REVIEW: HUMAN TARGET – SEASON 1

Starring

Mark Valley (Zero Dark Thirty)
Chi McBride (Hawaii Five-O)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)

Jackie Earle Haley, Chi McBride, and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Donnelly Rhodes (Tron: Legacy)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon)
Adrian Holmes (smallville)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores reborn)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Alvin Sanders (Riverdale)
Courtney Ford (Legends of Tomorrow)
Ali Liebert (Wonder)
Alessandro Juliani (Man of Steel)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Alex Fernandez (Devious Maids)
Christie Laing (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
William Mapother (Lost)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Ted Whittall (Suicide Squad)
Kevin Weisman (Runaways)
Autumn Reeser (Sully)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Kris Marshall (Love Actually)
Kim Coates (Goon)
Samantha Ferris (The Tall Man)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Eric Breker (X-Men Origins)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Kenneth Welsh (Miracle)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ken Kirzinger (Freddy vs Jason)
Moon Bloodgood (Termiantor: Salvation)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
Steve Makaj (Arrow)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christina Cole (JHex)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Kavan Smith (When Calls The HEart)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Mackenzie Gray (man of Steel)
Lee Majors (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)
Timothy Omundson (Xena)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
Fiona Vroom (Power Rangers)

Mark Valley and Emmanuelle Vaugier in Human Target (2010)Human Target was definitely one of the most surprising new series this season. Comic book stories don’t often translate well to the small screen, but this one bucked all the trends and exceeded expectations by consistently producing hot action, fascinating characters, and a good number of laughs too.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)It started out with a pilot episode that wasted no time getting into the action. Fast paced events on a runaway train got things started with a bang. Right away, the series showed the kind of amazing action scenes that would make it an exciting watch every week. The second episode, “Rewind”, kept the pedal to the metal in an episode that had high-flying action on a plane, although things did get a little ridiculous with the plane flying upside down for an extended time.Peter Bryant and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)The main characters quickly became fan favorites, thanks to witty dialogue and excellent acting work by the great trio of Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley. While Chance takes the lead in these episodes, his buddies (with shady pasts of their own) do a lot in their supportive roles. Winston and Guerrero have unique skills that are always employed in clever ways in the series, and they have a special kind of friendly-yet-combative relationship that provided most of the comedy relief in the show. The series also featured a number of intriguing guest stars, including many familiar faces from the sci-fi world. We saw Battlestar Galactica stars Tricia Helfer, Alessandro Juliani, Grace Park, and Donnelly Rhodes, along with two stars from The X-Files – Mitch Pillegi and a surprising appearance from William B. Davis (the infamous Cigarette Smoking Man).Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)At first, Human Target focused on a string of unrelated stories that followed the same effective formula—show the client, show the bad guys, have Chance and his pals save the day. But, although the standalone stories were entertaining, the “rescue of the week” routine quickly started to get tired, and the show often made heavy use of TV tropes and cliches (hot babes of the week, one dimensional antagonists, and slow motion explosions just to name a few). Fortunately, the show’s producers were aware of the limits of their plot devices and developed an overarching mythology that started to be revealed a few episodes into the season.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)The story slowly started to turn into a tale of redemption, friendship, and life choices as the show gradually revealed bits and pieces of the backgrounds of the characters. In the beginning, there were just casual mentions of what the cast of main characters used to do. Then, in “Sanctuary”, the series mythology kicked into full gear with a side-story featuring Guerrero spying around in Chance and Winston’s files for a mysterious employer. This plot accomplished two things: it revealed a serious threat to Chance, and displayed Guerrero as ruthless when it comes to his job and his friends. Guerrero in general is a very different take on the “geeky computer spy” role, and his moment in the spotlight at the end of that episode really helped define the character. It’s a standout role that Jackie Earle Haley nailed every time.Further character development came in the form of a “bromance” between Winston and Chance that was detailed in “Corner Man”, and a personal vendetta with a former friend, coworker, and assassin named Baptiste that gave us our deepest look yet into what personally drives Chance.All of this buildup led us perfectly into the season finale, which exposed the history of the Christopher Chance name, and revealed all the players behind Chance’s past work and his change of heart. This was a well-crafted story that ended with a great cliffhanger. It’s a great setup for a second season, and let there be no doubt that this series does indeed deserve to be renewed. It’s interesting, exciting, and if it continues to improve, it could become a prime candidate to replace 24 as Fox’s top action show.

REVIEW: DEAD LIKE ME – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Ellen Muth (Hannibal)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Jasmine Guy (The Vampire Diaries)
Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend)
Laura Harris (Severance)
Greg Kean (Black Xmas)
Britt McKillip (Trick ‘r Treat)
Christine Willes (Red Riding Hood)
Cynthia Stevenson (Tiger Eyes)
Ellen Muth in Dead Like Me (2003)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST

Jodelle Ferland (The Cabin In The Woods)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: The Series)
Jackie Burroughs (The Dead Zone)
Gary Jones (Stargate – SG.1)
Erica Cerra (Blade: Trinity)
Lorena Gale (Smallville)
Tygh Runyan (Snakes on a Plane)
A.J. Cook (Final Destination 2)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Susan Saullivan (Castle)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Ben Bass (Bride of Chucky)
Sarah Lind (Blade: The Series)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine TV)
Ali Liebert (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sonya Salomaa (Andromeda)

Ellen Muth in Dead Like Me (2003)What if life really begins only after you die? Georgia Lass never really lived in her 18 years before being killed by the toilet seat from the de-orbiting space station MIR. Sullen, bored, and apathetic, it is in death that she finds meaning and purpose in her life as she becomes a grim reaper, responsible for the transition of souls from death to their particular afterlife. In this series, death gives people like Georgia who never really lived their life to have a do-over and serve as a grim reaper. Of course they still are visible by the living, have to get jobs to support themselves, and can be stuck as reaper from decades, but this adds to the poetry of the premise. Overall the show is sarcastic,dark and subversive, but makes for highly entertaining television and included any number of laugh out loud moments.

Created by Brian Fuller, the genius behind Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me stars a wonderful cast headed by the note perfect Ellen Muth as Georgia and Mandy Patinken as Rube, the head of a small crew of Grim Reapers working the Seattle area. The supporting cast is solid, including Callum Blue as Mason, Laura Harris as Daisy A’dair, and Jasmine Guy as Roxy. Rebecca Gayheart appeared for a few episodes in the season. So being dead and stuck in a job that she didn’t choose and doesn’t particularly want, Georgia has to find meaning in an existence that is quite different from the one she had. She learns that she has to learn to let go of her family and little sister. She learns that friendship and family can be found in strange places, even the temp agency she works in, and that ultimately death has a purpose and a poetry for everyone, even her. What that purpose is, I don’t quite know yet, but I think it is to learn how to live and do-over the years she was alive. The backstory of reapers and death is explained slowly over the first season, but begins to connect the pieces by season’s end.

Rebecca Gayheart is written out of the show early on, this was because she accidentally hit and killed someone with her in real life, The network did not think it would be a good idea having someone portray a Grim Reaper who killed someone in real life.This is a highly entertaining show that will appeal to fans of shows like Wonderfalls, Hannibal and others that were way too smart to be on TV. This was a cable produced show so there are no restrictions on the language, but that in a way is refreshing. Highly recommended