Following announcements in May of the networks' new fall shows, CBS's Person of Interest seemed to cause the greatest interest. With super producer J.J. Abrams attached and The Dark Knight scribe Jonathan Nolan at the helm, how could this go wrong. Apparently, the answer to that is, by hammering a complex premise into the mold of a standard CBS procedural.
John Reese (James Caviezel) is a former intelligence operative who, after the death of his lover, went off the grid and has been living as homeless man in New York City, trying to drink himself to death. After getting into a spat with some thugs on a subway train, he winds up in a police station. A mysterious lawyer comes to pick up and whisk him away but not before Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) runs his prints and finds them attached to multiple crime scene, piquing her interest in him. This is no concern of Reese's right now, though, as he's brought see Finch (Michael Emerson), who wants give him a job. Finch gives him the name of a woman and tells him that something bad is going to happen involving her and he needs Reese to figure out what is and stop it. Reese questions Finch's motives at first, but after a little bit of convincing, he's on board. This is the deal, Finch has a list of people who are in trouble and he needs Reese to be the fist that sorts out the problem.
While Finch avoids telling Reese where he gets his names from for a little while, eventually he unburdens some mighty exposition about a machine he built for the government to seek out potential terrorist attacks and that the information he receives is the waste that it throws away because it doesn't affect a large quantity of people. It's an explanation that's best not to think about for too long, lest you start questioning the sensibility of it. The convoluted nature of the premise would be easier to overlook, if the cast seemed remotely interested in the story. Caviezel sleepwalks through the pilot as if he's hopelessly bored by everything around him. Emerson, always exceptional in Lost, never seems to be more than an archetype. And the Oscar-nominated Henson is wasted, as if they had intended to remove her character from the episode entirely and just missed a few scenes. With little action and weak thrills, Person of Interest fails to engage.
Person of Interest premieres Thursday 8pm on CBS.