12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: HUMAN TARGET: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MALL

CAST
Mark Valley (The Siege)
Chi McBride (Pushing Daises)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Janet Montgomery (Black Swan)
GUEST CAST
John Michael Higgins (Bad Teacher)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and a Half Men)
Taylor Boggan (Safelight)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Marie Avgeropoulos (Cult)
This Christmas-themed episode opened with a family being driven off the road by a 4×4 and a slightly creepy man telling the driver to kill the family. Luckily, the cops show up. Back at the office the family show up asking for help, interrupting a Christmas argument. As the team takes the case, Ilsa tells Chance that she’s going to Uganda for the holiday. To protect the family, Chance starts work as a temp beside the father, Richard Applebaum (John Michael Higgins) with Guerrero working in the office as a janitor. Winston watches after Richard’s wife, Rachel (Rebecca McFarland), while Ames watches their son, Joel (Taylor Boggan), while he works at the mall.
Richard is convinced his boss, Nick Meachem (Chad Willet), is behind the attack, so when he is asked to go down to the file room, he expects the worst. Thankfully, Chance stops him attacking his boss. While this is going on, however, the men behind the attack are at Richard’s house giving Winston a little bit of trouble. Later that night, after a little coercion from Ames, Joel sneaks out to a party down the street. At this point, Guerrero finds out that the guy behind the attacks is named Klemah Severenson and he’s actually after Joel and his laptop. Severenson’s men then turn up at the party, leading to a pretty good fight once Chance has gotten there. With the novel use of a stapler, Guerrero helps Chance arrange an exchange so that Severenson can get the laptop and then leave the family alone. The exchange is to take place at the mall where Joel works. The team take their strategic posts around the meeting place, the best of which is Winston dressed as Santa. Once the meeting goes wrong, of course, a chase ensues during which Chance borrows Santa’s sleigh to catch Severenson. Back at the office, the team have a little Christmas moment before they all have to leave and Ilsa comes back. Then we get a little sentimental scene between Ilsa and Chance.
 The Christmas episode of Human Target was a very light-hearted affair with some very good action in it. The team dynamic seemed much more balanced without Ilsa being involved. Ames really seems to have fit in and the writers aren’t just using her as comic relief. A lot of the humour in this episode comes from Chance’s hatred of Christmas and how, on this job, he’s in ‘hell’.
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REVIEW: HUMAN TARGET – SEASON 1 & 2

Image result for human target logo

MAIN CAST

Mark Valley (Zeo Dark Thirty)
Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Janet Montogomery (Black Swan)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Adrian Hough (Underworld: Evolution)
Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon)
Ali Liebert (Legends of Tomorrow)
Courtney Ford (The Big Bang Theory)
Alessandro juliani (Smallville)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Aleks Paunovic (Mortal Kombat: Legacy)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
William Mapother (Powers)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Kristin Lehman (Andromeda)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Chris Mulkey (Whiplash)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Ted Whittall (Beauty and The Beast)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Kim Coates (Silent Hill)
Autumn Reeser (Sully)
Samantha Ferris (Along Came A Spider)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation)
Kavan Smith (Stargate: Atlantis)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Mackernzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Armand Assante (The Odyssey)
Christina Cole (Hex)
Robert Lawrenson (Underworld: Awakening)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Timothy Omundson (Xena)
Lee Majors (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Cameron Daddo (Andromeda)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
Carlo Rota (Stargate Universe)
James Remar (Flashforward)
Nicole Bilderback (Buffy)
Steven Brand (The Scorpion King)

Christopher Chance (Mark Valley, Boston Legal), is a bodyguard for hire. His clients come to him as a last resort because their lives are in serious danger and they have no other alternatives. Chance’s mysterious past is only partially revealed as the season progresses–much of it in the season finale. What is known about him is that he’s probably a genius, he can hold his own in a fight, he’s a super-thief, he’s a crackshot with a gun, and the ladies love him.

In each episode, Chance typically assumes a cover to stay close and protect the client. He uses the client as bait to uncover the killer’s identity. In these episodes, Chance assumes a multitude of identities ranging from a prize fighter to a monk. Beyond Batman-like fighting skills, Chance’s best tools are his intelligence and charismatic personality; he holds his own in a conversation on any topic and masterfully fits in with any group of people. Joining Chance are Winston (Chi McBride, Boston Public, Pushing Daisies), his straight-laced handler, and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley, Watchmen), a computer hacker with questionable methods, but indisputable loyalty.Human Target is a throwback to the action series of the 80’s. While an intriguing backstory develops across the entire show, each episode is self-contained and follows a specific case from beginning to end. Viewers can practically jump in on any episode and not miss a beat. This is due in part to the swashbuckling, tongue-in-cheek script that never takes itself too seriously. It is also partly due to the brilliant performances by the main actors, Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley. The three play off each other extremely well. You can’t help but watch this show with a smile on your face as straight-man and former detective, Winston cringes at yet another action by Christopher Chance or Guerrero that gets the job accomplished, but is probably not entirely legal. Guerrero, especially, has morally ambiguous moments that cause those around him to be hysterically uncomfortable. When he makes his appearance on-screen, you know that hilarity and awesomeness are about to ensue. It’s similar to the height of Kramer’s heyday in Seinfeld where the studio audience would erupt when he appeared and he’d completely steal the scene. Laughs are guaranteed with Guerrero and his antics are accentuated into priceless gems by Winston’s reactions.The over-the-top action in each episode is wonderfully shot and rivals the quality of some Hollywood films. The outlandishness of the action is offset by the fact that the actors revel in the absurdity and take all the events in stride. No matter how desperate the situation, Christopher Chance always flashes a wry grin. His antics and expressions are reminiscent of Harrison Ford’s performances as Han Solo or Indiana Jones. The action is intense, but Christopher Chance can handle it and make you laugh while he does.Another testament to the excellent writing is that not a single episode is wasted. Obviously, some episodes are better than others, but all are highly watchable and re-watchable, action-packed, mysteries. Even the product placements are great and fit in with the spirit of the show. In the Tanarak episode, one of the most blatant product placements of all time occurs with a Camaro. It’s done with such blithe satire, instead of feeling the need to bathe after watching more advertisers nauseatingly snake their way into television, you just laugh at the silliness.In every episode, without requiring any background information, you are brought into the characters’ circle and get an immediate feel for their relationships. However, more information could have been provided earlier about Christopher Chance and his cohorts’ origins. Some of the information that was dumped in the final episode of this set could have been dispersed throughout the previous episodes. Instead you are left to fill in massive blanks with assumptions about the characters’ pasts. This is not a huge misstep by the writers because the characters’ mysterious origins are a large part of what makes the show so accessible.  This show is just pure fun to watch unfold and will appeal to practically anyone. Pop a bag of microwave popcorn, kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride.In season 2, with Matt Miller (Chuck) taking on executive producer-writer-show runner duties, he promised to flesh things out a bit without changing much of the original allure, which was good news. Mostly, he brought in Indira Varma  (Luther, Rome) as Ilsa Pucci, a widowed billionaire who takes a liking to the boys. And Janet Montgomery (Entourage) as a thief who also gets reluctantly entangled with the trio. So you can see the note Fox put on the show: Let’s leaven the testosterone a bit.And yet, nothing’s really changed. The escapism is sky high. Valley remains as charismatic as ever, with McBride’s disdainful asides and Haley’s chilly creepiness intact. It would be unfortunate if Human Target somehow got soapy or dumber, because good popcorn is rare.