Both those shows are steeped in the technology they investigate. But "Revolution" (which in its first three airings has averaged 9.8 million viewers and scored a full-season order from NBC) is giving Abrams a chance to address his favorite issues while catching his breath in its more primitive setting.
"Today," he says, "information is instantaneous. People know too much too soon and the whole world witnesses every moment. The more this happens, the harder it is to tell stories. It really undermines the possibility of something being curated, of someone with taste and intellect being able to help you determine a point of view.
"What technology allows is a terrifying mess and an amazing miracle of 1s and 0s that let us create and communicate and reach the world," he says, again savoring a sage ambivalence. "But it's not that I ever approach any story thinking: What is the moral? Instead, I think: Who's the character in this story I want to care about?"
Of course, Abrams' depth of involvement in the shows that bear his name varies.
On "Revolution," as with "Person of Interest," he explains, "I'm reading and watching and giving my opinion. But I'm not writing the show. I didn't create it and I'm not running it."
He co-created "Fringe," then brought in people to run it. Two of his past series, the coming-of-age drama "Felicity" and spy thriller "Alias," he created and ran. But he created "Lost," worked on it for a while, then handed it off to others.
He directed the upcoming film "Star Trek Into Darkness." He wrote and directed the recent "Super 8," his semi-autobiographical sci-fi romp about a teenager in 1979 making a home movie with his friends.
And there are always more projects in the offing (Abrams mentions several in passing), which prompts the question: How much is too much?
The question makes him smile. He invokes an age-old expression about overindulgence — one's eyes being bigger than one's stomach — when he replies, "I have big eyes in terms of working with great people and projects. But I'm very lucky to have the chance."
Meanwhile, his family keeps him grounded.
"I'm married to the love of my life" — public relations exec Katie McGrath, his wife of 16 years — "and I have three kids who are the result of that love."
Those are the kids heard scolding "Bad robot!" on the animated credit for his company, whose name came from a children's book he once planned to write.
"The thing that keeps my head from exploding," he says, "is knowing that I have a family that is the real point of everything, and it keeps me from getting sucked into the vortex of projects and madness. I'm the guy who doesn't work on weekends. Without my family, I would be at the office all the time.
"I say 'no' to almost everything," he insists. "But when there's something that makes me go 'Ooooh, I want to see that,' I just know it's something worth finding time to work on."
Then Abrams takes another whack at flesh and machines.
Bad Robot strikes again.
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