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Person of Interest: The Complete First Season(TV) (2011)
An ex-CIA hitman and a scientist team up to prevent crimes before they happen.
For more about Person of Interest: The Complete First Season and the Person of Interest: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Person of Interest: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel, Kevin Chapman (I), Taraji P. Henson, Sarah Shahi, Robert John Burke
» See full cast & crew
Person of Interest: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
Ben Linus and Jesus team up to fight crime before it happens...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 2, 2012
You are being watched. The government has a secret system; a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people. People like you. Crimes the government considered irrelevant. They wouldn't act... so I decided I would. But I needed a partner. Someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You will never find us. But, victim or perpetrator, if your number's up, we'll find you.
The mastermind behind the secret government surveillance tech is wealthy recluse Harold Finch (Lost's Michael Emerson), and his machine doesn't just see everything, it has predictive capabilities too. (Think Minority Report minus the bathtubbed precogs.) His partner is John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a highly skilled CIA field agent who, despite his best attempts, has a difficult time uncovering information about his new boss, Mr. Finch. It's a shaky relationship to be sure, but it's also an efficient one. Finch monitors the machine and analyzes its data feeds, working to identify crimes before they occur, while Reese handles the heavy lifting, relying on his training and expertise to get the job done. Their efforts naturally attract the attention of the New York City police -- detectives like no-nonsense single mother Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Finch's man-inside-the-NYPD, Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) -- a potential threat Finch and Reese use to their advantage. But while the operations they carry out are as small and far off the grid as Finch can push them, it isn't long before the unlikely duo are forced to contend with even greater threats; among them the HR, a gang of corrupt cops allying themselves with the mob. Veni vidi vici.
Why does Person of Interest work as well as it does? It isn't the show's chief gimmick -- preventing crimes before they go down -- although it's a fantastic premise generally reserved for fantasy or sci-fi, not post-9/11 paranoid thrillers. (Even thrillers that take place "five minutes in the future," as creator Jonathan Nolan is fond of saying.) It isn't Caviezel and Emerson, despite the fact that the veteran actors slowly evolve into one of the most watchable action-procedural twosomes on TV. (The actors themselves; not necessarily Finch and Reese, who could use a bit of tweaking in future seasons. More on that in a bit.) It isn't even the series' slick Hollywood action, explosive and exciting as its fights, chases, shootouts and shock-n-awe incursions may be. No, it's the fact that Nolan and fellow showrunner Gregg Plageman are able to take something as cheesy as the HR -- something straight out of a comicbook -- and make it a nail-biting, twist-dispensing element in the mix. And it's not just HR. It's everything. Person of Interest doesn't really do much of anything that other shows haven't done a thousand times before. It simply does it better. Faster. Smarter. Sharper. Fiercer. And it drags fans from one episode to the next, licking their chops, twitching like addicts and mumbling "just... one... more." More importantly, it shifts its tactics and strategies so frequently and so confidently that the word "formula" can only be used in the loosest sense. The series relies on a base formula, of course, but Nolan and Plageman aren't afraid to shake things up, or blow them up altogether, and that only bodes well for a network show, especially one still in its infancy.
The years Nolan spent in Gotham (with big brother Christopher) aren't for naught either, and much of the style and vigilante substance of Bruce Wayne's stomping grounds informs Person of Interest's New York City. With a camera (or sixteen) perched atop every street corner, office building, subway station and laptop, Nolan's "free" metropolis is all at once an ingenious narrative device and an unsettling maze of surveillance systems designed to keep its 8,000,000 citizens (not to mention its influx of tourists) under constant watch. Even more unnerving is the fact that the series really does take place a mere five minutes in the future, if not four minutes by the time this review posts. The city emerges as a huffing, heaving character, but so too does the eerie sense of being watched. Privacy is a long-gone luxury, ladies and gentlemen, and the city's only hope rests with two men (one of whom just so happens to be a billionaire with a bum leg) working in secret outside the law, willing to cross lines others can't, battle evil others won't, and protect those who can't protect themselves. It's the Nolan Brothers' Dark Knight, without the capes, cowls, hotrod tanks and gravelly voices. And yet it speaks more to the current state of U.S. affairs than a Batman trilogy ever could. Person of Interest's villains aren't maniacal clowns, members of a League of Shadows or a hulking behemoth hellbent on a city's nuclear annihilation. It's those who prey on the weakest among them and the system itself, which feeds on naiveté and ignorance and grows stronger and more frightening with each passing day.
