Westworld 3 Turns into Person of Interest

DATELINE: Persons of Westworld Interest

  Enrico Colatoni Returns.

It seems almost logical that creator Jonathan Nolan, mastermind of the Grand Computer of Person of Interest (not Finch), has also created the same AI for Westworld.

Now with the grand finale on the horizon for season three, we find ourselves in a strangely familiar place. There, locked away in a giant warehouse, is the computer from Person of Interest. As if to confirm this, the second banana from that earlier series, Enrico Colatoni, shows up here as a guest star in essentially the same role.

We are also given several intriguing finale confrontations: it now seems that William (Ed Harris) will save the world by destroying the creation of AI from Person of Interest. There is also the big bash between Maeva and Dolores (Newton and Wood). Their fight scenes are, of course, reminiscent of death fights with men in generations past of movies.

Now with a series of women directors and creative powers on Westworld III, we are seeing the past come alive with women in the same roles.

If you expect Jim Cavaiezel to make a guest appearance, it might not happen for another season. After all, this week HBO announced that Westworld will be renewed and will finish out six seasons.

We were most amused to find the AI of the earlier series still prisoner and now obsolete, trying still to save people as it did in the earlier show with Finch and Reese.

We presume that to continue for three more seasons the entire cast must find themselves back in their familiar roles at Westworld as the TV series roots three seasons ago. Whatever the robot revolution was meant to be, it is hardly about to come to an end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genre, the Drug-Addled Westworld 3.5

DATELINE: Our Least Favorite Episode in 3 Seasons! 

 Aaron Paul & Evan Rachel Wood.

The show Westworld  is now literally out of its world, out of its mind, and officially should have a new title. Going back decades, we loved the original Yul Brynner movie and even the not so good Peter Fonda sequel. We loved Jonathan Nolan’s first two clever and sharp seasons. We loved his Person of Interest.

Something has gone awry. This week’s episode was chaotic junk, with high speed car chases and drug-addled characters killing each other. We were not impressed to find Mr. Nolan slumming his Westworld to a dismal futuristic, misanthropic world where AI will eliminate real humans.

Apart from all else, it was so distasteful. And, the cast was so limited that we missed so many of the great characters who showed up for cameos a few weeks ago. Perhaps Nolan plans to have a grand finale in which all appear like in those Faulkner novels where all his favorite characters show up for a final bow.

It does seem to be the end of this series. Maybe Nolan and his partner Lisa Joy have run out of interest and ideas. We hope another project will return to the roots that Jim Cavaziel gave us in Person of Interest. There is no person of interest in this new season.

This new leading man, Aaron Paul, is an intense actor playing a rather dull character. No, there is no love interest with Dolores who is all business, and her job is chair of Murder, Inc.

There are three more episodes, came one reminder. Whether we shall be able to stomach any or all of them only the weeks ahead shall prove. We are most disappointed, having anticipated this show for a year.

 

Parce Domine,or Sing a Song of Sixpense

DATELINE: Joy in Nolan’s World

  Out into the World!

The most literary TV series of recent memory has returned for season three under the creative control of Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan. Nolan, of course, gave us the extraordinary Person of Interest, but nothing came close to this artistic juggernaut.

Welcome to Westworld III. It’s almost like World War III.

Now, with robots amok, we begin with a Latin Gregorian chant phrase, so typical of an overeducated TV production in an age of under-educated audiences.

Many stars return for the new season—but many notable names are omitted (at least officially so far). Dolores, the head robot rebel, is about to lead Armageddon on the human race by the hosts of Westworld.

Evan Rachel Wood now wears designer gowns after two seasons of a western petticoat. She is stunning in spike heels to say the least as a homicidal android.

Her first stop is a fifteen-minute visit to the billionaire world of the man who owned all the robotic worlds of androids. She is about to take his money and run. It’s quite an android future, based on the lifestyle of the superrich in 2060, or whatever future it is.

New character Caleb is introduced as what appears to be a second-rate criminal and war veteran. He must be presented in parallel to Dolores’s ruthless involvement with the powerbrokers of Westworld and the virtual world.

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is on the run as responsible for the murder of Westworld’s Board of Directors.

