Human Target: Season 2
All too often you start getting into a television series and have to worry when it seems to be on the so called bubble for cancelation. Even if makes it to second season in many cases the distributor fails to come out with a DVD of the second season. I’ve observed this phenomenon with a number of shows that held a great deal of promise but were cancelled before they could find their momentum or establish a proper audience. One such series was an action adventure show broadcast on the Fox network, ‘Human Target’. I usually made it a point to watch it each week and found the first season highly entertaining in a good old fashion comic book sort of fashion. The original material and characters did develop in the exceptionally fertile world of comics and graphic novels and its translation over to television was potentially one of the better series of the action adventure genre. While falling just short of the illustrious but lamentable ‘brilliant but cancelled’ list it certain met with a premature and underserved termination. It used to be sitting around and wait hoping the final season is released through DVD. Now, at least, there is some alternative means of collecting these show; video on demand. With well established online services like ‘Hulu Plus’, ‘Netflix’ and the granddaddy of them all ‘Amazon’ provide a wide variety of content particularly for these otherwise unobtainable season sets. ‘Human Target’s second season is completely available through ‘Amazon Video on Demand’. This ‘cloud’ distribution is a great boon especially for those of us running out of shelve space for our collections. The best news is with relatively affordable devices like ‘Roku’ or applications built in to most modern televisions and Blu-ray players you can watch these shows in 1080p high definition with a robust Dolby 5.1 audio. This places this content on par or better than most DVD content. In the case under review here this new technology enables us to own full seasons of our favorite series without taking up ever dwindling space in our homes.
Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) is a former hit man. Now he was not your run of the mill mod button man that remembers to "Leave the gun take the cannoli ", he was an assassin of unmatched proficiency and expedience. He left the world of covert murder for hire behind to use his unusual skill set to help good people with nowhere to go. As it turns out Christopher Chance is not his real name, it was more of a franchise in the tradition of ‘the Dread Pirate Roberts’. If you have a reformed killer television protocol requires the balancing moral influence of a former policeman. This role was expertly portrayed by veteran character actor Chi McBride, Detective Laverne Winston. His primary function is to provide the necessary voice of reason which is frequently ignored in spectacular manner by Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley), a former colleague of Chase. Guerrero may look like a physically unimposing little man but he is deadlier than a startled nest of vipers. Cool, meticulous and deadly Guerrero is a major asset it the little firm. It is said that what Louie Vuitton is to luggage, Guerrero is to torture, not enhanced integration, good old fashion Torquemada torture.
It is typical for a studio to alter the formula of a series in order to enhance the all important ratings. In most cases these modifications are designed to attached a broader demographic of pander more intensely to the existing fan base. In this instance the changes translate to a feminine element. In the first episode powerful billionaire widow Ilsa Pucci (Indira Varma) hires the team and is so impressed she offers to fully subsidize the operation. At the end of season one Chance, Winston and Guerrero had their office blown out literally from under them and parted ways. Mrs. Pucci manages to reunite them but is seduced by the danger and pushes for hands on control that originally agreed upon. Still, nearly unlimited funds and powerful connections make her inference palatable. Targeted directly at the male viewers is the very attractive young woman, Ames (Janet Montgomery). She might be young but is already an accomplished thief and adept at disguised. In a slight comic twist she idolizes Guerrero forcing him into the role of reluctant mentor.
In some ways the configuration of this second season was not only viable in some ways it offered a stronger model the first. The diversification of character archetypes began to make possible a wider variety of plot lines in the episodes. The addition of the basically naïve Mrs., Pucci added another dimension to the series, a more emotionally ground one, she is intrigued by the danger and excitement but until she pushes herself into the thick of things fails to understand the grave mortal danger each assignment entails. Her character brings a touch of reality to the proceedings. In some ways this is reinforced with Ames. She can hold her own in most fights and perilous circumstances but Chance and Guerrero effortless swim in much more serious waters. She is out of her league but fortunately has elicited a big brother like relationship with Guerrero. Another foray into the more emotional aspect of international assignation Chance find himself assigned to protect a woman whose husband he was paid to murder. Consistent with the new ‘Zen’ Chase he ultimately has to face his past and tell the widow the truth. There are the requisite rescue missions where the new teams have to wake up and smell the C4; both Ames and Pucci face their past and have to submit to complete trust in their team. The series could have survived this retooling perhaps even flourishing but we will never know. The demand for instant gratification with net work programming executives does not give worthwhile shows to gain their footing and find their audience.