Person of Interest: "I'm the Batman! Well, sort of."

I'll forgive you if your mind wandered during the first 25 minutes of CBS' Person of Interest, which consisted mostly of a backstory info-dump (also known as a pilot episode's Kryptonite—or in this case, whatever scares Batman). But then John Reese (Jim Caviezel) interrupted an arms deal in a shady back room (where only the best arms deals take place), shot half-a-dozen white Bone Thugz in the quadriceps, grabbed a duffle o' heavy guns, hailed a cab, got out on a street corner, shot a frickin' smoke grenade through the windshield of a speeding SUV and sent it sliding like a Bambi on ice, blasted the dirty cops who crawled out of the SUV in the legs, and saved his target. Boom! You bad guys just got Person of Interest-ed! And Reese did it all at the same temperature as ever-cool movie heroes Steve McQueen and Charlie Bronson. Television, meet your new American badass.

The pilot episode of Person of Interest was by no means flawless, but the series has the potential to really do justice to the great action procedurals of yore. The idea of a hero with a shady past partnering with a billionaire who's looking to make the world a better place is nothing new, but what's the problem with recycling a premise if you do it well? Answer: There is no problem! This is classic storytelling from the guy (Jonathan Nolan) who wrote the new Batman movies, and it feels fresh in the face of today's ensemble procedurals. I'll tune in once a week to watch a dude and his weird rich friend play out all my Grand Theft Auto fantasies.

I'm not sure how it happened, but it didn't take long for me to see Reese and Mr. Finch as characters rather than familiar actors playing roles. I'm fairly familiar with Caviezel, mostly for his work in one of my favorites, The Thin Red Line. And having seen Lost about 14 times all the way through, Emerson is permanently etched in my brain as the guy who let his daughter die. But his ability to become Mr. Finch surprised me. It wasn't Ben Linus we saw limping around and annoying Reese into a partnership, it was Mr. Finch. That certainly helped me to just try to enjoy the series rather than nitpick over the typical problems we see with most drama pilots—especially ones where character backstory is key.

The writers ripped the band-aid off for twenty minutes, which is merely a second in the life of a TV series, by laying most of the exposition on us early. It was painful, but in order for this series to work, viewers need to get over the fact that these two dudes are doing some crazy shit and get on board with them being partners in the completely insane idea that they can clean up New York with the help of some advanced binary code. It's a leap of faith, sure, but it's only a bunny hop compared to believing Rachel Bilson is a heart surgeon or that three dudes wouldn't be at each other's throats trying to sniff the used towels of their new roommate Zooey Deschanel. Once you take that step, you'll see Person of Interest's potential as a six or seven-season series that delivers case-of-the-week closure and opens up a long mystery about who these badasses really are and where their crime-prediction machine fits into the larger story. That said, if you'd rather just see a lone gunman shoot bad guys, Person of Interest has you covered on that front, too.

In the hands of the right people, action sequences on network television can be just as good as they are anywhere else. And the hands of the Person of Interest stunt team probably have "GUNS" and "ACTION" tattooed across their knuckles in Olde English. The grenade launcher, the flash grenade in the dirty cop's car plus the five rounds in the back, and the ridiculously awesome and tense showdown outside the elevator almost made me forget that Human Target got canceled. There's a gaping void of good action on television, and it definitely needs fillin'. I can't be the only out there who longs for the days of man shows like The Equalizer.

Person of Interest is a throwback to those kinds of shows, but with its tasty high-tech center, it's also one of the more forward-thinking programs I've seen recently. It captures the paranoia of being watched at all times by our nosy government, Google, and those spies who've infiltrated my webcam. And that feeling is conveyed with a fantastic look; the security camera P.O.V. transitions had me looking over my shoulder, and the abundance of extras and crowded spaces during Finch and Reese's walk-and-talks reminded me that Person of Interest's themes reflect the invasion of privacy in society and the concern that the person you just brushed shoulders with could be in danger—or dangerous. An all-you-can-ingest information buffet may be a few clicks away, but there's still so much we don't know about people. It's nice to know that Reese is out there figuring everything out for us and that some doctor who specializes in bullet wounds to the quadriceps has dollar signs in his eyes.