Mostly, the world outside the robotic paradise is stunning visually: with most of the location shooting in Singapore and Spain. As far as Dolores is concerned, she is out to take over the human world for revenge (we presume).

This is a sumptuous production.

 

 

 

 

 

Westworld 2.6 Goes to Hell

DATELINE:  Westworld 2.6

  who's Arnold? Who’s real?

You have now entered Robot Hell in Westworld’s Season 2.

The dirty little coward Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) has shot the Jesse James Western story into a moldering grave. You can’t tell the guests from the hosts without a scorecard, and staff may be just as confused as the audience.

We may be wondering after 2.6 just who the true villains are. Those who were rotten for the entire series show too much heart as we come to a climax. And, those Dopplegangers from Shogun World are gone, thank heavens. However, we are seeing William (Ed Harris), head honcho of the Westworld operation having a change of heart.

Since no one ever really dies in a Jonathan Nolan series, we know everyone will return in some shape or form. You can probably expect that there are host versions of everyone, and you can’t tell them apart without one of those fancy tablets Elsie (Shannon Woodward) plays like a Chopin nocturne.

If there is a theme here, it is that pursuing a dream is the stuff tragedy is made of. Bernard, or is that Arnold, dreams of returning to the past, or is it the present?

The more the storylines change, the more they remain the same. We know that guests and hosts are converging on the Pearly Gates of the grande finale of season 2.  What we don’t know is how hell-bent they are to have a Last Supper.

In this episode we see one robot “crucified” with spikes by uncaring humans in an effort to learn what is truth. Good centurion Luke Helmsworth stands by in growing horror, as Nolan unravels his gospel according to a Person of Interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proud Mary: Person of Interest Undone

DATELINE: Taraji Firepower

 taraji

We should enjoy Taraji P. Henson while we have her. Her new movie Proud Mary is a throwback to her work on Jonathan Nolan’s hit show before Westworld.

Our initial discovery was on the TV series Person of Interest, where she played police detective Joss Carter, part of the secret organization saving people in vigilante fashion.

In her latest movie incarnation as Proud Mary, a mob hit woman, she has become her partner John Reese (who was played by Jim Caviezel), but has stolen the wardrobe of Miss Shaw, the deadly assassin in black.

The new film echoes the old TV show in so many ways. Mary has a closet hideaway full of armaments, like her pal John Reese, retired government assassin.

The film, produced by Henson, had its problems, including Taraji smashing up the Maserati she drives in a scene in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and John Fogerty who wrote the tune used in the film complaining he was not consulted.

This mob hit squad movie is different: mainly because of Taraji Henson, giving a softer touch, the maternal thing.

Yes, she feels some guilt about leaving a 12-year old boy as an orphan and takes him in. You know when he finds out that she caused his predicament, there will be trouble.

Danny Glover plays the mob leader and Billy Brown his son. Taraji is adopted unofficially as a child and raised to be a killer. History may repeat itself with her new ward (Jahi Di’Allo Winston—a delightful young actor as the orphan with a ridiculous name to his disadvantage).

The film was shot in Greater Boston on the waterfront (with Chicago standing in now and then). The locations are not exactly your favorite tourist spots, though Taraji jogs near the Paul Revere statue on the Boston Common.

When Proud Mary starts acting up to the Tina Turner version of the song (lyrics altered), you know everyone ought to duck. The mob hitmen she takes on are out of the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, another Boston crime tale. If you give her 100 to 1 odds, they will miss every time.

Taraji puts just the right amount of sentiment into her role to make this film contrast favorably with so many trite mob killer stories. We lost count of her shoot’em up tally, but it had to be approaching Clint levels.

 

 

Sayonara to Person of Interest

DATELINE:  Another Favorite Bites the Dust

 Interesting Persons

After keeping loyal viewers at bay for over a year, the jackals at CBS finally have released their prisoner, Person of Interest. One of the best shows on TV is now being burned alive on the airwaves (two episodes per week, and lately 3 new shows from the final season, two on one night).

 

Intelligent, brooding, ironic, the series has toyed with the notion that a giant conspiracy of AI controls the United States and an intrepid band of vigilantes fights back.

 

Now the gang faces the ultimate demographic statistic: TV history.

