We Recommend: Person of Interest
So welcome to the end of summer. The glorious sporting - and BBC prowess - showcase that was the Olympics is over, the end of which was no doubt greeted with huge disappointment by most ITV employees, who have had to return from what was pretty much a two-week paid holiday.
Mid-summer provides traditionally lean-pickings for lovers of television and outside of the Great British Bake-Off and the new series of Dr Who (both of which offer the promise of yet more beautifully crafted, devilishly tasty fodder despite being slightly saggy in the middle) there is very little to talk about.
We are in the lean weeks until September and the wonder of Autumn/Fall programming begins again in earnest. That said, there has been one notable launch that sneaked into the programming schedule of Channel FIVE.
On the surface, Person Of Interest fits the standard, formulaic blueprint of a show that should have passed into the hallowed graveyards accepted by other high-profile but ultimately doomed US TV purchases such as Fast Forward and Alcatraz. Week after week, ex [disgraced, natch] CIA agent John Reese - played mumblingly but convincingly by Jim Caviezel - wanders around the streets of New York City preventing crimes from being committed before they happen using the predicting powers of a super-computer (think Cray rather than lancelot from the lottery) invented and under the steward-ship of the lonely and earnest Harold Finch (Michael Emerson).
So far, so so… and so it remains as much for the first couple of episodes as the brainchild of J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan takes purposeful aim towards the lowest but most precious of all targets - audience.
This obvious dumbing-down of a fairly lofty concept, that of the modern and all pervasive network of CCTV and Internet enabled devices being enabled to track and ultimately foretell the possible doom or aggravation of individuals, is grating. The initial episodes are a slightly uncomfortable, oddly soulless watch as the show washes over you as something not clever enough to be regarded as a genre-defining piece of theatre such as Fringe but then not standard enough to be enjoyed as the passable fluff that it pretends at first to be. There is a hint of something there, though, something deeper that keeps you hooked - and after three and a bit episodes it arrives.
Layered upon gradually, the background arc of the story forms before you really see it coming and as the weeks progress it begins to take centre-stage; but never at the expense of the individual stories at the heart of each, individually told tale.
It's no Homeland, or Lost, but it's a show that hints that maybe, just maybe generic US TV, primetime action-drama is starting to understand that we're not all as stupid as network executives would have us believe. I wonder how much of this is to do with the delicate hand of the brother Nolan? (Responsible for much of the joy that was the Dark Knight Trilogy and The Prestige adaptation).
Oh and as an extra bonus, FIVE are finally allowing you to get hooked on a show that doesn't get cancelled after it's first season. Person Of Interest Series 2 was recommissioned and is already due for broadcast in the US towards the end of September.