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Fall TV Preview: Michael Emerson Reuniting With J.J. Abrams? Is Person of Interest Too Good to Be True?

Person of Interest, James Caviezel, Michael Emerson Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS
WWK Fall TV Preview 2011

On paper, Person of Interest, CBS' new crime thriller about a billionaire software genius and an ex-CIA agent collaborating to prevent violent crimes, cannot fail.

Costar Michael Emerson, who earned an Emmy for his turn as the creepy Ben Linus in Lost, is reuniting with executive producer J.J. Abrams, who just happens to be Lost's co-creator. And Person of Interest's creator,  Jonathan Nolan, is best known for cowriting a little Batman blockbuster called The Dark Knight (maybe you've heard of it?) and its upcoming sequel. Oh, and also in the cast you have Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson and even Jesus himself, Passion of the Christ's Jim Caviezel.

So how good is this show? Can it actually live up to all that intrinsic hype?

MORE: Fall TV Premiere Calendar: Find Out When All Your Faves Return & New Shows Begin!

Person of Interest (CBS)
Premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: The Office/Whitney (NBC), Bones (Fox), The Secret Circle (CW), Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Cast:
Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson
Status:
We've seen the original pilot episode.

For a crime thriller, Person of Interest isn't as thrilling Abrams' Alias—yet—and it's certainly not as intriguing as Lost. However, for a procedural with a twist, its sci-fi premise is sound and even sort of plausible. And who doesn't enjoy seeing the good guys exacting a little vigilante justice?

The show's person of interest can refer to both presumed-dead CIA agent Reese (Caviezel) and the potential criminals/victims he seeks. Identifying them is Emerson's Mr. Finch, who, like Ben Linus, is mysterious and inscrutable—but he's no villain. At least he doesn't seem to be. After 9/11, Finch invented a software program for the U.S. government that uses pattern recognition to identify terrorists—with the scary outcome that everyone is monitored. Somehow (and this is when you need your "willing suspension of disbelief" needs to kick in), the program can also identify people about to become involved in violent crimes.

Since everyone thinks he's dead, Reese has managed to fly under the radar since Something Very Bad happened to the love of his life. (At least that's what the sunny flashbacks suggest.) After opening up a huge can of whoopass on some subway thugs, the former fed is ID'd by Henson's Detective Carter—minutes after Finch whisks him away from the police station and eventually persuades sign on to his one-man SD6-style black ops.  

Caviezel doesn't speak for much of the pilot, so the jury's still out on how he'll handle the role of leading man, but Emerson is as engaging and deeply layered as always. And the premise, despite its twinge of lunacy (hey, don't forget the Rimbaldi prophecies in Alias!), is as intriguing and bold as you'd expect from a J.J. Abrams series. This show could certainly turn out to be one of the TV season's best new offerings. We're not totally sold yet, but we'll definitely be tuning in to see what comes next.

Verdict: Hello! J.J. Abrams. Michael Emerson. Dark Knight scribe. If you're a fan of any sort of cult-genre entertainment (or procedural crime dramas for that matter), you'd be crazy not to watch. After all, you never know who's watching you...

Get ready for the new fall TV season by checking out all our reviews and previews!

WATCH: Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel dish on their new crime series


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