'Human Target,' an exciting series with Mark Valley

Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) is the human target,

Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) is the human target, a unique private contractor hired to protect his clients from dangerous and imminent threats in the new action thriller "Human Target" on Fox. (Credit: David Gray/FOX/WBTV)

THE SHOW "Human Target"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. on FOX/5; moves into regular time slot Wednesdays at 9 p.m. starting next week

REASON TO WATCH Mark Valley ("Boston Legal") gets the breakout role he's been waiting for and deserves.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT This is based on the DC Comics "graphic novel" of the same name, so - yes indeed - think comic book, but of course no animation per se. This is pure live action, with emphasis on the word "action."

Valley stars as Christopher Chance, a sort-of private detective-contractor, who hires himself out to people who need protection. But he goes the extra step by luring the baddies who threatened his client, then zaps 'em. So Chris is sort of a human bug-zapper and Blackwater superagent all rolled into one.

Meanwhile, he's got a support team. There's Winston (Chi McBride), his biz partner, and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley), as a brilliant and somewhat unhinged operative who works some of the technical angles for Chance.

TRIVIA ALERTS Haley's one of the great character actors around, though you probably wouldn't recognize him even if he bumped into you at the Pathmark. He earned an Oscar nomination in '07 for "Little Children" and was Rorschach in last year's "Watchmen." But if you were around at the time, you will certainly remember him best as Kelly Leak, the rough kid and star player of "The Bad News Bears." More trivia: ABC unsuccessfully tried to adapt "Human Target" in 1992, with Rick Springfield as Chance.

WHAT SUNDAY'S ABOUT A woman has designed/engineered a high-speed monorail from San Francisco - but someone wants her dead. Chance must protect the poor dear while the monorail makes its maiden run.

MY SAY I haven't enjoyed a drama pilot this much since ABC's "Flash Forward" - which, of course, flattened out somewhat afterward. So I dipped into the second episode Fox supplied for review, and - yup - it's still good. "Target" is pure, utter, ridiculous, over-the-top-into-the-ravine entertainment. Valley is perfect as Chance - this absurdly bright guy with a desert-dry sense of humor, and who is pretty much good at everything. He's not quite superman: Cut him, he bleeds, but he tends to cut/bleed his adversaries first.

BOTTOM LINE If this isn't a big hit, I'll turn in my critic credentials and join a Tibetan monastery.

GRADE A

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