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Human Target: Episode 1.01 'Pilot' Review

A TV show based on a comic character, does it work?

Fox aired the first episode of Human Target last night, based on the DC Comics character created in 1972.  Human Target features Mark Valley as Christopher Chance, the lead character, Chi McBride as Winston and Jackie Earle Haley as Guerrero (nice name).  Human Target first appeared as a feature in Action Comics #419.  More recently the character surfaced in Vertigo's 2003 mini series written by Peter Milligan.  
In the comics, Christopher Chance works as a bodyguard/private investigator.  He's a highly trained man with no apparent fear and puts himself in dangerous situations to save his clients.  In the pilot episode, we jump right into the action.  Chance is in the middle of a hostage crisis.  He ends up fighting a guy that has a shotgun and a bomb strapped to himself.  Let's just say things result with a big explosion that almost felt like the show was showing off its budget.  Mark Valley carries himself as the big tough guy but I was getting tired of it before the opening credits even hit.  As "cool" as Christopher Chance may be, we don't get any back story on him.  We don't know what motivates him or why he can handle just about any situation.  Perhaps all this will come in a later episode.
I mentioned the shows budget and ability to have a nice big explosion.  This could be with having a small cast.  Chi McBride's character handles the business/office side of their firm.  He's the one that first deals with the clients and he's the one that Chance will ignore if he decides to simply do what he feels like doing.  Jackie Earle Haley plays the questionable information gatherer.  There is even less known about his character.  Haley's character does come across nicely as he handles two thugs by using his talents rather than pretending to have any semblance of toughness.
The main plot of the first episode had moments of entertainment but unfortunately also had many plot holes.  Christopher Chance is hired to serve as the translator to Tricia Helfer's character, the designer of a very expensive super train.  It seemed a little odd that her character knew about a dangerous and deadly flaw in the train's designs yet nothing was done about it before the maiden voyage.  There's a big fight scene on the train that's very well choreographed but felt a little long.  Valley shows that his character can handle any situation and can take a serious beating with ease.  There was a moment that had me wondering, how come whenever someone gets shot while wearing a bullet proof vest, they immediately take it off.  Is the vest no longer of any use?  Is it to show us that they were wearing one?  The blood on Chance also looked pretty fake.  This may be a minor thing but blood shouldn't be so bright.  Despite the huge ordeal the characters go through and survive on the train, it seems that no one required any medical care whatsoever.  Good news for insurance providers.
The show does have some potential.  It's nice seeing a real television show instead of another reality/competition show.  Human Target does seem very ambitious.  Despite it's efforts though, it's pretty formulaic.  We don't know anything about Christopher Chance.  Why are we supposed to care about him?  You don't need to know anything about the comic to watch the show but perhaps that would give an idea what motivates the character (check out his character page to possibly see what makes him tick on the show).  Human Target will be following American Idol in its regular time slot.  This doesn't seem like the best lead-in for this type of show.  Are they taking a chance with this scheduling?  Let's hope the show has the chance to find it's feet and give us the action and adventure that today's television needs.  
I'd have to give the show a 3 out of 5.  The dialogue and plot holes almost were too much for me.  I understand that this was just the pilot.  I'm willing to give the show another shot with the second episode.  It just doesn't look too likely that I'll be willing to commit to this.
31 Comments Refresh
Posted by Giuseppe Riccadonna

I found the show to be really Funny. I'm going to keep watching.
Posted by timrothsays

It's very weird. Crazy mix between Die Hard, 24, Leverage & Scooby-Doo

Posted by Xion

I missed it! :( Ill try to catch it on the website later on but the show seemed very entertaining but i wont judge until i get to watch it :)

Posted by G-Man
@Xion: I think they're showing an encore presentation this week after American Idol, maybe Tuesday night.
Posted by Xion
@G-Man: oh ok cool thanks! I'll make sure i get to watch it.
Posted by Giuseppe Riccadonna

It might be on Hulu. A lot of things are on Hulu.
Posted by skaarason

i watched half , but it is still on my pvr , great show !!!!!!!!

Posted by Asymmetrical

I had it set to record but my sister apparently canceled that recording >_____>
either way, I'm not expecting anything ultra-amazing, I'm going to try and go into it without comparing it to the comic because that always manages to be the downfall of every show and movie these days

Posted by Bruce Vain

I dug it , but there some plot holes like you said or why did he do that. Like with the vest. Why did you take it off ? The vest is still usable.  
I liked the nice little cameo at the end. I thought that was a nice touch. Though I was curious why those other guys were just sitting in their car and not doing anything to get him . lol 
But I will be definitely watching this show. I enjoyed watching it & seeing Jackie in it is a nice addition as well.
Posted by Nyogtha

Girlfriend and I watched it, really dug it. Jackie's character was really entertaining and the Chance character I liked alot. Always saw the comic but never picked it up, may pick it up now after seeing the show. Makes you wonder if this does good, producers may say "See Smallville? See Human Target? Maybe there is a audience for shows just as much as Movies." Even though they had quite a bit back in the day.

