Thursday, March 15, 2012


Person of Interest is a CBS TV program that is part of the Thursday night line-up. It is an action/adventure show that occasionally gives homage to movie heroes like Mad Max, Dirty Harry, and Batman.

The show has a very loyal fan base and I believe part of that comes from universal themes that strike deep emotional chords with viewers. In my last post, I discussed briefly the feeling of paranoia--the idea that we are all being watched.

Today I would like to explore the theme of deception, the idea that people or situations are not as they first appear. In each episode our heroes, Reese and Finch, are assigned by the "all-seeing" machine at least one social security number of a person who is either going to be a victim of, or is planning to commit a crime. Reese and Finch must decide how to intervene.

In one episode Reese follows a caring, talented doctor he thinks is being stalked by a serial rapists. In reality she is stalking the rapists, planning to kill him so he cannot rape again. People in this show have many layers. They can be a mixture of both good and bad.

In another show, a talented and much loved school teacher's life is saved by Reese. This man turns out to be the heartless mob leader, Elias, who kills without remorse.

On the other hand, Reese and Finch have met their share of suspicious people, who turned out to be totally different. For example, there was the apartment superintendent who liked to tell tall tales. In the end his tales turned out to be the truth.

Viewers can strongly connect to the reveal of the characters we meet each week. After all, how many of us have "made friends" with someone at work, only to have that person stab us in the back for a promotion? What about the person in our social circle who loves a good tidbit of gossip--to use against us when necessary? Let's not forget the friend who "stole" the person you wanted to date.

--And what about those people who we first wrote off as useless, who later became important in our lives. P.O.I. seems real because we can relate to the situation. People are seldom what they first appear to be. Only time reveals one's true character. P.O.I. takes the time to develop those characters.

Monday, March 12, 2012


As a writer, I often find myself analyzing pop movies, books, and TV. I inquire as to why these things have attained such popularity. Lately, I have been focusing on a single TV show, Person of Interest. This show is gaining cult status, much like LOST, Forever Night, or Star Trek.

I usually don't go for movies or TV shows based on comic books or Mad Max style action heroes. I was, however intrigued by the premise of a TV show about post-911 surveillance, organized by a super-computer.

Person of Interest is a show that causes the viewer to willingly suspend disbelief in order to enjoy clever writing. Though the story is pure fantasy, it seems real. This is partially because the show deals with themes that the viewers feel to be real.

There are 3 basic themes that reoccur in the show and they strike a chord with fans. These themes are paranoia, deception, and redemption.

Person of Interest explores our basic paranoia, the feeling that someone is watching us. The machine not only sees us, but judges us. The color of the facial recognition squares on the screen, determines the degree of our violent intent. When a man on the screen says, "I would kill for that job," the machine decides whether or not this is an actual threat. Viewers find it easy to believe that tracking a person in this way is not only possible, but probable.

Our heroes, Reese and Finch, however, manage to remain invisible--often hiding in plain sight. Their identities remain unknown and they are able to move throughout New York City in anonymity.

We live in a world where our identities are always in danger. It is nice to feel that it could be possible to "live off the grid." Instead, we are more likely to believe that we are being tracked by our cell phone's GPS or that someone has bugged our land line. I have to admit my own paranoia was piqued recently when I put my own cell phone beside my lap top and was suddenly able to overhear a total stranger's conversation.

It is our basic paranoia that draws us into the world of Person of Interest. It is the other 2 themes that keep us there. I will explore those themes in future posts.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

After The Memorial Service

Yesterday I attended the memorial service of a friend. Though the focus of such things is, naturally, on the deceased and the family, I am always reminded of life's ephemeral quality.

I once wondered how I would be remembered after--well--you know. I like to think that we are all connected--like in the Hollywood movies. It is hard to keep a dry eye at the end of an It 's A Wonderful Life style movie. I would even love to write such a life-affirming tale. The truth is, I have days when I really doubt that my life has such a ripple effect on others. Have I inadvertently saved a ship load of soldiers or kept Potter from taking over the city? My ripples just aren't that wide.

So now, as I am attending more funerals of people my own age, I realize it is not so much about how I will be remembered when I die, but will my memory linger at all? It is a bitter pill to swallow, a major readjustment as I gauge my life, my decisions, my goals. How does one live this new phase of life--knowing that tomorrow is not promised, that all you have accomplished will be forgotten?

Then I turned to Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 NKJ.

9. What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
10. I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.

11. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
12. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.
13. and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of his labor--it is the gift of God.

Why didn't I notice those verses years ago? I guess I needed them the most--today.