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Why the First Two Seasons of Person of Interest are Far From Irrelevant

Credit: Person of Interest/CBS

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Much like its characters, Person of Interest flew under the radar. I don’t care that the CBS show routinely attracted over 10 million live viewers; no one seemed to watch it.

Or maybe, perhaps in the age of prestige TV, the wrong people watched it. Most of these viewers were casual watchers who enjoyed tuning in for one episode here and there. The show began and ended with its time slot, with little discussion being furthered in the greater television community.

Which is a shame because Person of Interest (POI) demands to be talked about.

Person of Interest - Pilot

Person of Interest/CBS                                        And watched.

It’s a layered and intelligent series with an eerie relevance to our times. I desperately wanted people to know that, so I hopped from friend to friend to that random guy at the bar, hoping to convince someone to give it a chance.

I’d explain the show as concisely as I could. “After 9/11, a billionaire genius named Finch built a supercomputer called “The Machine” to spy on everyone and predict terrorist attacks, but since it also predicts smaller “irrelevant” crimes as well, Finch hires an ex CIA operative named Reese to help him act on the crimes The Machine predicts and stops them before they happen. They save a different person each episode that the government deems irrelevant.”

“Oh,” that guy at the bar said, “It’s a…procedural.”

Yes. POI can accurately be described as a crime procedural. It can also accurately be described as one of the best science-fiction shows in recent memory, I just hadn’t gotten to that part yet.

“But then, near the end of season two, you start to learn more about The Machine, and there is this psychopath named Root who is on a mission to set The Machine free from Finch’s control. And then ANOTHER machine, Samaritan, gets made, and the two supercomputers go to war with each other.”

Person of Interest - Lady Killer

Person of Interest/CBS                                        Root discharges herself from the mental hospital.

“Oh,” that guy at the bar said, “I’d watch that. Can I just skip over some of the first two seasons?”

I get it. Person of Interest consists of over 100 44-minute episodes. That is a large amount of time to dedicate to one show. Back in 2016, in an attempt to get my friends to catch up before the final season aired, I went so far as to write out a guide of which episodes were absolutely necessary to get one caught up to season five.

Catch up on the first season and second season right now!

The problem behind skipping most of the first two seasons, or the promise that “it gets really good if you just stick with it,” is the implication that the episodes dealing with cases of the week are “fillers” and therefore aren’t as important or relevant as the show’s serialized episodes.

I was guilty of this mindset myself until I watched the finale and heard the show’s final message.

Person of Interest - SNAFU

Person of Interest/CBS                                        I also had to reassess some data after the finale.

By the time the fifth and final season of POI ends, the plot has taken us through storylines exploring the worrying implications of uncontrolled artificial intelligence. Samaritan (the “bad” computer) is attempting to run the world in the way it deems right, disposing of anyone who is irrelevant to that goal, and our heroes and The Machine (the “good” computer) are trying to stop it from gaining control of humanity. Both machines have become characters in their own right, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for being so taken in by their story that they forget what the show is actually about – people.

The idea that the show is about people; about individuals with lives, dreams, and flaws, is easy to forget when we focus so closely on the serialized plot and the fate of the world.

In the pilot episode, Finch enlisted Reese’s help to save the people The Machine predicted would be in trouble. This was their purpose. As the show forged a grander path in Season 3, they obtained a grander purpose as well. This made for more compelling and thought-provoking television, and in my original viewing of the series, I was looking forward to the day that they’d leave the cases of the week behind.

Person of Interest - Pilot

Person of Interest/CBS                              Yes, I ridiculously wanted them to forget about all these people.

They never did, and it defines the message of the show.

At the climax of the finale, Reese has an exchange with Finch where it seems as though he is speaking directly to everyone who finds the first two seasons of this show a bit of a slog to get through.

“I’ve been trying to save the world for so long, saving one life at a time seemed a bit anti-climactic. Then I realized, sometimes one life, if it’s the right life, it’s enough.”

Even while saving the world – one life matters.

Person of Interest - Judgement

Person of Interest/CBS                                        Sometimes even two lives matter.

This is something the finale doesn’t let you forget about, as mere moments after Reese’s words, The Machine recalls a lesson it learned from a police officer who said that “Everyone dies alone, but if you mean something to someone, if you helped someone, or loved someone if even a single person remembers you, then maybe you never really die at all.”

