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And Like Bond, Christopher Chance Will Return

May 13, 2010

Now, I’ve given FOX a lot of shit in the past. With the exception of Fringe, they’re arguably the worst network for genre programming. It’s not because they put out genre shows that are bad (okay, some of them have kinda sucked), it’s that they never give the good ones a fighting chance. If they put your show on Friday night, you might as well start shopping around your next best idea to other networks! What I do love about FOX is that they’ve managed to build a stable of scripted series that are very unique from one another. There’s not much in terms of overlap when it comes to what each series has to offer. And it’s why a show like Human Target fits so well into their programming schedule, and I’m thrilled to see it getting a second season.

Getting the obvious out of the way, the show is FOX’s answer to Burn Notice. The hook of the series is similar enough, and the character dynamics closely mirror one another. Admittedly, it was a smart decision on FOX’s part to use the not-very-well-known DC comic character as a foundation, even if they don’t go all the way with the original concept in the television series (in the comics, Christopher Chance literally becomes whoever he’s hired to protect). They can deflect any criticism for that fact, with a basis that existed decades before Burn Notice.

The show also benefits from harkening back to the days when action dramas weren’t concerned with laying down a major season-long story arc, never punishing viewers if they missed an episode. It’s exactly the counter they need for other shows like Fringe, Lost, or Heroes. It doesn’t obligate their viewers. There was an underlying subplot to Human Target’s first season, but it was hardly something you absolutely needed to follow to enjoy any given episode. Arguably, one of the coolest ideas the show has employed is something movie fans have talked about regarding the James Bond films; as the season finale revealed, Christopher Chance isn’t a name, so much as it is a title. It’s a mantle that men have inherited over decades, and Mark Valley’s Chance is just the latest in that line.

But the thing that makes the show work the most is its cast. Back in the Keen Eddie days, Valley would have been the perfect Captain America. Even now, he proves that he could have probably still pulled it off. He’s an amazingly physical actor, and the show has featured some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen on a network series. Being immensely charming and witty as Chance definitely helps as well. You’ve also got Chi McBride, who’s always on point. But dammit if Jackie Early Haley doesn’t kill it (sometimes literally!) as the team’s info guru/enforcer Guerro. From his insistence on calling everyone, even women, “dude”, to being an increasingly frightening badass over the course of this first season, Human Target definitely wouldn’t have been nearly as fun without him. The “boys club” dynamic between these characters is something that television could always use more of. Besides, FOX needs an uber-badass to replace Jack Bauer.

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