 

The short 13-episode season has been moving at glacial speed, but suddenly with five to go, it made an abrupt jump this week. It seems the Machine, our favorite anti-hero/heroine has come to grips with mortality.

 

In the latest episode, nearly every character has told off Harold, the Machine’s creator. Lionel, the cop, let him have it between his four eyes. And, the Mob leader lowered the 12 o’clock high boom on him by telling him he was the darkest of all of them.

 

Only CIA killing machine John Reese has stayed the course, but we wonder who will be left standing in a show that delighted in flashbacks to return the dead to importance every season.

 

We likely will not see Reese’s female counterpart Zoe in this short run. But, Shaw probably will reunite with her matchmate Root to ride off into the sunset.

 

We also miss Miss Control, the CIA head, who was carted off to oblivion last season.

 

The fates of so many fascinating characters will be forever unknown because CBS is greedy. They did not own Person of Interest and did not take enough money from it. They continue to give us cheap and cheesy reality shows, and grow rich from never underestimating the intelligence of its viewers.

 

In this show, they sank the boat they missed.

 

Mr. Robot is not a Person of Interest

 DATELINE: Rami Down Your Throat

The new computers-as-enemies controlling the world is called Mr. Robot. It replaces the wittier, more intelligent, more likeable Person of Interest that CBS has thrown into the hopper.

Rami Malek has a striking appearance, which almost makes you think he is the computer robot. No, he is a hacker/junkie. It makes it hard to appreciate your hero when he is a drug addict—and sympathizes with the Occupy movement.

On Person of Interest, the characters are rugged individualists—whereas on the robot show, they are socialists. They see the rugged individualists as part of the enemy. The show is so misinformed that it puts an image of Tom Brady on the screen as a symbol of corporate corruption in a category with Lance Armstrong.

Though Mr. Robot has elements of Clockwork Orange and Patrick McGoohan’s prisoner, don’t be fooled by the sociopathic performance of Christian Slater as the erstwhile Mr. Robot.

The supporters of Robot are politically correct ratios of Muslim, Asian, black, and Goth. A gay man is thrown in, but Rami can’t show interest there. As he notes, he has attention deficit.

Brilliant in its production by Sam Esmail (is that part of the conspiracy of pseudonyms?), the show starts to lag with more disinformation about the main characters. All the villains here are white males whose sex lives are tools to their power-play.

We cannot recommend Mr. Robot except to those who are overwhelmed by flashy propaganda.

 

Persons of Interest: Final Deletions+Control

 

 DATELINE: TV MASHES

 Featured image

                                                                    We love to hate them.

Usually these end of season shows for Person of Interest turn into a mess of chaos as they try to create cliffhangers, resolve stories, and predict the future.

As of season’s end, the series is NOT renewed by callous CBS for another year. Since CBS creates its own low ratings by constantly making the show a victim of endless hiatuses, they have to take the blame for the fall-off in ratings. CBS is worse than Samaritan—and the network’s intelligence is not artificial.

That brings us to the rumored bloodbath to end the fourth year. As usual, the demise quotient seems to center on the delightful second tier of stars—those wonderful characters that have given the show such resonance—its minor villains: Elias, Dominic, Greer, and Control are among our favorite semi-regulars. But if the show returns, they may not. Of course, no one is ever truly dead on this series; you just recover them from the thumb drive.

With the end pending Deux ex Machine has become more animated when facing death at the hands of its arch-rival AI—and speaks to Harold, the spiritual father of intelligence with human sensitivity.

Whether parting is sweet sorrow, or deleting files is just another means to deal with viruses, only your friendly techie can say.

We will have to wait to learn the fate of Shaw, taken prisoner by Samaritan weeks ago. She goes into the bin of lost files with the others.

Person of Interest continues to bring back long departed characters for pivotal minor roles—and did so again in the finale. This is one of the most clever and entertaining TV series of the new Millennium. We suspect our favorites will pull off MacArthur-styled returns in a slow fade.

We’d hate to see the show fall victim to the usual run of dumb-bell shows with formulaic plots. What survives is always second-rate. Thank heavens Netflix is picking up shows and breathing new life into them. Our beloved Machine may come back on a new cable system. It seems like poetic justice.

