May 19, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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There’s a reason CBS is as successful as it is.  PERSON OF INTEREST is just a procedural–albeit one with an unusually complicated premise–but it mixes solid plotting, well-paced action and just enough character backstory to give it a little substance, and the result is an hour of television that works.


Person starts with the idea that Harold Finch (the always splendidly enigmatic Michael Emerson) invented a massive surveillance computer system for the government that literally scrutinized the activities of every human in the NY area, searching for potential terrorist activity.  It turned out the system did more than that, identifying people who were likely to be involved in violence (as either victim or perpetrator) even if it had nothing to do with terrorism, and the government wasn’t interested in that.  But Finch decided that he had to stop these crimes on his own, or at least with the help of his recruited help, burnt-out former intelligence agent and assassin John Reese (Jim Caviezel). 

Coming back to the show for the first time since last fall, there have been a few changes–when did Finch start working with the cop (Taraji Henson) who’d been trying to track him down when the show began?–and some unfamiliar recurring characters.  But by and large, the show was very much the one that the pilot had described.

This week’s season finale, written by series creator Jonathan Nolan and Executive Producer Greg Plageman, and directed by Richard J. Lewis, featured a couple of well-executed reversals (a particular nod to guest star Amy Acker as the week’s person of interest), a plausible red herring, a fair amount of (by TV standards) heavy-duty action, the villainous presence of Robert John Burke, the hardest-working man in television, and the set-up for a neat cliffhanger that will have to be resolved in the Fall.  For many viewers, that’s all television needs to deliver.

Person performed well for CBS this season in a tough timeslot, airing against Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, and sometimes American Idol, and it should be buoyed in the Fall when 2 1/2 Men is added to the Thursday 8:30PM slot, giving Person a stronger lead-in than it’s had to date.   It isn’t a show that needs to be watched with rapt attention, or even on a weekly basis.  It holds a viewer’s interest, though, while it’s on.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."