Surveillance:
– I know some people give Caviezel's performance grief, but I think he's playing Reese just fine. Reese is a broken man; don't expect him to be charming right off the bat.

– At what point did you realize that Natalie Zea's character was the one pulling all the strings? Were you fooled?

– How will Taraji P. Henson's character be used down the line? Will she eventually be working with Finch and Reese, or will she be in endless pursuit chasing the Batman?

– A real jerk would shoot people in the knees, causing massive damage and requiring lots of rehab. But Reese is nice. What a guy!

– Is Massive Attack's "Angel" versatile, or what?

– I'm crossing my fingers this series turns out to be as good as has the potential to be.

In Case You Missed It:
– Creator Jonathan Nolan and showrunner Greg Plageman dropped some serious knowledge on me in an interview I conducted just before the show's premiere. Those guys are like... what's the word? Oh yeah, smart.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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5 season show due to CBS not making enough money. Only one episode left as of this writing, but looking back it got a hell of a ride.
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I thought Jim Caviezel was excellent, started out dark, and by the end of the episode you got a genuine smile of joy. The character will become more relaxed as time goes on the (As relaxed as you can be when your favorite party trick is shooting guys in the quads) and I have a feeling Caviezel will play it brillantly. However, I want to know what is up with Mr. Finch's limp!
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This show had me hooked from the moment Reese took out all the guys on the subway. I love Jim Caviezel, anyone willing to take on the role of Jesus for a movie that was controversial before it even was released, has my respect. He & Michael Emerson are a great partnership...you just feel it...the loss they both feel, they way they want the world to be better and their desire to do it one person at a time. I love it. I love mysteries/crime dramas and lots of action so Person of Interest has them all!



I am anxious to see how they are going to draw in Taraji Henson's character to help them or if they'll just leave her to chase Reese throughout every episode.



I think they've got themselves a winner! I will definitely be watching. Matter of fact, I watched it when they repeated the episode on Saturday night.
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This show totally kicked ass and I will be tuning in every thursday night to see what they do next. I am hooked from the get-go. Maybe another Jack Bauer on our hands? Jim Caviezel really gave a stellar performance but I was expecting no less. Have loved him in every thing I have seen him in and as for Emerson Lost, well lost me, after the first season so I have no preconceived ideas about him, I thought he was excellent as Mr. Finch. Ready for tomorrows episode! I really hope the network lets it stay and have a chance to turn in to what it has potential for.
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I really liked the premiere of this show. I was surprised, didn't think I would..I will return and watch it again.l
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I loved the premiere. The show was pure awesome. It was like watching Eagle Eye, and reading 1984, while learning about the Patriot Act...okay that may not have made sense but still. It was action packed, intense,intriguing, had you on the edge of your seat while simultaneously looking over your shoulder. It's a thriller and it has great potential and was throughly enjoyable and loved all the actors. I too am crious about Taraji's character though.
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It's just occurred to me that whoever picks the shows for CBS picked up one involving a protagonist who can recall every detail of her past (Unforgettable) and another involving a protagonist who's alerted to a crime before it happens (Person of Interest).
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Staff
Between Burn Notice and Person of Interest, the TV section labeled BadAss Action Explosive Mo-Fos is pretty well covered. Might even throw in Boardwalk Empire.
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I thought the shooting in the knees was smart and realistic. He's a trained professional, instead of killing and the attempted murder charges he plays it super safe with knee shots. The show was great but I'm not sure how long it will last in these times of quick cancellations for anything that isn't a huge success in the first 6 episodes.
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realistic? really? trained professionals are trained to shot to kill, at center mass, no law enforcement agency or military in the world trains there men to kneecap people. the reason is it's a hard shot and also ineffective, unlike in this show shooting someone the knee does not make them instantly fall unconsciousness and stop trying to shoot you. this is the very reason i stopped watching after the second episode.



