'Person of Interest' premiere review: Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel like to watch; do you?

For a show with a tricky, complicated premise, Person of Interest certainly moved right along at a zippy pace, didn’t it? This series, which CBS says tested higher than many in recent memory, featured Jim Caviezel as John Reese, a former CIA agent who’s off the grid and down in the dumps, having lost the woman he loves under mysterious circumstances. Reese was shaken out of his despair — given a new purpose in life — by Mr. Finch, and if anyone other than Lost’s Michael Emerson was playing him, the fussy little Finch would be a mere figure of fun. If there’s one thing Lost prepared Emerson to do well, however, it’s bringing gravity to scenes of great potential foolishness.

In this series created by Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight) and co-produced by J.J. Abrams, there exists in the post-9/11 world a vast matrix of security cameras and technology. In the premiere episode, Mr. Finch revealed that he helped set up that all-seeing system, in Manhattan at the very least, and is now using it for his own purposes. Finch told Reese that he can track potential crimes to be committed, although mere lofty observation cannot indicate whether the people caught on camera are future criminals or victims. For that, Mr. Finch needs a man on the ground, and that man is Reese. “You need a purpose,” Finch told Reese, who’d spent his most recent months not shaving and riding the subway all night without changing his clothes for weeks. “You need a job.”

Reese took to the job with a ruthless efficiency, using his CIA training to go after bad guys with martial-arts precision. (The opening scene, with a shaggy Reese fighting bullies in a subway car, had a kinetic energy that I hope remains a prominent element in the series.) When a former bum started neutralizing criminals, it caught the attention of law enforcement, in the person of an NYPD detective named Carter, played by Taraji P. Henson with a credible mixture of curiosity and dubiousness. (Now she just needs more face-time, which I’m sure the producers are planning to give her.)

The big question is how Person of Interest proceeds as a weekly series. It could be that the idea is to give Reese and Finch a different case to close each week, with guest stars and self-contained plots that render the show a variation on the old anthology series ranging from The Twilight Zone to Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In Reese’s memories of the woman he loved along with a web of info to track down patterns of crime, there’s an element of the fine, low-rated, missed NBC Damien Lewis series Life.  POI also harkens back strongly to an older TV hit: The Millionaire, a 1955-60 series in which a mysterious benefactor entered people’s lives via a Mr. Finch-like messenger.

Person of Interest‘s vision of a city overrun by tech that can be used for humane purposes, with action scenes well-played by the expressively stoic Caviezel, has a multi-faceted appeal for these times. The show can simultaneously unsettle, comfort, excite, and amuse – something for everyone, if, like Mr. Finch, you like to watch. Do you, will you, again?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (292 total) Add your comment
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  • jordan

    I was disappointed. It’s only the first episode but I found it boring and predictable. And basically just another CBS crime show with a touch of Sci Fi and a touch of mystery. The most boring pilot I’ve seen so far.

    • Eric P

      It looked stupid to me right from the commercial so it will probably be a HUGE hit. But anything is better than singing / dancing competitions.

      • Joe

        It was an excellent show. Just because something looks stupid, doesn’t mean it is. I mean, look at you. And yet you can still manage to maneuver your way around the internet.

      • Lex

        @Joe Zing!

      • kate32

        My best friend has just announced her wedding with a great man who is a cele+brity!
        They met-via { himillionaires*c”o’M }
        It is nice club for rich men or pretty girls mate.
        You do not need to be wealthy or famous, but you can meet your true love, it’s worthy a try.

    • Kris

      Boring and predictable? This isn’t BSG, where you didn’t know if a main character was going to shoot themselves at the end of an episode. Name one other show that cannot be called boring and predictable by someone.

      • s

        I can name a couple of shows that weren’t “boring and predictable”: “The Wire” and “Deadwood.” I also prefer the slower pace in the movie, “Speak”.

      • s

        I also thought the U.K. did a fantastic job with “Spooks/ MI5.” That show captured my interest for a few seasons.

    • Mrs. Crabtree

      Jordan, we’re disappointed in you.
      Signed, The world.

