Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pilot Review: Human Target

Human Target (FOX)
Premiered January 17 at 8pm

This new show is the perfect series to launch with “24.” It’s an action thriller that’s hardly as serious or ultimately threatening, and ones that relies entirely on the charisma of its leading star. Mark Valley is exactly the right person for this role, and he really makes the show. His calm under fire and ability to downplay any situation is remarkable, and it’s truly entertaining. The idea of wealthy and important clients each week makes things even more fun because he can use as much extravagance as possible in every case. This first week brings the fantastic Tricia Helfer of “Battlestar Galactica,” whose elegance and confidence was surpassed by the hilarity of her outburst – “You wore a vest? Where’s my vest?” Even better was Chance’s nonchalant response, “I’m your vest.” This show is very similar to “Burn Notice” in a lot of ways, but it’s also its own show. Chance is hardly as serious as Michael Westen, and he obviously has more fun in all of his operations. The supporting cast is strong, even though it’s extraordinarily small. Chi McBride isn’t quite as animated or entertaining as he was on “Pushing Daisies,” but he’s still capable of getting enormously agitated, especially with someone like Chance to piss him off and rile him up. Jackie Earle Haley, continuing the comeback he started with “Little Children” and recently followed up with “Watchmen,” is great as Guerrero, and hopefully he’ll have a much bigger role to play in the future. The high-octane first episode was packed full of action and excitement, and that’s terrific. The end, which fast-forwards to a new case, is very fitting and indicative of what’s to come, with Chance trying something else even more dastardly and dangerous than what he had already done. It reminded me of the ending to the pilot of “The Pretender,” where Jarod revealed that he was the one flying the plane, taking on the guise of the pilot. In this case, it’s indicated that this is hardly the first time Chance has done something so reckless and crazy as taking a swig of his prized alcohol before using it to ignite and explode a car. What a blast.

How will it work as a series? It’s possible that it could rise or fall depending upon how exciting each particular case is week-to-week. From this strong start, however, it seems like this show will be really great, and at the very least fantastically entertaining. It’s likely that both Winston and Guerrero have backstories that should prove interesting at some point, and Chance also probably has a number of skeletons in his closet. The action should be exciting enough.
How long will it last? FOX usually does well with the shows it promotes heavily, and launching this one with “24” was probably the smartest thing the network could have done. Its ratings should be good and it should be renewed for a second season considering the success of shows like “House,” “Bones,” and “Fringe.” FOX doesn’t have much else lined up for this spring, so this show be their number one new show.

Pilot grade: B+

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