take the last episode, he shoots the professional hit man in the leg and he just falls down, yeah that's really realistic. also shooting someone in the leg is still attempted murder and he's up to what 10 counts by now? he might as well kill them at this point.
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by that logic, you should stop watching any TV drama in the world!!!
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I'm not exactly sure what people found boring about the first 20 minutes. It's Jonathan Nolan, so I expected that kind of pacing. I really enjoyed it - every minute! I look forward to more episodes, and I hope the network allows it to stick around.

So far, the 2nd best series premiere of the season - after Prime Suspect.
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I really enjoyed this. I didn't this Caviezel's performance was bad at all. As you said, he's a broken man - and I think his performance made this clear.



I was totally fooled by Natalie Zea's character. I actually read this article before watching, and even though I had it in mind, I really didn't see it coming.



I like the idea that Taraji P. Henson's character will help Finch and Reese. I think she could add an interesting dimension to the whole thing.



HOLDING THUMBS that all goes right. This can't *just* be a procedural. I want the big overarching plot. Some conspiracy could work too. But most of all, stay good and don't get cancelled before the story's wrapped up T_T
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dont know yet, undeecided
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"The writers ripped the band-aid off for twenty minutes, which is merely a second in the life of a TV series"-



20 minutes is also happens to be HALF of an entire episode! Yea, I agree that for the entire first half of the show, they were starting to lose me. Then things started going BLAM! Its a cool show, and certainly one of the strongest this season.



I still got the Ben Linus vibe from Emmerson- being cryptic and manipulating someone into doing what he needs? It's so obvious, you wonder if the casting was on purpose. If it is , it plays to the strength of the show. Caviezel is good (and so polite for a killer!), but things are more interesting when Emmerson is onscreen.



At the end of the day, its still a procedural, and very CBS-y, two things that will keep me from watching regularly. I'll check it out now and then.
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Great beginning to what could be a really neat show. 3 things: 1) Please CBS let this show have more than the bare procedural basis. Let the other stuff grow, too. 2) Emerson and Caviezel make it work. Go them. 3) Just waiting on the two most awesome plot inevitabilities to arise from this show: a) when either of their numbers come up on the "unimportant" list, and b) when either of their numbers come up on the "important" list (yeah, I don't think the computer will care that they're both "dead").
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I really enjoyed it, i absolutley love Jim and Emerson is such a powerful actor as well
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Loved it!! Didn't feel like a procedural at all. Cavaziel was great, he does the 'lone gunman' thing brilliantly. Emerson was excellent as always. I became such a cable snob, but shows like these restore some faith in network tv. I agree that there is a lack of 'manly' shows that can be enjoyed by both sexes and this is an awesome throwback. But most of all I love vigilante shows/movies. Just get some satisfaction from watching a fictional character taking out the garbage 'death wish' style and no regard for the law or red tape etc. Awesome show!!!
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I loved it. From beginning to end. Caviezel was awesome. Was excellant at playing a broken man and i could see that when they flashed back to him and his girlfriend b4 she was killed. I'm hooked. Loved the action, loved the characters, loved the whole big brother (govt) is watching and hearing all of us.
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Excellent pilot! I agree with what you just said about the gap that Human Target left when it was (wrongfully IMO) cancelled. Emerson and Caviezel are great in their roles and the Batman bit is spot on! Reese even had the same look as Christian Bale in Batman Begins LOL on purpose I'm sure since J. Nolan wrote both this pilot and Batman Begins. I'll definitely tune in every week!
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I had mild hopes for the show, and it at least met those. I'm in.



