Tonawanda News

January 14, 2010

TELEVISION: '24' and 'Human Target' on Fox

By Phil Dzikiy<br><a href="mailto:phil.dzikiy@lockportjournal.com">E-mail Phil</a>

When we last left Jack Bauer, he was comatose — possibly on his deathbed — after being infected with a bioweapon.

But if conventional weaponry can’t kill Jack, it’s doubtful that a bioweapon can, either. Especially when considering that Fox’s “24” returns for its eighth season — “Day 8” — on Monday.

We already know that Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) will be back to his usual self, which is to say, surviving through the busiest, most dangerous days in human history. We also know that Jack will be dealing with an international assassination plot in New York City.

This season will also see the return of treasonous President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin), who was last seen in season six after being stabbed by his wife. Apparently, he’s also an attack survivor.

“24” has dropped in overall viewership from a few season ago, but that speaks more to the overall thinning out of TV viewers due to other factors (Internet, more cable channels) than it does to the popularity of the show. After all, “24” finished its 2009 season with its highest overall ranking yet, cracking the annual top 20.

But despite the recent success, the end of “24” is in sight. This could be the final season of the show. A recent report notes that this season has not finished filming yet, so if need be, the season finale could be a series finale.

That being said, Sutherland has told reporters that he’s “open” to a ninth season of the show. And so is Fox, but a decision won’t be made yet.

There’s been less discussion recently regarding a feature film version of “24,” but it certainly hasn’t been ruled out. While the series could end this year, it could be followed by “24” on the big screen.

The “24” premiere Sunday night already has action fans salivating. It’s a two-night premiere that will continue Monday. But Fox’s Sunday night lineup will also introduce audiences to a new action show, as “Human Target” debuts at 8 p.m., giving the night a one-two punch.

“Human Target” is coming to Fox this weekend, but a few readers might remember another “Human Target,” on ABC in 1992. The new Fox version of the show will star Mark Valley, a Gulf War veteran and actor known for his roles on “Boston Legal” and “Days of our Lives.” The ABC version starred none other than Rick Springfield of “Jessie’s Girl” and “General Hospital” fame.

Both series are based on the DC Comics character of the same title. Valley plays Christopher Chance, a private contractor/bodyguard who integrates himself into the lives of his clients to protect them from strange threats.

As the network’s press release describes it, “If you’re a corporate manager whose disgruntled employee has gone violently off the deep end — Chance is your new auditor. If you’re the president of a bank who’s been tipped off to a potential heist, Chance is your unassuming bank teller.”

Though the ABC version only lasted seven episodes, Fox hopes its “Human Target” will have a much longer run: Not only will “Human Target” debut prior to the “24” premiere, but the first episode after the pilot will run after “American Idol” on Wednesday. Future episodes will run before “Idol” on Wednesdays.

Running alongside the “Idol” juggernaut is an enviable position for any show to be in. Fox has been careful with where to debut “Human Target,” hoping for a hit (though Fox will show the 1 p.m. NFL playoff game on Sunday, not the 4:40 p.m. game, which would have made a great lead-in to the show).

In addition to its cushy timeslot, “Human Target” will benefit from a great supporting cast: the criminally underrated Chi McBride (“Pushing Daisies,” “Boston Public”) and Jackie Earle Haley, known for his roles in “The Bad News Bears” and “Breaking Away” as a child actor, but more recently for his work in “Watchmen” and “Little Children,” the latter of which earned Haley an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.