250 reviews of time travel TV, movies, books right here

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Enemy Within 1.4: Microsoft AI

My wife and I have been watching The Enemy Within and enjoying it - always good to see Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter - but I haven't yet a chance to review it.  Tonight's 1.4 had such an impressive ad for Microsoft AI - woven so well into the story - that I figured, hey, why wait.

First, the overall set-up of the series is good - in fact, a wrenching moral dilemma, or series of interlocking dilemmas.  Erica Shepherd (Carpenter) decides that, in order to save her daughter, she has to betray a whole bunch of American agents, who are killled by the mastermind terrorist Tal.  One of the agents killed is FBI special agent Keaton's fiancee, who was with the CIA.  Three years later, Keaton (played by Goliath's Morris Chestnut, who's always excellent) is focused on getting Tal, and to do so, he brings Shepherd, shackled, onto the team.  The rest of the team is split on whether that's a wise thing, and the team also has at least one active Tal mole.  The storylines and action are sharp.

But what stuck me tonight was the way that Kate the technical analyst uses Microsoft AI to help the team foil the kidnapping of a Senator and his daughter at the airport.  As she explains to Keaton after we see her deftly weave her way through three-dimensional images on her and our screen, Microsoft AI allows her to "stitch" together images from the airport to create a clear flow of three-dimensional images that show exactly what lies below and ahead of where the agents are running.   And right after that cool demonstration in narrative action and subsequent explanation in character, we get a real commercial for Microsoft AI and what it can do for human pursuits other than crime fighting - like display of sheer beauty.

Hey, The Enemy Within is on a commercial TV network - NBC - so, if  you have a commercial sponsor, like Microsoft, why not flaunt it by putting it right into the plot?  I'm all in favor, and I'll be back here sooner or later with another review.



Unknown said...

I like the show, too, but I am of the opposite opinion regarding the Microsoft content. I get enough commercials as it is without the show’s producers forcing them down my throat. I guess I prefer my product placement to be less blatant and my commercials to be either mutable or fast-forwardable. I know this has been going on forever with actors drinking Coke and shopping at Bergdorf Goodman. But that’s much more subtle. In the last decade or so I’ve noticed cars, for instance, driven by actors showing the brands more and more and increasing the focus on such details as ignition switches and camera/GPS monitors. Even that is going too far when you consider that I’m already pummeled with at least 10 minutes of commercials out of every 30.

Paul Levinson said...

I'm not especially a fan of product placement, either. But as I said in the review, I really liked the way this was integrated into the episode - at very least, it's a new kind of product placement, which the media theorist in me likes encountering.