Save a Human Target

Mark Valley from Fox’s show
Overcompensating for small gun with some big guns
. . .and not just for Mark Valley’s forearms.

Human Target has been on FOX for two seasons now. I barely got to watch the first season due to a fussy baby. This past season the baby was old enough to have a set bedtime and more or less comply with it. The show was hard to watch this past season, and it wasn’t due to writing, direction, or acting. This show was shuttled around FOX’s schedule so often my husband and I had to keep track via TVGuide.com so we’d know when it would be on. That’s no way to treat a show this good. And this show isn’t just good, it’s great.

Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) is our Hero with a Past, and he's trying to atone for it by hiring himself out to protect people who others are trying to kill. His original business partner, Laverne Winston (Chi McBride), is a retired San Francisco detective who more often than not injects unwelcome analysis about Chance's personal life. Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley), the last of the original cast’s trio, has a background as an assassin and worked for the same man who employed Chance. In Season Two, they were joined by Ames (Janet Montgomery), a woman who, despite her young age, has quite a resume as a professional thief and some history with Detective Winston. Ilsa Pucci (Indira Varma) is the extremely wealthy woman who, after hiring Chance to protect her from the people who killed her husband, was so impressed by the organization's work that she started funding their operations as a benefactor and business partner.

There’s a good chance it’ll be canceled come May. The ratings haven’t held up due to the schedule jockeying. Also, really, FOX—after the Firefly fiasco—haven’t you learned? It saddens me that networks aren’t as willing to give a fledgling show a chance these days. The prevailing opinion among people I’ve known is that if The X-Files were piloted now, even it would get canned during the second season.

I’m a TV Child of the 70s and 80s. In some ways this show reminds me of the days when Remington Steele and Moonlighting were actually good. The A-Team seems to be an influence here, too. As a child, I was allowed to watch light detective/crime/action shows with my parents, and they had no worries that I’d see something really untoward. Sure, I now have a fear of small, psychotic dolls due to a viewing of Trilogy of Terror, but that was an anomaly in our household.

Most nights when my husband and I watch TV these days, we’re looking for a show that requires as little work as possible. Explosions and fisticuffs are bonuses. Sometimes, that means the offerings on TruTV, but Human Target fills that niche for us. It has an actual plot written by, well, actual writers. Every year that goes by, less of those seem to be offered.

The show is somewhat loosely based on the DC comic book created by Len Weinand Carmine Infantino. I’ve never read the comic, but based on what I’ve read online, if I do get disposable comic income again, I’ll be collecting them. It’s a silly and delightful show that can often be somewhat far-fetched. If you watch and let the characters work their magic, though, you’re willing to go along with all of it.

The characters are great. The most impressive thing to me was that, the last time I’d seen Chi McBride regularly, he was playing a spectacular jerk on House, and I hated him. Within a few episodes of this series, I was kind of in love with him. I love actors who can do that to me. Mark Valley was on the first season of Fringe, and I could have happily done without him. This show lets him shine.

Valley’s Christopher Chance is hot, and that doesn’t hurt. But he’s accessibly hot, and that makes him a character that men want to have beers with and women want to date. I read recently that Season Two was developed with a bent toward attracting more female viewers, so romance was added. I’m not usually a fan of modern romance. Most of it makes me gag. I originally liked this show so much because stuff exploded, the day was saved, and the guys toasted each other at the end of a successful job.

Let’s get back to the 70s and 80s for a moment, shall we? Remember actual romantic tension that didn’t seem contrived? Remember when folks wondered if David and Maddie on Moonlighting (or any pair on a whole host of other shows) would get together and wondered how that might work out? Crackling chemistry and dialogue, meaningful looks that the other character never noticed… it was all there. Human Target has that kind of romance now, and I’d forgotten that I actually like it. Indira Varma’s Ilsa Pucci is the kind of woman rarely seen on television anymore. She’s got class, wit, and the type of beauty that could make women resent her.

My heart actually stirred during this season’s finale. I felt like The Grinch in Whoville.

The supporting actors in this show help form an ensemble that’s quite different from most prime-time offerings. The dialogue is sharp and funny, and delivery is great. The action can be so over-the-top that it’s like watching a live-action cartoon at times and is a whole mess of fun. I sense that if the writers get the chance, they can take this show and run even farther with it without changing its essential vibe. It could get even better than it has been. Most shows don’t even seem to hit their stride until Season Three.

