On TV: Review of ‘Person of Interest’ Season 4, Episode 2


Person of Interest” | Season 4, Episode 2: “Nautilus” | Date: Sept. 30, 2014

Near the end of the episode, a girl who was the “Person of Interest” number of the week says something like, “There was no point to this.”

She wasn’t specifically talking about this episode, but she should have been.

As he has since last season, Finch (Michael Emerson) said he didn’t want to be back on the team with Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Shaw (Sarah Shahi), fighting crime and saving lives. He said it time and time again.

But of course by the end of this episode, he revealed a new Batcave for the group. All that chatter and whimpering about staying alive, was for nothing. The status quo has been reset, just as we always knew it was.

Root (Amy Acker) was good, as usual. It’s too bad you can’t cherry pick the best characters from mediocre TV shows and make one good series. You could take Root from “Person of Interest” and pair her with Red from “The Blacklist” and May from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and you might have a cast worth watching.

But the problem with “Person of Interest” isn’t the cast. It’s the plot. It’s technobabble nonsense and increasingly unintelligible. I remember having a lot more fun with this show than I do now. These days, I wonder how long I’ll keep watching.

On TV: Review of ‘Person of Interest’ Season 4 premiere


Person of Interest” | Season 4, Episode 1: “Panopticon” | Date: Sept. 23, 2014

Here’s a quick recap of how “Person of Interest” began its fourth season:

Reese (Jim Caviezel) wants to get the band back together and fight crime. Finch (Michael Emerson) says they can’t because the bad guys control on the technology and the government and the guns. Shaw (Sarah Shahi) wants to break things and kill people. Root (Amy Acker) says cryptic things about the computer that talks to her into the head.

Repeat the previous paragraph three times.

Then the band really does get back together, blows some stuff up and saves somebody’s life.

Then they get a new, super untraceable cell phone system and a secret lair.

It’s not very good, but it’s OK for background noise while you fiddle with your smartphone and eat a pizza. I recommend taco pizza. Because it’s pizza and tacos, which are awesome.

On TV: When did ‘Person of Interest’ become a comedy?

Season 3, Episode 22: “A House Divided” | Date: May 6, 2014

The sundry collection of action heroes and computer geniuses raced to save their kidnapped colleague Finch (Michael Emerson) in the penultimate episode of the third season of “Person of Interest.”

300px-Person_of_Interest_logo.svgThis did not stop Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) from spending most of the episode cracking one-liners as if they were in some kind of violent situation comedy.

“Person of Interest” need not be all grim and gritty. But a show about umpteen terrorist groups, vast government conspiracies and artificial intelligence with the ability to predict future homicides and terrorist attacks really doesn’t seem the place for running gags.

Shaw, for example, kept asking Root (Amy Acker) for permission to kill a woman named Control. What a name. I’m guessing her parents weren’t hippies. Control can’t be killed. There’s one more episode left in the season. Nothing interesting happens in the second-to-last episode. It’s the lapdance of TV episodes: all tease.

After about 45 minutes of technobabble and the crippling of at least one Secret Service agent, the team finally locates Finch. He’s with a guy named Greer (John Nolan), who runs a technology company that wants to go into business with the government surveilling everybody everywhere all the time.

But the “privacy terrorists” known as Vigilance shows up and kidnaps Greer, Finch, Control and a couple of other characters not interesting enough to be described.

Vigilance seizes control of TV — now that’s going too far! — and promise to put on trial this group of government and corporate co-conspirators for violations of rights and having their pudding before eating their meat.

The series is tired and has lost its direction. It just isn’t a compelling watch the way it was in the first two seasons. Even Acker, whose charms as an actress have carried the uneven, meandering plots this season, seems tired and resigned.

There’s just one episode left, the teaser for next week’s finale says. I look forward to it with the same anticipation and enthusiasm I give to a hangnail that defies being cut off by the clippers.

TV Review: ‘Person of Interest: Beta’

Person-of-Interest-02Season 3, Episode 21: “Beta” | Date: April 29, 2014

The uneven third season of “Person of Interest” entered the final three episodes of the season with Finch (Michael Emerson) surrendering to the agents of Decima in order to save his former fiance, who believes him dead.

Finch was absent from most of “Beta,” sulking because his supercomputer apparently apparently ordered a hit on a U.S. Congressman who supported the creation of a second supercomputer.

