Monday, January 18, 2010

TV Review: "Human Target"

DC Comics' Christopher Chance rears his head again in Fox's remake of the failed 1992 show of the same name (starring Rick Springfield, of all people). IMDb doesn't list what network the show aired on, but since it lasted a mere 7 episodes, I don't imagine anyone is willing to own up to it.

In this latest incarnation, ruggedly handsome Mark Valley ("Boston Legal;" "Fringe") stars as Chance, a private security specialist who takes on high-risk clients in danger. In the DC Comic, Chance takes on his client's identity in an effort to draw fire away from the real person. In Fox's newest incarnation, Chance simply assumes the role of a trusted confidant (or in the pilot's case, an interpreter), so he can be close enough to his client to protect them from evil-doers who want them dead.

Not being familiar with either the DC comic or the 1992 series, I watched the "Human Target" pilot with no preconceptions as to what it was actually about (other than the promos which Fox has been airing, ad nauseum), so I think I was able to approach it with a relatively unbiased eye. And, for the most part, I was entertained, if nothing else. Of course it doesn't hurt that Chance's partner, Winston, is played by Chi McBride (late of my much beloved "Pushing Daisies") and his "man on the outside" is played by future Freddy Kreuger and former Rorschach, Jackie Earl Haley.

The pilot episode concerned the head designer of a new Bullet Train that links San Francisco to L.A. in three hours (an impressive feat, if you've ever driven the Coast Highway). Someone wants her dead, and it's Chance's job to make sure she stays alive. With plenty of comedy and even more face-pounding action, this version of "Human Target" can best be described as a one-hour Bond flick, complete with femme fatales, bald hitmen (you can always tell when a TV character is evil -- he's bald) and an acerbic hero with what may be a death-wish of his own.

Valley is fine here, though I doubt even James Bond would have come through the beating he receives in the pilot with less blood and bruising. And while I'm happy to see McBride back on TV, he is simply transferring the world-weary Emerson Cod from "Daisies" to Winston, yet another world-weary cynic dealing with people who don't do what he thinks they ought to. As Guerrero, the former bad-guy-gone-good, Haley seems weirdly out of place, though I suspect that's what how producers want the character to appear. Haley's dry delivery of death threats to the thugs dispatched to beat him is both creepy and amusing.

I suppose it will take a few more episodes before I decide whether or not "Human Target" is worth the space on my already crowded DVR, though I must admit to being entertained by the pilot.

**1/2 (Two and a Half out of Four Stars).

Here's a clip from the 1992 version for an unfair comparison:

More, anon.


Anonymous said...

I hope it gets better. Jackie Earl Haley was the best part of the show except for Mark Valley being shirtless.

What really turned me off was the whole train thing. I was insulted by the really bad special effects, if you'd call them that. All the glass doors and windows he kicks out! No way. And then those containers that he moves to block the door - they were empty, they weren't tied down, why was there cargo on a test run.

Stephen said...

I love Jack Earl Hayley's 2nd cool is that?