And so, at the climax of the series, when we are so focused on whether or not Samaritan will finally be defeated, The Machine takes a lesson from one of those “irrelevant” people that were so heavily focused on in the beginning of the series. “I know I’ve made some mistakes, many mistakes,” The Machine says, “but we helped some people, didn’t we?”

Person of Interest - return 0

Person of Interest/CBS                                        Yes. Yes, you did.

Every single case of the week episode contributed to this moment. Those first two seasons, which included week after week after week of Reese and Finch saving random people on the streets of New York, mattered. The final lesson here, that we can continue living on through helping others, would be empty if it weren’t for all those “filler” episodes.

As I said before, I get it. It’s a lot of television to get through. Yes, you can successfully understand the plot of the show by watching the most serialized episodes, but skipping the procedural elements of the series will lessen the impact of this final lesson.

I find a certain irony that the episodes we most highly recommend are the serialized pieces that mostly sideline saving an individual. It feels like an almost Samaritan way to watch the show, where we dispose of the irrelevance to arrive at the goal more quickly. Without those first two seasons, and without those procedural episodes, POI is about the birth of artificial superintelligences and a fight for a faceless humanity, because like so many other ambitious sci-fi tales before it, the little people would have gotten left behind. 

But POI doesn’t leave them behind. It never forgets that the world is only worth fighting for because of the individual people who live in it, and that long after the battle is won, we should continue helping anyone we can.

Person of Interest - Pilot

Person of Interest/CBS                                        You should help every single one of these people.

That message only carries the weight it does because of those first two seasons. The case of the week “filler” episodes are the backbone of the show’s final message.

I started this piece mentioning that despite 10 million viewers tuning in for the show, the “right” people didn’t watch it, and therefore the series doesn’t rank amongst the more popular peak TV titles. That statement isn’t quite fair, just as discounting the procedural elements of POI isn’t fair. 

Every person matters, and every person who watched or was touched by this show matters as well. POI will likely never achieve the recognition it deserves in our current landscape, but perhaps, just as “[one life is enough],” knowing that it touched so many people can be enough, too.

Person of Interest - If-Then-Else

Person of Interest/CBS                    The characters of POI, trapped behind preconceived perceptions of CBS dramas.


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Money Heist

7 Wild Facts We Learned from the Netflix Documentary ‘Money Heist: The Phenomenon’

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Crazy Facts About Money Heist from Netflix's Documentary "The Phenomenon"

Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) has risen the ranks as Netflix’s most popular show, but if you’ve watched the series, it’s not entirely a surprise. The Spanish-language series is one of the streaming service’s best offerings filled with charismatic characters, wit, plot twists, and passion. However, it wasn’t always a Netflix Original, and the worldwide success has been an unexpected albeit pleasant turn of events for the creators, writers, and cast. 

The Netflix documentary “Money Heist: The Phenomenon (La Casa de Papel: El Fenomeno)” explores what makes the show such a thrilling addiction that has resonated with people all over the world. 

What I found most interesting is that the series broke down everything that went into creating this world, these characters, and a storyline that captivates audiences. In the same way that the Professor could anticipate every move that would be executed by the police, the creators of the series have been able to tap into what audiences will connect with, what they want to see, and what will make this their favorite series.

Here are some of our favorite fun facts from the documentary — SPOILERS from all seasons ahead: 

1. The show was a flop

It’s honestly hard to believe that Money Heist didn’t find immediate success in Spain considering how good the series is. According to the documentary, the series started off strong with 4.5 million viewers, but with each passing week, viewership waned until it was down to 2 million.

For that reason, the series was canceled by Spanish channel Antena 3, which explains why season 2 had such a satisfying and fitting ending. Everything was wrapped up with the idea that the series was over and done with. And then Netflix came along and added to series to its list of programming.

Here’s where you learn about the power of word of mouth — Netflix didn’t promote the series at all but somehow (and rightfully so), it began picking up steam. People from all over the world began to discover just how brilliant the Professor was; they connected with a rogue group of robbers on a personal and intimate level. Eventually, Money Heist became the second most-watched series next to Netflix’s mainstay Stranger Things, and, of course, the streaming service was ready to capitalize by reviving the series and proposing the show creators another season. The rest, is, well, history. 

In fact, the series is the most viewed Netflix series in France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Portugal. 

