Thursday, January 28, 2010

Target This

Successful television shows focusing on pure action are rare to see today. It seems every season there are three more coming on the air, usually as mid-season replacements for shows the network actually wanted, and they're gone before too long. Mostly such cancellation is truly warranted, as there's a good reason the show was never supposed to air in the first place.

Not so with FOX's Human Target. Based on the I assume little-known DC Comics character Christopher Chance (I didn't even know that much until the end of the first episode when the DC logo flashed on the screen), Human Target is a heady ride of thrills and chills that never lets down unless it's to unleash a witty repartee. Leading the way is uber-hunk Mark Valley (Boston Legal, Fringe) as the aptly-named Chance, as he's constantly taking chances to protect the clients who hire his bodyguard services. Right from the opening scene of the series we get the full feel for this character, an American James Bond (Daniel Craig style, thank you) with the right words and a plan for every scenario. The only thing we don't know is why he continually risks everything to save his clients, seemingly with no regard for his own well being. That will probably be something explained in future episodes.

The Bond connections link fast from the opening credits, which seem to borrow heavily from the Bond psychadelic themes that are so well known (complete with femme fatale ink-blot) and giving it a slightly American action hero twist. That's the best I can explain it, but it sure looks good. And add Bear McCreary's always good themes to the mix, and you've got an entertaining soundtrack. Bear's work may not be as unique or innovative as his work on Battlestar Galactica with it's booming crecendoes or Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles' blend of old-meets-new score, but it's good and I never doubt Bear's skills to set the mood and get me excited for some action with a few notes.

I'm sure someone out there thinks Mark Valley is just a pretty boy, but I tell you he is perfectly cast here. Carrying off Chance's charm and bravado may seem like an easy assignment, but the character is so complex and multi-faceted (while, yes, at first appearing simple) that it's a credit to Valley that not only does he pull it off, he truly becomes Christopher Chance. Chi McBride can only play one character type, but he does it well. That's all I'll say about that. What may really get geek fans watching this show, however, is third member of the cast, Jackie Earle Haley. Movie snobs might know him as the Academy-award nominated actor for playing pedophile Ronnie McGorvey in Little Children, but the rest of us know him (and love him) as Rorschach, one of the few reasons that Watchmen was, well, watchable. Once again he's inside a character so completely that if you hadn't seen his name in the opening credits, you'd never know who he was. A true chameleon, there doesn't seem like much wrong Jackie can do.

The show's not without it's problems. With only three principal characters, the show's main method of survival will probably rely on more guest stars than a Law & Order marathon. And no, while sci-fi geeks will love that Battlestar actors Tricia Helfer and Donnelly Rhodes (A better space doctor than McCoy, you heard it here first) appeared in the pilot, getting higher-rated actors to appear would no doubt attain a more mainstream audience and pay the bills. Also, with the possible exception of Chance's mysterious past, there doesn't seem to be anything akin to an overarching plot to attatch episodes to, raising questions as to what keeps us watching, what keeps the story moving forward.

But this was just the pilot, and it's early. Hopefully fans will watch, hopefully FOX won't cancel another promising series before it really hits it's stride. Come on, FOX.

Take a Chance.


♥ Lisa ♥ said...

On the flip side this is FOX, therefore making it hard for us Joss/Minear fans to forgot how easily brilliant shows like "Wonderfalls", "Drive" & "Firefly" were tossed. Of course, since "Human Target" doesn't appear (from the blogs and fandom places I venture) to have that crazy cult love following I'm sure it'll stick around.

Nice review!

Gianni said...

Just a quick note: I just watched episode 2 on Hulu... Alessandro Juiliani, who played the tragic Lt. Felix Gaeta on BSG, guest-starred. Two for two on BSG casting, who's next? Stephanie Jacobson? Leah Cairns? Tahmoh Penikett? Michelle Forbes??

Megmo Eskimo said...

I have always liked Mark Valley...ever since he played Abby Lockheart (the fab actress Maura Tierney)'s ex-husband on ER.

So excited that Fox is showing BSG stars and crew (Tricia Helfer, Donnelly Rhodes, hell even Bear McCreary!) so much love.

elmo said...

Mmmmmm... Leah Cairns...