As I've mentioned already, I spent much of the summer working on a large writing project, which is now online. Over at PopMatters, you can read my essay "This is the Next World": The Stealth Futurism of Person of Interest, in which I discuss how an initially inauspicious high-concept procedural transformed, over the course of five seasons, into one of the most explicitly SFnal shows on TV, one that tackled core SF concepts like AI, and explored the ways in which an artificial life might see the world, and how its existence would challenge our ideas of personhood and free will.
I ended up rewatching Person of Interest in preparation for writing this essay, and though some aspects of the show remained unimpressive throughout--the standalone plots start out halting and overwrought and, almost impossibly, get worse as the show draws on--what struck me at the end of that rewatch was how much I had to say. My essay is quite long, and yet it leaves so much out that I could have talked about. I say almost nothing about Carter or Fusco, two of my favorite characters who mostly got left out of the show's SFnal storytelling. I don't really discuss the problems with the show's War on Terror-focused premise, and the way that it implicitly validates simplistic ideas about geopolitics and terrorism; or, for that matter, the show's frustrating tendency to corral black characters into crime-focused storylines. I don't mention the romance between Root and Shaw, which I found alternately problematic and inspiring. Hell, I don't even bring up Bear, the crime-fighting dog, which I would have thought impossible before sitting down to write this piece. My take on Person of Interest in this essay is very much the Finch, Root, and Machine show.
Nevertheless, that show is worth watching for, especially if you, like myself, initially dismissed Person of Interest as science fiction-lite. Creator Jonathan Nolan is currently the producer of HBO's Westworld, and if I have any hope that that show will tie itself together into a genuinely interesting, SFnal story, it is mostly on the strength of Person of Interest. If you enjoyed the show, I hope my essay sheds light on how it built its ideas about AI. If you haven't watched it yet, I hope you'll be inspired to check it out.
UPDATE: If you're interested in picking up the series, but daunted by its reputation as an indifferent procedural, I've got a primer on my tumblr listing the episodes that I think are essential to the development of the show's SFnal storylines, and skipping (hopefully) most of the dross.