A lot of primetime TV shows get mileage out of “ripped from the headlines” plots, but in the case of Thursday’s episode of Person of Interest one particular storyline was ripped from a very Wired.com-sounding report.
In the episode mysterious millionaire Finch (played by Lost’s Michael Emerson) and ex-CIA agent John Reese (James Caviezel) must locate a particularly tech-savvy “person of interest.” To track her down they try to trace her through an ATM skimmer she left behind (see clip above). Card skimmers — devices that attach to ATM machines and record the magstripe data from bank cards — have, of course, been covered quite a bit by our colleagues at Threat Level.
“I read it on Gizmodo,” showrunner Greg Plageman deadpanned in a phone interview with Wired.com. “I’m kidding, I think I saw something on your site too.”
His cohort, show creator Jonah Nolan (The Dark Knight co-writer and brother of Christopher Nolan), copped more quickly to pulling ideas for the storyline from Wired.com reporting. One of the show’s recurring themes is the electronic footprint left by everyone through the use of cell phones and the internet, so adding the illegitimate trail left by someone’s use of an ATM skimmer was an easy fit for the show, Nolan told Wired.com.
Nolan is clearly fascinated with how real-world technology is infiltrating our lives, which is probably why he’s such a good match for the show’s executive producer J.J. Abrams, but he does admit to some other influences on the episode’s plot.
“It’s a little bit of an update on the Terminator 2 thing with John Connor hacking into an ATM machine with an [Atari] computer,” Nolan said. “We’re actually using a number of these things to finance production on the show, which is how we know about them.”
To find out if the ATM-skimmer trail leads Finch and Reese to their person of interest, tune in to the show Thursday night. To read more of Wired.com’s reporting on the technology go here.
Person of Interest airs Thursdays at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central on CBS.