I’ve been waiting on this series for nearly a year.
Way back in late 2008, when baby Biff Bam Pop! first started to crawl, I came up with a list of five DC universe comic book characters that I thought had the winning potential to be brought to the big screen. I wrote about three of them (which you can read about here, here and here) but never really got around to writing about the other two.
Ah, but Number four. Number four was a special favorite of mine since I collected his series back in the day. Number four would have been The Human Target and that unwritten article would have proved that I just might have been on to something big.
Now, in a very geek sim sort of way, I get to see if my line of thinking was (and is) right on the money.
Brought to television by big screen movie action directors McG (Terminator Salvation) and Simon West (Con Air, Tomb Raider), both of whom serve as the show’s producers with West doubling as the director of the season opener, The Human Target aims at bringing old school, weekly action television back to the boob tube.
Based on the DC Comics character of the same name, The Human Target is Christopher Chance, a man for hire for anyone whose life is in peril. His modus operandi is to get close to his client using a cover, let his client appear vulnerable in order to flesh out the bad guy, then “take out” the bad guy. A simple formula, really.
But it’s a winning formula in the first two episodes of the series, one of which takes place on an out-of-control bullet train while the other is on an out-of-control jumbo jet. The Human Target is pedal to the metal adrenaline, not seen on television in a long, long time.
The three main characters, Chance (played by likable, chiseled hearth-throb, Mark Valley), Winston, his client hook-up (played by a friendly Chi McBride) and Guerrero, his info man (played mischievously by Watchmen’s Jackie Earl Haley), have an engaging, dynamic relationship reminiscent of the best parts of Magnum P.I. and The A-Team. Their quips to one another will make you feel like you’ve known these characters for far longer than the one week the show has been on the air. In fact, you’ll laugh out loud as they seem like long-missed college buddies, poking fun at one another.
These are guys you can get behind and be a fan of.
The Human Target, as already mentioned, is full of cinematic quality action. Yes, the story, thus far, lacks subtlety and is highly improbable in multiple cases, but that’s not the point of this power hour. Here, fans of such films as Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys are treated to the same grandiose fight scenes – all in the comfort of their living rooms each week. There’s a hand-to-hand combat scene in the first episode that takes place in the confined ducts of a speeding train. Its on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff, a marvel to behold – something that stands up to the best combat scenes witnessed in The Bourne Identity. I can’t remember the last time I saw this type of action on weekly TV.
The opening theme score, written by Bear McCreary, who also penned the music to Battlestar Galactica, is an instant television classic: a bursting orchestral, aurally matching the intensity of the on-screen visuals. The watercolor and ink blot visuals in the opening credits seem taken from a graphic novel, a nod to the shows source material. Akin to Sin City, then James Bond, the play between image and the uplifting theme song will have you wondering if indeed The Human Target was truly meant for the big screen. And who knows. Maybe it’ll get there one day. Danny Glover makes a cameo in a final scene and I bet we see more of these types of Hollywood stars making walk-ons in episodes to come.
I actually watched the first two episodes of the show with my Mom. Yes, it was quite the bonding affair as she told me how much of a hunk Mark Valley was. “Oh, I like him!” she’d often repeat as an on-screen fist or a verbal quip was thrown from the muscular (yes, and handsome) actor. It would seem that the show bridges multiple demographics in its appeal. You can count Mom as fan now.
Perhaps the writers and producers have some kind of over-arching story to The Human Target, alluding to various sub-plots for the three main characters, but right now it’s in “movie of the week” mode and if you’re feeling like some Wednesday night action to help get you through the work week, there’s no better tonic.
DC Comics, hot to piggyback on any attention, has just compiled a previously published acclaimed mini-series and next month sees the return of Christopher Chance to comic book display racks by the characters original creator, writer Len Wein, in a new 6-issue mini series.
Although slightly different than his comic book namesake, this Human Target is better suited to his specific medium. Interestingly, this isn’t the first incarnation of The Human Target on television. 1980’s heartthrob rocker, Rick Springfield, played him in a short lived 1992 series that lasted only about a half dozen episodes.
Hopefully, the Mark Valley-starring version lasts longer. For a television audience, the stories will have to get stronger if the show is to become a bonafide hit, but with the heady entertainment of Lost winding down and the clock ticking on 24, The Human Target hits an action niche, not scratched in a long, long time.