And Caviezel would make a great Batman. I bet we could even understand his words while he's in the suit. +1
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too early to judge it. Gonna wait till 3rd or 4th episode before I give my opinion

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Love the pilot!!!!
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I liked this show. I only tuned in because Emerson is awesome, at first, I agree, it was a little on the boring side. Then it got good. I love Kick-Ass Ninja moves and mysterious people. I found the surveillance thing to be creepy in a good way. I really hope it does well. Chris Nolan is a genius so I have to imagine his brother shares the majority of those genes.
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Yeah Chris Nolan is a genius but don't sell his younger brother short.

He wrote the original story for "Memento" which was a masterpiece, and co-wrote "The Prestige", "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises" with his brother. He also worked on the screenplay for the new Superman movie "The Man of Steel" coming in 2013.



So he's actually pretty awesome too ^^
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I loved it, it is so interesting and has great potential, Jonathan Nolan is a genius, hope it stays around for a long time.
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I love this show and I hope it stays around for a long time.
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Massive Attack's "Angel" is always a plus.

Also, they started the episode with "she's either the victim or the perp" so it was up in the air for me until they started making her really look like the victim and I figured she'd be the bad guy this time. It was a great pilot.
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I liked it. It wouldn't be a problem if most of the show is a procedural with stand-alone eps (especially if there are 20+ episodes per season) but as it was said many times, this could turn into a great serialized-plot series. As you said it Tim, turning the machine into a character, meaning making it change throughout the series, could be the only way to have a really interest to watch it season after season without getting bored. Anyway, if it stays a simple "vigilante" show, it would still be nice to watch due to the lack of good action (even with Nikita, Flashpoint and Human Target (r.i.p), I miss 24 :( ).
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Agree x 100.
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i am suprised most people are not talking about the most important yet the last few seconds of the premiere. when reese walks back after looking at the camera , 'non - relevant investigation' comes written on top of him. so either he will cause or be a victim of a crime. Now what does Mr Finch do now? the very guy he hired to stop crimes will himself be involved in a crime....who does finch hire to stop that? -- henson?
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@shivamsood1

It says: "Non-Relevant TO Investigation" so it probably just means that he is not relevant to an ongoing relevant case (if that makes any sense ^^)



@topic

Pretty good start. Liked the characters, liked the music, liked the action, so it's safe to say Person of Interest got my interest ^^.

Hope they can keep it up.
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@ elsa -

the show clearly states 'irrelevant or non- relevant to investigation' means a crime that is not massive like the world trade center tower crashes so government is not interested, but this irrelevant or crimes from day to day life is what Mr. finch is interested in, and for that he hired reese to solve them, the system is showing that mr.reese will be involved in a crime as a murderer or a victim, the ques. is how mr. finch stops that?



on a separate case, the system does nt say anything next to people not inolved in crimes



so, relevant means massive destruction, non relevant - day to day crimes
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Gee! Reese is tagged as potentially involved in a crime as a perpetrator or a victim because of the datas about his past. Finch knows that. Watch the next episodes you'll understand more.
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i think machine was developed specifically for future events , that was its purpose , so i think reese will be involved in a crime in the future but you may be right also, lets see what happens and if the show can live up to its potential...

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He was wearing a ski-mask when he did that...
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Maybe he's tagged that because HE WALKS AROUND NYC WITH FRICKIN GRENADE LAUNCHERS! Yeah, I'd say he's going to be involved in a lot of crimes.
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Lets not forget that the system was build by Finch for Homeland Security to identify potential act of terrorism. It rejects what is not "relevant to investigate" as such. That is what Finch use (the rejected ones) for his crusade. He explained it very well, i think. We still need to find out how the software decides who is about to commit, or be victim of, a crime. What does it take into account? This is not like "Minority Report".
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assaulting someone with a deadly weapon (shooting in the leg) is a crime isn't it? And they said at the beginning that his fingerprints were found at over half a dozen crime scenes with open warrants in 43 countries... Yes, I think he is "listed" but "not relevant" to Homeland Security.
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the show clearly states 'irrelevant or non- relevant to investigation' means a crime that is not massive like the world trade center tower crashes so government is not interested, but this irrelevant or crimes from day to day life is what Mr. finch is interested in, and for that he hired reese to solve them, the system is showing that mr.reese will be involved in a crime as a murderer or a victim in the future, the ques. is how mr. finch stops that?



