Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2011

‘Person of Interest’ can hold attention

September 22, 2011

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Paranoia meets spirituality via technology in “Person of Interest” (8 p.m., CBS). And Michael Emerson (“Lost”) and Jim Caviezel (“The Passion of the Christ”) seem perfectly cast to pull this off.

Emerson returns to the enigmatic, creepy puppet master part he played so well on “Lost.” He’s Finch, the shadowy creator of a computer system that is used to track terrorists. It’s so effective that it also picks up clues on ordinary folks. So many clues that Finch knows these people are at the center of something deadly and imminent. He just can’t tell if they are to be victims or perpetrators. Because Finch feels morally compelled to intervene, he hires Reese (Caviezel), a drunken, suicidal, washed-up former CIA agent.

As it will week after week, high-tech gadgetry allows Finch and Reese to spy on their targets and everyone around them. And while this mostly leads to the usual car chases, fistfights and shoot-’em-ups, it’s fun not knowing the good guys from the bad till the very end.

Are Reese and Finch super-sleuths or supernatural agents? I say “supernatural” because it should be mentioned that both men are legally dead. Anonymous and unseen, they resemble the hovering angels in Wim Wenders’ 1987 fantasy “Wings of Desire.” Folks looking for something a little beyond the cookie-cutter crime procedural should check this out.

• “Prime Suspect” (9 p.m., NBC), starring Maria Bello, has very little to do with the original British “Prime,” starring Helen Mirren, the most lauded detective series in a generation. It has everything to do with pandering to a female demographic.

While Mirren’s show was a slow-building character study about an alcoholic detective, Bello’s character is a hard-charging, feisty, capable female detective beset by a sexist bureaucracy. For every step she takes to collar the bad guys, she takes 10 steps backward while battling a boys club that’s so old school, you half expect them to break into song, like the Jets in “West Side Story.” It’s “NYPD Blue” as reimagined by Oprah Winfrey. Let’s just call it “Sub-Prime Suspect.”

• With “Whitney” (8:30 p.m., NBC), Whitney Cummings of “Chelsea Lately” gets her own sitcom. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong sitcom. She’s a wisecracking woman in a long-term relationship with the perfectly nice but dull Alex (Chris D’Elia). She’s too neurotic to get married, and her sassy, two-dimensional friends are not as funny as her.

Maybe this is just bad writing, or perhaps a deliberate attempt to make her seem funnier.

• Looks like we’ve run out of room before reviewing the remake of the remake of “Charlie’s Angels” (7 p.m., ABC). Darn!

Tonight’s other season premieres

• The morning after for Penny and Raj on “The Big Bang Theory” (7 p.m., CBS).

• Pierce remains a question mark on “Community” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Leslie’s big choice on “Parks and Recreation” (7:30 p.m., NBC).

• James Spader joins the cast of “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).

• Everybody’s in crisis mode on “Grey’s Anatomy” (8 p.m., ABC).

• Jane must prove the man he shot was really Red John on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

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