First Look, Two Takes: Does ‘Nikita’ Kick Sufficient Butt?

by | June 18, 2010 at 2:16 PM | Fall TV Preview, Fall TV Preview 2010, First Look

Maggie Q is 'Nikita' (Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW)

Maggie Q is 'Nikita' (Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW)

The fall TV season may be months away, but it’s never too soon to get a feel for the fresh fare coming our way. In Fancast’s First Look, Two Takes series, executive editor Matt Mitovich shares a snapshot overview of each new show, noting strengths and areas for improvement, and then invites a fellow editor to offer a second opinion.

Today we tackle…

NIKITA,’ The CW
Time slot:
Thursdays at 9/8c
Competition: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (ABC), ‘CSI’ (CBS), ‘Fringe’ (Fox) and ‘The Office’/’30 Rock’ (NBC)
Cast: Includes Maggie Q (‘Mission Impossible 3′), Shane West (‘ER’), Lyndsy Fonseca (‘Desperate Housewives’), Melinda Clarke (‘The O.C.’) and Xander Berkeley (’24′)
Executive Producers: Craig Silverstein (‘Bones’), Danny Cannon (‘Chuck’), McG (‘Charlie’s Angels’) and Peter Johnson (‘Chuck’)

The Bullet: It is coincidence that our second First Look, following CBS’ ‘Hawaii Five-O,’ also concerns a reboot of a familiar property. This time, it’s a new take on A) the French film ‘La Femme Nikita,’ B) the U.S. remake ‘Point Of No Return‘ and/or C) the USA Network series ‘La Femme Nikita.’ Take your pick. Action-film star Maggie Q stars as the titular scalawag-turned-assassin for a government agency known only as Division. This time, however, Nikita has gone rogue, leaving her former handlers – West included – to forever be wary of revenge.

What Works: This ain’t ‘Spy-0210.’ If you feared The CW would reimagine Nikita as a shiny/happy lass, rest assured that Q’s character is cunning, hardcore and totally kick-ass at kicking butt. As an actress, she also sells the tortured avenger pretty well. West is fine (if reading a bit young) as her former boss/maybe love interest, while Clarke is icy-cool as one of Division’s puppet masters. Berkeley didn’t get much to do in the pilot, but we hope the ’24′ vet will lend George Mason types of gravity to the situation. Lastly, the premiere packs a nifty twist that promises to add an extra degree of new to this redo.

What Needs Work: ‘Nikita’ is one of those pilots where at first blush you think, “Wow, that was entertaining” – only to then wonder, “What will this be about week-to-week?” Will we watch Division’s missions forever get thwarted by Niki? Is it about her search for truths? I’m curious. Also, as many have pointed out, Division and its perpetually in-training PYTs echoes ‘Dollhouse‘ a bit much.

Check out the full fall schedules for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW

Take Two, from Fancast’s Julie Zied: Yes, ‘Nikita’ has been done before. And yes, as a fan of Luc Besson’s 1990 film, my approach to this pilot was skeptical at best. But then something surprising happened: It ended, and I was invested. Why is Division so evil? Who are all of these beautiful young trainees and will any of them flip for Nikita’s cause? And how unfair is life that people as gorgeous as Maggie Q exist in this world? If there’s one thing The CW seems to have learned from its reboot missteps of the past (ahem, ‘Melrose,’ ‘90210’), it’s that the latest iteration must distance itself enough from the original to not feel like a rehash. That means new story arcs, new characters, and new intrigue. Mission accomplished, CW.

The Fancast Forecast: ‘Nikita’s biggest foe may not be a covert org but Fox’s surging ‘Fringe.’ We spy a good fight.

Want scoop on your favorite show, from summer or fall? Send your question to MattMtvguy@gmail.com and read The Big Tease every Tuesday at Fancast!

Watch the ‘Nikita’ trailer here: