Human Target (1992 TV series)

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Human Target
Title card for the 1992 ABC television series Human Target
Created by
Based on
Opening themeHuman Target
  • Anthony Marinelli
  • Stanley Clarke
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes7 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Danny Bilson
  • Paul DeMeo
  • Steve Hattman[1]
Running time60 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseJuly 20 (1992-07-20) –
August 29, 1992 (1992-08-29)

Human Target is an American action drama television series broadcast by ABC in the United States. It is based on the DC comic book character of the same title created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino, and developed for television by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. The seven-episode series premiered on July 20, 1992, and last aired on August 29 the same year.[2] The more recent 2010 Fox television series of the same name, is also based on the Human Target character.


The series follows the adventures of Christopher Chance (Rick Springfield), a Vietnam War vet turned bodyguard and private investigator who uses advanced technology and sophisticated makeup to assume the identity of his client, becoming a human target.[3][4] In a departure from the original comic book stories, Chance flies from job to job in a large, gizmo-laden stealth aircraft known as the Blackwing.[1] Additionally, he is assisted by computer expert Philo Marsden (Kirk Baltz), Blackwing pilot Jeff Carlyle (Sami Chester), and former CIA operative Libby Page (Signy Coleman).[5][6] Page coordinated Chance's missions, Carlyle also served as cook and chauffeur, while Marsden created new gadgets and developed the masks Chance used to impersonate his clients.[7] Chance took an unusual approach to compensation for his services: ten percent of his client's annual income ("whether you're a busboy or the king of England"). One reviewer described the show as "50 percent Mission: Impossible (Martin Landau's master of disguise character) and 50 percent Quantum Leap (jumping into other people's lives at moments of crisis)".[8]



The show was created by Warner Bros. Television and Pet Fly Productions, producers of The Flash and later The Sentinel for Paramount Pictures.[9][10] The original pilot for the series was filmed in 1990[11] but ABC declined to pick up the series for the 1990-91 television season and this pilot never aired.[12] In the original unaired pilot, musician Clarence Clemons who was trying to establish himself as an actor, played Chance's pilot and Frances Fisher as Libby Page.[11][12][13]

Harvey Shephard, then the president of Warner Bros. Television, told The New York Times in December 1991 that Human Target was intended for both American audiences and the international television market.[14]

The show was finally picked up in October 1991 by ABC as a seven-episode midseason replacement series, eventually airing in July and August 1992 to low ratings and poor critical reception.[7][15] The debut episode aired on Monday, July 20, before moving to its regular Saturday night time slot for the following six episodes.[16] The seventh and final episode aired on Saturday, August 29.[2]


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
1"Pilot"Max TashPaul DeMeo & Bruce BilsonJuly 20, 1992 (1992-07-20)206788
Chance is hired to protect Jay Palmer (Scott Paulin), an architect and construction company owner who believes his life is in danger.[9] Chance has to fool not only Palmer's colleagues but also his wife and children.[8]
2"Second Chance"Mario AzzopardiRick NatkinJuly 25, 1992 (1992-07-25)187352
Chance assumes the identity of an American general (R. Lee Ermey) who was nearly assassinated but then Chance discovers that the would-be assassin is his mentor (David Carradine).[3][17]
3"Designed by Chance"Danny BilsonKevin DroneyAugust 1, 1992 (1992-08-01)187355
Chance takes on the identity of fashion designer Garner St. John (John Wesley Shipp) who once had a romantic relationship with Libby.
4"Mirror Image"Bruce BilsonThania St. JohnAugust 8, 1992 (1992-08-08)187356
A psychiatrist (David Clennon) believes that one of his patients has him marked for death so he hires Chance to uncover the would-be killer.
5"Cool Hand Chance"Bill CorcoranStephen Hattman, Rick Natkin & Scott RichardsonAugust 15, 1992 (1992-08-15)187353
Chance breaks into a prison in an attempt to clear the name of a man convicted of murder.
6"Going Home"Mario AzzopardiDon Carlos Dunaway & William A. SchwartzAugust 22, 1992 (1992-08-22)187354
Chance assumes the identity of a judge targeted by an unknown attacker and is reunited with his father during the mission.
7"Chances Are"Danny BilsonHoward Chaykin & John Francis MooreAugust 29, 1992 (1992-08-29)187351
A television reporter finds her life threatened by the subject of her investigation and Chance makes an emotional connection while trying to protect her.