    • themusicaddict.blogspot.com

      Jordan I completely agree. After recently getting into Lost, I looked forward to watching this show with a great deal of anticipation. However I couldn’t believe how boring it was. I almost didn’t finish watching the whole show.

      • Mastro

        Pilots can be a bit boring- they need to establish the premise.

        I did see the one plot twist- I just watched Hung where that actress did almost the same thing- gotta love typecasting!

      • Voodoo

        Not every show is Lost.

      • Brenda

        I thought it was good for the 1st show. It certainly held my interest. It was nice to watch a show that wasn’t trying to be a comedy. I hope it does well and the network will give it a chance.

      • Jess79

        I agree with Mastro, most piolots are pretty boring because they needs to establish the premise set up the plots, introduce back stories if need be and introduce the characters to the audience. It usually happens in the first couple of episodes.
        I thought the first episode was pretty good and I’m going to stick with it because it looks like it could get pretty interesting.

    • richrxzz

      My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire young man Ronald who is the CEO of a MNC ! They met via —-Mαtch’Rich.С’⊙M—– ..it is the largest and best club for wealthy people and their admirers to chat online. …you don’t have to be rich there ,but you may meet one ,maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends !
      —–Revenge is just a retread of Count of Monte Cristo. Problem with a series like that is deciding when the main character’s true purpose will be revealed to those she is trying to get back at. Take too long, and it gets boring. Take too short, and making it last a while becomes problematic.–

    • richrxzz

      My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire young man Ronald who is the CEO of a MNC ! They met via —-Mαtch’Rich.С’⊙M—– ..it is the largest and best club for wealthy people and their admirers to chat online. …you don’t have to be rich there ,but you may meet one ,maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends !
      —–I was SO excited for this series, but I was a little disappointed with the premier. It was okay, but I had just watched the premier of Revenge on my DVR and found it to be a LOT more engaging. I almost didn’t even dvr Revenge but I’m so glad I did. In any event, I will definitely keep watching Person of Interest…it’s just not as good as I’d hoped.–

    • katie

      I thought it was great. Best pilot that I’ve watched so far. I really don’t know how it was boring and predictable, I couldn’t guess what was going to happen but then I wasn’t trying to either because what is the point in that. Boring definitely now, it has some action and moved at a good pace. Those that say it’s boring must have a short attention span and it must take a lot fo excite you.

      • Gary

        I agree completely Katie

    • Bawlamer Merlin

      Just another politically correct “cop” show, like the Law&Orders and CSIs. Croseed it off my list already.

    • kellybelly

      I liked it well enough. I agree that most pilots can be boring but I’ll give this another shot. It seems that it’ll be interesting. I like the actors and the characters. And the idea I like too.
      I give most shows another shot past the pilot eps before I finally decide.

  • justjack

    Christopher Nolan, not Jonathan.

    • croller584

      No, its Jonathan Nolan, who wrote the screenplay for The Dark Knight, The Prestige, and his short story was the basis for Memento.

      • Bobby’s Robot

        Jonathan is Christopher’s brother and sometime collaborator.

    • Cyn

      It’s JONATHAN Nolan. Who occasionally writes (The Dark Knight), and works with his brother, Christopher.

    • justjack

      my bad. Didn’t realize they were brothers and worked together.

  • Jaded

    I was SO excited for this series, but I was a little disappointed with the premier. It was okay, but I had just watched the premier of Revenge on my DVR and found it to be a LOT more engaging. I almost didn’t even dvr Revenge but I’m so glad I did. In any event, I will definitely keep watching Person of Interest…it’s just not as good as I’d hoped.

    • Shaniqua

      Who cares about your opinion? You’re too Jaded.

    • Kris

      Revenge is just a retread of Count of Monte Cristo. Problem with a series like that is deciding when the main character’s true purpose will be revealed to those she is trying to get back at. Take too long, and it gets boring. Take too short, and making it last a while becomes problematic.

      • katy

        I loved the movie the count of monte cristo with jim caviezal!!!

  • M

    Liked it, and I will definitly tune in again to see how it progresses.

