Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


HUMAN TARGET (2010 Fox television series).

The Human Target, Christopher Chance, was originally a 1970's comic book series that appeared in Action and Detective comics. He never had his own comic book, just a back-up series.

In the comic book original, Chance was a master of disguise who took the place of people whose lives were in danger and ferreted out the bad guys -- or gals. The latter part of this premise was preserved for this TV series, but the former was dropped -- we never really see Chance in any clever disguise. [This is just as well for star Mark Valley, who would have been off-screen most of the time with other actors taking his place when Chance is in disguise.]

In this reboot, Chance was actually a gun for hire -- okay, a hit man -- who fell for one of his female targets and decided to get out of the game at great personal cost. Still, the idea that he was a hired killer is a bit ... disturbing.

Valley is excellent in the role, and he gets good support from Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley as his associates. Valley with his square jaw looks like he stepped right out of a comic book.

In the season finale -- the show will be back in the fall on Friday nights -- we met Chance's father figure [played by Armand Assante], who is not exactly happy with his "son." We also learned that there have been other "Christopher Chances" and that it is only an assumed name.

The last "Christopher Chance" was played -- and played well -- by Lee Majors. Assante was also good and intense, as usual. Majors' character tells the new, younger Chance "I won't be much good to you" but Majors still looks like he can handle himself.

This season's episodes included an assignment and attempted assassination on a bullet train; a search for gold bullion in the jungle; and Chance becoming a boxer to get a real boxer out of debt to a hood; etc. Then there's an old associate named Baptiste (an effective Lennie James) who has turned up more than once and is out to get Chance, but so far has not succeeded. [No surprise there.]

Human Target is no Alias, but it's not bad on its own terms, and it has a lot of potential.

Verdict: Definitely worth a look for action fans. ***.

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