 

2.  They consulted real-life experts to make things very realistic

Money Heist doesn’t half-ass anything because the world is so far-fetched that it has to feel real. And it does. You’re completely enveloped in every aspect of the Professor’s plan and often find yourself wondering, “how are they going to pull that off?” The team putting together the series felt the same way and thus, when it came down to plotting how they are going to infiltrate high-security places and what they’re going to be stealing, they decided to consult the real-life experts to get the answers.

Personally, I was in awe of how technical the second heist was from removing the gold from the underwater vault and melting it down. The research included hiring a marine engineer to help with the construction of the antechamber that it used to go into the vault and remove the gold.

When it came to the melting down part, a father-and-son metalworker duo served as advisers on how to properly melt down 90 tons of gold into little pellets that could easily (we use that term loosely) be smuggled out. The experts were even used as extras to ensure the process was done correctly. The only difference is that they used copper instead of gold in the scene since it’s cheaper! 

 

3.  There’s a lot of movie magic 

You didn’t actually think they used real gold in the underwater scenes, right? There’s plenty of movie magic that goes into bringing the world of Money Heist to life, and a lot of it is fixed in post-production. Take for example the gold, which was just styrofoam coated in a gold color that began to concave after being submerged in water and needed to be edited piece-by-piece, frame-by-frame. 

However, there are elements that are truly crafted in a way that keeps everyone on their toes. The team built a set that they then submerged underwater so it would look realistic and make it seem like water was rising once they broke in.

The scene where the blimp flies over Spain at the kickstart of the second heist and all the money falls from the sky really happened, though, it wasn’t real money falling onto hundreds of extras — that would require production to stage an actual heist. The scene may have been minor, but it was necessary to get it just right in order for it to have the desired effect, which meant collecting and throwing the money over and over for several takes as the crew struggled to get it to fly in the right director. Eventually, it began raining and the paper money began melting. Moral of the story is that things go wrong just like in the Professor’s carefully crafted plan. 

And the boat scene where the gang reached international waters was not filmed on a chilly and gloomy day. In fact, it was shot during a scorching hot day in the Philippines and everyone was sweating and ready to pass out from the heat. They pulled it off, right!?

Is Season 5 of ‘Money Heist’ Happening? Everything We Know

4. They take risks 

The idea of “no risk, no reward” definitely comes into play here. When you watch the series, you’re constantly on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next, if the plan will go off without a hitch, and what obstacle will come crashing down on the team. The thrill is a product of the cast and crew’s desire to keep you on the edge of your seat. They wanted to make a series that’s unpredictable, and the only reason to do that is to take big risks with every storyline and every character. We see that with their decisions to kill off beloved main characters because it’s the only way to keep the storytelling authentic. 

Which…. leads us right into this next point (see below)! 

 

5. The show is written on the fly

There’s a general plan for the series but unlike the Professor’s carefully thought out and meticulous plans that anticipate every move, the series is written in the “heat of the moment.” That means that very few scripts are written in advance. The writer’s team is always working as the cast is filming to add in scenes, switch up dialogue, or change the direction of the series completely. 

If you think about it, it’s kind of brilliant because not only are you unsure of what’s going to happen next since it leaves the actors in suspense, but it allows the characters to react authentically to what is happening. 

Obviously, this requires everyone to have their head in the game at all times but also adds a lot of pressure and stress. The show creator Alex Pina says he wakes up and is terrified going into work everyday. Essentially, that’s the anxiety the robbers would be feeling in a real life heist.

 

6. It has some very famous fans

Plenty of celebrities have jumped into the red jumpsuits and joined the resistance including Stephen King and Brazilian soccer player Neymar, who was so obsessed with the series that he snagged a role in the series as a monk! Who would have thought?

 

7. The imagery is part of the resistance

When you think of Money Heist, there’s some imagery and symbolism that comes to mind including the red jumpsuits, the Dali mask, and, of course, Bella Ciao. There’s no way you watched the series and didn’t get the song stuck in your head for days on end.

Remember how I said show creators and writers knew what they were doing? Yeah, that was purposeful. The series uses the color red as it is usually associated with blood and passion. Red has become the show’s signature color. The song, which was sung by Italian anti-fascist partisans in World War II, has become the anthem. It was first sung when Moscow hits dirt in the Mint of Spain and the whole cast erupts in a euphoric celebration in season 1.

It’s later juxtaposed with a somber rendition by the Professor and his brother, Berlin, which allows the song to take on new and deeper meaning. It eventually becomes synonymous with being the symbol of the resistance and rebellion against the government. The song is being sung all over the world during protests, riots, and more. 

