Created by Jonathan Nolan (co-writer of and contributor to several of his brother Christopher's films), Person of Interest certainly isn't the first television series to tap into the nation's decades-long descent into diminishing privacy. Not by a long shot. Movies like Minority Report (which was, in turn, based on a Philip K. Dick story from the 1950s) had already introduced the idea of preventing violent crimes long before they actually happened. Yet Person of Interest borrows a few key elements from several different media, blends them up and manages to create a consistently compelling slice of weekly network TV.
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight featured a "wall of information" created by the transmission of cell phone signals. Repulsed by its existence, good guy Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) pleads for the tool's destruction: it's essentially used for the greater good, but this type of privacy invasion isn't worth the sacrifice. Person of Interest sprints in the opposite direction, depicting the use of a similar tool as a regular and necessary action. This tool is known as "The Machine", a government-funded computer system built by reclusive billionaire Harold Finch (Michael Emerson, Lost). It's designed to grab info from surveillance cameras, phones, e-mails and more, all in the name of national security and the prevention of terrorism. The Machine picks up much more than that, of course, and these "smaller" crimes---you know, like when just one person is murdered---aren't just routinely passed over, they're deleted.
Before he went underground, Finch set up a "back door" to receive information about these future crimes. Presented as a list of social security numbers, he only knows who one of the involved citizens will be, no matter their role in the proceedings. Of course, Finch is in desperate need of an ally: someone who will perform the physical actions needed to stop these crimes from actually taking place---or, at the very least, figuring out exactly why they're happening in the first place. He finds the perfect partner in John Reese (Jim Caviezel, Frequency), an ex-Green Beret and CIA officer who's also gone underground, but for much different reasons. Together, they're a much darker version of the typical "dynamic duo" found in comics like Batman...and more often than not, it's tough to figure out who's the sidekick here.
Person of Interest wasn't just a popular hit during its debut season last year...it was actually a good show, and a good network show at that. Warner Bros.' Season One package includes the following 23 episodes on a whopping ten-disc Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, covered in more detail below.
Disc 1 | Disc 2 | Disc 3 | Disc 4
For the most part, this first season of Person of Interest is easy to get caught up in. This is largely due to the performances of Caviezel and Emerson, not to undercut the individual stories. Early outings like "Ghosts", "Mission Creep", "Get Carter" and "Legacy" are easy standouts, thanks to strong guest star performances and smart pacing. This first season enjoys a natural progression in quality that's peppered with very little disappointment, which mostly arrives in the form of supporting characters. These regulars include Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson, Hustle and Flow) and Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman, who is forever linked in my mind to Black Dynamite); they're both NYPD cops with varied moral compasses that are put to use by our heroes. Unfortunately, instead of fully-realized characters, these two rarely feel like anything more than means to an end. It's not a consistently distracting issue, but a slightly deeper roster of regulars might give Person of Interest the additional weight it seems to need on occasion.
Presented as a fairly pointless Combo Pack, this mammoth ten-disc release features just four Blu-Rays and the rest DVDs (oh, and an Ultraviolet Digital Copy, if you're into that sort of thing). Although this is nowhere near as bad as Universal's dreaded "flipper combos", I doubt many Blu-Ray owners will ever get much use out of the 480p discs included here. Either way, it's tough to find fault with the high-def A/V presentation we're graced with: Person of Interest looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-Ray...so if that's what you buy 'em for, you won't be disappointed at all. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Video & Audio Quality
Although I don't like Combo Packs in general, one major benefit is the ability to easily judge differences between 1080p and 480p versions of the source material. Person of Interest is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and looks phenomenal on Blu-Ray; in fact, the difference in overall image detail is as evident as I'd hoped. Textures are incredibly crisp, black levels are solid and the series' stylized color palette is translated nicely. Though the frequent use of lower-resolution "surveillance footage" can be more than a little jarring at times, this only reinforces the strength of this visual presentation overall. Without a doubt, this is a top-notch effort from Warner Bros. that fans should be pleased with.
DISCLAIMER: This review's images are taken from the DVD edition and do not represent Blu-Ray's native 1080p resolution.
Perhaps it's just me, but this DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is mixed a bit louder than normal. In any case, that's the only minor nitpick I could come up with, because Person of Interest boasts a crisp and dynamic audio presentation that really grabs the viewer's attention. Dialogue and music are balanced well and rarely fight for attention, rear channels are used smartly and LFE is generous when the situation demands it. Optional French, Spanish and Portuguese DD 2.0 dubs are included, plus optional English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Presented in typical Warner Bros. style, these no-nonsense menu designs feature easy navigation, stylish animation and relatively quick loading time. Each 40-55 minute episode has been divided into six or more chapters, though no chapter selection menus are present. The default episode flow is "Play All". This ten-disc set is housed in a multi-hubbed keepcase that's roughly twice as thick as a standard case; it's about as compact as possible, given the superfluous inclusion of DVDs. A handy two-sided content list (linked above) is also included, as well as a Digital Copy redemption code and a matching slipcover.
Not much, unfortunately, and I would've traded all six DVDs for just a few more worthwhile extras. What we do
get here includes the Extended Pilot Episode
(55 minutes) and two separate Audio Commentaries
during the broadcast and extended pilots. Featuring creator/writer/executive producer Jonathan Nolan and executive producer Gregg Plageman during both sessions, they're occasionally informative but really don't dig below the surface. Of the two commentaries, the "broadcast version" is the more enjoyable of the two, as it details more of the general production experience than trivial differences. Die-hard fans will want to listen to one or both tracks, but I'd have preferred to hear from the cast and crew as well.
Two less substantial extras are also on the fourth disc. "Living in an Age of Surveillance" (15 minutes) is a well-meaning but ultimately fluffy comparison between Person of Interest and our increasingly less private world, while a Blooper Reel (3 minutes) includes a few flubs and a halfway-decent Christopher Walken impression. All applicable bonus features are presented in 1080p with optional subtitles.
Person of Interest starts off on the right foot and steadily improves during much of this first season, setting the tone for what looks to be a promising follow-up that begins later this month. Caviezel and Emerson prove to be quite the dynamic duo during this compelling collection of 23 episodes, though a number of supporting characters don't carry their own weight. Warner Bros.' Combo Pack is bulkier than it needs to be (and a lack of meaty bonus features doesn't help matters either), but the flawless technical presentation easily makes up for it. Highly Recommended, whether you're new to the series or not.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey from Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs and writing in third person.