Friday, November 26, 2010

"Human Target" Hits The Spot

"Human Target"
Wednesdays at 8 pm EST, Fox
Starring: Mark Valley, Chi McBride, Jackie Earle Haley and Indira Varma

Hooray! One of my favorite new series is back for a second season. This doesn't happen often, folks; my expressing a preference for a show is usually a precursor to its premature cancellation. So I'm relieved and excited that Chance & Co. have returned to kick ass and take names in Fox's primetime lineup.

Based on a DC Comics character, Christopher Chance (Mark Valley of "Keen Eddie" and "Fringe") is a well-trained and highly adaptable assassin who switched sides years ago and now works as a bodyguard to protect those in danger from people like him. With his headquarters in a San Francisco loft, he teams up with former cop Winston (the lovably snarky Chi McBride of "Pushing Daisies") and torturer/hacker Guerrero. As played by the marvelous Jackie Earle Haley ("Watchmen," "Nightmare on Elm Street"), Guerrero is a character that defies description, his deliberate and devious demeanor expertly hidden behind a laid-back "Hey, dude" attitude. I adore Guerrero.

The major change for this season is an infusion of estrogen in the form of Indira Varma and Janet Montgomery. Varma's Ilsa Pucci is an elegant widow who offers to bankroll Chance's operation in return for his saving her life (and fortune). Varma has a habit of dying in British series like "Torchwood" and "Luther," so I'm hoping she has better luck this side of the Pond. Montgomery's character, Ames, is a bit more problematic. A career thief who tries to insinuate herself into Chance's gang after inadvertently endangering Ilsa. Ames makes the mistake of not listening to Guerrero's instructions, and that's not going to win her any points. As impulsive female criminals go, she can't compare to the vastly superior Parker on TNT's "Leverage." I think several viewers would rather have seen Autumn Reeser return as the wide-eyed but wise computer genius, if the writers insist on adding a female to the roster.

The dialogue is snappy and clever, and the action races along like a small-screen blockbuster. "Human Target" continues to establish its geek cred with guest spots from actors like Tahmoh Penikett ("Battlestar Galactica," "Dollhouse") and M.C. Gainey ("Lost"). However, we haven't had a fight scene in a tight space yet, which became a trademark of the show in its first season. Air ducts, elevators, car interiors--Chance has fought baddies in all of them. The stunt coordinators might not know what to do with all that open air and space. Okay, I'm kidding; they know exactly what they're doing and it shows in every single episode.

"Human Target" is a refreshing midweek break from all those reality shows, cliched sitcoms, catfighting housewives and depressing dramas. Couldn't we all use a smile and a 9-millimeter?

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