.  And at best they'll probably have permanent nerve and muscle damage.

Speaking of which, I'm a little concerned that Michael Emerson's character has that limp as a character trait.  I recall how Hugh Laurie developed real leg problems from having to limp on House.

Overall, though, this is a strong show with good writing and is worth continuing to watch.  There are parts of it I'm uneasy with, but at least it acknowledges that they're worth being uneasy about.
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#2 DWF

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 09:38 PM

The show has ah interesting premise it's just possible reaction to the events of 9/11, Frinch's limp is interesting as well I hope we get the story behind it. I liked the twist in the story and it's resolution. And for a JJ Abrams show it's not mired down in a story arc at least not so far.
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#3 QuiGon John

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 12:15 AM

I'm not sold on this show yet, but I am intrigued. It was competently done all around, and they made me believe the "we know their social security number but nothing else" angle more readily than I expected.

My only concern is that the main character doesn't seem likeable enough to sustain a lot of interest-- but I've always liked Jim Caviezel, and there's material for him to work with. I'll give it a couple more episodes, at least.

#4 Christopher

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 07:06 AM

What I'm not clear on yet is what role Taraji P. Henson's detective character will play in the overall series.  Her involvement in the story seemed rather peripheral.  At the moment, it seems like she was largely just tacked on so the show would have someone in it who wasn't a white male.
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#5 G-man

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 07:57 AM

I caught a little of the show, was appalled, and turned back to watching [i]Hawaii Five-O{/i].

/s/

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#6 Christopher

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:00 AM

^Appalled by what?  Hard to see how it could be the violence or the uneasy ethical questions, since from what I recall of the Five-O reboot, it treats violence and ethically questionable actions by its protagonists as a routine and casual thing, just part of the fluffy entertainment.  This show seems to be more willing to acknowledge and confront the moral gray areas it gets into.
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#7 G-man

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:35 AM

The concept didn't lay comfortably with me to begin with, and the minute I watched managed to hit all the wrong buttons.  That minute just set my teeth a-grinding from the very first moment, and when a show annoys me that much, I'd just as soon not follow it.

Interestingly enough, the new Hawaii Five-O, as pure escapism with likable characters in a bright exotic setting, I find far more palatable as entertainment.

/s/

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Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
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Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
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#8 Christopher

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 12:33 PM

^What happened in the minute you watched?
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#9 G-man

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 12:38 PM

Actually, nothing really, aside from the dry, matter-of-fact detailing of the techniques they'd use to investigate and track the "Person of Interest".

(shrug)

As I said, getting that catalog just ... decided me that I had no interest in the program.  

/s/

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Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#10 enTranced

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 02:27 PM

I loved it. It has a little of the JJ Abrams zing, but it is tempered with the Nolan intrigue that I enjoy so much. While there is a lot of The Dark Knight in there the main character seems to be playing a little of Liam Neeson's character in Taken even down to giving the speech about how good he is at killing.

All in all this was a very enjoyable pilot but the trick is to make it work every week. We will certainly be getting into the lives of these two men but I hope we hit more on The Machine and the people who are using it.

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#11 Christopher

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 03:00 PM

View PostG-man, on 23 September 2011 - 12:38 PM, said:

Actually, nothing really, aside from the dry, matter-of-fact detailing of the techniques they'd use to investigate and track the "Person of Interest".

(shrug)

As I said, getting that catalog just ... decided me that I had no interest in the program.

If I saw that in isolation, I'd share your distaste.  But it's actually a facet of what I find interesting about the premise.  Reese and Finch are both men who were trained or hired by the government to do some dark things in the name of national security: Reese was an Army Ranger and, it's implied, a black-ops operative, and Finch was hired to build a machine that would spy on everyone in order to detect terrorist plots.  And yet both men reached a point where they decided it wasn't something they were willing to do anymore, so they walked away from that life and dropped out of society.  And now they're both trying to repurpose those unpleasant abilities for a more benevolent goal: protecting individual people from being hurt or killed, people who would otherwise be overlooked by the soulless Machine.  They're using the very tools that compromised them in an effort to make amends for their past sins.

