The Boyfriend of the Week

May 9, 2010 [comment on this write-up]

This week's write-up is (part of) my Mother's Day gift to my mom, who was the inspiration for this web site, lo those many years ago, and remains to this day my number one fan. Hi, Mom!

You see, I started the Boyfriend of the Week site over a decade ago, when Mom was living in the basement of my elderly great aunt's house while my dad was away getting a master's degree in education so he could start his second of three (and counting!) careers. Living in a basement with a cantankerous old biddy (hi, Aunt V.!) is not a lot of fun, at least not all the time (right, Ma?), so I started the site to make her laugh. Keep her entertained. Show her a few handsome men she might consider swapping my dad out for. That sort of thing.

As more and more people started stumbling across the site, much to my (continued!) astonishment, I started to build up a pretty cool fan base. The site got written up in a bunch of magazines, I got interviewed on the radio, people from all over the world started emailing me to tell me I made them laugh -- one of the greatest things you could ever say to me, by the way -- the site became really popular. It surprised the hell out of me. It still does.

But it never surprised my mom. Which is why moms TOTALLY RULE.

In any case, this week's Boyfriend, Mark Valley, is the star of one of Mom's current favorite TV shows, FOX's new thriller Human Target. And I have to say, it was no stretch to offer this one up to her because I could not agree more with her when it comes to this show's entertaining awesomeness.

I first caught wind of it when I was poking around on the web after the great TV series Pushing Daisies got the boot (bastards!), trying to find out where the delightful and greatly-missed-by-me-and-Mom stars of that series might end up next (including ex-Boyfriend Lee Pace, about to show up on the big screen as Marmaduke's dad -- the only reason I might see that film). That's when I discovered that co-star Chi McBride, he of knitting, pop-up book writing, detective sidekick-ism on Pushing Daisies, had landed a new gig on FOX in a show called Human Target.

I made a mental note, which promptly got lost in the mental-note-sucking vortex of my brain (oh, of course). And so, when the show finally started up a couple of months later, I completely failed to notice (oh, naturally). Luckily, only about two episodes in, I went down to my parents' for the weekend, and Mom had an episode on tape. We plopped down to watch it and about five minutes in, I was completely hooked. Chi McBride was awesome, naturally, but the main character, humina humina humina! That chin! That chin is marvelous! Second only to the chin of Bruce Campbell! (And that's saying a LOT, because, as we all know, that chin could KILL.) Plus, the episode itself was an absolute blast: an interesting premise, some truly funny comedy, and three completely delightful main characters.

The series is loosely based on a comic book character (known as the Human Target, for reasons I'll explain shortly), and I was surprised to learn that this is, in fact, the second TV show adapted from the comic series (the first was in 1992 and starred Rick Springfield, which may explain why A) I'd never heard of it and B) it didn't last long -- sorry, Rick). It's set in San Francisco and focuses on a detective/security business run by an ex-cop named Winston (McBride) and his partner, ex-assassin Christopher Chance (Mark "Cha-Chin!" Valley). Chance is a complicated dude with a heavy past, and he's taken on this new role as a helpful sort of mercenary in part to escape his demons. Or so we gather.

Also on board is uber-geek technology contractor Guerrero (played perfectly by Jackie Earle Haley), also an ex-assassin, who is super smart, totally vicious, and absolutely dedicated to Christopher Chance. Winston, he mostly just tolerates. The feeling is mutual, though effused with an undercurrent of total respect. (Oh, you know those two love each other -- you just know it.)

Each episode focuses on a single case. Chance gets hired to protect someone, which he essentially does by becoming a target himself. The case usually also involves solving some kind of mystery, which is where Winston and Guerrero usually come in. What's fun about this series is that even though there's an overarching storyline (what's the deal with Chance and his past?), each episode is fairly self-contained and each storyline is satisfyingly different from the next. The cases are unique, and the banter between the three main characters is sharp and fun.

If you haven't seen Human Target but Valley looks kind of familiar to you, it might be because you're a fan of another FOX series, Fringe. Mark was on that show, at least for the first season (I confess I quit watching only a few episodes into the second -- I'm planning to catch up on DVD, though), playing the dead boyfriend of Anna Torv's character. In an interesting side note, the two fell in love on that set and got married in 2008. In an even more interesting side note, they just got divorced last month. (Unfortunately for Mark, my mother is still married and it looks like it's going to stick. Hi, Dad!)

I looked Mark up on the IMDb site while prepping for this write-up to see if there was anything else he'd been in that I'd seen or might be able to watch in time for Mother's Day. But his filmography is pretty spare, really. It's mostly been TV shows I haven't seen, like Keen Eddie (which I keep meaning to watch and keep forgetting to check Netflix for) and Boston Legal (which I watched for a while, until I OD'd on Captain Kirk -- it can happen, trust me). He was also, not surprisingly, on a soap opera for a while at the beginning of his career (Days of Our Lives). But the only soap I ever watched was Santa Barbara in the late 1980's when I was in high school, and I gave up on that one after that weird tangent about the mountain man. Only my mother and sister will know what I'm talking about, which is why this aside is worth putting in here. Hi, Marni!

And so, really, this is the full extent of this Boyfriend write-up: Check out Human Target, watch out for that chin. Keep your fingers crossed that it gets renewed. Write someone a letter telling them to bring back Pushing Daisies (bastards!). The rest of what I'm going to say is a message to my mother:

Dear Mom:

I've had a hard year, as you know. And some days during this past year, I sent you emails full of the most whiny, lame, self-pitying bull ever written. Your response was almost always the same, and it boiled down to this: Chin up, you can do it.

(Aside: I just realized the expression "chin up" ties in nicely with this write-up.)

"You can do it" is the message you've given me my entire life, for as long as I can remember, and it's the message that has kept me from throwing in the towel, in all its various formats, countless numbers of times over the past 36 years. From when I was a little girl, struggling with self-esteem issues, to when I was in high school, struggling with. . . well, self-esteem issues. Throughout my twenties, when I was struggling with. . . uh, self-esteem issues. And well into my thirties, while I struggled with. . . hrm, self-esteem issues.

(Shoot, I'm noticing a trend here. Time for more affirmations in the mirror.)

Best of all, though, you shared your love of books and writing with me practically from day one. Remember when you used to sit at the electric typewriter in the family room in Yuma and type up the poems and stories I composed on the spot? This was among the greatest gifts you ever gave me (note: among the others was Western Barbie, because "when you press her back, she winks!" Marni just cackled at that, by the way).

You laughed at all my jokes, even the dumb ones (Western Barbie, "chin up," e.g.), you read my papers in high school and had meaningful, adult conversations with me about history, literature, and more. And then when I grew up, you read my dorky web site and wrote me messages after every write-up telling me how funny and smart I was.

You built me up, brick by brick, is what I'm saying. You're still doing it. Every day, another rock-solid stone. You are amazing to me. An inspiration. A guide in this life. A source of courage and strength. You are my closest confidant and most trusted friend -- and I hear from many others that this is not always the way it goes with mothers and daughters. We've done something right, you and me. Let's keep doing it.

Happy Mother's Day to you, Ma, and to all you other moms out there.

Keep building.


p.s. It's your turn in Lexulous.

MacGyver Factor Score: 94.756%.

Points off for not taking your shirt off in Human Target, Mr. Valley. NOT EVEN ONCE? Come on, what gives? We know what's under there. We know it's great. Stop teasing. Get Chi McBride to do it with you. THAT'LL be an episode to remember.

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Boyfriend-Related Links

Mark Valley's IMDb page (fan site)
FOX's Human Target page
Mark Valley's movies on Netflix

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