Cover of The Human Target Special #1.

In November 1991, DC Comics produced a 48-page one-shot titled The Human Target Special #1, marketed as a tie-in to the then-upcoming television show (the comic's cover advertised that it was "Coming soon to ABC-TV!"). The comic has Chance and his team protecting a DEA agent from assassination. It was written by Mark Verheiden, with pencils by Rick Burchett and inks by Dick Giordano.


Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly graded the series a "C−", describing the plot of the aired pilot episode as "paper-thin" and that the series as a whole "seems campy in a dumb way, with stilted dialogue and stiff action scenes".[9] Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Rick Kogan called the series "one of the goofiest action-adventure shows you'll ever see".[7] Terry Kelleher's review in Newsday complained that "the strangest aspect is that the actor playing [Chance]'s client [...] winds up grabbing more screen time than [series star Rick] Springfield".[3] Syndicated columnist Jon Burlingame of United Features credited the show with "some interesting effects" but called the drama itself "pretty tired", lamenting that "the outrageously appropriate comic-book style of The Flash" was "completely absent".[8] Lon Grahnke of the Chicago Sun-Times found "part-time pop singer and [...] matinee idol" Springfield "hard to believe in the title role" as a retired Special Forces commando.[6] In real life, Springfield did spend time in Vietnam during the war, but as part of an Australian band entertaining American troops in 1969.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Buck, Jerry (June 28, 1992). "Springfield a trouble-seeker in 'The Human Target'". Lakeland Ledger. The Associated Press. p. 23. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "TV Q&A". St. Louis Post-Dspatch. December 3, 1997. p. E6. Retrieved February 1, 2010. This adaptation of a DC Comics character was a fast ABC flop in 1992. It premiered on July 20 and expired on Aug. 29.
  3. ^ a b c Kelleher, Terry (July 19, 1992). "Human Target' Doesn't Resemble a Hit". Newsday. p. TV3. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  4. ^ King, Susan (July 31, 1992). "Rick Springfield Targets Acting as Road to Success". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  5. ^ "Soap luaded for ongoing attention to social themes". Los Angeles Daily News. October 21, 1991. Retrieved February 1, 2010. She'll appear opposite another ex-daytime star, Rick Springfield (who played Dr. Noah Drake on "GH" a decade ago), in the ABC mid-season replacement series "The Human Target."
  6. ^ a b Grahnke, Lon (July 20, 1992). "As Action Hero, Rick Springfield Misses 'Target'". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c Kogan, Rick (July 20, 1992). "Identity crisis 'Human Target' is somber when it should be silly". Chicago Tribune. p. Tempo 5. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c Burlingame, Jon (July 20, 1992). "Action series 'Human Target' misses mark". Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  9. ^ a b c Tucker, Ken (July 17, 1992). "The Human Target". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  10. ^ "About: ABC Series". Human Target Online. Archived from the original on 2010-06-24. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
  11. ^ a b "Some titles take to the spotlight". USA Today. March 19, 1990. p. 3D. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Clemons looks for new Boss". Star-News. July 8, 1990. p. 2D. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  13. ^ Ross, Chuck (April 17, 1990). "Here's a sneak peek at next season's TV". Eugene Register-Guard. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  14. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (December 16, 1991). "The Talk of Hollywood; Critics' Warm Words Dispel Predictions Of Doom for 'Bugsy'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  15. ^ Graham, Jefferson (October 24, 1991). "Readying fill-ins for network flops". USA Today. p. 3D. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  16. ^ Stoneman, Donnell (July 23, 1992). "'Human Target': Ready, Aim, Fizzle". Greensboro News-Record. p. D2. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  17. ^ "Remembering David Carradine". Human Target Online. June 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2010-02-01.

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