21 votes

Recommendation: Person of Interest (2011-2016)

I want to talk about Person of Interest. A CBS series created by Jonathan Nolan, more famously known for his work on Westworld (and brother of "that" Christopher Nolan, talent runs in the family). This is a spoiler-free post.

Premise: An ex-military badass is hired by a rich ex-usgov genius who built an AI that is plugged into the NSA's spying supernetwork, and can predict crime based on all the datapoints.

Strong similarities with: Westworld, Mr. Robot.

Person of Interest is a series that really took me by surprise. I didn't really care for Season 1, which I left running in the background after it was apparent to me that this was a very run-of-the-mill CBS police procedural. I gave it a chance based on a friend's recommendation, and because IT/sec references were accurate and didn't make me cringe. It also had an interesting premise which was written pre-snowden and raised some interesting philosophical questions on privacy and crime prevention.

Then towards the Season 1 finale, the music got pretty good, the scenes were very action-packed and the series started feeling like it was getting very entertaining. So I kept watching.

Without spoiling: throughout Season 2, the series actually completely shifts genre almost unnoticeably, from "generic police procedural" to "long-arc Westworld-style tech scifi".

I was stunned by how smooth the genre transition was. Of all the series I watched, it's something truly unique to that one, which is one of the reasons I rate it as one of the best TV series in my catalogue. It's also, from what I heard, Nolan's strategy from the get-go in order to get a very unique show greenlit on a "safe" network like CBS.

By the end of the series, Person of Interest had inspired me. Made me extremely interested in AI and data. It affected my work and the way I think about the world. POI really toes the scifi line by taking concepts which are possible, but not there yet and explores the possibilities (again, Westworld); unlike most other Sci-Fi shows which take abstract ideas of what we may want to see in the future, regardless of how possible/reasonable they are.

POI does require some suspension of disbelief. You have to accept the trope of a "supergenius" who can build an AI like this all on his own, for example. I think that's fine, and I found that the show was very rigorous at taking only practical shortcuts with very little fridge logic.

I keep mentioning Westworld and that's no accident. POI predates WW and it feels that WW was a continuation of Nolan's ideas about the implications of AI, in a much higher budget setting. (And as an aside, if you haven't watched Westworld, you should)

Tag spoilers in comments :)

2 comments

  1. starchturrets Link
    It was rather case-of-the-weeky at first, but by the end, it was making the viewer ponder all sorts of questions about death and morality and existence. Truly a good show.

    It was rather case-of-the-weeky at first, but by the end, it was making the viewer ponder all sorts of questions about death and morality and existence.

    Truly a good show.

    5 votes
  2. bitter_buffalo Link
    I just watched it for the 2nd time. At first, I had to ignore the plot holes and just go with it. Great show.

    I just watched it for the 2nd time. At first, I had to ignore the plot holes and just go with it. Great show.

    2 votes