. . .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!