One could say that the second season of Fox’s thoroughly entertaining ‘Human Target‘ (premiering this Wednesday at 8/7c) is about the good, the bad, and the not-at-all-ugly.
At the DC Comics-inspired series’ core you have Mark Valley‘s Christopher Chance, a onetime bad guy now trying to do good by helping clients dodge deadly threats. In that mission, Chance is assisted by Winston (Chi McBride), an ex-cop, and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley), a rather unassuming yet still-pretty-damn-bad boy .
Season 1 of the series touched on the mystery surrounding why Chance puts his life at risk for strangers, all the while serving up action scenes and set pieces that pushed the envelope for TV. And make no mistake, despite anything you’ve read about some tweaks made for Season 2, the visceral thrill is still there on the screen.
“Between our incredible stunt coordinator (Emmy nominee Dean Cho) and our producer-director Steve William, who spent the majority of his career as a stunt man, it’s the best stunts on television,” boasts ‘Human Target’ executive producer Matt Miller. “It’s almost movie-caliber stunts on a television budget, so it’s incredible.”
Fending off big bads and incurring big-budget damage calls for some sort of bankroll, however, and Season 2 of ‘Human Target’ seals that plot hole by giving Chance & Co. a beautiful British benefactor named Ilsa Pucci, played by Indira Varma (‘Rome’). This season, the team also absorbs a spry, sexy thief who is simply dubbed Ames (Janet Montgomery ,’Entourage’).
But the fact that these new roles are both filled by females is almost incidental.
Says Miller, “It wasn’t just about, ‘We need to put some women on the show.’ In order to make the show more of an ensemble, we needed new characters, and it felt like the idea of these [particular] characters was the right idea. It happened to be that it was two women.”
Just as importantly, Ilsa and Ames deviate from the damsels-in-distress model oft foisted upon Season 1’s female guest stars.
“They’re not victims, and they’re not just sex objects just to be desired,” Varma points out. “Ilsa does come in need of Chance’s help [in the season premiere], but she is an alpha female.”
Adds Miller, “Ilsa is not easily swayed by Chance or his enormous amount of charm. Her first instinct is, ‘I would hate this person forever,’ but over several episodes she starts to understand there’s a redemptive value to the guy.”
Ames in turn makes her entrance by ruffling no less than Guerrero’s feathers – that is, until she comes to realize precisely which infamous toughie she is going toe-to-toe with. Cue audible gulp in throat.
But soon enough, “The guys take me under their wing and make me leave behind the life I had before,” Montgomery previews. In doing so, “A different side of them comes out.”
Of Ames and Ilsa’s arrival, Montgomery says, “It’s incredibly unreasonable to think there wouldn’t be women in their lives – and it’s important to have that, especially in today’s day and age. Ilsa is such a strong woman, and so is Ames, in a different way. It needs to be explored how the guys react to that.”
Make no mistake, ‘Human Target’ remains true to its wonderfully explosive roots, serving up foot chases, gunplay, pyrotechnics, double and triple crosses, and yes, the occasional scantily clad lass slathered in cooking oil (though for strictly practical reasons).
Viewers will also be presented with more crumbs as to what makes each of the team members tick. Episode 2, for example, flashes back to one of Chance’s most formative assassination gigs, while Episode 6 brings back Leonora Varela as Maria Gallego, “the one woman he has trouble saying no to,” says Miller.
The third outing sheds light on Ames’ shady past, while the fifth chronicles why Winston left the police force, introducing his ex-wife (‘Cold Case’s Tracie Thoms) along the way.
Episode 10 (tentatively titled ‘Cool Hand Guerrero”) throws Haley’s hood behind bars as a means to note just how little anyone knows about the guy – as well as reveal that his briefcase contains big secrets about each of his coworkers.
And for good measure, somewhere along the way – just as “Deck the Halls” warbles through your local department store – the Fox series will wish viewers a “very Human Target Christmas” by setting a showdown within a shopping center.
“We wanted to do a cool action set piece where Chance is wreaking havoc in a mall,” says Miller. “We really wanted to just destroy a mall.”
Will your TV be locked onto ‘Human Target’ this season?