Probably the most heralded recent new show from the US is Person of Interest, which started airing on Channel 5 a few weeks ago. With its pedigree of executive producer JJ Abrams and creator Jonathan Nolan (scribe of The Dark Knight), the premise sounded very promising: a supercomputer with access to Bourne-level surveillance technology predicts future crimes akin to Minority Report. It’s been a big hit in the States and I was looking forward to it airing here’ but I confess, it’s left me cold. Mainly that’s because the story of the week is usually fairly dull and uninteresting, and which require the protagonists to be seemingly wilfully blinkered as to the alternative interpretations of the supercomputer’s predictions in order to fit in the inevitable ‘twist.’ It’s all very dynamic and fast-moving, but also repetitive. It does nothing with the Bourne/Minority Report premise. The lead character is John Reese, and while Jim Caviezel is fine in the tall, dark and moody role as he spies intensely on this week’s subject and says his lines with a Batman-style gravelly rumble, I can’t say that I find him an interesting character. That’s despite the Lost-style flashbacks to his past which will doubtless be the series’ arc leading to some currently untapped development in the show. Far more interesting is Michael Emerson as the mysterious, quirky billionaire behind the project, but then Emerson always was one of the best things about the aforementioned Lost.
By contrast to the fanfare surrounding Person of Interest, while I’d heard of the A&E show The Glades I figured that we’d never get to see it in the UK as it sounded too vapid a show to bother brining over. But digital channel Alibi have a habit of picking up the cable channel programmes that the main broadcasters pass by (hence their expanding line-up which includes such shows as Rizzoli and Isles, Body of Proof, Murdoch Mysteries and Republic of Doyle.) In the case of this latest addition to the channel’s line-up, the protagonist is an ex-Chicago cop relocated to the laid-back Everglades who just wants a quiet time so that he can concentrate on improving his golf swing and chatting up the girls. As opposed to the usual obsessive/angst-ridden cops we get in cop shows (c.f. A Touch of Cloth), lead character Jim Longworth seems pretty disinterested in expending the effort to solve the case and is rather haphazard when he does investigate – but of course there’s method in his madness, and he gets his man at the end. The difference with Person of Interest is that the underlying case in the pilot episode, while simple, has enough twists and false leads and some interesting guest characters to make it appealing and engrossing, and which kept the surprise whodunnit reveal from being too obvious until the end. Moreover, when the answer came, you cared about who it was – in direct contrast to Person of Interest where you’re just pleased it’s done with.
Much depends on whether you find The Glades’ central character played by Australian actor Matt Passmore to be charming and appealing, or insufferably smug. I had my own answer when I realised I’d been watching the pilot show with a big smile plastered on my face for the last ten minutes. I simply enjoyed watching it, and hope that it keeps its sense of fun as the series beds in and doesn’t get tempted to get too deep, dark and meaningful. By contrast, with Person of Interest I found the latest episode was stored on my DVR for days before I finally got around to watching it, and while this week’s was one of the better outings (a money laundering gang kidnap a judge’s son for blackmail purposes) it still felt too much like a chore than it should have done.
Life’s too short. I think I’ll take the series that leaves me with a dumb smile on my face rather than one that feels like a duty to stick with.
Person of Interest and The Glades both premier new episodes on Tuesdays at 9pm on Channel 5 and Alibi respectively. Persons of Interest is due out on DVD on January 17 2013.