“Human Target” Syndrome: Generic TV Pitches of Our Favorite Comics
Over the past few weeks, we caught a few episodes of FOX's "Human Target" TV series, and while we found it to be very enjoyable, it's also pretty generic.
In the comic book that the show is ostensibly based on, Christopher Chance isn't just a bodyguard, he's a master of disguise who protects people by actually assuming their identity and luring their would-be killers into striking so he can spring a trap. It's an aspect of the character that writer Peter Milligan and artists Edvin BiukoviÄ‡, Javier Pulido and Cliff Chiang used to explore complex themes of identity, loss of self and betrayal in the incredible (and extremely underrated) Vertigo run that garnered critical attention for the character after years of obscurity, including a failed early-90s TV show starring musician Rick Springfield.
By stripping away the theme that defined the character in the comics, they're creating something that's a lot closer to "The Rockford Files" than "Human Target." That's not necessarily a bad thing -- we here at ComicsAlliance love us some "Rockford" -- but it begs the question as to why they took the name at all. Sure, it's a great title, but does a Vertigo series that was canceled for low sales really have the name recognition that brings in viewers?
But who are we to fathom the whims of Hollywood? That's why we're hoping to get a piece of the action ourselves by pitching shows about our favorite comics that have nothing to do with their four-color counterparts! Let's see if we can't get a meeting based on these:
Wolverine, except that he's not an immortal Canadian samurai mutant with enhanced senses and a healing factor. He's just a dude who really likes to stab people. For networks leery of devoting an hour of prime-time television to a show about stabbing, we've also got a similar pitch with Thor.
Batman, except that instead of dressing up and throwing car batteries around as a super-competent vigilante, he uses his nearly unlimited wealth to select a deserving family each week and give their home an extreme makeover.
The Legion of Super-Heroes, except that they're not in the future and they don't have super-powers. Instead, they're a gang of friendly neighborhood kids with relatable hobbies (Chameleon Boy's an amateur herpetologist, Saturn Girl has an interest in mid-size sedans of the late '90s) that learn life lessons at RJ Brande Junior High.
Ghost Rider, except that he's not possessed by a demon from Hell and his head's not on fire. He's just a motorcycle stuntman who travels around the country helping people out and fighting giant eyeball-based crime. We hear Lorenzo Lamas is really pushing for this one to get a green-light.
Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD, except that they took out all the parts with flying cars, LMDs, H.A.W.K. harnesses, Dreadnought robots, Helicarriers, the Armageddon Horn, and HYDRA, replacing them with a shot-for-shot remake of the first season of "Alias." Surprisingly, the addition of a cigar-chomping man in an eyepatch to all the sexy lingerie scenes kept the surrealism of the Steranko run pretty well intact.
Spider-Man, except that instead of failing to save his uncle and having that be the moment that spurs him into a life of greatly responsible crime-fighting, he sticks with pro wrestling. As a result, this Sunday, brother, Crusher Hogan's gonna know what it feels like to get locked down in the steel cage with the great power of the Spider-Champ! Whatcha gonna do, brother, when Spider-Mania swings wild on you?!
The Unknown Soldier, except everyone knows who he is.
The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, except that instead of being a military organization built around pyrokinetics, fish-men, and half-devil descendants of King Arthur who uncover the terrifying truths behind obscure German folktales, it's an obscure government office made up of computer experts who use their "computer hacking" skills and forensic science to uncover spoooooky government conspiracies.
Preacher, except that instead of grappling with a metaphorical journey to find meaning in the absence of God in the most violent and sacrilegious ways possible, Jesse Custer is a small-town Southern pastor who has to advise his wacky, sitcom-friendly flock, including Tulip, his amorous gun-nut neighbor, and Cassidy, the local bartender. Viewers will be advised to turn their volume up to drown out the stream of Irish-accented swearing issuing from an enraged Garth Ennis.
Superman, except that he doesn't wear a costume or use his most distinctive power (flying), and just spends most of his time Clark Kenting around without even wearing glasses because he has no secret identity to hide, standing around while other people do the actual super-heroic heavy lifting. Also -- wait, what? They did that? For real?
Well when was this on?
It's been running for nine years?! Seriously?
We take it back, "Human Target." You're doing just fine.