This show deserves another shot. Come on, folks! Let it grow and find an audience with those weary of reality and contest shows. In my online moseying, I found a lot of people out there who watch and enjoy it. Let’s save Human Target. If you’re already watching: help raise a ruckus. If you haven’t seen it yet, may I suggest checking out at least one episode?

And then help raise a ruckus!


Julie Summerell, @jasummerell

Comments

  1. Laura K. Curtis

    I’ve never seen this show, but now I want to! Thanks a lot, Julie, for adding one more thing to my list of distractions from writing! *grin*

  2. Ron Phillips

    Julie, because of the jockeying, I’ve no idea what day or time the show is on. They don’t seem to be promoting it much either, or I’m watching FOX less. Hmmm?

    I do like the original cast. If you get a chance grab a copy of PUSHING DAISIES. Chi played a wonderful character in that series. Again, a series that deserved a longer life.

    Nice inaugural post here @crimeHQ.

  3. Chad Eagleton

    I always try to watch this, but I could never seem to find it actually on the air. I thought it seemed like it had promise and I’ve heard lots of good things from lots of people. It’s a shame really.

  4. Laura K. Curtis

    It should be moved to USA, where shows get shown over and over again so people can catch them any time of day!

  5. Katrina Niidas Holm

    Fox has a perfect track record when it comes to canceling great shows. Firefly, Dollhouse — buncha idiots over there. I’ll have to see if I can track down this show on Netflix.

    Ooo! And I second the Pushing Daisies recommendation.

  6. ev

    Thankfully the DVR was set to pick it up whenever it aired so I never missed a show. I adore it! It’s fun, funny, fast paced and has a great cast of characters. My only complaint on season 2 was where did his dog go???

    I hope they keep it. I’m tired of investing time in shows that are good but get canceled quickly. Why bother? It’s easier to wait until they hit Netflix.

  7. Cindy Kerschner

    I love this show! I have the same issues that everyone else has about the
    inconsistency of its schedule.

  8. Julie

    Thanks, folks. I had so much fun watching this past season that I was NOT surprised to hear it might not be back. This seems to happen almost every time I get into a show early in its run.

  9. Beth

    I second everything you said here, especially the part about Fox’s appalling track record for mistreating their own shows!

    Human Target deserves a third season, and preferabley a full length one, not just 12 episodes! It is by far the best and most original drama on TV and I am fully prepared to riot if it doesn’t get renewed!

  10. quietfireca

    I agree with you that this show is great! Enough so that I had to make a couple of fanvids and to start a blog about it. It has everything (including Mark Valley’s forearms!).
    They truly did mess around with the scheduling – it’s like FOX was deliberately trying to sabotage it.
    Human Target can certainly be watched for the mindless explosions and action, but it has also been carefully nurtured to have continuity from episode to episode and is multi-layered – it’s a lot of fun to dissect. I began watching it because the boys here watched it but I didn’t truly become hooked until Ilsa arrived.
    The writing is very clever and the actors breathe wonderful life into their characters. And it’s all bundled into a perfect package by Matt Miller, the showrunner. I trust him to give us another great season. Fingers crossed!

  11. KT

    I totally agree with this article and the posts. There are only a few shows that I make time to see, and this was at the top of the list. My husband and I planned the night around it. (dvr) I wish there was something we could do to get FOX to listen or move it to a new network.

  12. Persia Walker

    Wow! I’ve been watching the show on Hulu, so I had no idea about the troubles with the scheduling. It has a pretty strong and steady following on Hulu, too, so I was surprised to hear rumblings about it possibly being canceled. So what does one do to save a favorite show? How, exactly, does one “raise a ruckus?”

  13. Clare 2e

    Sadly, this one’s gone from Fox, so now, unless a cable company picks it up–and they tend to develop their own–it’s toast. Another possibility is that the “team behind” HT could go somewhere else for another kinda-like project if a company thought there was enough built-in viewership, but that’s a long shot, too. Still, hope springs eternal!

  14. Terrie Farley Moran

    I really enjoyed Human Target. I do hope it finds a new home.

  15. Jen G.

    One of the most entertaining shows out there. I’m hoping & praying another network picks it up. I’m still writing, e-mailing & signing all the petitions I can find to bring back Human Target. I liked season one & loved season two with the addition of the women to the cast. Human Target gets canceled & Chuck is renewed??? I don’t get it.

  16. bungluna

    I’ve stopped watching any new show on Fox. They use their shows as fillers between their sports and reality (!) shows and move them around so much it’s almost a full-time job to keep track of them. THEN they cancel them! I still watch “Bones” but I’m not wastung any more time on Fox TV.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *