Fall TV Preview

Fall TV Mystery Solved! Person of Interest Will Explain How Its Crime-Predicting Gizmo Works

As technologically suspect as the crime-predicting “machine” at the heart of Person of Interest may seem, CBS’ new action-drama does plan to slowly — in keeping with the style of exec producer J.J. Abrams — shed light on how the contraption works.

“I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed,” executive producer Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight) told me at the Television Critics Association press tour, upon hearing my thought that maybe the seemingly unbelievable machine’s workings should never be referenced beyond the pilot. “Following the J.J. rules, we’ll do it one piece at a time.”

TVLine’s Fall TV First Impression: Person of Interest, By the Numbers

Nolan went on to say that because he, personally, is “so interested in the machine, in its inception, in how [Mr. Finch, the character played by Lost alum Michael Emerson] put it together … we’re pushing ahead and exploring a bit more of that. It gets to some of the questions of the show that I’m fascinated by.”

As established in the series’ pilot (airing Thursday, Sept. 22, at 9/8c), Finch recruits an ex-CIA spook (played by Jim Caviezel) to use his mad skills to attempt to prevent crimes, based on the lone piece of data churned out by the machine — the Social Security number of either the incident’s victim or perpetrator. As revealed by Finch in the opener, the machine — developed in the wake of 9/11 — sifts through eavesdropped phone conversations, emails and what not to predict which individual might be in harm’s way… or exacting said harm.

Fall Preview: TVLine’s Guide to All That’s New

If Finch’s machine sounds far out, Nolan cautions that given today’s technology, “The hardware is very much in place. Everyone has a device in their pocket which the police now use, more than anything else, to determine what happened when something goes wrong — your cell phone.” In fact, as demonstrated somewhat remarkable in the POI pilot, Nolan claims that a person’s cell “is a live microphone for the government should they choose to turn it on, it’s a location tracker… We’re standing on this precipice of seeing what happens when you start harnessing all that information. Which is why [Person of Interest] is not really a science fiction show; it’s more science fact.”

Nolan, though, was quick to add on this one caveat — that any exploration of the machine’s complex workings will “not be to the exclusion of kickass explosions and amazing, soulful relationships and character moments.”

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sam says:

    I pray every night that this will be Fringe-like in it’s story telling. If anyone could add a backdoor serial into CBS’ line-up, it would be Abrams.

  2. JC says:

    Sounds like Minority Report.

    (Since organized crime figures often don’t have social security numbers, does that mean they have nothing to fear from this machine?)

  3. Renee says:

    Going to check this one out. And since I enjoyed Wanted and Minority Report…this is right up my alley.

  4. tony says:

    I will forever watch anything Micheal Emerson is in.

  5. huy says:

    I think that mystery will get 6 years to stretch out. And finally, it’s going to be a purgatory ending!

    • Mike says:

      What kind of smirk did you have on your face as you wrote that one up? I’m gonna go with the “I’m so impressed with myself that I’m so original” face.

      And btw…there was no purgatory on LOST. The Flash Sideways was “LIKE PURGATORY” but not really. But if it makes you feel better to simplify one of the greatest shows to air on television with that comment, then that’s your loss.

      • jen says:

        and if it makes you feel better to split that hair and say that the sideways flash was only “like” purgatory and therefore not a cop-out, then that’s your delusion.

        • Mike says:

          How would anything in sideways be considered a “COP OUT”?? If anything, the end of it justified even telling the sideways story at all. There is no way those 2 storylines would have ever synched up if it was anything else. The Flash Sideways wasn’t the reward for watching 6 seasons of lost nor was it ever supposed to be. So saying it’s a cop out makes no sense, at least not to me. Again, it’s your opinion so you can think whatever you like.

          I’ll put one big SPOILER ALERT here for anyone who hasn’t seen LOST and is still planning to watch.

          I’m not splitting hairs with saying it’s “LIKE PURGATORY”….purgatory is a theoretical/theological place between heaven and hell where people go to repent for their sins and only applies to certain religions. Flash-Sideways is a place where time doesn’t exist that is non-denominational (or all denominational depending on how you want to interpret the stained glass window) and a place where the LOSTIES go….AS each of them are dying or right after they die and where they need to remember their lives, let go and move on to whatever is next. Is that Heaven? Nothingness? Becoming one with the SOURCE of Life, Death and rebirth? (i.e. light on the island)….hey that’s up to each of us to decide (but they were consumed by light in that church and they were protecting a light with similar traits and explanation on the island). There’s enough evidence in the show to indicate that this happens in the seconds before death and not AFTER death. How do I explain this? Well, Juliet wanted to tell LIVING Sawyer “it worked” in the season 6 premiere. Obviously, she had already experienced meeting up with the deceased sawyer in the sideways world as she was dying. Jack has a smile on his face as he is drawing his final breaths and the camera pans back and forth between the living and sideways. He could be smiling at the Ajira plane taking off and his friends going on to live another day…or he could be smiling at the fact that he has met up with them one last time before they move on….or hey…maybe it’s both.

          But how does ANY OF that sound like purgatory? Were any of them paying for their sins? Maybe the only person you could say that about is a AWAKENED Ben who felt that he needed to stay behind and work things out.

          THAT is why I call it LIKE purgatory, because I used my brain and thought about the final episode and the entire series of a show that made us think and discuss. Not because I am trying to justify the ending as a good one and that the producers stayed true to their word of NO PURGATORY. They DID stay true to their word. The Island was NOT purgatory. The Sideways world (a fragment of the entire story) was a “LIKE” purgatory state but not exactly.

          The beauty I thought of the Sideways storyline is that it gave us a chance to come back full circle to where we started and observe these characters similar to how they started (with slight differences). Any show that ends well always tries to come full circle in the end or else what’s the point!? I loved the mirroring between season 1 and season 6. But to think that the end was going to have some almighty answer that justified your reason for watching the show for 6 years? That’s unrealistic expectations for anyone to deliver. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The JOURNEY of LOST was always the reward. It was an amazing ride right until the end for me.

          Any questions?

          • Mike says:

            Apologies to everyone else for the long post.

          • jen says:

            Yes- what crack are you smoking, and can i get some?

            That’s certainly all a nice theory, despite the fact that none of it actually fits with things as they were presented. you’ve made more than a few assumptions and leaps of logic that the show didn’t warrant (time doesn’t exist there? you pulled that one out of your ass because it certainly wasn’t conclusive either way in the show). Whether you want to think of it as purgatory or a “non-denominational holding place” is a question of sematics (although yes, i would argue, it was a way of making reparation for choices they wish they’d made differently, if not “paying” for “sins”.) would you feel better if i called it Limbo? Either way, still a cop out as a concept.

            More than that though, I’m sick to death of die-hard Lost fans telling me that it was “ABOUT THE JOURNEY.” I’m all for that. I wasn’t looking for ‘answers’ but the journey made absolutely no sense in the context of the ending. in fact, the ending actually negated many parts of the journey that were good, rendering them meaningless.

            “THAT is why I call it LIKE purgatory, because I used my brain and thought about the final episode and the entire series of a show that made us think and discuss. Not because I am trying to justify the ending as a good one…” r
            —really? certainly sounds like it to me. you seem to have to try really hard, and you still can’t do it without fudging some stuff. See, when i use my brain, it can tell the difference between what was actually said in the show and what is inferred or implied- or what was not. it also ususally points out this thing called “logical inconsistencies” a concept with which you are apparently unfamiliar. The only way you can like the ending is if you turned your brain off to the myraid of plot holes and contradictions in the “journey” that become very clear when you try to look at all 6 seasons as a whole.

            “and that the producers stayed true to their word of NO PURGATORY. They DID stay true to their word. The Island was NOT purgatory”

            —and we’re back to zero – that’s the hair, you split it again. It’s almost as bad as when Shonda Rhimes maintained for 6 months that Izzie on Grey’s didn’t have “brain cancer”- because what she actually had was “skin cancer that metastasized to her brain”. like purgatory or actual purgatory or some other place where dead people congregate before going to the light, it’s all the same concept and it was a stupid cop-out designed to distract us into thinking the emperor had clothes.

  6. steve says:

    Sounds right up my alley plus has Micheal Emerson is in. Ill check out anything he is in.

  7. jen says:

    i love fringe. but I have to say, that’s become the exception to the rule.

    I am not the least bit interested in either of the 2 new JJ shows this fall. I’m so freaking tired of slowly doled out mythology where tiny things are implied to have meaning but the meaning never ends up being revealed. i’m tired of spending mental energy puzzling over endless red herrings that are abandoned as soon as the writers paint themselves into a corner.

    i feel like JJ Abrams shows are like Skinner boxes (or the button on the island, if you will…). It’s never about the story – it’s only about a series of individual moments designed only to keep you tuning in the next week, but they mean nothing when looked at as a whole. I can’t muster any more enthusiasm for this- running on a treadmill after a carrot that you never get.

  8. Gary says:

    Well i was looking forward to this but in looking into it more it kind of looks like a rip off of a few other tv show ideas that are either currently airing or have aired in the past.

    I am going to pass on this one.

  9. lll says:

    Now that fall 2011 season is over, I would like to congraduate person of interest for a second sesaon. It’s definitely different from the other CBS shows (saving lives/stopping crime as opposed to solving it) and it deserves to be the show that sets a new standard to the tried-and-true CBS formula (that works by the way).