In Defense of The Human Target
For about two months during 1992 we got the Human Target on TV. It was enough to make an impression on me.
The series followed the premise of the comics – a body double, a stand in who also acted as a body guard and took on cases one else would touch, but then departed from the old P.I. with a storefront office approach and amped it up to a high tech world where the makeup was applied by computerized machinery on board a stealth jet .
The changes worked for me, they seem like the same kind of changes the comics might have made if they were trying to revitalize the series. It was my real introduction to Rick Springfield who I thought did just fine in the role. Nothing spectacular, but then again, he doesn’t need to be since the guest star his character is posing as would be on screen far more often than he would. It also filled the DC Comics size gapin my TV schedule since the Flash was now off the air. Interestingly enough, John Westly Shipp, who played the Flash would end up on an episode of Human Target, which was of course produced by the same people that did the Flash. It was nice to see him on TV again so soon after the departure of Barry Allen. I spoke with him a few years ago about the role. He still has fond memories of it.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I suspect the network didn’t really want the show to succeed. Perhaps WANT is a little strong of a word. I think they didn’t really care. They had just seen Bilson and DeMeyo’s Flash crash and burn over at CBS and weren’t too confidant in their new offering. Still there was a hole in the schedule to fill, they had to show something opposite the Olympics and this may as well be it.
I can’t really complain about not getting a fair chance though. Seven episodes is fair, even when buried. The critics didn’t like it, but then again thy usually hate Comic properties – or at least, they did before Marvel changed the perception of the superhero movie. I’m sad we didn’t get more of this, but I’m happy with what we did get.
I’m also a little perplexed. Eighteen years later they tried again.
In 2010 I suppose things made a little more sense. Comics were more readily accepted as source material and the vertigo series was really critically acclaimed…and completely ignored in the shows plot. Christopher Chance is boiled down to nothing more than a glorified bodyguard.
The cast was excellent also featuring Chi McBride
who I loved from the John Larroquett show and also Jackie Earle Haley in possibly my favorite performance of his EVER.
This version was a slick action series and certainly a whole lot of fun though I don’t understand why they bothered to pay for the license when the character bore no resemblance to DC’s comic character. Perhaps just to get people like me to watch? If so it worked. I followed it both seasons. Still cancelled too soon, but at least with a DVD release. If you want the 1992 series you may have to resort to bootlegs. I still see them occasionally at conventions. Check both of these out, even if you don’t know the comics.
Actually , check them out ESPECIALLY if you don’t know the comics!