Videophiled TVD: ‘Person of Interest: Season Three’

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Person of Interest: The Complete Third Season (Warner, Blu-ray+DVD Combo) adds another partner to the team (Sarah Shahi as a coolly efficient former CIA assassin), turns renegade activist and maverick genius Root (Amy Acker) into a wary ally, and most dramatically kills off a trusted and beloved ally, a loss that sends the reliable John Reese (Jim Caviezel) into a dramatic tailspin. This season expands the surveillance conspiracy aspect of the series—the premise depends on a supercomputer hooked up to every camera and communications device on the grid—by introducing a second system controlled by an shadowy international organization and sold to the American government with an elaborate terrorist plot. As the show gets more complex and the cast gets bigger, Detective Fusco (Kevin Chapman), the one-time corrupt cop who saved his soul be helping out the team and eventually became a reliable and trusted member of the secret squad, wound up getting forgotten, swept to the fringes of most episodes, but he takes the lead in coaxing Reese back to the team in one of his finest hours.

It’s an increasingly complex series, which keeps its fans riveted to the show, while still delivering stand-alone mystery of the week episodes that sends the team out to save an innocent (and sometimes a not-so-innocent) victim from harm. It remains action packed and full of science fiction-level technology but the characters are still the most interesting dimension of the show and the loyalty they show one another defines the series and keeps me connected to the elaborate mythology. By the end of the season, it goes in directions most viewers would not predict, setting itself up for big changes in the fourth season which begins in September.

23 episodes on Blu-ray and DVD editions, along with three featurettes, commentary on the season finale by actor Michael Emerson, and the 2013 Comic Con panel presentation. The Blu-ray release also features bonus DVD and digital copies.

Five select episodes of the show – including the three final episodes of the season, can be streamed at CBS.com.

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TV on Disc: ‘Person of Interest’ is Action with a Bullet and a Video Feed

Person of Interest: The Complete First Season (Warner), one of the success stories of the 2011 TV season, is a clever melding of surveillance conspiracy, freelance good guys, and mystery puzzle in the modern world where big brother is watching you and a supercomputer is cross-referencing your data.

The high-concept premise is recapped in the credits of every episode: the homeland security surveillance system keeps track of threats to national security and identifies the most immediate threats. Our heroes are freelance good guys who go after the smaller, personal threats ignored by the government, with nothing more than an identity to go on: a person of interest, either victim or perpetrator, and they have to discover which before they can stop  the crime.

Science fiction, sure, but with just enough contemporary technology and present-day paranoia to make the hook work, and a small but dynamic cast of unlikely heroes. Jim Caviezel (Jesus in “the Passion of the Christ”) is the intense, fiercely driven field man John Reese, a burned-out CIA special operative roused back to action by the very private computer genius named Finch (Michael Emerson of “Lost”), the man who built the surveillance system and a multi-millionaire with such a low profile hardly anyone knows he even exists. Finch gives Reese a purpose and brings the coolly efficient field agent to life on the mean streets of New York City, where he’s kind of an incognito Batman who is not afraid to shoot the bad guys in order to save the innocent.

That’s probably no coincidence. Creator Jonathan Nolan co-wrote the recent “Batman” movies and puts a bit of the Gotham City corruption into his vision of modern New York, where the rot goes right to the top of the NYPD. The exception to the rule is Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), who becomes both pursuer and wary ally of the vigilante hero (“the man in the suit,” as they call him), but the most interesting case study is the thoroughly corrupt Detective Fusco (Kevin Chapman). He’s essentially hitman with a badge in the pilot episode, a rotten cop left alive by Reese and forced into being their inside man. Through the course of the season, he too finds some kind of purpose in working for the good guys.

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