on a separate case, the system does nt say anything next to people not involved in crimes



so, relevant means massive destruction, non relevant - day to day crimes
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And the answer is Mr. Finch doesn't want to stop that: he hired him! Watch the next episodes and you might understand...
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i think machine was developed specifically for future events , that was its purpose , so i think reese will be involved in a crime in the future but you may be right also, lets see what happens and if the show can live up to its potential...
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I likey.... and it's not just The Thin Red Line that makes Caviezel great, though that may have been his best, he's been good in other things. He was not at all bad in the remake of The Prisoner, either, though of course Sir Ian McKellan takes that one. Good intro, and lots of potential for this show.
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All things being equal, take away the the stellar cast (of two) and the patriot act spin, and you are left with a mediocre procedural at best. The action sequences are great and over the top, and if that's all you are looking for, and if that's all CBS is looking for, and if that's all JJ Abrams and freakin' Jonah Nolan are looking for, than that's fine. But I wouldn't expect anything special from this show. What exactly did Jonah do? Did he create just this hour of television? Should we just slap his name after the show's title and praise it for it's awesomeness? I will give this show a chance to see if it loses its procedural elements, or if those procedural elements actually become good. But I believe people want grandiose and epic stories nowadays. This demand has transcended every media format, just look at all the book series that are adapted to television and film. It is time for the TV script writer to become the novelist, and for that alone this show does not deserve my praise.
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I agree: if we take away the great actors, the good premise, the great writing, the great director and the great producer, we are left with a mediocre show at best.

btw, Jonah said that the show will be procedural AND serialized drama together.
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I was merely saying that a couple good actors and a neat spin isn't enough to save an hour of television based on a lousy procedural storyline. It is a valid point: I isolated two elements of the show, which you then inflated to include every element of every production, which negates any meaning, or your understanding, to my above post. I know what Jonah said; yet I'd like the work to speak for itself, so we'll just have to see.
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Sorry: it was meant humoristicaly... Maybe I should have put a smiley at the end. :)

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I do like some procedurals (S1 of the Good Wife) so sometimes the full package is all that matters. :) After reading that interview with Tim and Nolan... Jonah seems to think that character development is enough for the serialized elements, yet almost all procedurals have this element, in which a personal side-story event impacts a character which then impacts the course they take in the story of the week. This is completely different than having a serialized plot. The best example would be the difference between the X-Files (serialized characters) and Fringe (serialized plot).
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This show reminded me of Human Target. I wasn't expecting to really take an interest in it but I'll probably watch it regularly.
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I miss Human Target, so i was positivly surprised that the pilot had such good action. michael Emerson was great as always, even if it was weird seeing him not getting punched in the face :D

Also i thought Reese had much more in common with the Punisher than Batman, due to how he has no problems using guns and killing people.
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Damn Damn Damn!!! I screwed the pooch not picking this one for the 1st renewal in my bring out your dead picks!! I'm putting this one up next to Breaking Bad in my must see list!!! Great start. Let's hope budget greed doesn't do it in!!
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I think this show has potential.
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I'm glad Jim lost Jesus. As an actor that was a former role that stuck on him like someting nasty you find on the sole of your shoe. I knew the pairing up with Emerson could be great. Good luck for this series!
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I loved it, after the first twenty minutes, indeed. What had me laughing out loud was:



"Is that where he is, witness protection?"

"No Lionel. He's in the trunk."



Jim Caviezel is perfect for this role, I loved him in it, and the action is better than that of Human Target, much more badass.
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I thought the episode was pretty BADASS too!!! The action sequences were quite amazing !!!

