Person of Interest has a hard edge but a heart of mush. Recently it has shown people going round in bomb vests, one of which went off; people shot in the forehead, a lorry smashing into a car which rolled in front of it, and a man beaten up in the exercise yard of Riker’s Island. Yet the heart of it is the friendship of two men who sort others’ lives out for them. Stories are wrapped up in the TV hour.
My spoilers are a year behind the US air-dates. There is some attempt to create threat continuing through the episodes: Agent Donnelly of the FBI was going to find the heroes, but died and his colleagues couldn’t be bothered to continue. Really. So threat appears- the Russian Gangs are invincible- then vanishes, with a few fist fights or a shooting.
Even more reassuring is Castle: one of the assistant policemen has referred to the male and female leads as “Mommy and Daddy”. Mummy and Daddy sort things out before bed. The supposedly hard bad-guys crumble before them, and are sent down.
Meanwhile Southland, which has just finished in the UK, had its lead shot three times in the chest.
Luther, with Idris Elba back in London, had a serial killer who drained his victims of blood which he used to write words on the walls of their houses. That was the point where I stopped finding these plots horrible, and started laughing- Ooh, that’s imaginative, what will they do next? Why on Earth would he do that?
I am desensitised to these things on TV, but would not be so desensitised in real life, even only on the news. Is that the point? Or are these dramas something like Special Agent Oso, who faced challenges his audience might face, and found ways to overcome them, educating that audience. After the task of the day, Oso returns to his secret base, where he is taught new skills, a safe haven where everyone knows their place. Rather like Castle’s apartment, or Finch’s library.
I much prefer the drama which invites me to empathise with the characters rather than that which has me observing them like creatures which swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Castle and The Mentalist show the murderers as monsters, rather than ordinary people pushed too far. They are safely outside Our Group, safely Other.