HUMAN TARGET: SEASON ONE
Review by Gordon Justesen
Valley, Chi McBride, Jackie Earle Haley
Creator: Jonathan E. Steinberg
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 523 Minutes
Release Date: September 21, 2010
“Are you crazy?”
“Let's find out.”
Television has evolved into something of a endless buffet in terms of what type of shows are on the air nowadays. For your hard hitting drama, one needn't look any further than the likes of Breaking Bad, Mad Men, while comedy can be seen in its most edgy form to date by way of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Office and Modern Family. Even that of richly crafted suspense shows are in full thriving, as indicated by such excellent shows like Damages and Dexter.
But the one genre that seems to be lacking more so than others on the small screen is that of a straight up, action adventure series, which is what Human Target certainly is. Other than Burn Notice, this is the only show of this type currently on the air. Basically, this is pretty much what you'd get if you took that show and set it in a more comic-book adventure like environment, since Human Target comes to us adapted from a DC Comics series.
And what a slam-bang, high energy piece of television this is. Other than 24, I can't remember another show I've ever seen where my jaw dropped in response to how impressive the action set pieces were. From the looks of it, this appears to be one of the highest budgeted shows in history, and it's good to see a network like Fox stepping up the stakes for once in that regard because in this case, it totally pays off.
For a show that is essentially small screen popcorn escapist fare, the storyline is somewhat original. The hero of the series is Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), an ex-military operative who now works as security for hire. To be more specific, he protects his clients by stepping into their shoes and integrating himself into their lives, using his one-man-army skills to gather intel and stop various evildoers.
But Chance isn't entirely working alone. Backing him up is his easily aggravated superior, Winston (Chi McBride), who sometimes has to play a part in Chance's charades. And then there's Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley), who specializes as both a cleaner and techno wiz.
The show does manage to toy with narrative a bit, which is always fun for a series of this kind. Several episodes will open with Chance in a crucial point of his mission, only to flashback a few days or hours early to the beginning. So when that happens in instances as when our hero has to commandeer a pilot-less 747 during a violent storm, it presents a tremendous level of tension rarely seen in an hour long series.
As mentioned earlier, the action choreography for this show is absolutely stunning, and I would dare say it's the best any television show has ever delivered. There's also some inventive set pieces, as in the pilot episode where Chance fights an enemy in on board a train in an area with very limited arm space. That definitely got a reaction out of me, as I had never seen a fight sequence like this done in any movie, to my knowledge.
Other winning elements of the series are the tongue-in-cheek style, which always plays great into hour long escapist fare. This is a show that never once takes itself seriously, and even acknowledges it's own absurdity. That adds an even bigger dosage of fun to the show.
Another huge contributor are the effortless performances turned in by the cast. Lead actor Mark Valley has several television credits to his name, but this was my first time seeing him in a series and I have to say he slips into the role of Christopher Chance about as flawlessly as any actor could, both from a physical and charismatic standpoint. He is very deserving of headlining a big screen action flick, because he's got the goods as far as that goes.
And you can't ask for better supporting players than Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley. McBride plays the role of fed-up superior so incredibly well that you can't help but wonder if he had to play that role in real life jobs before taking on acting. And Haley, of course, is in a class all by himself, and plays his role with a great mixture of mystery and humor.
Human Target is very much James Bond for the small screen, but with the biggest production values and action set pieces that you will ever encounter in an hour long series. The action is pulse-pounding, the acting is top notch, and each episode provides it's own engaging story arc that will have you hooked right up until the season finale. I'm already pumped for Season Two!
Since the show was broadcast in high definition, it only makes sense to want to experience it on Blu-ray. As expected, the source material explodes onto the screen in amazing form, witch picture detail looking nothing short of remarkable in every individual episode. The location sets really shine whether we're talking about the inside of a moving train or airplane, or the scenic value provided by snowbound Alaska or that of a Canadian monastery. The 1080p really delivers the visual goods for a big-scale action series like this.
I was a bit skeptic when I saw that I was only getting a regular Dolby 5.1 mix, but the presentation managed to deliver a lot more bang than I was expecting. In the features list, it actually says “audio mix enhanced from broadcast”, so that may have something to do with the boost in quality. The first few episodes in particular, involving the likes of a moving train and out of control airplane, definitely delivered some pure aural fireworks. And each episode has at least three to four riveting action scenes that help get the surround sound environment going quite a bit! Music playback and dialogue delivery are also top notch for all 12 episodes.
Included on this two disc set is a commentary track for the pilot episode featuring series creator Jonathan E. Steinberg, producer Peter Johnson and actors Mark Valley and Chi McBride. We also get two brief but nicely handled featurettes; “Human Target: Confidential Informant” and “Human Target: Full Contact Television” and a few Deleted Scenes.
Human Target is perfect 80s throwback action series with the kind of awesome production value shows from that time weren't able to have. In other words, it's everything you want an action series to be! And on Blu-ray, the show is at its most explosive!!!!