One of Fox’s many new offerings last season, Human Target didn’t premiere to much fanfare or success, although it did obviously attract enough viewers to warrant Fox renewing the series. With a cast that was comprised of both Fox alumni as well as Mr. Rorschach himself, the series was at the very least a very easy going and enjoyable show to watch, even though it never attempted to push the envelopes of neither drama nor action—it sat comfortably in-between, always engaging the viewer in some kind of crazy idea or quest that our team would get put in. And after watching all twelve episodes I have to say that this is really quite a simple yet effective show that I will no doubt be coming back to for its second season.
Are you in extreme danger? Need special security? Is there a bullet out there with your name on it? Leave it to Chance. Mark Valley is protector-for-hire Christopher Chance in the thrill-packed 12-Episode Season 1 based on the DC Comics series and graphic novel. From piloting a distressed, upside-down jumbo jet to bodyguarding a D.A. targeted by a gang, Chance puts his life on the line – and each new adventure reveals a little about the mysterious past that drew him to this line of work. Chi McBride as ops manager Winston and Jackie Earle Haley as techno genius/fixer Guerrero are Chance’s ace support crew in a series bursting with “brilliantly off-kilter characters and high production values” (Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times).
The only reason I truly watched this show to begin with was because 1) it had talent from 24 involved and 2) Jackie Earle Haley. Those are simplistic reasons, sure, but they were all I had to go on; the draw of the show to me was never Mark Valley. It’s not that I don’t like his portrayal of Chance, it’s just that I found his arc on Fringe more than a wee bit annoying. Since that was all of his work I had to go on, I unfortunately couldn’t compare him to anything else. Thankfully he does quality work here, managing to keep the mysterious nature of his past cloaked inside of a humorous side that he lets fly all too frequently. It’s a kind of James Bondsian style role to be sure and even though the comic book this series is based off of is nearly four decades old, it’s admittedly done loosely so as to not ruffle too many feathers. This isn’t even the first time the comic book has been adapted into a TV series—it was attempted once before in the 90s with Rick Springfield in the lead, although it lasted only a handful of episodes and was never heard from again.
While the series attempts to maintain mystery about Chance’s past, it eventually comes to a head towards the end of the season; I’m of two minds about this, as I really didn’t care about what his past was to be honest, what he was doing now with his life was just flat out entertaining as hell. On the other hand it did provide and spark in some necessary drama, so it kind of worked both ways. The vast majority of the season (which admittedly wasn’t much with only twelve episodes) did just consist of Chance and Co. going about their missions. Most of the in-team rivalry/bickering came from Winston and Guerrero, which did get a bit old at times—but Haley is just fantastic in this role so it really didn’t matter much to me what he was doing on the screen as it was always entertaining. The more mysterious he was being the better because it often just ended up in some kind of ridiculous end result that helped them win the mission. They even threw in a fourth team member at some point in the series (Autumn Reeser as Layla, though no idea if she’ll continue showing up or not) whose interaction with Guerrero was as humorous as it was with Winston.
There’s a lot to enjoy about this series but keep in mind that it’s all really simple minded—there’s nothing incredibly in-depth or head scratching here like what you get from Fox’s other shows. It’s very superficial but at the same time it has that same kind of enjoy ability as an Indiana Jones movie—the plots may not always be the greatest but even when that’s the case they’re still just simple fun to watch. Great action, solid cast and enjoyable stories make this a Recommended series in the same vein as USA’s Burn Notice or White Collar.
WHV has pushed out Human Target’s first season in a standard three-disc amaray single width pack. A glossy/embossed cardboard slipcase houses the DVD case to aid in shelf blending amongst the other TV series box sets. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and despite watching this season originally in high-definition broadcast only, I was still impressed by the level of detail that this transfer brought to the table. Solid colors, nice detail and a hint of grain here and there help maintain the original look of this series as best as it can on a standard definition format. Audio is a DD5.1 mix and is probably the highlight of the set with plenty of surrounds and subwoofer boomage—sadly even if you upgrade to the Blu-ray release you still only get this DD5.1 track. Still, it sounds pretty good so that’s really all that matters in the end on this DVD release I suppose.
Human Target: Confidential Informant Featurette
Human Target: Movie-sized Action on Television Featurette
All total the featurettes run a little over half an hour combined and the deleted scenes squeak in at under ten minutes. The commentary is only on the pilot episode (with executive producers Jonathan E. Steinberg and Peter Johnson and actors Mark Valley and Chi McBride) but there’s plenty of good chatter about it throughout the track itself. I would have definitely loved a few more commentaries, but one is better than nothing (although it’s also just kind of a tease as well).
Overall a Recommended set for fans, but if you’re a real die hard the Blu-ray is probably the more preferable of the two simply for the visual bump. With plenty of fun stories and cool guest stars (couple of Battlestar Galactica alumni as well as a rare appearance by Amy Acker, who sadly doesn’t seem to be in too much these days) this is definitely a show that you’ll get lost in quickly—unfortunately it won’t last too long with twelve episodes, but more are set to air in just a months time.
Human Target – Season 1 is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.