Yesterday was Good Friday, and for me it was definitely a good day, because I had the chance to reconnect with someone who has not only been one of my favorite actors for the last ten years, but is also one of my favorite people: Mark Valley. Mark is currently starring on ABC’s Body of Proof, and we did a phone interview for that show Friday morning. (You’ll see it Tuesday.) I had so much fun getting to chat with Mark again; he’s always been such a great conversation, but also so kind to me. I was honestly surprised – not to mention truly flattered – that he remembered me from our time spent together on what still stands as one of my favorite TV series ever made: Human Target.
When Human Target was announced in 2009, even before it aired, I knew it was going to be a huge TV show for me because of two things:
(1) I’ve been a fan of the original DC Comics character since childhood. Christopher Chance/Human Target is one of my two favorite comic-book heroes of all time (the other is Clint Barton/Hawkeye, if you were wondering)
(2) The show cast Mark Valley as its lead, and I’d been a fan of Mark’s ever since he starred in another show for FOX, 2003’s Keen Eddie. That was one of only two times in my life where I’ve turned to my friends and said, “Watch that guy, he’s going to be something someday” (the other is Jeremy Renner, who would go on to play Clint Barton/Hawkeye).
So I waited for the show with bated breath, and I was not disappointed; in fact, I was mindblown. For me personally, Human Target was the most perfect TV show I could’ve ever asked for. It had one of my favorite actors playing one of my favorite characters, with great writing, a wonderful orchestral score by Bear McCreary, and truly awesome stunts. Combining all these things I love, it was like someone had made a series specifically with me in mind.
But not only was it wonderful for me as a fan, it also became incredibly significant to me professionally. Human Target was one of the very first TV shows that I covered on a weekly basis, and the one with which I really established myself in the business. It was the first time I really made my voice heard, and people took notice. I about fell out of my chair when I realized that Jonathan Steinberg – the show’s creator and first-season showrunner – read my recaps and had left a very nice comment to one of them. Jon and I soon struck up a bit of a friendship over email, which was both a real pleasure for me and also incredibly validating. I got to interview Chi McBride, Jackie Earle Haley, and Bear McCreary, too, and the next time I saw Timothy Omundson at a Psych event, made sure to ask him about his guest spot on Human Target.
The greatest joy I got out of working on the show was that it gave me the opportunity to meet Mark. Before Human Target I thought we’d never be in the same room together, let alone that he would ever want to talk to me. Then came WonderCon 2010, and I got an offer to join the Human Target press room there – in San Francisco, more than 500 miles away from me. But when I saw Mark was going to be participating, I made the best impulse decision I’ve ever made: I bought a plane ticket and I flew to San Francisco, just so I could hopefully meet him.
It took some encouragement from the other journalists at my table in the press room (in particular, the insistence of NiceGirlsTV’s Melissa Lowery, who’s now one of my good friends in the business), but after Mark had done his interviews, with only eight months of full-time experience under my belt, I nervously approached him and introduced myself. He couldn’t have been more gracious. We talked for awhile, and then there’s this photo we took together, in which I understandably look like an overly excited dork. If you weren’t sure on that, I left the press room, called up my best friend, and my first words were, “I just met Mark Valley. I can’t believe I shook that guy’s freakin’ hand!” (That’s a hockey reference, but it was appropriate.)
Mark and I met again twice after that, once at the Human Target press room at that year’s Comic-Con, and again about a year or so ago at an NBC network party, after the show had been cancelled and he’d been cast on Harry’s Law. Both times he always made time for me, and I can’t thank him enough for that. I’ll always look back and smile at the last time I saw him, glancing across the crowded party to see him and wondering if he’d even recall who I was. I was honestly surprised when he stopped to say hello, give me a hug, and ask how I’d been doing. That made my night, just like it made my day Friday when Mark not only still knew who I was, but specifically mentioned reading the article I wrote about his arrival on Body of Proof. As any fan can understand, it’s been a great thing to say that not only have I met someone I admire, but he also hasn’t forgotten me. I’ll always have a soft spot for Mark, because through our meetings I got the chance to get to know him, and he’s one of those really good guys in the world.
By the end of season one, thanks to Jon, Mark, Bear and many others, Human Target was the first time that I really felt like part of a show, and not just someone covering it or watching it. When the rumblings began that it might be cancelled, I dug my heels in and did everything I could to campaign for its renewal, which was also relatively new territory for me. This earned me the nickname ‘President of the Human Target Fan Club.’ I knew I’d gained a reputation when one friend of mine that I don’t even see all that often said that when she heard FOX had renewed the series, she thought of me. And I was proud of that reputation, too – proud to be a part of something that I really believed in.
Although Jon left the show between seasons, I formed a different rapport with his replacement, Matt Miller, who appointed me the official President of the Human Target Fan Club. That’s a title I still hold onto with pride, because it meant he recognized the time, effort and passion I’d invested into the show. That series opened my eyes to the fact that I could be something more than just somebody writing articles. I found the strength of my words because of my experience on Human Target.
To this day, I still love that show just as much as I did two years ago. I had a marathon of the first season a few weeks ago and I found myself getting choked up, thinking about how much I enjoyed not just Human Target, but my experience being a part of it. I got to enjoy a show that was everything I could have ever dreamed of, get to know one of my favorite actors, and find out that people I looked up to cared what I had to say. That’s not something I’m ever going to have again – but it’s truly something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.
If you haven’t seen Human Target yet, you can pick up the show on DVD or Blu-Ray for under $20 at Amazon.