Person of Interest: Midseason Adjustments

DATELINE:  Control Bites Dog

Interesting Persons

Readers who follow this blog know our predilection for Person of Interest, perhaps one of the most intriguing series ever to appear on network TV.

Last week one of the principal characters was apparently killed off, not innovative in itself. They did the same a year ago to another major star. This blog never likes to spoil anything, but the spoils of weekly TV are here in this column.

This week’s episode did amuse us as the show put complete focus on Control, the CIA house villain. Played by Camryn Menheim, a literal heavy, Control hijacked the series.

We must admit that when your series introduction disappears and a semi-regular villain appears as a major character for the first teasing sequence, we were not surprised. We were shocked when Control continued to be the main focus of the show through the first two commercial breaks.

Only after what seemed like an eternity, about 25 minutes, did the regulars appear—and then as ironic villains, helping terrorists. What gives?

This is a daring and original TV series, likely to charm and titillate regular fans. Person of Interest has become the sentient sentinel of the death of privacy in America as a supercomputer has taken over the nation.

By show’s end, it appeared to us that the wonderful Menheim’s Control character was about to become a believer in our vigilante protectors of privacy. The Manchurian Candidate has come full circle.

Suspicious, Control visits the scene where Shaw was apparently killed in a firefight on the previous episode. She asks if the scene has been sanitized—and it has literally, with fresh paint still on the walls.

The look on Camryn Menheim’s face as she ran a finger over the wet paint makes us thrilled she is coming over to the right side. This is must-see TV.

Sexting with Colossus: The Forbin Project

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Sexting 101

The paranoid plot of TV hit Person of Interest brought us back to the granddaddy of government conspiracy computers, Colossus: The Forbin Project from 1970, based on D.F. Jones’s 1966 novel.

It was before PCs, social media, smartphones, and yet the movie is startlingly contemporary. You’d think it was made yesterday. Dr. Forbin (Eric Braeden) is one of those scientists like Dr. Strangelove—with a German accent. So, his cavalier attitude about the overreaching computer he invented is de rigueur. The head of the CIA (William Schallert) and the President (Gordon Pinsent) are greatly troubled.

Colossus soon starts doing his stuff. He makes the HAL model from a few years earlier (Kubrick’s androgynous baby) appear to be a petulant set decorator. Colossus wants to subjugate all humankind because he’s smarter and knows more.

As the computer stretches its tentacles, we begin to see, like HAL, the machine is a “he.” When he makes his robotic voice to express his infatuation with Forbin, you know you are in the same territory as the apparently Lesbian machine in love with Miss Forbes on Person of Interest.

What gives with these machines so fascinated with the sex lives of their makers? It seems almost perverse. Well, it is perverse. It’s Sexting 101.

The kinky machine Colossus will let Forbin have a few sexual moments with his assistant (Susan Clark), but she is a plant by Dr. Forbin to try to regain control over the machine. Colossus is nobody’s fool, and also seems to have gone in the direction of Peeping Tom.

Believable, underrated, and hoot-worthy, Colossus: The Forbin Project is ripped from today’s TV hits. In the meantime, the supporting cast features many familiar faces from 1970s television series.

 

Person of Interest Downgrades to UHF

DATELINE: TV MASHUP

The more things changed, the less we like them.

Take Person of Interest, for example. This season the world is topsy-turvy because an evil artificial intelligence has killed off a major character and flushed our heroes out of their lovely closed public library headquarters.

What’s worse? The producers have apparently changed the film stock and the style of the production. It does indeed look different. Do we smell a cut in the budget of each episode?

No one likes to see a beloved show struggle, but this is also known as conflict. Jonathan Nolan, creator, may be trying to infuse the plot with more conflict and interesting twists.

By the end of the show, we felt more comfortable. We did not like the new familiarity of Harold Finch with his friend John Reese (Jim Caviezel). He always preferred formality when addressing people as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’ As Michael Emerson now is playing Professor Harold Whistler, still a bird, he tells us the world has changed. Not to anyone’s liking.

However, how can we doubt the creatively smart people behind the scenes? The way to restore balance is to find a new use of old technology. If the new technology is has run away with the bad guys, you find something like UHF antennas to solve your problems.

