By Paula Hendrickson
When Fox previews its new series, Human Target, Jan. 17, you’ll probably think the lead actor looks kind of familiar and wonder, “Where do I know this guy from?”
That’s Mark Valley starring as the aptly-named Christopher Chance, a private security expert who takes on especially tough cases. (And if the character sounds familiar, that’s because he’s a DC Comics character.)
Chances (ahem) are that you’ve already seen Valley several times playing any number of roles. His most recent job was playing FBI Agent John Scott on Fringe, and he was a long-time regular on Boston Legal as straight-laced attorney Brad Chase. A lot of people remember him best from one of his first starring roles on the short-lived series Keen Eddie, where he played an American cop working in London; Sienna Miller played his unintentional roommate.
Despite seeing him in all those parts, every time I see Valley, I think of Days of Our Lives. He was one of two actors who played Jack Deveraux back in the mid-’90s during a period when the man most associated with the role, Matthew Ashford, had left the soap. You can’t beat the way they introduced Valley: in the middle of an episode, Jack, then being portrayed by yet another actor, stepped into the shower. When Jack emerged again, he was played by Valley. Stuff like that can only happen on a soap.
Valley had the right blend of wit and charm to play Jack (something Ashford’s other replacement lacked), and remained on the show a couple of years. Before long, he was popping up all over TV, and even in some films. He played the recurring role of Abby’s unlikable ex-husband on ER before landing his own series, Keen Eddie.
(Honestly, I still don’t know why Keen Eddie never took off. Great cast, fun scripts, shot on location in London—maybe the problem was that it started as a summer replacement series.)
“But I’ve never watched any of those shows,” you say, “so why does he still look so familiar?” Perhaps you saw him guest star on CSI, Swingtown, Law & Order: SVU or The 4400. Or, maybe he just has one of those faces.
While the premise of Human Target sounds somewhat intriguing, I’ll probably tune in more to see Valley in an action series. It looks like the role will blend everything he’s good at—action, drama and comedy—making it an ideal mix for someone with Valley’s varied background.
I really hope Human Target is worthy of its cast, which includes Chi McBride, who was delightfully gruff in Pushing Daisies, and former child star Jackie Earle Haley, who has stayed really busy since returning to acting with the 2006 film Little Children, which earned him an Oscar nomination. We’ll know soon enough. Human Target previews Jan. 17 at 7 p.m., and premieres Jan. 20 on Fox at 8 p.m. (Immediately after American Idol.)
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Jan. 13-19, 2010 issue.