Human Target is a new series from Fox based on the DC Comic of the same name that follows a bodyguard who protects high-end clients from assassins by impersonating them or by masquerading as someone close to them. Whilst he protects his clients close by his partners work to investigate and find the killer.
No, it isn’t really a sci-fi show but given the pilot stars Fringe’s Mark Valley as the bodyguard Christopher Chance, Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer as his client, Watchmen’s Jackie Earl Harley (aka Rorschach) as his kind-of partner and given that it takes place on a fictional but futuristic speed train, the pilot qualifies for a write up. It’s also been a long while since an action series has entertained me so that’s another good reason to give it some attention.
First, if you haven’t seen the trailer yet watch it now:
Second, the official synopsis from Fox:
It takes a brave, selfless man to make himself a “human target” in order to save the lives of those in danger. Based on the popular DC Comics graphic novel, “Human Target” is a full-throttle action drama centered on Christopher Chance (Mark Valley, “Fringe”), a unique private contractor/security guard hired to protect.
Call him what you like, because for Chance, it’s about one thing only: saving his clients’ lives. When there is an unusual or imminent threat that can’t be solved through “normal” means of protection, Chance is hired to completely integrate himself into his clients’ lives to become the human target. If you’re a corporate manager whose disgruntled employee has gone violently off the deep end, Chance is your new auditor. If you’re the president of a bank who’s been tipped off to a potential heist, Chance is your unassuming bank teller.
During each job, Chance, assisted by his business partner Winston (Chi McBride, “Pushing Daisies”) and hired gun Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley, “Watchmen”), puts himself directly in the line of fire as he races against time to save his client, while unraveling the truth behind the mission. With every new danger, Chance’s dark history will also unravel. Does anyone know who Christopher Chance really is, or what secrets lay buried in his past? What would make a man willingly become a human target?
The premise of masquerading as someone you’re not is eerily similar to Dollhouse although there’s no mind wiping going on in Human Target – Chance is simply so good he can blend in anywhere and as anyone. Also it should be pointed out that the Human Target graphic novel and comic series existed long before Dollhouse, so there’s no regurgitation of Dollhouse going on. That said, the new series deviates from the comic in enough areas that there really isn’t any reason to compare the two except to say that it is ‘based on’ the central premise of the comic and then move on (perhaps some fans of the comic may not be too pleased to hear that).
Prior to seeing the pilot I had read a couple of poor reviews but now that I’ve seen it for myself I honestly don’t see how you can not enjoy the show. I watched the pilot with a room full of people who all loved it and who all agreed they would definitely tune in to the series. None of them had low expectations as a result of reading reviews like me either.
I’ll admit that the pilot had an unbelievable MacGyver moment (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it) and yes the series has questionable legs given the fairly simple episode by episode ‘blend in and protect’ premise, but the series isn’t pretending to be the next big philosophical outing. It’s of the action/thriller genre and as far as that goes it hits the mark brilliantly. In fact the pilot has one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen on television for a while, one that reminded me of the fight scenes in the Bourne Identity.
The biggest let down I experienced was the knowledge that Battlestar Galactica actress Tricia Helfer is not going to appear as a series regular. Her presence in the pilot makes me say unfortunately because it reminded me of what an excellent actress she is and there is no question that alongside Mark Valley she more or less commands half of the pilot with her presence.
Nonetheless, whether it is in Fringe or Human Target Mark Valley is a highly engaging actor and it seems to me that his role as a semi-comedic bodyguard who just may have a deathwish could be the ideal role for him. Watchmen also turned me into a fan of Jackie Earl Harley and so I can’t help but see his involvement as a big drawcard for the series too. The regular cast also includes excellent actor Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies / I, Robot / Cradle 2 The Grave) as Chance’s partner. Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon / Predator 2) also makes a momentary appearance (a lot less I might add than the trailer portrays). Suffice it to say Human Target is blessed with great actors.
I’m not going to comment on the story in the pilot for that would ruin it for you, even though it’s not terribly complicated by any means – and that’s why the series should do well. If you manage your expectations and tune in for a thriller/action series rather than the next big answer to the meaning of life you’ll probably enjoy it as much as I did.
Human Target will premiere January 17, 2010 at 8pm EST on Fox.
The Human Target pilot will also be screened at the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, July 25 from 4:45-5:45PM and will be previewed on Wednesday, July 22 during the Warner Bros. Preview Night.