Wednesday, October 13, 2010
A Fistful of Soundtracks' "Assorted Fistful" sets its sights on Bear McCreary's Human Target soundtrack
Former Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary's beautifully crafted score cues for Human Target were a highlight of the first season of the Mark Valley series, an enjoyable Burn Notice-like throwback to '80s action shows despite co-star Jackie Earle Haley's weekly overuse of the word "dude" and the fact that Human Target bears little resemblance to the angsty, not-so-lighthearted Vertigo comic book that inspired it.
Most first-season Human Target episodes featured music performed by a 60-piece orchestra (McCreary upped it to 94 for the "Christopher Chance" season finale that guest-starred Armand Assante, Amy Acker and Lee Majors as a predecessor to Valley's title hero, an assassin-turned-bodyguard). This made McCreary's orchestra the largest group of musicians assembled for a TV series in years, a huge leap from the 30-piece orchestra McCreary often conducted on Galactica, the 29-to-34-piece orchestra Shirley Walker and her team of composers led during another made-for-TV DC Comics adaptation, Batman: The Animated Series, and the 37-piece one Michael Giacchino assembled for Lost.
"At the first production meeting we had, even before the pilot, I said we must have an orchestra," said Human Target's first-season showrunner Jonathan E. Steinberg in the press release for this month's Human Target soundtrack release. "This show is about an action hero, it's built out of the DNA of the movies I grew up on, Star Wars and Raiders and Star Trek. Those movies don't work without that orchestra."
Human Target, which debuted on Fox as a mid-season replacement last January, will return to the Fox lineup in mid-November (the season premiere was originally scheduled to air earlier this month--that's why the soundtrack release was slated for October--but the network postponed the premiere). However, Steinberg and McCreary didn't return for the second season. Matthew Miller, a writer/producer from Chuck, replaced Steinberg as showrunner, brought along Chuck composer Tim Jones and plans to insert into Human Target more Chuck-style "needle drops" (slang for existing songs), to the delight of a Human Target fan who said in HitFix.com's comments section that "I absolutely hate needle drops. I also love Bear McCreary's music. Human Target in its first season was a great callback to the silly shows of my childhood--The Fall Guy, The A-Team, etc. I don't like Chuck, and I don't like any of these proposed changes. I won't be tuning in for Season 2."
On his blog, McCreary explained his exit by saying "the series is now under new creative leadership, and as a result I have not been asked to return... We are likely to hear a very different musical approach to Human Target season 2, but I hope and trust the series will remain a fun adventure."
McCreary's departure is a disappointing development for fans of the show's Emmy-nominated first-season music like myself, but luckily, McCreary, who's currently busy juggling AMC's The Walking Dead and the Syfy shows Caprica and Eureka, has assembled a whopper of a Human Target soundtrack release. WaterTower Music's digital release of the Human Target soundtrack consists of 160 minutes of McCreary's music from the show, while La-La Land's physical version of the soundtrack on October 19 will contain even more music and encompass three discs.
I've added my favorite tracks from the Human Target album to daily "Assorted Fistful" rotation on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel. During one of these standout tracks, "The New Christopher Chance" from last season's cliffhanger, you can hear what Steinberg had in mind when he said his version of Human Target was built out of the DNA of Star Wars and Raiders. "The New Christopher Chance" contains "Katherine's Theme," a romantic motif McCreary wrote for Acker's character. The sweeping theme brings to mind both Han and Leia's Empire Strikes Back love theme and "Marion's Theme" from Raiders.
Tune into A Fistful of Soundtracks to get your Human Target music fix while you wait another few weeks for Jackie Earle Haley to come back and abuse the word "dude."