April 16, 2012

Person of Interest

Kate's recent review at the Batman franchise got me thinking that Person of Interest is what Batman should have been all along.

Person of Interest really is the same basic concept, sans the costumes, while fixing pretty much all the horrendous problems that Burton burdened his movie versions with, and that Christopher Nolan has struggled valiantly to overcome, but only partially.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Person of Interest was created by Jonathan Nolan, who co-wrote The Dark Knight and is Christopher Nolan's brother.

Jonathan Nolan reverses the roles. Eccentric billionaire Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) is Albert, holed up in the Batcave (an abandoned library). Batman is ex-CIA agent John Reese (Jim Caviezel). He's Bruce Wayne all the time, lurking in the shadows to hide his identity.

By avoiding apocalyptic plots and sticking to the travails of mostly ordinary people and mostly ordinary criminals ("ordinary" by television cop show standards, that is), Nolan pegs the man-of-the-people vigilante justice theme better than Batman ever did.

There are a couple of Moriartys, but even here Jonathan Nolan has them driven by straightforward goals and comprehensible motivations. No insane or insanely omniscient antagonists here.

A la Borne, the CIA wants Mr. Reese to "retire," involuntarily if necessary. This is not an all-consuming quest, and is sidelined most of the time. Then Enrico Colantoni (a regular on Flashpoint and the night janitor on Bones) shows up occasionally as crime lord Elias.

Colantoni's Elias is a model bad guy. He's so normal-looking that at first Reese mistakes him for an innocent bystander. More importantly, Elias is intrigued by Reese, but isn't interested in carrying on a ruinous blood feud. They come to blows only when their paths cross.

In one episode, a mysterious hacker shows up as an obvious foil for Mr. Finch, doing stupidly impossible computer stuff (i.e., more impossible that the stuff Mr. Finch does). While I'm sure that character will show up again, we're thankfully not asked to wait with baited breath.

The role of Lieutenant Jim Gordon is played by Taraji Henson (the good cop) and Kevin Chapman (very enjoyable as a corrupt cop who discovers he has a conscience).

The series has great promise as long as they stick to the premise and the premise continues to serve its basic function, that is, to generate story material: computer spits out name of person who needs help; our heros rush to help said person. Other than that, it's a "magic door."

I have to hope that the writers won't try to make the magic door "mean" something, or get lazy and slip into serial killer mode or conspiracy mode or Dr. Evil mode. There's nothing wrong with cranking out "the same only different" week after week. It's working fine.

Related posts

The magic door
Superbad is superboring
Welcome to the Machine
Batman and Batman Begins

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# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
5/22/2012 12:05 PM   
what do you think of the inside jokes--?
the rear window episode
the bar location used in godfather II and the verdict?
the disease on the flyer in the last episode?
probably dozens of others that i missed
# posted by Blogger Eugene
5/22/2012 1:54 PM   
Wow, I'll have to pay closer attention during the reruns. I've also been thinking about how Person of Interest could turn out to be the perfect (understated, for once) cyberpunk series, with "The Machine" slowly evolving into the mute equivalent of Orson Scott Card's "Jane."