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Case Number 20061

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Human Target: The Complete First Season

Fox // 2010 // 528 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // November 8th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Kent Dixon is a human Walmart...he just likes to roll back.

Editor's Note

Our review of Human Target: The Complete First Season (Blu-Ray), published October 14th, 2010, is also available.

The Charge

Christopher Chance (Lee Majors, The Six Million Dollar Man): Christopher Chance is the guy you go to when no one else can help.

Opening Statement

Appearing out of the blue as a mid-season replacement on Fox, Human Target flew somewhat under the radar. While the series is essentially a composite of familiar elements, it worked from the pilot episode.

Facts of the Case

Christopher Chance (Mark Valley, Boston Legal) is a mysterious man with a mysterious past who seems to find his purpose in helping other people out of dangerous and life-threatening situations by acting as somewhat of a personal bodyguard. Working with former San Francisco Police Detective Laverne Winston (Chi McBride, Mercury Rising) and an ex-assassin known simply as Guerrero (Jackie Earle Hayley, Watchmen), Chance is game to take on any client and no challenge is too great.

All 12 episodes of Human Target: The Complete First Season are included, spread across three discs, as follows:

Disc One
•  "Pilot"
•  "Rewind"
•  "Embassy Row"
•  "Sanctuary"

Disc Two
•  "Run"
•  "Lockdown"
•  "Salvage and Reclamation"
•  "Baptiste"
•  "Corner Man"

Disc Three
•  "Tanarak"
•  "Victoria"
•  "Christopher Chance"

The Evidence

You know those concepts that seem really cool, but for whatever reason, no one can seem to get them off the ground? I hate to point a finger to the Hulk, but there's a perfect example: a seemingly ready-made hit that should translate well from the small screen and comic pages to the big screen. Sadly, neither Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk or Louis Leterrier's 2008 The Incredible Hulk could seem to come close to big screen success with Marvel's green goliath. Human Target seemed to be cursed with a similar fate, until now.

Beginning life as an American comic book created by Len Wein, best known as the co-creator of Swamp Thing for DC and Wolverine for Marvel, and Carmine Infantino, who was cited in Comics Buyer's Guide Millennium Poll as the greatest penciller of all time, Human Target/Christopher Chance was part detective and part bodyguard. Chance impersonated his clients to keep them out of harm's way, while also drawing in their enemies to take them out in the process. Cool, right? When you think of great casting choices to play a cool character like that, I'm sure that like me, your mind went to one man: Rick Springfield. Okay, maybe not. While he may have wished that he had Jessie's girl, Springfield was poorly cast as Christopher Chance in a '90s ABC adaptation of the concept that lasted just seven episodes. Critics felt Springfield was unbelievable in the lead role of an ex-commando turned hero.

It was almost 20 years before the cool concept hit the radar of TV execs and Human Target returned to the small screen again. I'm the first to admit that Human Target: The Complete First Season seems fairly rife with clichés: over-the-top action and fight sequences, seemingly seedy guys you might not be able to trust, a camera-friendly lead that makes both ladies and men take notice, a bitter former cop with a grudge, mysterious enemies behind every turn and a formulaic adventure-of-the-week approach that has been all too familiar on TV for many years now. Do you want to know the real kicker? It's fantastic!

When a series is anchored by a core cast of only three actors, the casting folks need to make the right choices out of the gate and Mark Valley, Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Hayley have fantastic chemistry, playing well off each other and each holding their own whether in scenes together, or on their own. As an aside, while many online naysayers said Mark Valley was just too old, there's a certain masked superhero with a shield that I think Valley would have played to a tee, no disrespect to Chris Evans. With a series like this, a balance needs to be struck early between strong writing, interesting characters and exciting action scenes, and from the opening moments of the pilot Human Target: The Complete First Season doesn't disappoint. As we learn in the commentary for the series' pilot episode, the 2010 incarnation of Human Target was seen as part Die Hard, part Lethal Weapon and part Raiders of the Lost Ark. With inspiration like that, it's no wonder the series is so fun and addicting, especially when the series' creators are committed to delivering a mini-action film within a tight weekly shooting schedule.

Despite the occasional feeling of déjà vu, Human Target recombines the concepts into something that feels new, fresh and very exciting. Mid-season replacements never seem to fare that well and often make their way onto the cancellation list, but despite some summer rumors that the series might be cancelled, Fox ultimately renewed Human Target for a second season. While he won't be returning to score the second season, geektastic composer Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica) set the bar high with the series' musical landscape, including nabbing an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music. McCreary is handing the reigns to Chuck composer Tim Jones, so I think we're in good hands.

Human Target: The Complete First Season delivers a solid and immersive audio mix that adds beautifully to the on-screen excitement and the video presentation is warm, natural and crisp. For an abbreviated, 12 episode season release, fans are given a better-than average offering of supplements; including three unaired scenes, an engaging commentary track on the pilot episode and two featurettes. "Human Target: Confidential Informant" tells you more about the series, its history, characters and key elements that you could likely cram into 15 minutes and "Human Target: Full Contact Television" spends another 15 showing how the action, score and concept come together to make Human Target both special and unique.

Closing Statement

I seem to recall being actually ticked that Fox was considering canceling the series, and so early in its infancy to boot. Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed, and the series will be back for what looks to be, at least for the time being, a 13 episode second season. Human Target: The Complete First Season is a must-have set for fans and an easy recommend for anyone who loves action, romance, comedy and good clean fun!

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 92
Audio: 92
Extras: 85
Acting: 90
Story: 85
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Portuguese)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
• Chinese
• French
• Portuguese
• Spanish
Running Time: 528 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Action
• Adventure
• Espionage
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Unaired scene
• Featurettes

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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