Friday, February 12, 2010

Off-Target: "Human Target" Take 2

When I first saw The Human Target in the back of The Brave and the Bold #143 ("The Cat and the Canary Contract" by Len Wein and Dick Giordano), I thought the character was pretty cool and that the concept would make a great TV series. It seems that I'm not the only one struck by that thought, as last month a new Human Target series debuted on Fox.  This is the second attempt to bring Christopher Chance to the small screen.  The first version aired briefly on ABC back in 1992 and starred Rick Springfield. (Yep, the guy who sang "Jesse's Girl," which I still maintain is one of the worst songs ever, despite being perhaps the only hit song ever to include the word "moot". Odd casting, perhaps, but nowhere near as bad as the Hoff playing Nick Fury.) Human Target v2 stars Mark Valley in the title role backed up by Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley.  McBride and Haley are always good no matter what they're in, and the show is probably worth checking out at least once just for them.

Now, don't get me wrong, Human Target is actually a pretty good show. It's an exciting action/adventure series of the type that we don't really see that much of any more.  It kind of feels like a throwback to the PI shows of the 70s and 80s, such as The Rockford Files or Magnum, PI. What it isn't, however, is The Human Target.
The problem is not that the Human Target concept doesn't translate to TV, it's that the producers didn't even try. The basic idea of the character, as created by Len Wein and Dick Giordano and first appearing in Action Comics #419, is that if someone is trying to kill you, you hire Christopher Chance, a master of disguise who will in effect "become" you, disguising himself as you and taking your place until he catches the killer, or, as the cover of B&B #143 proclaims, "If you're marked for murder, he'll replace you on the bullseye". In the new version, however, Chance merely goes undercover as someone close to the intended victim; no longer a "human target," but simply a bodyguard, which makes the series a lot less interesting than it could and should have been.
Well, I guess I can always hope that this show tanks and someone tries again in another eighteen years.

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