So, by show’s end, Harold Finch looks like he is about to restore harmony to the series—and villain John Nolan (uncle of the producer and John Hurt lookalike) may continue to push the right buttons all season.

We hope some of the semi-regulars will return. Our friendly head mobster made an appearance as in the opening show, and we can think of two or three others we want to do guest appearances again. At least, Bear the dog continues to have joint custody of the stars.

It’s back, and we’re overjoyed.

Hitchcock Cameos on/as Person of Interest

kindle HitchcoverInteresting Persons

DATELINE: MOVIE/TV MASHUP

 

It appears that Alfred Hitchcock is hanging around the perimeter of the hit TV series Person of Interest. Not since we saw Hitchcock’s image subliminally etched into a wall in Last Year at Marienbad have we been so overwhelmed with Hitchcock sightings.

From Mr. Kingfisher to Mr. Swan and Mr. Wren, Harold Finch seems to be obsessed with The Birds, making all his pseudonyms and aliases based on the notorious Hitchcock movie.

If not mistaken, we have seen Harold adopt the names of more than a half-dozen aviary friends, including his stand-by of Mr. Finch, preferred by his poorly socialized guarddog Reese and pet Belgian Malinois named Bear.

Clearly the producers of Person of Interest, including creator Jonathan Nolan, love to pay homage to Hitchcock. The endless and continuing references have more than caught our interest.

Since our book on Hitchcock is entitled Alfred Hitchcock Freshly Showered, we have more than a passing interest in those keeping the Master of Suspense alive in art.

Person of Interest has a large cache of cameos for Hitch, which would no doubt please the Master.

Even the recent episode of the third season, “4C” was saturated with HItchcockian touches. While Mr. Reese is on a trans-Atlantic flight, he discovers that first-class and coach sections are filled with agents from various nations, all on orders to murder another passenger.

Fortunately, while mayhem is proceeding onboard, no passengers are distracted because they are all enrapt while watching North by Northwest, including scenes of a drone chasing Cary Grant through cornfields.

In another episode, the mysterious figure Reese and Finch track is named Thornhill, but does he exist? Or is his name a mere alias? Of course, this is a throwback again to North by Northwest where Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill is pursued by international espionage agents.

Another episode was devoted totally to the homage: in this case, Reese is in a wheelchair from a gunshot wound and takes up residence in a large apartment complex. Here, Finch must do the legwork while Reese watches his neighbors on computer screens as well as his rear window. Just to make it interesting, he finds a suspect burying something in the flowerbed between the buildings.

Rear Window is put on its head when Finch is the Grace Kelly figure.

When one character notes that his philosophy is based on “Que Sera Sera,” agent Shaw notes that he must be a fan of Doris Day. She made the hit song famous in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Once again, foreshadowing came early on a show in which Reese described himself as a Hitchcock aficionado. That meant, as follows logically, that the climax of the episode took place on a revolving carousel with a shoot-out! Shades of Strangers on a Train.

There are many recurring characters on Person of Interest, and you can add Alfred Hitchcock to the cast.

Circuits Overloaded

Closed Circuit

 DATELINE: MASHED UP MOVIES

With the revelations provided by Edward Snowden of surveillance and spying on average citizens by mammoth government agencies, it seems we may be in for a spate of cloak and dagger dramas like Closed Circuit.

This tidy nightmare depicts legalities undermined in a British terrorism court case with MI6’s fingerprints all over it.

We must admit we are delighted to see Eric Bana actually in a film that draws on his sharpest acting skills, instead of swords, special effects, and his good looks. He plays Martin Rose, a barrister facing “accidents” or a stage suicide if he digs too deeply into motives of an accused terrorist.

Julia Stiles is aboard as an American journalist, but her role is small enough to be effective and unnerving. She is matched with Jim Broadbent with his several powerful scenes. Claran Hinds also serves his role well as a duplicitous solicitor.

When MI6 has surveillance everywhere, we were reminded of the TV series Person of Interest. The fiction has now been overtaken by the reality.

Rebecca Hall is a colleague of Bana’s—and a former love interest. Together they may uncover a political scandal at a cost to them and their client.

