A perfectly adequate time-waster during its first run, Human Target is returning to British screens next Thursday (26th) with a double-bill. Never a huge ratings-magnet Stateside, it seems that the producers tried to re-calibrate the show in this second season. The results didn’t appeal to new viewers and managed to piss off the existing ones, so it’s now been cancelled entirely (9pm, Syfy).
So I kept watching ‘Human Target’ and, without ever threatening to rewrite the TV rulebook, it improved gradually week on week. It’s been clear for a while that main character Christopher Chance has some kind of backstory going on and, rather like with ‘Dollhouse’, this final first-season episode was the best of the lot by some distance and unpacked a lot of mythology. In particular we got to see how Chance met his bud Winston, where Guerrero fits in, and who the Old Man and Katherine Walters are. (Played, respectively, by Armand Assante and Amy Acker, with a cameo from Lee Majors along the way as well.)
It’s a very male show, with women as occasional trimming: perhaps the principal joy has been watching the interplay between Chi McBride, Jackie Earle Haley and Mark Valley. As for Valley himself, he remained pretty inscrutable throughout the whole season: I’m not familiar enough with his work to know whether this is his usual m.o. or an extraordinary acting feat, but in fairness the ongoing plotlines actually turned Chance’s blankness from weakness to virtue. Perhaps against expectations, the show has been renewed for a second season, and I’ll happily keep watching if given the chance by UK distributors.
Mmmm. I don’t know quite what to make of this show on the basis of the first episode. The big problem, it seems to me, is the remarkably bland lead character, Christopher Chance (Mark Valley of ‘Boston Legal’ and ‘Fringe’). Our friend Kay20 warned us a while ago that the main dude wasn’t all that, and it looks as if she might be right. On the other hand it had Chi McBride playing essentially the same role as he played in ‘Pushing Daisies’, but he’s good at it. The story was diverting enough, I suppose, and featured Tricia Helfer as guest person-in-danger. It also had a bullet train. I love bullet trains! The UK’s National Railway Museum in York has a genuine Japanese shinkansen. I nearly fainted with excitement. In York, I mean. Not while watching ‘Human Target’, which I might again, but probably won’t write about it if I do.
Two more new series to tell you about, and a returning favourite.
Tonight (Tuesday April 13) sees the UK debut of ‘V’, a remake of the 80s miniseries about disguised lizard-aliens who come to Earth, or something. It got a reasonable reception in the US when it started, but viewing figures have slumped since then. Not even the presence of the refulgent Elizabeth “Juliet” Mitchell off of ‘Lost’ will be inducing me to watch a show about planet-invading lizardy aliens. CJ might be watching; I dunno. You’d need to ask her. SyFy at 9pm.
Then on Wednesday ‘Human Target’ makes its first UK appearance, again on SyFy. It’s apparently an adaptation of a comic book, and it’s about a security consultant-cum-bodyguard hired to protect his clients. It has Chi McBride in a supporting role, and it’s supposed to be pretty amiable nonsense, so I would be giving it a shot were it not on at 10pm, the same time as ‘Mad Men’. And ‘Damages’. And ‘Desperate Housewives’. But they repeat it like a dozen times, so we’ll see.
Incidentally, both shows start with a double bill. TV execs have clearly got it into their stupid heads that this represents the best way to start the run of a TV show, rather than one which requires a significant additional commitment on the part of people who will probably be following other shows as well. I think they’re wrong, but what do I know? They’re the professionals. I’m just a viewer.
Finally, UK viewers are catching up with ’30 Rock’, which starts season 4 on Monday 19 April at 10pm on Comedy Central, presumably with a double bill.