September 25, 2013




You wouldn’t necessarily know it from last night’s ratings, but PERSON OF INTEREST had a smooth segue to its new Tuesday 10PM home.  Although there are some notable changes from the past two seasons, in general the show seems very stable, which is exactly what CBS asks of its series.

The biggest moves behind the scenes were making two of the show’s standout recurring characters into regulars.  Samantha Shaw (Sarah Shahi), the more murderous version of John Reese (Jim Caviezel) who didn’t know until late last season that she was working for the wrong side, now has what might be called a consulting relationship with Reese and his employer Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), called in when an extra finger on a sniper rifle’s trigger is needed or a crowd of baddies has to be pacified.  As in Terminator 2, Shaw is under orders to shoot kneecaps instead of central body mass whenever possible.  Meanwhile, the even more bloodthirsty Root aka Samantha Groves (Amy Acker) will now be a continuing crazytimes presence, with her religious zealot’s attitude toward the Machine and killer skills both in computer hacking and, well, in killing.  She’s currently in a psychiatric hospital, but it’s clear that her stay–and her psychiatrist–won’t last long.

Shahi and Acker bring a much more crackling energy to Person of Interest than Emerson and Caviezel’s laconic approach, and the show can use them.  The premiere also brought us up to date on former NYPD Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), who’s been busted down to a uniform since the shooting in last season’s finale, and whose secret is that she kept gangland boss Carl Elias (Enrico Colantoni) out of prison and is using him as her personal informant when she needs criminal insights.  Sadsack remaining regular Fusco (Kevin Chapman) remains one step behind everyone else, last night managing to defuse a bomb that he didn’t know was going to blow up a second later.

The episode itself, written by Executive Producer Greg Plageman and Supervising Producer Denise The and directed by Chris Fisher, didn’t introduce any new big-picture elements, sticking to its usual format of centering on a person mysteriously singled out by the Machine.  In this case, that person was a good guy, a Navy sailor embroiled with gangsters when he unwittingly came into possession of stolen diamonds.  It was standard fare, with some well-staged action sequences and a droplet of new information about Reese (like the sailor, he’d originally joined the military as a choice between that and jail).  All worked out well by the end of the hour.

Person of Interest is a sturdy procedural, occasionally more ambitious than that, and benefiting from a strong cast (now even stronger) and solid weekly shoot-outs and chase scenes.  (As the show alluded to last night, recent revelations about real-world surveillance by the government has made Person look a lot less like sci-fi than it did when it launched two seasons ago.)  It didn’t do particularly well last night in its Tuesday debut, falling half a ratings point behind Chicago Fire (which had a stronger lead-in), and probably can’t afford to drop too much from its current ratings level.  However, CBS will likely give it a fair amount of time before considering the show in trouble, and ABC’s collapse in the hour with Lucky 7 will help.  As network action shows go, it’s one of the classier models around.

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."