But Finch and Reese aren't Batman and Robin. Emerson isn't Caviezel's sidekick or vice versa. (The Lost castaway arrives in Nolan's New York with far more television clout than his Big Screen co-star anyway.) If anything, they draw upon the '80s greats of old -- the Equalizers, the MacGyvers, the A-Teams -- albeit without all the deliciously nostalgic camp. Finch has the obvious physical handicap, to say nothing of his general aversion to leaping from rooftop to rooftop, disarming gun-toting thugs, and stepping on site and preventing massacres with seconds to spare. Reese, meanwhile, brooding, cautious yet ever alert, has the obvious emotional handicap. More killing machine with a heart of gold than anything else, he's the brawn, Finch is the brains. He's the muscle, Finch is the drive. He's the heart, Finch is the will. And so on and so on. There's some natural overlap -- Nolan's smart enough to know one-note characters are a drag -- but with Season One territory comes more the promise of further development rather than the realization of that development. And it doesn't help that Caviezel is overshadowed by virtually every other character at one point or another. Emerson is enigmatic and engaging; Caviezel, at least for long stretches of the season, is simply enigmatic. A tortured soul, no doubt. A man with a complicated backstory, clearly. But we're asked to wait, and wait, and wait. While Emerson doesn't get to take the fight to the bad guys very often, he often steals the show, making the Finch/Reese pairing an at-times dangerously lopsided partnership. Chapman, previously Brotherhood's Providence mob boss, even swipes a few scenes from Caviezel; Henson, questionably cast as a detective and overacting for much of the season, is possibly the only mainstay who doesn't.
Person of Interest was one of the breakout network hits of 2011 -- inheriting CBS' coveted 9-10pm Thursday night block from one-time juggernaut CSI and picking up more than 14 million viewers by season's end -- and all signs point to a repeat performance this fall, when it returns for another round of pre-crime solving on September 27th. Normally that would be someone's cue to dismiss a show's success with: "that's because audiences are stupid." But not in this case. Person of Interest is an action-packed crowd pleaser, but it's an intelligent action-packed crowd pleaser. (I know, I wasn't sure such a thing existed anymore either.) It'll be interesting to see where Nolan and company take Finch and Reese over the course of another twenty-three episodes, and even more interesting to see how they iron out the series' kinks and build a better, more resilient hit. I'm sold. I'm hooked. I'm a believer. Now all Nolan need do is up the ante without losing the careful balance of action and intrigue he and his cast and crew struck throughout his first season. If he can pull that off, Person of Interest might start inching its way up my DVR queue as some of my favorite shows begin closing their doors this year and next.
Person of Interest: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
It doesn't get much better than Person of Interest's slick 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. In fact, it's easier to rattle off what's wrong -- or rather what might catch casual viewers off guard -- than to plow through everything Warner's encode gets so, so right. Yes, the series is peppered with grainy, sometimes blocky standard definition security and traffic camera footage, but it's so ingrained in the fabric of the show that the low-fi feeds shouldn't distract anyone. It's all a part of the game. The only issues of note -- a bit of ringing here, a bit of unsightly noise there -- are so negligible and easily dismissed that docking the first season's video score even a half-point didn't cross my mind. Scene after scene, episode after episode, the presentation delivers, and then some. Colors range from subdued to stylized but are always in keeping with the showrunners' intentions and the tone of the show; primaries pack punch whenever given the opportunity; skintones, though sometimes chilly or a touch jaundiced, remain nicely saturated and relatively natural; black levels are deep and inky, regardless of lighting; and contrast boasts a remarkable vitality and consistency at all times. Detail is outstanding too. Soft shots are a rarity; problematic shots even more so. Fine textures are crisp and well-resolved, closeups are quite revealing, edges are clean and refined, delineation is excellent, and the graininess of the image doesn't pose a problem. The encode itself is terrific too, without any serious artifacting, banding, aliasing or crush spoiling the top-notch experience. "Perfect" may be too hyperbolic, but Person of Interest's video presentation comes close enough to warrant the highest of marks.