 


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Editorials

How to Watch ‘Hamilton’ on Disney+ this Fourth of July

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Hamilton the Musical Coming to Disney+

This July, you’re getting the best seat in the house for Hamilton and you aren’t paying hundreds of dollars for it! 

On July 3, Disney+ will begin streaming the Lin-Manuel Miranda smash Broadway musical, which follows the life of Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers. 

The version of the original production was filmed at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016.

While you’ll be able to enjoy it from your living room, Miranda has gone out of his way to give you full Broadway experience. He tweeted the screen-adaptation will feature “whole show, every note & scene, & a 1-minute countdown clock during intermission.”

Here’s everything you need to know about streaming Hamilton on Disney+ 

How to Watch?

Hamilton will be available to Disney+ subscribers. You can stream it on online or on your streaming devices. 

 

How Much Does Disney+ Cost?

You can snag a subscription with on-demand access annually for $69.99 per year or monthly for $6.99. The annual membership saves you about $14 yearly. This gives you access to all of Disney and Marvel content! 

You can also get the bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu for an additional $12.99 a month. Bundling the three gives you a 25% savings or roughly $5 bundled rather than subscribing to each service separately.

 

What’s Hamilton Rated?

Miranda recently revealed the screen adaptation will be exactly the same as the stage performance sans two swear words. In order to qualify for the “PG-13” rating, the film must not have more than one swear word. The rating warns of “language and some suggestive material.”

 

Is It Worth My Money?

Disney has an extensive catalog and much like other streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, it adds new content monthly from classic films, shows and cartoons, animated films, and brand new originals. 

For those who like Hamilton, Disney+ also offers the stage-to-screen film adaptation of Newsies. And if you’re looking for more of Miranda’s work, Disney+ is streaming the reboot of Mary Poppins and Moana.

10 Shows to Watch During 4th of July Weekend 2020


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Fuller House

‘Fuller House’ Season 6: Is the Door Open For Another Reboot?

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Fuller House review season 5 episode 13

Fuller House came to an end after five seasons earlier this month, but the cliffhanger felt as if the series intentionally left the door open for another reboot. 

Even DJ emphasized: the door is always open. 

But was that intentional? While it doesn’t seem like Netflix has any interest in keeping the show around, the cast and showrunner are remaining optimistic. 

In the final moments of the series, Kimmy and Steph said their goodbyes before moving families out of the Fuller-Tanner house for good. 

Following their exit, DJ becomes emotional as the usually full, loud, and alive house falls eerily quiet. Someone knocks on the door and it turns out to be her sister and childhood bestie informing her that they don’t want to leave.

Stephanie then drops another surprise that could carry the show for a few more seasons — she’s pregnant. (Read our reviews/recaps of the final season of Fuller House here)

For an audience who grew up with these characters, it’s hard to say goodbye and come to terms with the idea of not being there for their next steps. 

But while it’s one thing for the audience to want to continue the series, it’s another when the actors are fully on-board. 

Both Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler) and Candace Cameron Bure (DJ Fuller) told TV Insider that they are keeping their fingers crossed for another reboot in the future. 

“We talk about that all the time and put it out there so much. Who knows what will happen in 10 or 15 years. Never say never,” Bure said. “If there is another opportunity, I know all of us would reprise these characters again.”

Barber added that wrapping up season 5 did not feel final. “I really want to play this character and see where she is and see her grow,” Barber said. “We’ve seen Kimmy, DJ, and Stephanie since they were 5 and 10. Let’s continue it into our 60s. Let’s see them as the Golden Girls of the new generation. I’m ready.”

In fact, Cameron-Bure told E! News that she would play DJ forever if she could. 

 “I would play DJ Tanner for the rest of my life,” she said in 2018. “If the audience wanted it and the networks wanted it, I would do it forever.”

So, yeah, there’s a huge chance the cult-sitcom could see a reboot somewhere down the line that would find the She-Wolf pack dealing with grandchildren.

Not many shows get the luxury of catching up with their fans every so often, but in this case, even with declining ratings, there’s a ton of love for the 90s sitcom. 

Of course, by that point, we hope Stephanie and Kimmy and their families actually moved out of DJ’s home. 

The San Francisco house is big, but it’s not that big. 

Would you want the show to return in the next decade? Or is Fuller House milking it?


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