Posted by Green ankh

I am a fan of Mark Valley. Loved Keen Eddie and his role on Boston LEgal. I hop ethis one will be on for a while.
Posted by G-Man
Posted by danhimself

I liked it...I've never read any of the comics so I didn't have the chance to compare it to any of them so that helped...I thought the same thing when he took off the vest but on every show and in every movie when someone gets shot and they're wearing a vest they always take it off for some reason

Posted by Bruce Vain
lol thanks I posted it on FB :)  
At least it looked like he was wearing either Level 2-A or just a Level 2(what most cops wear) that could possibly have stopped those bullets. Definitely wasn't a Level 3 vest not thick enough.
Posted by The WeatherMan

I thought it was a pretty decent show, like the acting so far, Haley is the highlight actor of the show for me. Action scenes are pretty good, dumb that he took the vest off, but I think it was meant to show a side of the character, how reckless he is and how he doesn't care what happens to him. Maybe? I'm gonna keep an eye on it, hopefully it only gets better from here.
Posted by AngelFrost

The UK probably won't get this until November or something. ¬_¬

Posted by AirDave817

I liked it - but here's what I came away with - the opening bit was much more interesting and exciting than the actual main story. Jackie Earl Haley's G-Man  is a much more interesting character than Christopher Chance. Valley comes off as a cypher. He tells a completely fake story as the translator, which is very cool and seems much more interesting than he really seems to be...I have a feeling that the majority of his clients will be somewhat smokin' hot women. Who wants to watch him spend 40+ minutes as a bodyguard for a guy like he did in the opening bit... 
The payoff was even kinda a little predictable.  
I'm sure these are just nitpicky points, but this show had been hyped up a bit and when I saw it, I came away thinking, that's it? I hope that something develops over the next few episodes...It could be a really cool show. I want to like this show. But it's going up against Chuck, three CSI's, 24, Numbers and two NCIS'...It's gotta be big. It's gotta surprise.  

Posted by Fuloqwam

I loved it.  I don't watch much TV anymore because TV isn't fun anymore.  This had fun characters, funny quips and great action.  No time is wasted on backstories or motivations or any drama beyond what made us laugh.  These guys aren't trying to win an Emmy, and the probably explained that to everyone when they started because everybody seemed to get it.  So what if he tore the vest off?  It was even fun to turn to my girlfriend and say "why in god's name would you tear your vest off?"

Posted by spartanmusashi

I didn't even know it was based on a comic character until the end when the DC logo flashed. I expected this show to stink but I ended up really liking it.

Posted by Darkchild

I really liked this last night, im really hoping it sticks

Posted by Sparda
@G-Man said:
" There was a moment that had me wondering, how come whenever someone gets shot while wearing a bullet proof vest, they immediately take it off.  Is the vest no longer of any use?  Is it to show us that they were wearing one? "
I could be wrong about this, but I think that when a bullet-proof vest gets hit, the chance of it taking another round successfully is lowered significantly, so if you're still in a gunfight, taking it off so you can move around easier could be the reason. Also, when someone gets shot wearing the vest, it hurts pretty good, and they might have some trouble getting some air in with that vest still on, so they take it off to make it easier to breathe (I believe that this is what a RCMP officer once told me, IIRC).
Of course, like you said, there's also the TV reason-to show that they were wearing the vest in the first place, haha.
I wanted to watch the pilot for this pretty bad, but I missed it. Damn. It sounds like another show in the vein of 24-good, violent, dumb fun that you could pick apart easily. If the pilot is on again, I'll definitely catch it.
Posted by Giuseppe Riccadonna

It's on hulu for the people who missed it.
Posted by G-Man
@Sparda: That's what I was wondering.  So maybe it's a little compromised but you'd think it'd still be better than nothing.  The fact that he got shot should probably make him not want to get shot again.
Posted by Sparda
@G-Man said:
" @Sparda: That's what I was wondering.  So maybe it's a little compromised but you'd think it'd still be better than nothing.  The fact that he got shot should probably make him not want to get shot again. "
Yeah, good point. Guess it came down to the Hollywood aspect of it.
Posted by pentagram
@G-Man said:
" @Xion: I think they're showing an encore presentation this week after American Idol, maybe Tuesday night. "
no, i think a new episode wednesday night after idol, or is that next week.
Posted by NightFang

I think this show will get better over time.

Posted by Static Shock

I just got done watching this. I think it's tight. :)

Posted by G-Man

New episode on tonight!  I hope it's better than the pilot!

Posted by Giuseppe Riccadonna

What time?
Posted by Gank

Recently saw the first 2 episodes. Awesome show - has some of the best action I've seen on TV in a long time.

Posted by The Psyentist

I'm watching this show now. The music is a little lame sometimes, maybe too heroic sounding. The show's kind of predictable, and it's pretty much the same thing every time. And the whole end part where the woman (because it's ALWAYS a woman) asks him something about himself or his past and he goes all enigmatic. Enigmatic is good, but maybe it would be more effective if people weren't always so nosy about Chance so we could be reminded not screamed at about how enigmatic his past is.

But I agree. Fake looking blood really annoys me. Is it that hard to make a good batch of fake blood? Seriously, it's probably the easiest part of the show.

I really like Jackie's character. He makes me happy. :) And I like the character interactions between the three of them.