THE Nine Network has a potential, enormous hit with this slick, thoughtful and absorbing crime series.

When Person of Interest aired on CBS the network said test ratings were the highest for any drama series in 15 years. And it’s quickly gathering a fan base here.

Easy to understand why: This is exceptionally well written, wonderfully acted and strikingly different.

Forget procedural cop shows, Person of Interest blends crime with could-be-happening-now sci-fi. Think The Equaliser (someone’s on your side against the big baddies) with the intrigue of Nikita.

The voiceover for season one, from one of the two key characters, billionaire Harold Finch (Michael Emerson of TV’s Lost), says: “You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you. Crimes the government considered irrelevant. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene.”

The partner Finch recruits is John Reese (the alias he prefers to use, at least), ex special forces. He’s living on the streets, trying to drink himself to death, after beginning to question himself, his orders and the government. As Reese puts it; “When you find that one person who connects you to the world, you become someone different. Someone better. When that person is taken from you… what do you become then?”

Jim Caviezel (The Prisoner, The Passion of The Christ) is perfectly cast as Reese.

He portrays a damaged, dangerous killer with a curious vulnerability. We like him. We see his struggle. “Do you think people ever really change?” he asks a serial rapist who sits across from him, a gun between them. “Convince me you can change.” He’s really asking, can I change?

The rapist tells Reese he won’t kill him because he’s a good person inside.

Reese replies: “Good? I lost that part of myself a long time ago. I’m not sure if I can find it. I’m not sure it matters anymore. Maybe it’s better this way. Maybe it’s up to me to do what the good people can’t. Or maybe there are no good person. Maybe there are only good decisions.”

We know Reece doesn’t want to kill, but as he says himself, he’s good at it. In fact, the character of John Reece is a bit of a Batman-like, dark super hero. When he’s not armed, he’s dangerous. When he’s armed, he’s lethal. Eight armed thugs aren’t enough to stop him, we know that. Even if he’s bound, with a gun to his head, we pity whoever is holding him.

Caviezel is much underrated as an actor, I think, and he shines here. He is Reece from the breathless voice and introspective, thoughtful expressions to the almost-robotic manner that switches in when he’s defending himself.

Michael Emerson as Harold Finch is also exceptionally well cast. Every character, in fact, has depth and the villains are curious shades of grey.

Person of Interest has also produced some of the best moments in TV I’ve seen for a long while.

An example is from the same episode four, season one as mentioned above, where Reese convinces a doctor called Megan not to kill the man who raped her sister.

Megan asks, “How can you sit there and tell me not to do something you know in your heart you would too?” Reece replies: “Because unlike you, I know what happens when you take a life. You lose a part of yourself – not everything – just the part that matters the most.”

Further, the final episode of season one where John Reese stands alone confronting the machine, seeking help to find Finch, was one of the most dramatic cliff-hanger episodes ever written. It was exceptional TV.

Person of Interest season one is out on DVD in Australia and season two is showing on Mondays at 9.30pm on WIN.

HOT GUY ALERT: With those chiselled good looks and soulful eyes, Jim Caviezel has lots of fans – and will make more with this role.

ACTION ALERT: This show is also definitely one for the guys. It has heaps of action and intrigue and Reese is one tough lethal weapon.

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