09 March 2011

Human Target - Season 1

Human Target - Season 1

Developed for TV by Jonathan E. Steinberg
Starring Mark Valley, Chi McBride, Jackie Earle Hartley
Transmission season: 2010
FOX, 12 episodes, 42 mins.

Plot: Specialist Christopher Chance and associates fight crime, save the day, and get a smooch from the damsel in distress week after week; think MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, but less possible.

Good ol' action action shows. Initially put off by the standalone quality and quick-to-axe FOX channel, it wasn't until recently I checked out the show via library rental. Turns out, HUMAN TARGET is a pretty entertaining show. Indeed, it is nearly entirely standalone. With the exception of the lingering question of who Christopher Chance is - this man who is seemingly reckless and more than willing (and perhaps even having fun?) to put his life in danger - the show remains largely concentrated on the hot women and the action. Not like I'm complaining. There's just enough mythology and foreshadowing episode to episode one won't really mind, especially when watching episodes in rapid succession through the good grace of DVD instead of waiting on a week-by-week basis (ick). The gunfights, hand-to-hand combats, and utterly insane stunts are major amounts of fun to watch, the women are gorgeous, and the show never fails to entertain.

Mark Valley was underutilized in BOSTON LEGAL, the show I primarily associate the actor with, so it's quite refreshing to see multiple aspects of Valley's abilities on display here: not only does the legal side make a appearance in a episode, but we get to see (as expected) Valley easily dispatch bad guys with some awesome hand-to-hand combat fights, swerve through traffic during heavy car chases, jump off exploding trains or helicopters, and overall perform amazing and impossible feat to save a life. No matter the absurdity of the situation or the average unspectacular script, Valley has this amazing ability to deliver each and every line or punch like he's quoting friggin' Shakespeare. In summation: Valley has charisma, and the ability to kick some ass, making his pretty much perfect for this role. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Chi McBride, who falls into the 'generally good' category, but I can't help but feel he is somewhat miscast. In the opposite side of the spectrum there's Jackie Earle Hartley of WATCHMEN (and to some, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) fame who is bloody brilliant as the "Hey, dude" Guerrero, a man who has many connections and can seemingly accomplish anything with a computer. Streets smart, resourceful, humorous, and lethal, Hartley makes this show just as much as Valley does.

HUMAN TARGET has no shortage of guest stars, to the point where it could be argued that without the action and Valley's charisma, the Guest of the Week help make this show what it is. Geeks will find themselves having a picnic pointing out all the science fiction alumnus to grace the shows screens: Tricia Helfer, Alessandro Juliani and Grace Park of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, Moon Bloodgood of TERMINATOR SALVATION, Sean Maher of FIREFLY, Amy Acker of DOLLHOUSE, Lennie James of JERICHO, Emmanuelle Vaugier of SMALLVILLE, Timothy Omundson of XENA, Courtney Ford of DEXTER, and Sam Huntington of SUPERMAN RETURNS just to name a few. Acknowledging the guest stars is just as much fun as watching Christopher Chance perform a daring rescue mission or whatever crazy stunt the story mandated.

If there is any folly with HUMAN TARGET, it's the near constant use of that "8 Hours Earlier"/"14 Hours Earlier" device that is just lame and lazy storytelling. On occasion, a show can survive it by using the device really well, but to use it in, I'll get 10 of its 12 episode first season, that's a bit on the overdose side. It does sometime work in the context of the show, providing the action scene first and then how they got to that point, but to use it all the time...? That said, HUMAN TARGET was a helluva lot fun, and not just cos the gorgeous ladies Chance surrounded himself with. It's truly a mini action movie each episode, and how can that not be cool? HUMAN TARGET flies in your face recommended!


Chris David Richards said...

Yeah, the whole '24 hours earlier' thing really annoys me these days. It's a horrible device. Like they don't really have confidence in their story, have to jump straight to the climax. I remember it was done to death in Alias.

Andy the Time Lord said...

Chris - Have you watched any season 2? Is it still the same type of format?

Never watched ALIAS, and now that's a giant turn off. Sorry, Abrams.