When I was at Comic-Con – what feels like months ago now – I attended and wrote about the panel for “Human Target,” a show I liked last season but didn’t love, and one where the raw materials – specifically, leading men Mark Valley, Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley, plus some of the best action scenes on TV – were strong but the mix as a whole only really came together in the season finale. The ratings weren’t great, and now Fox has moved it to Fridays and brought in “Chuck” producer Matt Miller to be the showrunner. Miller’s job is to take the elements that were working and then make the show stronger overall creatively.
At Comic-Con, Miller talked quite a bit about the addition of Indira Varma as the team’s new financier, as well as a female thief character named Ames – a role since cast by Janet Montgomery. When I saw him at Fox’s press tour day earlier this week, I asked him about other changes he’s making, including the exit of composer Bear McCreary.
What did you think of the show when you first watched it? Had you seen it before you were approached to do it?
I had not seen it, and received a call to watch the show. I watched and I thought it was incredible. I seriously could not believe the amount they were able to get on the screen on that show. Working on a show that is a bit of an action-adventure comedy, I understand the challenges of that, and that show was unbelievable. It was a case of some wish-fulfillment. I got to watch a show, think, “Beautiful, but what would I do differently?” and was given the ball and the opportunity to try to make those changes myself.
You talked at Comic-Con about how you wanted to add some women and what Indira Varma’s character is going to do. Beyond that, what tweaks have you made that you felt were important to take the good stuff and bring it to the next level?
I think there were a couple of different areas we wanted to attack. The first was adding some female characters. The second was the way the stories were being told. In season one, it was incredible action-adventure, page 1 to page 50 or whatever. This season, I think we want to still be an action-adventure show, but have it relate to character as much as possible. So every episode should land on and relate to and be impactful to one of our five leads. So whether it be Chance who’s emotionally at stake, or Winston, or Guerrero or Ames or Ilsa, we want to feel that the A-story relates to them personally in some way.
So that’s the storytelling. Visually, you had a guy who was sort of in hiding last year. You couldn’t tell where the show took place. We want to know that the show takes place in San Francisco, wanted to see it out the window. We wanted to give the whole thing a visual facelift, give it a little more pop. So the office is going to be completely redone. The show’s going to have an international feel. We’re going to be going abroad a lot.
Musically, we’ve made some changes. We’re going to have Tim Jones, the composer from “Chuck,” coming on. We’re going to put needle drops (actual songs instead of score) in the show, just give it a little bit more pop.
The finale ends on a cliffhanger, and it sounds like the premiere is dealing with the introduction of Ilsa. So how are you going to reshuffle all of those things?
The idea has to be with the first episode back that it feels satisfying for people that watched last season and want that cliffhanger resolved in some way, but for a new audience who’s never seen the show before, they should be able to watch “Human Target” and not be confused for a second about what’s going on and love the ride. Hopefully we’re taking what happened last season, wrapping it up and then relaunching the Ilsa story in a way that feels completely entertaining and satisfying.
Now, I love Tim’s work on “Chuck,” but one of the best things about the show last year was Bear (McCreary) and the theme song and all of that. Can you talk about the decision to switch?
Basically, the idea is that we wanted to give the show a slightly different tone to it. Bear’s a very busy guy, he’s taken on another job, and I talked to Tim about it, and we felt there was some way to take the music from last year and just tweak it slightly. So it’s not going to be totally new score, or anything like that. It’s just going to be slightly revamped and remodeled. And also, the show last year was musically great, but it had no music in it. There were no needle drops. So we want to do that, add some songs to the show.
But are the theme song and title sequence going to be the same?
It’s going to be very, very, very similar.