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.
While it’s not unusual for releases to stack up in certain weeks, especially TV shows in the lead-up to the new fall season, this week has a curious convergence: five different shows from the USA cable network arrive at the same time, all in advance of the USA’s summer season, a lightweight alternative to traditional network programming.
The network found its niche with the “characters welcome” promise of amiable shows that juggled familiar genres (lawyers, doctors, spies, whatever) with small-scale productions, handsomely austere style, and big personalities at the center. And that’s what these shows deliver: easygoing stories with light melodrama and clever little hooks. You won’t find any of the density or depth or ambition of the HBO or AMC original series, just easy summer viewing.
Fairly Legal: Season One (Universal) is one of USA’s newest additions. Sarah Shahi (previously Damian Lewis’ troubled partner on the underrated “Life”) stars as Kate Reed, the one-time lawyer who turned her back on the family business to become a mediator, using a mix of legal savvy and psychological insight to solve conflicts outside of the courtroom. In fact, she’s a whiz at solving everyone’s problems but her own. She’s in the middle of divorce proceedings with Assistant District Attorney Justin Patrick (Michael Trucco) and actually prefers the ambiguity of separation to the finality of divorce, and she constantly clashes with her stepmother Lauren (Virginia Williams), a woman her own age who has taken over her father’s firm after his death. In fact, while she works to break down conflict professionally, she encourages it with Lauren through defiance and insults and general rudeness.
In other words, your typical USA character. She lives on a boat, can’t arrive anywhere on time, engineers her schedule specifically to get out of commitments, assigns “Wizard of Oz” ringtones to her regular callers (guess who gets the Wicked Witch?), and does everything she can to rebel from the professional responsibilities of the firm she co-owns with her stepmother and her brother. The through line of the first season, apart from the long-running family conflict, is the mystery of the fourth recipient of her father’s will and the secret of her father’s legacy, which isn’t quite as heroic as she believes.