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Series premiere: Human Target Friday on CTV, Sunday on Fox

In television on 01/15/2010 at 10:15 am

Series name
Human Target

Debuts
Friday, Jan. 15, 2010 on CTV at 10 p.m. ET, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010 on Fox at 8 p.m. ET

Regularly airs
Mondays on CTV at 8 p.m. ET starting Jan. 18; and Wednesdays on Fox at 9 p.m. ET starting Jan. 20 (then Fox is moving it again Jan. 27 to Wednesday at 8 p.m.)

Premise
Based on the comic book (and then the graphic novel) of the same name, which debuted in 1973, Christopher Chance and his handler, Winston, and sometimes their ex-criminal associate Guerrero, hire themselves out to people facing serious threat to, well, Chance says it best: “I work with a cover, blend in the background, let you appear vulnerable so the threat reveals itself, then … eliminate the threat.”

Primary cast and crew

Mark Valley (Fringe) is Christopher Chance, the “talent” in this security/bodyguard operation.
Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies) is Winston, who runs the business.
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) is Guerrero, a former criminal who still dabbles, but now he does it for a (mostly) good cause.
Jon Steinberg (Jericho) is the writer/producer.

Buzz buzz
This is the second TV adaptation, the first (1992) starring musician/actor Rick Springfield (?). This adaptation differs in that it does not stick to the comic book’s MO of having Chance assume the identity, sometimes through disguise, of the human target du jour. The Springfield series stayed true to the comic book, which limited Springfield himself to playing the opening setup and the finale, with the week’s guest star left with playing the supposedly impersonated target the rest of the time.

Here’s video from the 1992 version with Springfield.

But what do I know anyway? After having seen the pilot I predict…
I like Mark Valley in this role: world-weary, dark-humoured and relentless like the obsessive Christopher Chance is. Fun, with hints of drama. His character’s deep well of skills and languages is played for jokes and surprise but not overplayed. However, the premiere episode, like many, wears its insecurities on the outside. The penultimate scene in which Winston (McBride) wonders out loud why Chance does what he does, whether it’s a long drawn out death wish…? Completely unnecessary. Valley and writer Jon Steinberg had already dropped a couple of nicely played hints that there is baggage. Spelling it out so awkwardly? It was one of only a few slips so hopefully it’s not worth worrying about. Speaking of Winston, McBride is playing a character here very much like his Emerson on Pushing Daisies. I’m hoping he gets a little more range than the grump that he is here, though I like that well enough. Jackie Earle Haley does a very, very nice job here, playing the former criminal with all manner of skills, including the ability, despite his small frame, to terrify bad guys. Overall, the action was fast and slick enough, the humour plentiful and well-placed. I like it. One thing thought that I hate? The score by BSG’s Bear McCreary. I hope the melodramatic music on the preview disc was not the final version, but if it was, I’d like to put in an order for something with a little more edge. Now then, let’s here from the comic-book devotees about how this has damaged the franchise. I’m just guessing…

Other reviews
Tim Goodman over at the San Francisco Chronicle likes it quite a lot.

Alan Sepinwall of the New Jersey Star Ledger likes it also.

Official website
Lots and lots of videos from the show (including the first four minutes) and behind the scenes tours and cast interviews; a very good about page, though lacking a link to the comic book/graphic novel.

Twitter
98 followers. Very new account. Straight promo, with nohuman touch, but with good links to view the first four minutes of the show and talk-show appearances by series star Mark Valley, plus a twibbon (graphic that fans can drape over their own avatars.

Facebook
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Can’t wait for the next new-series preview?
Life Unexpected steps up Monday, Jan. 18 on CW, which, to us Canadians  means extra cable charges for stations KTLA, WGN or WPIX.

Wondering when the other new series and returning series are kicking off?
Click here for my select list of fall 2010 premieres and other important dates. Who am I to tell you what to do, but you could consider bookmarking it…

— Denise Duguay

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