When making a live action adaptation of a comic book, there may be a need to make some changes. In Smallville, Clark Kent had to face off against people who have been mutated by Kryptonite. In the recent show, Arrow, Oliver Queen isn’t even known as Green Arrow, but called The Hood by the police. As long as the change works in a cool way, fans of the comic as well as people who don’t know the character can generally accept it. The 2nd Human Target television series made some drastic changes to the character but these changes made the show work much better than the original premise.
The comic book version of the Human Target has the titular character, Christopher Chance, getting hired by people to protect them. Instead of simply acting as their bodyguard, Chance will actually wear a mask that looks exactly like his employer and actually take his employer’s place in an effort to find the would be killers.
Now, making this into a live action show would be ridiculous but they did it anyway with the original series that was shown in 1992. They did add a few things, like making Christopher Chance work in a giant plane with a huge team and a myriad of gadgets, making him something like a low rate Batman plus low rate Batman Family.
The 2010 series still managed to keep the original premise but rework it a bit. In the first season of the show, instead of taking the person’s place entirely, Chance goes undercover so that it doesn’t look like the employer hired a bodyguard. This works as it still has Chance exposing the killers but making it look like the target is vulnerable.
Chance has a small team working for him. First is former detective Winston (played by Chi McBride) who does most of the negotiations for Chance as well as helping out with the missions with his contacts within the police. His other team member is actually not an official team member named Guerrero (played by Jackie Earle Haley. Guerrero may look like a weak nerd but it’s just a facade that hides a deadly killer. In short, Guerrero is a pretty cool friend to have in times of trouble.
Here’s Guerrero’s first appearance… and what really sold me in watching this series.
Each of the three main characters have distinct personalities yet they manage to play off each others strengths. It also seems to get inspiration from old spy movies. Chance will usually encounter a pretty girl and help her out during the episode, making it feel like something out of the old 70’s and 80’s James Bond movies. Even the opening theme song sound like it came from an old spy movie, with a full orchestra playing the score. The theme song really helps you get in the mood as well. It’s also one of my most favorite theme songs ever.
This changed quite a bit in the second season. While Chance does still protect people in this season, this time he does it more in the open. It also added two new characters. Mrs. Pucci and Ames. Mrs. Pucci (played by Irdina Varma) was a former client of Chance and decides to fund the entire operation afterward. Ames (played by Janet Montgomery) is a highly skilled thief who Guerrero sort of takes under his wing since they get paired up a lot during the missions.
This is where I would say the show lost a lot of its magic. The first season was an amazing mix of detective, high action and smart comedy. Chance and his crew then would use their wits to identify who the killers were. In the second season, it all changed. Now, it was more on using brute force to find out who the bad guys are for the episode. They also changed the theme song! Instead of the beautiful orchestral song, they added an electric guitar of all things! It’s just falls flat in comparison to the stirring score of the first theme song.
The first season is a great watch. It’s fun to see Chance display his uncanny knowledge of Japanese or previous trials to maintain his cover and Winston getting angry with the cavalier attitude of Chance and Guerrero. Also, Jackie Earle Haley is just awesome as Guerrero. He managed to make you believe that he’s a dangerous guy just by talking.
The second season just seems to fall flat in comparison. It’s sort of like when you watch an R-rated movie without cuts and then watch the same film with all of the violence cut out. It’s still the same movie but it’s just not as fun to watch anymore. There was one reason why I kept watching the second season, though.
It was to see Janet Montgomery… wow!
If you have a chance watch the first season, I highly recommend doing so. You can generally start with any episode in the first season but try watching the 1st two episodes, which are the best ones in my opinion. Only watch the second season if you’re a dedicated fan and you watched all of the episodes of the first season. Or if you like Janet Montgomery.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave them below.