Warner Bros. // 2010 // 523 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 14th, 2010
Who is Christopher Chance?
He's a bodyguard, a mercenary, a security specialist, an airline pilot, a pretend monk, a stunt motorcycle driver, a consultant to a Latin American rebel group and, most importantly, a guy with a lantern jaw and an affinity for kicking.
Chance (Mark Valley, Boston Legal) is the Human Target, a man who provides a unique service to clients who are unable to turn to the authorities: he'll put himself in the middle of any situation and if that means getting shot at or poisoned or tossed into the cockpit of an upside down jetliner, then so be it. Aiding him on his missions are his operator, Winston (Chi McBride, Pushing Daisies) and clean-up guy, Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley, Watchmen).
Two Blu-ray discs, twelve episodes, big-ass action.
Straight dope: Human Target: The Complete First Season is a lot of fun. At first glance it looks like a generic TV action-o-rama, and while there aren't many surprises to be found here, the show is a fast-paced and entertaining throwback to the golden age of 1980s Action Television.
You've got the gun-for-hire set-up of The A-Team, the playful ingenuity of MacGyver, the Alpha male lone wolf pelvic thrust of Knight Rider and the occasional Communist flunkie that needs a solid shot to the kidney from Airwolf. Human Target strikes a nice balance between a light-hearted romp that doesn't take itself too seriously (it is, after all, based on a DC comic book) and something with enough stakes and sympathetic characters to bolster the inevitable mayhem.
Which is, to be honest, the whole point of this show: the mayhem. Each episode you can bank on seeing a handful of fight scenes and at least one legitimately Hollywood-worthy set-piece. Maybe it's a zip-line run down a cable car's wires, or a motorcycle chase featuring our heroes handcuffed together on the same bike, or a close-quarters throwdown on an out-of-control super-train; whatever is coming your way it will be big and cool and -- I can't believe I'm saying this -- not completely fake-looking. Sure the evidence of a TV budget sprouts up here and there, but it's obvious these bean-counters squeezed every drop of ink out of the Action Scene lineitem when it counted. (I actually liked the hand-to-hand bouts more than the huge stuff; they were lengthy, well-choreographed and almost always paid off with a sweet finishing move.)
Anchoring all of it is Mark Valley, a personable, charismatic action lead. His Christopher Chance is the equalizer when need be, but never so self-serious he turns into a cumbersome douchebag. Valley sells this with ease and, best of all, he appears to sport the physical chops to mix it up in the melees. Flanking him are two less interesting characters: Winston bellows a lot and no matter how many ridiculous missions he's been in on still manages to be shocked -- shocked -- when things go awry and Guerrero started out as this potentially psycho, unstable asset but eventually morphed into a wise-ass with little man syndrome who says "Dude" way too many times.
Warner Bros. continues its sterling run of high-end Blu-ray TV releases. Human Target looks terrific in HD, boasting a crisp, beautiful 1.78:1, 1080p transfer. This isn't a gritty show, so the visual fidelity is bright and popping. Explosions rip off the screen in pyrotechnic glory and Valley's blue eyes pierce on the close-ups. The audio mix (apparently enhanced from the broadcast) is active, but, as is the case with WB releases, merely Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras: pilot commentary with Valley, McBride and the executive producers, deleted scenes and two nice, 15-minute featurettes on the action of the show and the character of Chance.
It won't win an Emmy, but Human Target occupies a welcome niche in broadcast TV: fun action done right.
Not Guilty. Check this one out.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 523 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site