Equalizing a Person of Interest


I thought I had a really unique idea with this blog, but Googling the terms, ‘Robert; McCall; John; Reese; Equalizer; Person; and Interest,’ revealed otherwise.  Several bloggers have beat me to it, but I’m going ahead anyway because I find the parallels rather cool.

In the mid-1980s I became a huge fan of a television show titled, “The Equalizer.”  I found the lead character, Robert McCall, fascinating.

Robert McCall—The Equalizer

Robert McCall (played by Edward Woodward) was a very capable operative who abruptly resigns from an unidentified intelligence agency from which you do not just “resign.”  There are consequences to be paid for such impertinence.  Now on his own, with only occasional assistance from his former boss, “Control” (played by Robert Lansing) and fellow operatives (most notably Micky Kostmeyer, played by Keith Szarabajka), the apparently independently wealthy McCall sets about the streets of violent, 1980s New York City righting wrongs and protecting the innocent.  He acts as a vigilante, but for some unexplained reason the NYPD turns a blind if not dubious eye toward his exploits.  His advertisement in the want ads reads:

Got a problem?
Odds against you?
Call the Equalizer.
212 555 4100

The Equalizer has obvious issues from the very start.  He kills when necessary, yet he abhors killing.  Indeed, it becomes evident as the series progresses that McCall is using his current avocation to atone for the sins of his previous vocation.  And frequently his past catches up to him, often with very devastating results—not only for McCall, but also his clients and even his past associates.

Fast forward to the current television season some quarter century later.

The new Robert McCall roaming the streets of New York City is a guy named John Reese (played by Jim Caviezal).

John Reese is a Person of Interest . . . to both the NYPD and the CIA

The title of the show is Person of Interest.  The mysterious Mr. Reese has quit an agency (by faking his own death) from which you do not quit.  There are consequences to be paid for such impertinence, not least of which is that he’s now targeted for assassination by his former CIA colleagues.  Not only that, the NYPD is not nearly as accommodating of this vigilante.  They, too, want this man stopped.  And Robert McCall thought he had it bad?

This latest incarnation of The Equalizer is far from wealthy, however.  And his clients don’t find him through some want ad; he finds them.  Reese’s version of “Control” is a mysterious billionaire who goes by the name of “Mr. Finch” (played by Michael Emerson).  In 2006, Mr. Finch invented a machine, a machine that, “. . . sees everything,” from video feeds to internet postings to computer records—public, private, and secret.  “The Machine” then processes everything it sees and predicts acts of terrorism in time for the government to intervene.

Alas, that is not “The Machine’s” only talent.  It also sees and predicts other violent crimes about which the federal government doesn’t care.  But Mr. Finch cares.  Thus, before Mr. Finch (who is a genius at surveillance, wire tapping, breaching computer firewalls, and otherwise making a mockery of anything “security” related) turned over The Machine to the federal government, he built in a backdoor.  When The Machine determines that a violent crime is about to occur, it forwards a nine-digit number embedded inside a bunch of gobbledygook (in case The Machine’s operators catch on) to Mr. Finch.  That nine-digit number is a social security account, and the person to which it belongs can be either the potential victim or the future perpetrator.

It becomes Mr. Reese’s job to find out which, and to stop the violent act before it occurs.  All that while avoiding capture by the NYPD or death at the hands of the CIA.

And if that weren’t complicated enough, Mssrs. Finch and Reese have blackmailed a corrupt Detective Lionel Fusco (played by Kevin Chapman) and placed him alongside the woman detective charged with tracking down Reese.  That would be Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson) who, unbeknownst to Detective Fusco, has “seen the light” and is also occasionally helping our intrepid duo even as she pretends to still be on their trail.

As with The Equalizer, Person of Interest is pure escapist fun with many interesting, conflicted characters and loads of intrigue.  Unfortunately, only DVD Season One of The Equalizer was ever released in the U.S (back in 2008), but it’s well worth renting or even owning a copy if you’re unfamiliar with the show.  Season Two has been released in other regions.  Person of Interest airs Thursdays on CBS, and has just been renewed for another season.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Equalizing a Person of Interest

  1. Person of Interest was not on my radar until I caught a rerun. I saw the previews and thought it was a pretty silly idea. But then seeing the actual show I was impressed. Glad it has been renewed for a second season.

    Still not as good as Justified.

  2. I’ve not seen Justified. I’ll check it out.

  3. Alex

    Edward Woodward did righteous anger better than just about anyone with the possible exception of Patrick McGoohan. I did a salute video on You Tube. Search VHS Patriot.
    POI has had Mark Margolis (Equalizer’s flunky Jimmy) on 3-4 episodes.