    • Hanoverfiste

      I liked it also Ithas a Equalizer meets Insception Vibe to it.

      • Brett

        It is pretty much the Equalizer, without any Inception in it. And Edward Woodward was more interesting than either Emerson or Caviezel.

  • always true

    I was disappointed. Not sure if I’ll keep watching.

    • Tooty Fruity on Judy

      I liked it, I’m going to keep watching.

  • Cathy

    I really enjoyed the first episode. Jim Caviezel was terrific and Michale Emerson superb as usual. My teenagers loved it too so we will definitely continue to tune in.

  • DJM

    I think Caviezel fits the ‘dirty harry’ role well. That being said, I thought it was a decent premier and it has a lot of promise for future episodes though. I’ll be watching more of it.

    Oh, loved seeing Jurgen Prochnow lol

    • Brett

      I thought Jim Caviezel was more Charlie Bronson Death Wish than Dirty Harry but I can see a bit of Eastwood there too.

    • Jason

      Was Jurgen in it?
      Are you thinking of William Sadler?

      • JBL

        Death from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey!

    • KM

      Doesn’t anybody here know how to spell premiere?
      Look up the definition of “premier” .

  • Miranda

    I liked it! I’m usually not one for CBS procedurals, but I’ll stick with it. I think a lot of this episode was just set up for the series; the real test for quality will come with future episodes.

    • Agreed

      I liked it from the commercials and tuned in, though I thought we might have seen the best of the pilot. Was impressed with the way the backstory for Finch and Reese unfolked within the first “case” and I thought they did not overwhelm us with unneeded setup. The twist (revealed in the commercials) that they would not know whether the SSN belonged to the victim or criminal proved to be a better plot point than expected! Will definitely keep watching.

  • Michelle

    I really enjoyed the episode. I will definitely continue to watch. I have something to watch now on Thursday nights.

  • rebecca

    Loved it!!! And my family liked it too!! Finally we have a great show to watch!!!

  • mike

    This show stunk. Maybe it will get better after the pilot. But it was just like any other CBS show.

  • Growler

    The way Mr. Finch called Reese “John” near the end, did it bring back a few memories for anybody? ;)

    • anonymous

      Caviezel is fantastic but Emerson only reminds me of Lost. I can’t stand him and can’t watch when he’s onscreen. They should have cast someone like Tom Skerritt for that part.

  • jenny

    I don’t see how people thought this was a great pilot.

  • John

    I thought it was interesting. Pilot episodes are always a little predictable because they have to set things up. BUT it was nice to have an original type of story on TV instead of the clones TV is producing now. I will tune in again to see how it progresses.

  • sam

    The show was awful. Caviezel is a really bad actor with no ability to convey any emotion at all.

    • Steve

      Seriously? Passion of the Christ? Frequency? Count of Monte Cristo? He’s a very fine actor, in my opinion.

      • yesimrite

        I can only imagine that was sarcastic, since I agree, he is a very good actor.

      • Brett

        One of my favorite actors of all time. Count of Monte Christo was THE BEST. I even met him and he signed the dvd cover for me. Really cool guy!

      • katy

        loved that movie as well!!!!

    • Mrs. Crabtree

      One of my favorite actors of all time is Jim Caviezel. And he’s the only reason I’m watching the show! Plus, it’s good.

    • JC14

      Sam works and plays in another dimension.

      • forrest

        @JC14 – you’re thinking Fringe-like that Sam is from ‘over – there’ , The Jim Caviezel from ‘over – there’ may be as bad as Sam says. HERE – I thought the portrayal was great. Glad to see Michael Emerson back on TV. It is difficult to shake ‘Ben Linius’ from Mr. Finche though.

    • ElizabethMC

      I have loved Caviezel ever since “Frequency”, one of my favorite, all time films.
      I think he is amazing!

      • Stojan

        i need the name of the song at the end of ep.5

    • JoJo

      I have purposely seen everything Caviezel has done, because he is intriguing. In Person of Interest, he and his partner are wonderful together. It has become more and more interesting as time goes along. My husband likes it too. I love it.

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