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5 shows that may have inspired 'Person of Interest'

Person of Interest returns to CBS this Tuesday, September 23, after a season that shook things up by killing off a fan-favorite character and ending on a note of uncertainty for Reese (Jim Caviezel), Finch (Michael Emerson), and the rest of the gang. I’ve always considered Person of Interest to be one of the more underrated shows on network television, and a real throwback to the action-dramas I grew up watching in the ‘8os (I love the ’80s!!!), albeit with a modern, 21st-century spin. Hatched from the mind of Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) and produced by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, it seems no wonder to me that this show is brought to us by two pop-culture savants.

Before we delve into season 4 of this great show, let’s look at five programs from the past that maybe, possibly inspired Person of Interest—and help explain why I love it so much.

5. Hardcastle and McCormick (ABC, aired from 1983–1986) This one shares similarities with POI in the simplest way: Retired judge Milton Hardcastle (Brian Keith) decides he can’t let a trove of cases where criminals were exonerated due to minor technicalities remain idle, so he recruits car thief Mark McCormick (Daniel Hugh Kelly), the subject of his final case, to help him go after said offenders and close these cases for good. Like POI‘s principals, the title characters each have ulterior motives that force them into an ill-fitting partnership (McCormick, for instance, is out to avenge the death of his friend). What starts out as a forced arrangement turns into something more (dry banter included). No supercomputer or dog, but they do have a sports car dubbed “the Coyote” to help them with the chase. Co-created by the prolific Stephen J. Cannell (responsible for some of the best shows of the era—and at least one more on this list), Hardcastle and McCormick sets up the POI template well.

4. Thefe2d12b4039c20875a74943627d90fee_37071477ca9e4e92afc3f64530a95162 A-Team (NBC, aired from 1983–1987) Before you call this one a stretch, think about it: Both shows include a motley crew of professionals who team up and use their expertise in their respective fields to help people in need. While doing so, they are chased by nefarious types, as well as the government. Also, POI‘s Reese and Finch occasionally rely on the help of the NYPD, particularly (the dearly departed) Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and, later, Detective Fusco (Kevin Chapman). Likewise, the A-Team—consisting of leader Hannibal (George Peppard), suave Face (Dirk Benedict), muscle B.A. Baracus (Mr. T), and nutjob Murdoch (Dwight Schultz)—found themselves working for the very government they were on the run from, teaming for missions instigated by General Stockwell (Robert Vaughn) in later seasons. (Of course, that’s when the ratings went into a free fall.) And yes, this show also came courtesy of Mr. Cannell.

knight-rider-kitt_380x3803. Knight Rider (NBC, aired 1982–1986) Knight Rider is basically Hardcastle and McCormick with a sci-fi spin, which makes it one step closer in spirit to POI. As in POI, a mysterious billionaire “rescues” a man of action (in this case it’s literal, as David Hasselhoff’s undercover cop Michael Long is reborn as Michael Knight) and recruits him for a special project that would help fight crime alongside Knight Industries surrogate Devon Miles (Edward Mulhare). Knight Rider even has its own version of the Machine—the famous Pontiac Trans Am nicknamed KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), voiced by the one and only William Daniels (who would later regain fame as Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World). Come to think of it, cross Miles with KITT and you have POI‘s Harold Finch.

2. The Equalizer (CBS, aired 1985–1989) Before John Reese, there was Robert McCall. Played by British actor Edward Woodward, McCall was the ultimate covert-ops soldier with a deep, dark past. In fact, McCall is so guilt-ridden by his former life that he spends his new one making up for it by helping anyone who requires the special set of skills he offers—free of charge. McCall is more of a loner and doesn’t have a partner, instead relying on newspaper ads to garner clients. If POI ended its run right now and Reese’s character were spun into a separate show, it would probably look a lot like The Equalizer—McCall and Reese are definitely cut from the same cloth. Incidentally, both shows are also set in New York. The film adaptation, with Oscar winner Denzel Washington stepping into Woodward’s shoes as McCall, opens this Friday.

1. Highway to Heaven (NBC, 1984–1989) Originally, I anticipated that The Equalizer would take the top slot as the one show that shared the most DNA with POI. But The Equalizer only really seemed to tell Reese’s story. It later dawned on me that the one series that POI reflects best is the left-field choice of Highway to Heaven. One of the best things about POI is the way the creators have imbued the narrative with an emotional thread. The show is really about redemption—a bunch of lost souls trying to cleanse themselves of the sins of their pasts—which makes Highway to Heaven the perfect comparison. The earlier show focused on a troubled angel named Jonathan Smith (Michael Landon), who arrives on Earth and pairs up with a human (Victor French) to do good in the world with hopes of returning to heaven and gain his wings. Each episode sets them on a new mission, courtesy of the Boss (a.k.a. God), in which they are to help someone in need. Sound familiar? In POI, instead of a Boss, we have a supercomputer called the Machine that spits out a random name each week (the twist added in the current show is that we never know if the name is perpetrator or victim). But Reese and Finch are essentially doing the same thing: helping individuals in need in order to help themselves. Besides, what are Reese and Finch if not guardian angels?

Season 4 of Person of Interest premieres Tuesday, September 23, at 10/9C on CBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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