John Reese (Jim Caviezel) is a homeless, ex-military alcoholic when a scuffle on the subway brings him to the attention of Harold Finch (Michael Emerson). The wealthy, enigmatic Finch has a proposition for Reese: he can use his Special Forces skills to investigate people who are about to be involved in violent crimes. Harold built a computer system for the government to sort through all the surveillance information in the wake of 9/11.
Only large scale events are targeted by the Machine, so Harold decided to sneak in and get information about the other crimes. They only get a Social Security number, and they have to find out if that person is victim or perpetrator and stop the crimes. Reese’s subway fight also turned the eye of Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) onto him, so the duo operates under threat of discovery.
In the entertainment industry, basic genres have been long established, both in film and on television. If a project wants to stand out, the creators, producers, and writers must present something interesting and unique within the genre that feels new. The use of the most up-to-date technology is one of the few ways that a crime procedural can distinguish itself, and a series that does exactly that has just released its first season on DVD and Blu-ray. Person of Interest presents a first season that is as meaty and thrilling as a crime drama could hope for, with a fresh twist on the genre and an excellent cast.
Store security cameras, ATM cameras, traffic cameras--they all surround us every minute of every day. The good writing of Person of Interest begins with its premise, which takes advantage of this saturation of surveillance. It might be a bit of a leap to assume that a collection of video and audio footage can predict crimes but the constant recording of our lives is fact. The writers of this show smartly stay focused on character and action once each case begins, so the believable and authentic investigative work Reese and Finch do takes center stage.
Further, the writers quickly progress the plot so that tenacious Detective Carter picks up their trail and eventually becomes an ally. Another police detective, Fusco (Kevin Chapman), also becomes an unwilling asset for Reese and Finch when they catch him in a corruption deal. This provides a lot of variety for the writers to work with, and they also keep the cases varied as well. They have clever ways of revealing to the audience when the number they get is the perpetrator and not the victim. The well done action scenes are also a hallmark of this series.
The show also gets its grounding in strong performances across the board. Reese’s stoic and physical capability is something you never doubt in Jim Caviezel’s hands, while Michael Emerson is a perfect match for his character. Taraji P. Henson is a great female addition, while Chapman supports excellently, showing his character’s uneasy evolution from dirty cop to pretend dirty cop. The teamwork of these four is the crux of what will bring viewers back for more of Person of Interest, which livened up the crime drama on television with its first season.
These Blu-ray discs (four of them at 50GB each) look stunning. The 1.78:1/1080p widescreen image truly does this show justice as the cinematic feel is very apparent, as colors and detail are fantastic. A touch more contrast in some outdoor daylight scenes would’ve been even better. All things considered the high-def image looks even better than the broadcast. Overall, this 10-disc set is very good; among the BDs you also get 6 DVDs with the show in standard definition.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works reliably well and delivers the goods. Sound editing is important on a show like this, and this transfer has no problems with modulation of volume, even in the action sequences. It goes without saying that important dialogue is not lost either, and music is just as clear and defined. Optional language tracks include Dolby 2.0 tracks for French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Available subtitles are offered in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, and Swedish.
Extended Pilot Episode with Commentary: This version of the Pilot is about 15 minutes longer than the broadcast version and the added footage is just as thrilling. Mostly, the additions here are snippets of dialogue from within scenes but occasionally you do get brief full scenes that were excised. One standout is the moment where Finch sends Reese to an address that turns out to be an apartment and then tells Reese it’s his home now. It’s also interesting to see what did make it into the broadcast version was re-edited a little for this extended look. Fans will definitely want to watch this.
There is optional commentary from executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman. Nolan explains that while editing a project down like this usually makes it tighter and better, there was still stuff they wanted to keep but couldn’t because of the network’s time constraints. Nolan does most of the talking and points out bits that were cut and what he misses most. He also warns that some information in the deleted bits were reinserted later in the first season, so listen to this commentary after watching the whole season.
Audio Commentary by Nolan and Plageman: A track for the original broadcast pilot. The best things about commentaries like this is the extra information like where things were shot and the technical methods used to get certain things on camera, which can sometimes be fascinating, and this track has some of that. There is also the usual praising of the hardworking people behind the scenes and the bit actors who never get enough recognition. It’s also cute how Nolan refers to Chapman as “Chappie.” Fans will find interesting stuff here.
Living in an Age of Surveillance: At just under 15 minutes long, this extra is a great compilation of interviews on the underlying premise of the show--constant surveillance in the Information Age. As scary as it might sound, the situation the show posits, in terms of the general public nearly always being on camera and the government having access to that information, is very real. The lead actors and the creator of the show discuss this topic but there is also great input from other authorities, like members of the ACLU, to enlighten the viewer. A must watch.
Gag Reel: As usual, this extra is full of flubbed lines and silliness from between takes. Most surprising of all might be the jocular moments from Caviezel, who is so adept at seriousness on screen. Look for his spot-on Christopher Walken impression. Watch this for sure.
The first season of Person of Interest brings a shot of something unique to the television crime procedural. The cast also impresses in their individual performances and together throughout the season. The value of this set is increased by the few but full offerings of extra features. Interesting lead characters and intriguing overall plots transcend the crime of the week structure of most shows in this genre and ensure that fans will come back eagerly for season two of Person of Interest.