If you’re like me, Jack Bauer’s schtick is getting a little old. The barking orders, the threats, the yelling at Chloe that “There’s no TIME!” Even the fight scenes are…dull. Would it hurt Jack so much to crack a joke or a smile when he’s not torturing someone or shooting a source’s wife’s leg to get him to talk? I mean, I’m not asking for television that asks any deep questions like what really makes up our personalities, our memories? (If I was, I’d already be disappointed since FOX already cancelled that show!) I’m just looking for some entertaining kick-ass that doesn’t make me squirm and can occasionally put a smile on my face.
Enter the latest TV translation of comic book: Len Wein’s Human Target. Or, more accurately, Mark Valley’s pleasantly sardonic mug. Mark Valley’s last go-around on television was playing dead boyfriend/FBI partner to Fringe lead (and real-time wifey) Anna Torv which was, in a word, wasteful. I’ve been a huge fan of Valley’s since 2003’s Keen Eddie, where Valley played an even more comic police officer landed in Jolly Old England. (See more below on that show.) Valley has wandered through a few shows, most noticeably a lengthy turn through Boston Legal where he deadpanned his way through absurd conversations with lawyer slash crazy, Denny Crane (played to Emmy perfection by the Shatner.)
In Human Target, Valley finally returns to his due as the lead, sarcastic wit and deadpan humor intact. As bodyguard/detective Christopher Chance, he blends into the client’s life to identify the threat and flush them out. There is plenty of sleuthing, action, and Valley’s sexy smirk. And all manners of transportation. Planes, trains, and automobiles have all been put through their action-packed paces. Along for the ride and lending much needed banter are the ever likeable grumpas Chi McBride as Chance’s handler/partner and the resurgent Jackie Earle Haley as what happens when nerds like guns and ammo.
To be honest, the show is light on surprises but handles their stories well. There’s no artifice here that their plots aren’t out there (former Battlestar babe Trisha Helfer designing a super speed train…puh-lease!). The action sequences, and they are the cornerstone of the show, are filmed well with Bourne Identity moves without my Mom’s shaky handheld camera film style. Valley’s lead is well balanced with a seeming openness but man with a past attitude. But McBride, much as he did in ABC’s failed Pushing Daisies, keeps the plot moving while providing the kind of fun banter from all the best buddy films, even lending a hand in the action (The episode “Rewind” provides some great hysterics in that department. Are there pretzels on this flight?) Jackie Earle Haley is on quite the roll and there’s a tinge of Watchmen’s Rorschach in his sinister but helpful hacker. That edge makes his appearance always a little unsettling and ultimately enjoyable.
So if you’re ready to tell Jack to lighten up a bit, give Human Target a shot, on Fox Demand and airing Wednesday nights 8/7. And tell ’em Chloe sent you!
Also Check IT: Keen Eddie
As fun as Human Target is, it will likely never surpass the madcap hilarity of J.H. Wyman’s Keen Eddie. Yeah, it’s the classic Ugly American Copper story but its humor is so deftly played that you won’t escape an episode without rolling on the floor from something. Hot secretary fantasy sequences? Check. Uncool but hysterical Brit partner? Check. Absurdly ridiculous plots? Check. And an added bonus for our guy friends, Sienna Miller…with her undies showing. Yup, the show is impossible to describe but totally worth the frustration of too-few episodes.
So pick up the DVDs or Netflix it.