FALL TV Preview ‘11: PERSON OF INTEREST

You’ve seen the commercials. You’ve heard the hype. Now there’s only one thing you want to know: Which of the new fall shows are worth watching and which should be avoided at all costs? In this continuing series, we give you the scoop on some of the most highly-anticipated shows of the season, with today’s subject being PERSON OF INTEREST.

The Boilerplate: Since these pilot presentations may go through numerous rewrites and casting changes prior to premiere, this by no means should be considered an official review. Rather a preview of what one can expect come Fall.

The Plot: PERSON OF INTEREST stars James Caviezel, Emmy Award winner Michael Emerson and Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson in a crime thriller about a presumed dead former-CIA agent, Reese, who teams up with a mysterious billionaire, Finch, to prevent violent crimes by using their own brand of vigilante justice. Reese’s special training in covert operations appeals to Finch, a software genius who invented a program that uses pattern recognition to identify people about to be involved in violent crimes. Using state-of-the-art surveillance technology, the two work outside of the law, using Reese’s adept skills and Finch’s unlimited wealth to unravel the mystery of the “person of interest” and stop the crime before it happens. Reese’s actions draw the attention of the NYPD, including homicide detective Carter, and Fusco, a cop whom Reese uses to his advantage. With infinite crimes to investigate, Reese and Finch find that the right person, with the right information, at the right time, can change everything.

The First Impression: Is probably a predictable one considering the talent involved both in front and behind the camera. Which is to say, PERSON OF INTEREST definitely captures ours thanks to the winning combination of actor Michael Emerson (Who, having spent the better part of the past four years LOST on some island in Hawaii knows a thing or two about playing morally ambiguous puppet-masters) and storyteller extraordinaires J.J. Abrams and Jonah Nolan. The latter of whoms writing credits include a few movies you may have heard such as The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Memento and the upcoming Superman reboot Man of Steel. Of course, as with any J.J. Abrams small screen project that attempts to weave his trademark penchant for maddeningly addictive mythology into a procedural-of-the-week (See: FRINGE Season 1 and last season’s short-lived kitchen caper UNDERCOVERS) we do have one issue with an otherwise stellar show. Which brings us to…

The Concern: While the pilot was quick to suck us in courtesy of the mysterious circumstances surrounding what led to presumed dead former-CIA agent Reese’s (Caviezel) resurface in New York in addition to what horrible occurrence turned billionaire Finch (Emerson) into the modern day equivalent of Charlie’s Caviezel’s Angel, our interest was left seriously waning when it came to the crime-of-the-week — or in the parlance of the show — person of interest. In otherwords, what remains to be seen is whether or not the show will be able to pull off the tricky balancing act required by the proverbial powers that be at CBS to service those tuning in for the procedural aspect versus those, like ourselves, more interested in the show’s mythology. Also somewhat of a concern is Caviezel, who while doing an admirable job of delivering a Bourne meets Batman anti-hero, completely lacks the charisma and character that now goes hand-in-hand with many of the small screen’s leading men and woman (See: Simon Baker, Hugh Laurie, Dana Delany to name a few).

The Verdict: Luckily for CBS, Michael Emerson not only has enough charisma for the both of them, is reason enough to give this show more more than a passing level of interest.

PERSON OF INTEREST premieres on Thursday, September 22nd at 9PM on CBS (CityTV in Canada)