In addition to whatever you said , id also like to give a special mention to the very awesome score by Ramin Djawadi -it complemented the show brilliantly!!!
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Michael Emerson as Michael Emerson as far as I was concerned. He doesn't talk to the characters, he talks at empty space. He's SO mysterious! Not a terribly big leap from Linus to Finch, to be frank. I get the pilot needed to kick things off as quickly as possible, but come on, did it really need to jump into procedural mode as soon as it did? The slow burn is a tried and true method. No one says it needs to take as long as goodies like The Wire or Breaking Bad (which Person of Interest is NOTHING like,) but come on, non-fast-food viewers must have laughed at how quickly decisions were made. TV is TV, I get it...maybe I have different expectations. All in all, wasn't great...like almost every new series premier so far. Also, Tim, where's the tough-as-nails reviewing you do come Breaking Bad time? Seems like you give most other shows a pass when considering the detail and quality of said show. ;-)
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very interesting ... i like it
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I thought it was a very solid premiere. Jim Caviezel played Reese perfectly: Dark, heartbroken, and basically detached from society. I also gotta give props to Emerson for the way he played Mr. Finch. He's definitely a man-on-a-mission and in some way, these two need each other. I, for one, like pilots, including the whole drawn-out part about establishing the layers of the show. Like you said, well-written shows can handle the "boring" stuff in the beginning. However, I was never bored with this premiere for a second. I wanted to learn who these guys are, what were their troubles, the premise of the show, everything. I love the learning experience! The action was well-choreographed and at times, quite intense. The plot twist totally fooled me, too. Never suspected it was her. Basically, great premiere and look forward to more.
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Yeah I'm definitely going to tune in again. This show has some solid action, characters that have the potential to be relatable, and the script wasn't half bad. Hopefully the show can really blossom into something great.
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It did get off to a bit of a rough start but turned out great as it went along
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OMG, Tim! We actually agree on something. :) This show has wonderful potential. If they can keep it from "wandering", I think it will survive for the whole season.
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Staff
Yay! We can be friends again now!
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I felt like it was a cross between The Equalizer and Burn Notice. I was happy when the action sequence at the beginning in the subway wasn't presented in Matrix-style stop action. The best parts were the acquisition of the guns and Lionel's recruitment. The weaker parts were Mr. Finch following the action as it was occurring ("Are you seeing this?") and some of the exposition that seemed to be dubbed in. A good pilot, but I hope the cop curious about Reese doesn't pop up every week or that Lionel becomes a "likeable" sidekick/comic relief.
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I think I'll enjoy this show. I sort of enjoyed Human Target, but mostly because of Guerrero, and also Winston too I guess. Although I normally like Indira, I hated Ilsa and forcing her and Chance to fall for each other is IMO the reason Human Target became boring and was cancelled.



Well back to this show, I was totally in the dark about who was running the bad guys operation, so kudos there. They back-storied the heck out of Reese, but IMO, not enough back-story on Finch - like how he's able to access enough money to run his operation. Sure he's a super hacker if he developed the tech to ECHO everyone and use that to speculate terrorism and the irrelevants, but I'd still like to see HOW he was able to access his money after he played dead.
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The preimere episode was great. It's like Bruce Wayne walking kicking ass with his costume.
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Yea The Equalizer was a great show
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what disappointment.
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Caviezel + Emerson + Nolan + Abrams = no chance I was missing this. Completely awesome, better than I expected, and won't be missing an episode. Secret Circle might have potential, but my live shows on Thursday are now Vampire Diaries + Person of Interest.
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Jim Caviezel had me thinking about Dirty Harry for the entire episode. Holding out hope for a prime time hero with this one...
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I'm still mourning Human Target as it's gone forever and this TV season reeks so far. But a few, like this one give me a little hope. Thank the Lord for Alphas at least....
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