Person of Interest: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's hard-hitting DTS-HD Master Audio track is a 360° action-packed blast that grounds every square inch of Nolan's surveillance state in pulse-pounding reality (even when that reality is heightened). The streets of New York are brisk, bustling and busy, brimming with people on the go, bumper to bumper traffic, and the comings and goings of tourists and locals trying to make their way through the gridlock. Rear speaker activity is decisive and convincing, commanding attention regardless of how quiet or chaotic a scene may be. Directionality is precise and exhilarating, pans are perfectly transparent, acoustics are persuasive, and ambient effects seem to creep in from every angle. LFE output follows suit, grabbing hold of any action beat, shootout, explosion or passing train. Dynamics are outstanding, and not just because every pin drop and gunshot are given so much room to work. Dialogue, whether whispered, delivered with menace or shouted in panic is crisp, clear and intelligible without exception, and every last nuance in the series' sound design is smartly prioritized. All the while, the soundfield remains full and fierce, showing restraint when tension is mounting, intensity when a threat is fast approaching, and authority when all hell breaks loose. Person of Interest's lossless track is as impressive as its video encode, making its AV presentation an engrossing experience from start to finish.
Person of Interest: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Alright, the Combo Pack has officially begun to parody itself. Person of Interest: The Complete First Season comes packaged in a beefy, one-inch thick Blu-ray keepcase that holds a whopping ten discs; one disc on the inside of the front cover, one disc on the inside of the back cover, and four inner flip trays (with flimsy hinges) that hold two discs each. "But wait, Ken," you might say. "The first season's Blu-ray release only includes four BD-50 discs." And you'd be correct. It also includes six DVDs. If that strikes you as more bang, or even more convenience, for your high definition buck, I have to ask: at what cost? How much of the 10-disc set's pricepoint is designed to cover six DVDs? A few dollars? Less? More? And how many people will simply hand those DVDs off to a friend or colleague, thus depriving Warner Bros. of an additional Person of Interest sale? Is that the idea? Or is that some strange form of inadvertent studio-sponsored piracy? I'm sure someone will chalk it up to expanding the series' fanbase, but again, that comes at a cost to you, the individual consumer. Someone else will chalk it up to a desire to offer current fans more viewing options, among them an UltraViolet download of the entire season. But the result? When you buy The Complete First Season (which, let me clear, you should), you're buying three copies instead of one (which has nothing to do with convenience or options and everything to do with shrewd pricing), taking up more shelf space, and dealing with an over-stuffed case sure to crack, snap and chip as it's used. If the goal is to increase sales and the perceived value of television product, this isn't the way to do it.
The inclusion of ten discs is even more comical when you consider the bulky set's supplemental package, which includes little more than an extended pilot, two pilot commentaries, a short featurette and a gag reel. Rant concluded.
Person of Interest: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Person of Interest excels in almost every regard. When it doesn't, it either comes up with a solution on the spot or lays the groundwork for better things to come. As is the case with any accomplished television showrunner, you can almost sense Nolan narrowing his gaze and whispering, "next season," when something strikes him inadequate or under-realized. And while the cast is a bit of a work in progress itself, it's an exciting work in progress. Yes, Emerson upstages Caviezel. Yes, Henson is out of her league. And yes, the familiar character actors who pop up for an episode or two walk away with the juiciest bits. (Enrico Colantoni, for one.) But Emerson and Caviezel are quickly becoming a television duo to watch and, more importantly, a team-up worth watching. If the show's scripts, action and intrigue continue to improve as well, Person of Interest will soon be more than an addiction. It'll be one of TV's must-see series. Warner's Blu-ray release is terrific too... once you get past its ten discs (four BD, six DVD), overstuffed case and anemic supplemental package. Note how quickly your complaints dissipate after sliding in the first disc. With a near-perfect, if not downright perfect AV presentation, Person of Interest: The Complete First Season easily justifies the price of admission. Nab this one today, barrel through its twenty-three episodes, add the series to your DVR, and catch the show's second season as it unfolds this fall.
Person of Interest: Other Seasons
Person of Interest: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
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