When Human Target was renewed for a second season, it gained a new showrunner: Matt Miller. Miller (pictured here with series star Mark Valley at Comic-Con 2010), a veteran of NBC’s Chuck, has taken the reins of the show for its sophomore surge. He spoke to me exclusively on Thursday to discuss joining the series, how its second season is developing, and what fans can expect from his tenure.
How did you come into the showrunner position with Human Target? What was it like for you to come in and take the reins of an established series? What were some of the things you had to deal with?
I got a call from Warner Brothers, who had asked me to basically take a look at the first 12 episodes and see what I thought, then sit down and talk about what could possibly be revised. It was already a great show, but at the same time maybe making some adjustments to the show. It was a little bit different but it was really kind of rewarding in the sense that any person can watch a television show, and they’d have things that they’d do differently. It was a show that I watched and enjoyed, so I had a bit of wish fulfillment. It was difficult, but on the other hand it was kind of fun.
For the fans that don’t know a lot about the production side, enlighten us as to what it is you do every day. What’s your daily schedule like?
It begins early and it goes late. I usually start my day around 6 [AM] writing. Part of the executive producer’s job on this is writing episodes, making sure they all have the same kind of tone and voice. We have a fabulous writing staff that does an incredible job. You’re involved in everything from breaking episodes to reading outlines of episodes to reading scripts and giving notes, to being in the editing room, to dealing with music, to dealing with production and you’re having meetings all day. There’s an episode we’ll be shooting, there’s an episode in post-production, and there’s an episode we’ll be prepping. We’ve mapped out some version of 13 episodes and some version of 22 episodes.
You took over for Jon Steinberg, who brought Human Target to TV and has been the driving force behind its success. How have you and Jon meshed together? How closely do you work together?
We work together very closely. He’s a great guy, super bright guy, incredibly talented. He’s an executive producer as well so he’s involved in a lot of phases of production.
There’s also been another production change. Tim Jones is doing the music for season two, replacing Bear McCreary, who did the score for the first season. Can you discuss what precipitated the composer change?
It was just a slightly revamped version of the show. There was a 40-person orchestration they’d do every week, and we couldn’t afford to do that. So I wanted to bring in someone that could do that and be comfortable with that.
You did some writing on Chuck. Any chance you’re going to be writing for Human Target this season?
I’ll be doing quite a bit of writing this year. I wrote the first episode by myself and then I was involved in writing some of the episodes. It’s great when it turns out well. That’s the beauty of television.
I’ve talked to some of the regular readers of my column who are fans of the series, and one of their big concerns is that the addition of the two female characters may also mean the show gets saddled with romantic subplots. The words ‘romantic tension’were thrown around at Comic-Con. Should fans be bracing themselves for Chance to be placed in a romantic storyline in the second season?
I don’t think so. All I can say is they should just watch the show and give it a chance. The idea of bringing in characters, whether male or female, was to just open up our world a bit more and add some tension between our characters. The more you have, the more you can play with. It’s not really romantic, though there is an undercurrent of romantic tension between Chance and Ilsa.
Speaking of romantic subplots, the other big complaint fans had was speculation that Katherine Walters (Amy Acker) may have survived the boat explosion shown in the season finale after her death has been referenced all season. A lot of fans feel her return would be not only implausible but almost undermining Chance’s character. Can you tell us for sure that she’s dead?
I’ll tell you this. We haven’t spent two minutes in the writers’ room discussing Katherine Walters being alive. I don’t want to commit to anything, but as of now, we have no intention and have spent zero time discussing that possibility.
There was one great casting coup here: how did you land Indira Varma for the role of Ilsa? Was there anyone else you considered?
We sent her the script, she liked it, read, auditioned and got the part. Nothing fancy, though she did put herself on tape from London because she was over there at the time. We auditioned about 60 or 70 actresses.
Let’s talk plot. Now that we’ve seen how Christopher Chance became Christopher Chance, are we done with flashbacks to his backstory, or might that continue into season two as well?
We may go back to some stuff. I wouldn’t rule that out. It’s not going to be something we’re going to be doing as a stylistic move early in the season, but we’re certainly going to get into his past. We have intentions of getting into his backstory, whether it’s through flashbacks or not.
Are there going to be any ongoing story arcs in season two?
There will be, but it’s not going to be so much mythology in the second season.
Of course, the hallmark of the show is its amazing stunts and action sequences. Can you tease some of the ones we’re going to see in the second season?
It’s not like in the first season where he was in a plane and then a train. Every episode will have some phenomenal action sequences. I think our stunt coordinator and Steve Boyum, our executive producer who is a former stunt man, create some great sequences. In every episode we have some very fun movie-ish set pieces. For example, there’s a Christmas episode where it all takes place in a mall, but there’s not one where I can say, “Oh, we have this great boat chase.”
How do you produce such great movie-quality action in an hour without sacrificing the development of your characters?
It is a difficult balancing act. It all starts with the story and the script, and making sure that it’s not just about the action sequences but making sure that there’s something compelling going on underneath it.
I should admit something. My nickname around the office is “unofficial president of the Human Target Fan Club.” I’ve been told I should ask you if there is one and about if I can drop the “unofficial” from the title.
I’m not sure if there is one. I know FOX has a website. But I officially nominate you for president. I anoint you president of the Human Target Fan Club.
I’m beyond flattered. As a Chuck fan as well as a Human Target fan, I want to close my interview with this geeky question: who’d win in a fight — John Casey or Christopher Chance?
I like John Casey and I like Adam Baldwin, but my money’s on Christopher Chance. I like Adam and I miss working with him, but I’d still take Chance in the fight.
My thanks to Matt Miller for a fantastic interview! Season 2 of Human Target premieres Friday, October 1 at 8:00 PM on FOX. DVDs for Season 1 are available on September 21.