Seeing that the Human Target's first episode is debuting in Canada tonight on CTV, I've decided to liveblog it instead of doing a review. So, come below the cut and refresh the page throughout the hour of 10-11 pm EST. There will be spoilers, of course. Edit: the episode is over, but you can still read what I wrote as I watched below the cut. My general impressions without spoilers: a good action show. They set things up well and demonstrated Christopher Chance as more than able in numerous activities from fighting to physics to languages. The dynamic between his support team of Winston and Guerrero is good (seeing as how they hate one another... or, rather, Winston hates Guerrero). The episode is also framed well and has potential. I'll be sticking around for the second episode and recommend watching the first episode to anyone who was considering it.
Some pre-show thoughts... My girlfriend asked if I was looking forward to this and I gave my usual casual non-committal answer, but I find as we approach showtime, I am looking forward to it. The three main cast members are three actors whose work I've always enjoyed when I saw it. Mark Valley was in both Keen Eddie and Boston Legal, the latter of which makes me wonder if I can ever not think of him as Brad Chase. Though, I must admit I'm a little concerned over the show not using the idea of Christopher Chance actually impersonating his clients, diguising himself as them... and, by doing that, rip off the Peter Milligan series as much as possible. But, that would be expecting a lot of a network TV series since that would mean the main character would be played by someone different every week basically. Then again, CBR's interview with Mark Valley makes the show sound interesting enough and Valley seems genuinely enthused about doing it, which is always a good sign. Even the worst shit can usually come out look somewhat good if the people involved are giving it their all and having a good time. That energy is usually conveyed...
Well, the show will start in just over five minutes, so I'm going to move from my desk to the living room, use the bathroom, and get ready. So, keep refreshing and I'll try and be somewhat entertaining if I can...
* The episode opens with a man talking about blending in and how awful it is... not Christopher Chance. It's a hostage situation of some kind. No sign of Chance or his crew yet... oh wait, is that Mark Valley's voice I hear beneath that black hood? He's replaced the hostage taker's boss. HA! Chance gives the guy advice about how if you're going to kill someone, you shouldn't make threats, you should just do it. Chance has some fucking balls. "Are you crazy?" "Am I crazy? I'm assuming that was a rhetorical question..." The guy then threatens to set off the explosives on his chest, so Chance shoots after saying "What did I tell you? No threats." Scene ends with an explosion in the building.
* Jump ahead four weeks/months (somehow I forget that detail thirty seconds later) and enter Winston (Chi McBride). The question of Chance's competency is raised. I like their relationship. Obvious caring between them, but some good banter.
* The case: a woman's mechanic found explosives in her car when the battery was dead. She's in charge of some big public works/train project. But, Winston won't accept the job until Chance is healed up, but it looks like Chance is ready to get back in the game. We get a nice explanation of what he does: go undercover and flush the person out.
* The opening title sequence is gorgeous. The music is kind of blah, but the visual style is lovely.
* First commercial break thoughts: the cold open was solid. We saw Chance in action, set up his relationship with Winston, introduced this episode's focus, and laid out what he did. It was a bit long for a cold open (ten minutes), but that's okay here since it did a lot of work.
* His cover: Tony Graham, new translator. The company the woman works for is Japanese and... Chance actually speaks Japanese. He's a man of many talents apparently.
* They're riding on the train and Chance expects that's when the killer will strike since it's a confined space.
* "If there aren't ten people on this train who want her dead, I'd be amazed." Apparently the client is a big time bitch.
* Chance wants to bring in Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley), but Winston is reluctant. Calls him an animal. We see him dealing with some thugs regarding some illegal shit. The two thugs are big guys and threaten him, but... wow, Guerrero tears them down verbally by using knowledge about their private lives and they fuck off. Good way to set him up.
* Chance noticed that the ice in the client's glass is cubed and no one else's is. A guy drinks her drink and falls ill, poisoned.
* Second commercial break thoughts: some character development on the client (she's a bitch), Guerrero's introduction, and further proof of how good Chance is. Things are moving along nicely.
* Chance has secluded himself and the client in a private car, forcing the killer to come to them.
* Guerrero is a creepy fucker.
* A reporter who was hounding the client was killed this morning by a car bomb. He published a story on the project a while back on cost-cutting that was written based on leaked info from the client. Uh oh. Chance pushes her to tell him more, thinking she's hiding something.
* Something is wrong with the train and the rigged door has opened...
* It's just the company's lawyer who is also the client's best friend. He has no idea what's going on.
* Guerrero is in Winston's chair when he comes in. Heh. Winston really hates this guy... and the way he does business. Chance thinks the company is behind the threat, so Guerrero is going to go find out...
* The client thinks the breaks have been blown out because of the experimental nature of this train. If the breaks are used again, they may explode. "It's like going 100 on the freeway with the emergency brakes on."
* And holy shit, someone just tried to kill them! Commercial break!
* Shootout in the train! Except Chance and the killer are out of bullets. Ooops. Reload! This is a pretty cool chase sequence.
* "You wore a vest? Where's my vest?!?" "I'm your vest." The lines we're all sick of by now thanks to advertising actually play a little better in context.
* Guerrero dealing with this old guy... illegal stuff... he lays a lot of stuff on Guerrero about how working for the other side is a chump move... a short but really good scene.
* The race is on to warn them about the breaks... and they're in some vents, open a panel and there's the killer. Chance just scrambles toward him before he can draw his gun and they fight while cramped in. I don't know if I've seen a fight scene like that before. They're out of the vent (it broke) and it's some good back-and-forth, but the music is a bit overbrearing. The editing is a little disorienting and doesn't quite make the different takes flow together as well as it could. Then again, you don't often see fights of this length in television. Of course, Chance wins and the killer is dead. But there's still a train to save...
* They need to get off the train. How exactly?
* Ha, funny moment where one of her bosses is all "This train is safe," but, then, one of the breaks busts loose and nearly kills the guy.
* More Winston/Guerrero... they've discovered something, but Chance doesn't have the cell phone! Oh noes!
* The client is manually shutting some things down to help save everyone. Except they're now trapped as they've been betrayed! Everyone else is in a car that's been disconnected from the rest of the train, while Chance and the client... are not. Commercial!
* It looks like Chance has a plan. They're going to use the updraft at the back of the train to... sort of parachute out. And the train's exploded in the tunnel... while they are safe.
* Things look okay, but Chance still wants to know who's behind it. We know that it's the husband. He's taking his wife home, but Guerrero calls him and... BIG REVEAL! His wife was sleeping with the reporter... a year ago, but he waited until now so he could get the bonus from her finishing the project. And now he's going to prison.
* Shitty sappy emotional scene. And the show was doing so well...
* Wrap-up scene with Chance and Winston. Winston thinks Guerrero is gone for good, but Chance tells him he'll be back. Winston wants Chance to take some time off -- he's worried about Chance wanting to do this over and over again... maybe Chance does it and wonders if he'll be around for a while.
* Winston's speech is intercut with a case from one month later, Chance and a client are seemingly about to die as their car is penned in and... Danny Glover is the client! Chance drinks the whiskey from the beginning that was apparently an investment and makes a molotov cocktail. As the bad guys in the van start to get out. Commercial. Is that it?
* Yup, that was the end. Overall, it was a good first episode. For the most part, an action flick without the slow down. The support team hate each other which is always good. Valley is confident and likeable as Chance. The action is good, the tension built well. The sappy scene between Chance and client wasn't entirely necessary, but is standard for this sort of thing. I like how the episode began and ended with pieces of two different cases without a lot of explanation. That worked quite well. Definitely good enough to warrant checking out the second episode.
That's it. Thanks for reading.