Sunday, August 11, 2013

Person of Interest

Reading the news makes one think that the Orwellian Big Brother is already a reality. Abroad, the all-seeing eye of the National Security Agency is an issue among Americans and allied nations, meanwhile in local news the Philippines, always a copycat for hot items abroad, wants an all-seeing eye of its own.

I didn’t give Person of Interest a second glance when I first saw it.  Jim Caviezel never attracted my attention even when he was Jesus Christ and Michael Emerson was a weird match for him as a partner.  The series had technology and some kind of surveillance going on in the mix but as a magic formula, it didn't pop out. What crime fighting series doesn't have surveillance? Cops do surveillance.

It also reminded me of an old series from the mid 1980s.  The Equalizer had a retired spy roaming city streets helping people much like this one so this show was giving off a ‘seen it’ scent.

After a year and considering that my main TV staples Arrow, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones were all on a break I took a second look at Person of Interest.  ‘Seen it’ had to give way I had to see something.   Plus Big Brother is an in-thing here and abroad so the relevance factor kicked in.

Second time proved to be the charm; I enjoy the series a lot. 

Jim Caviezel as John Reese filled a hole Jack Bauer once filled.  Former military with stints as a spy, John gives me my fix of action with an air of mystery that I do not usually get in cop shows.  Furthermore, a spy character keeps the story somewhat on the ground. It gives excuse to have special skills, being able to do it all, but not become a superhero. 

But then again maybe he is.  John while doing the things he does is an urban legend in the story.  The Man in the Suit is as close as one can get for a superhero code name.

As a character I find John lacking Bauer’s intensity which is to say he doesn't express much stress at all, if any.  Bauer shouts every few episodes, “where is the bomb!” before shooting the bad guy in the knee.   If John was wearing a Starfleet uniform I’d swear he was trying to pass himself off as a Vulcan.  I’m sure there’s a reason for the acting.

Till I get that reason I try to see it in another light.  Maybe it is not lacking in emotion but buried emotions.  There is enough of a killer vibe in John’s face to show he is not one to be messed with.  The lack of emotion comes off as cool under fire so it's not all bad. John will do but yeah I miss Jack Bauer.

As far as Vulcans are concerned, if anything Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) is a better fit since he is the tech genius of the two.   He is the logical brain, the one who pieces the information together for John to use in the field. 

Acting wise I find that Michael is an even better fit as the techie than Jim is as a spy.  Harold might even be the lead character considering that a device or the Machine as they often call it in the series is an integral part of the story.

And the Machine; let’s just say the Machine is the pinch of sci-fi, or as they say the secret sauce, for the series.  I have just finished Season 2 and now like the rest of my TV staples, waiting for the next season, and the amount of sci-fi remains a pinch.  Well maybe two pinches, it is after all Season 2.

Harold for the most part is keeping things real.  The Machine require logic and empirical basis for soft sciences that require predicting risk individuals who will be as the series often says the person of interest.  All it gives is a number and Harold is required to produce the basis.

Adversaries range from street thugs to mafia bosses, dirty cops to foreign spies, thus assuring varying degrees of difficulty, mystery, and excitement in uncovering why there is a person of interest.

Going back to real world Big Brother implications, Harold Finch said it best in a conversation with John about social networking sites: “I created them…the Machine needed more information.”   

Ominous words considering that Facebook has a billion users now and besides Mark Zuckerberg, the NSA is most likely watching.  That’s not all.  Phones can be remotely turned into listening devices, webcams can be hacked. 

I did write that this series has a pinch of sci-fi which implies some future world or technology yet to be created, yet it could also be a commentary for the existing world today.

Maybe its time to relearn to be off the grid if only for once in a while.