Movies like this one usually are meant to be cautionary tales, but when you are rendered powerless and inconsequential by shadow government agencies, there is not much opportunity for salvation. Closed Circuit reminds us of John LeCarre at his most cynical Cold War espionage tales.

Effective and a bit frightening, this film may be an ultimate downer, a cry that the sky is falling that comes too late.

Unequal Odds Against You?

DATELINE: TV MASHUP

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The Equalizer (Edward Woodward’s famous silhouette)

With the interest in Person of Interest, we were drawn back to the earliest ex-CIA agent gone rogue incarnation. The original series about The Company featured Edward Woodward and Robert Lansing back in 1985.

For four seasons, with primitive technology (but computer savvy nonetheless), The Equalizer helped ordinary people in trouble, same formula as Person of Interest.

Taking in the first season of Woodward’s character, he broke so many rules of the era. He was a silver-haired, middle-aged dissident, going even a few steps beyond Patrick McGoohan’s Prisoner.

Robert Lansing equaled the Equalizer as put-upon Control, right out of a John LeCarre vision of secret agency. Yes, Person of Interest also has a seldom seen, evil Control.

Of course, the repertory of supporting actors in recurring roles was always a delight: Austin Pendleton, Mark Margulies, and Saul Rubinik, were constants back in the 1980s. Come to think of it: they have all appeared in Person of Interest, twenty-five years later.

Both shows were also filmed on location in New York City, providing a colorful backdrop that remains a throwback to the Golden Age of TV, all done in New York studios. Both anti-heroes had a penchant for a quick trigger finger when needed and used New York cops as errand boys.

Only the first season of Equalizer is available on DVD, but the Michael Sloan vision is being resurrected with Denzel Washington as a new movie version of Woodward’s Robert McCall. The update will likely have him texted, not phoned. Of course, the new movie would not have been possible without Jim Caviezel’s new incarnation of the vigilante with a moral compass.

Good ideas never grow old, and The Equalizer grew in its quality, much as has Person of Interest in its three seasons. Of course, we do prefer originals.

All Things Being Equalizer

DATELINE: TV MASHUP

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Jim Caviezel & Michael Emerson as Mr. Reese & Mr. Finch

Ten years after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers comes Person of Interest that is prophetic about Edward Snowden, privacy violations, and vigilante justice.

The hit television series uses formulaic unconstitutional techniques with aplomb in its first 2011 season.

Twenty-five years ago we had Edward Woodward as The Equalizer with his friend Control (Robert Lansing), depicting a rogue, alienated former CIA agent going after everyday garden variety criminals to help those in need.

Now comes Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson as a disaffected former secret agent/mysterious killing machine and his companion, a billionaire recluse who has invented the government’s NSA spying computer network.

They are both outsiders, angry at government, who exemplify Robin Hood stories on a mission to save people from violent crime. Mr. Reese has a sociopathic penchant for killing bad guys, much like Robert McCall of Equalizer fame. Mr. Finch is like Control of the Company with strings to pull.

The idea that spying networks can determine future murders and only needs a dedicated intervention is intriguing. Person of Interest uses technology in a way that the invasion of privacy Snowden revealed has become reality.

Caviezel speaks in a harsh whisper like Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry on steroids, but this merely echoes Kurt Russell’s parody of Eastwood’s voice in Escape from New York.

Mr. Reese never escapes from New York, but like Snake Plisskin, he is the scariest nightmare murderers ever dreamt. Of course, the twist is that the people the computer designates as involved in a potential murder may be the killers or the victims. You never know until privacy is breached and plots uncovered.

Mr. Reese and Mr. Finch are like that much-copied couple, Holmes and Watson in another incarnation of bromance, as well as the template Equalizer and Control. Move over, Javier Bardem, in No Country for Old Men. Mr. Caviezel makes New York City no country for criminals.

The harshly cynical stories provide mesmerizing weekly television fare as we take glee with the vigilante execution of anyone who seems to be beyond the legal system. Mr. Reese is judge, jury, and always executioner when given the information Edward Snowden worried about.

We are not sure if society needs Mr. Reese acting as Angel of Death, but television entertainment certainly enjoys his grim reaping.