This computer will be used for evil, apparently, because there’s a menacing British guy (John Nolan) behind it. He scowls a lot and likes to have conversations over tea with his prisoners. That’s how you can tell he’s evil. The tea.

“Person of Interest” has an “Iron Man” problem. The Marvel Comics superhero starred in three successful movies. The title character was played by the wildly charismatic Robert Downey Jr. But in all three movies, writers could not invent an opponent who was nearly as interesting as Iron Man. So they just created another person in a suit of armor to fight him.

“Person of Interest” is a series about outlaws who prevent death on the streets of New York City using a supercomputer to predict potential threats. The first “big bad” was a corrupt circle of cops that ultimately killed Det. Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), a fan-favorite and original cast member.

Since then, though, writers have thrown a stream of evil doppelgangers at the series heroes. There’s one group of terrorists, called Vigilance, who want to protect privacy and destroy the machine. There’s another group, Decima Technology. They’re a big, scary military industrial complex conspiracy group who want to create their own machine for nefarious gains.

The thing they all have in common with our heroes is they’re secret fringe groups who essentially do whatever they want regardless of the law. At some point, you realize you’re looking at a room full of people who are basically the same with slightly different points of view who debate by shootouts rather than public hearings.

“Person of Interest” has managed to manufacture one absolutely fascinating character: Root, played by the magnificent Amy Acker. Root began as a nutjob who wanted to “set the machine free.” But she’s become friends with the machine and — thanks to an implant inside her ear — takes orders to help our heroes.

The series uses Root just right, seldom for the duration of the entire episode, but in enough scenes to remind you she’s the most interesting — and dangerous — person in the room. Acker, meanwhile, devours every scene she’s in with a compelling, menacing and some how sweet interpretation of a very strange character.

Her performance, in fact, is enough to make the “Person of Interest” worth watching each week.

TV Review: ‘Person of Interest: Death Benefit’


Season 3, Episode 20: “Death Benefit” | Original air date: April 15, 2014

Person of Interest” doesn’t work for me as a drama anymore.

It doesn’t work because I spend most of the hour thinking how lousy the cops must be in whatever city Reese (Jim Caviezel), Finch (Michael Emerson) and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) have their massive gun battles.

This week, the cops in Washington, D.C., were made to look like chumps buy a guy with a limp and a former black ops government spook who kidnapped a U.S. Congressman to save his life.

There’s a reason they kidnapped the congressman. Conspiracy group blah blah is trying to do blah blah to get the new blah blah machine blah blah no privacy blah blah. It was probably explained better than that, but I stopped caring about the umpteen terrorist groups and extremist and corporate goons about 12 conspiracies ago.

At one point, Reese shoots at a congressman in broad daylight near the U.S. Capitol. Apparently in the post-Sept. 11 world, there are absolutely no traffic cameras or surveillance of any kind. I mean, sure, the whole plot of the show is based on a mysterious machine’s ability to access those kinds of cameras and data use them to predict who is going to be killed.

But that’s only when it serves to advance the wafer-thin plots. When people are having gun battles in the nation’s capital, nobody catches a stray glance. The cops, FBI and everybody else are a step behind — sirens in the distance just far enough away that our heroes can slip away without consequences.

This week, Reese thinks the machine is telling them to kill the congressman, who is corrupt and will support one of the blah blah conspiracy groups. They don’t do it. But they think about doing it.

Then a sappy pop song plays as the team — which, again, includes a guy with a serious limp — somehow manages to escape a manhunt by all the nation’s law enforcement agencies. Well, Shaw gets shot. But that really amplifies the absence of probability, doesn’t it? Now there are two wounded ducks outwitting an entire pack of bloodhounds.

The bad guys of one of the blah blah conspiracies get 24 hours to access all security cameras. They want to track down Finch. Because, you know, no government agency ever caught a terrorist or criminal without a massive, all-powerful surveillance machine.

Aw, forget it.

This is knitpicking. I know that. But the show has lost so much credibility that all I see now are a bunch of stupid scenarios that should be easily snuffed if the writers were even trying to make the show believable.

The challenge is to subvert reality through suspension of disbelief. But all “Person of Interest” does is manage to comically ignore reality and ends up suspending entertainment.