I can see some definite resonances with another project Jonathan Nolan is involved with, the Batman films.  Bruce Wayne, particularly in the Nolan films, is also a man who uses training, methods and resources that were developed for darker uses (from the fighting skills and fear-inducing methods he learned from the League of Shadows to the military prototypes he gets from Lucius Fox) but repurposes them toward the goal of protecting innocent individuals from being hurt by crime.  And Batman too, in The Dark Knight, made use of a pretty invasive surveillance technology to achieve his ends, and the ethical justifiability of that action was a major question in the film.  This show's premise seems like it might be an outgrowth of the same thinking on Nolan's part.  And I expect the question of whether the ends justify the means will be explored.
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#12 Cardie

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 11:47 AM

Numbers, lists and Michael emerson on an island. Is this Ben's new set-up after Hurley takes over? j/k because of course the island is Manhattan and who needs Jacob when you've got The Machine?

The premise allows for enough suspenseful twists and turns to keep me involved; Reese's making a grudging ally of the corrupt cop was unexpected, for example. Nor did they manage to save the falsely accused guy, so it's less neat than the usual CBS procedural. It sure does give one an uneasy feeling, since I think The Machine is pretty close to reality.

I look forward to finding out the whole story on both men and find this intriguing as a meditation on what 9/11 did to the national psyche. And the gorgeous location NYC shooting is a plus.

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#13 Riley Grey

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 08:17 PM

I thought the Pilot was somewhat interesting. I thought Caviezel’s brand of seriousness was well matched with the character.

I am only vaguely familiar with Emerson.  His character’s personality is a bit dry to me, but not unredeemable.

I’m wondering how Finch’s machine can predict the future. It seems the writers are possibly setting the machine up to have more than a basic artificial intelligence. This can go in many ways (e.g. strictly scientific/statistical/analytical or something paranormal).

I have to say, I was surprised Mrs. Kovach ended up being a bad guy. Its those kinds of story twists that will keep me interested in a show.

I do think with John and Finch being depicted as ultra capable (being able to take down any bad guy) and their access to everyone’s information could make the stories too convenient or unbelievable.  So I do think they need to be careful about that.

I’ll stick with this show for a while, but they will need to introduce different elements into the show to keep me interested. The case of the week might get a bit repetitive. They are at least giving us hints that they plan too introduce many factors (but hopefully not too convoluted).  Such as peeking our interest at the end by showing the warehouse of computers.

Edited by Riley Grey, 28 September 2011 - 08:17 PM.

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#14 Christopher

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 10:31 PM

View PostRiley Grey, on 28 September 2011 - 08:17 PM, said:

I’m wondering how Finch’s machine can predict the future.

From what they said, and from the "machine's eye view" shots we got throughout the episode, it watches everyone and listens to everything they say on their phones or in range of a microphone.  So it's not predicting the future, it's actually hearing people plotting to commit crimes, or at least picking up keywords that suggest they're up to something bad.  But if they're "small" crimes, crimes that affect individuals rather than major terrorist attacks, it discards them and doesn't bother to present the data to its operators.  But Finch put in a limited back door that gives him one piece of that discarded data, the Social Security numbers associated with the "persons of interest."


Quote

I have to say, I was surprised Mrs. Kovach ended up being a bad guy. Its those kinds of story twists that will keep me interested in a show.

I was half-expecting it.  We were told up front that the SSNs could belong to the victim or the perpetrator, so when the characters unquestioningly assumed she was the victim, that was a tipoff that the writer intended to surprise us by having her be the perpetrator.  Generally if the characters don't follow up on an ambiguity that's presented early on, that's a sign that the writer is deliberately keeping them from doing so, in hopes that the viewers will be distracted from remembering it.


Quote

I do think with John and Finch being depicted as ultra capable (being able to take down any bad guy) and their access to everyone’s information could make the stories too convenient or unbelievable.  So I do think they need to be careful about that.

I'm sure they'll have limitations.  But given the setup, it stands to reason that Finch would've sought to recruit the most capable man for the job.
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