Why doesn’t Nikita work for me?

Hi there…

Every so often, I ponder why I like one television show, but not another. Sometimes I blame it on the actors (“I don’t like So-and-So”)… Sometimes I blame it on the writing… And sometimes there’s just something missing that brings a particular show together.

As another Fall television season approaches, I’m looking at the schedule and wondering what shows I think I’m going to like and what I’m not.

The first of the premieres was Nikita on The CW. Though there is beauty, action, and gadgets – unfortunately it’s not going to be enough to keep my attention.

When La Femme Nikita was released in 1990 from then relatively unknown director Luc Besson, I managed to catch it on video. It blew my mind. It was intense, with action, acting, and the sense that there was much more there than met the eye. Actress Anne Parillaud as Nikita was fierce, intense, and demanded your attention on screen.

We’ll skip the Bridget Fonda movie Point of No Return, which was an American take on the original. It was horrible and we’ll leave it at that.

When the television series popped up in 1997 starring then unknown actress Peta Wilson in the lead role, I was hooked again. Somehow it not only managed to capture the intensity, action, and depth of the original movie, but it expanded the story in a way that never lost itself in the weeds. I lost track of the series in its last few years, but watched from ’97 through ’99 and enjoyed it thoroughly.

That brings us to the 2010 version of Nikita starring Maggie Q as Nikita. She’s stunning and intense, but not quite as imposing a figure as either Parillaud or Peta for me. But it’s when you get past Maggie to the rest of the cast that I started to lose interest.

Shane West in the role of Michael – Nikita’s handler – just doesn’t cut it. Compared to the first TV series where Roy Dupuis plays the character, West simply doesn’t have the dynamic range to play sensitive to scary. West has tried over the last 10 or so years to shake the image of teenager Eli from ABC’s Once and Again with roles like Tom Sawyer in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Dr. Barnett in E.R., but it’s just not working for me.

And Melinda Clarke as Amanda, the woman who transforms beautiful, troubled people into runway models with grace and poise as they assassinate people. Melinda is a great actress who’s been in some very eclectic things over the years, including Soldier of Fortune, Inc., Spawn, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But Amanda pales when compared to Alberta Watson’s Madeline from the ’90s series as well. Watson ate up the screen in that role.

There are other characters I could compare to earlier incarnations, but I won’t. In this case, it seems to be a mix of writing and casting that’s making Nikita not work for me. Maybe I’ll check in after a few episodes to see if it’s improved any – but most likely I won’t be watching again unless I’m very bored.

What do you think? Or did you even know that Nikita had started? If so, you’re better at ignoring advertising than I am. I’d seen ads in magazines and on television for weeks before the series premiere.

For more information about Nikita, check out their website here.

–Fitz

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Too Much TV – Fall 2010

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Image by derekraugh via Flickr

We watch too much television at my house. We should probably seek professional help. Instead, we’re trying to figure out how to juggle DVR schedules and On Demand shows so we can watch everything we want to see… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA… [ahem]

Ok, now that I’ve had my nervous breakdown, let’s go through the list…

Last Thursday on the CW, I tried to watch the new Nikita. And though there were some good things (the action was cool, gadgets were cool, girls were beautiful) it just didn’t engage for me. I blame that not on Maggie Q, who plays Nikita in this incarnation of the story, but on the weak characters surrounding her. Shane West as Michael pales when compared to Roy Dupuis in the Peta Wilson-led La Femme Nikita of the late 1990s. And though I used to love Melinda Clarke, her Amanda pales against Alberta Watson’s Madeline from the ’90s series as well… I could go on, but suffice it to say that I won’t be watching again unless I’m very bored.

This week, we have only one show. It’s one my wife started watching and when I found time to see it, I actually enjoyed it…

  • Parenthood (ABC), Tuesday September 14, 2010 at 10pm CST/9pm MST

Next week is insane however…

Let’s start with Monday, September 20, 2010. Eight shows that we want to watch happen to air between 7pm and 10pm our time. Geez. And even if we only watch the first episode of a new series (I’m not convinced I’ll watch The Event, Chase, or Hawaii Five-O, but want to see the first episode to find out), that only reduces the list to 5 shows on a single night…

  • House (FOX), 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • Chuck (NBC), 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • Rules of Engagement (CBS), 8:30pm CST/7:30pm MST
  • The Event (NBC), 9pm CST/8pm MST
  • Two and a Half Men (CBS), 9:00pm CST/8:00pm MST
  • Castle (ABC), 10pm CST/9pm MST
  • Chase (NBC), 10pm CST/9pm MST
  • Hawaii Five-O (CBS), 10pm CST/9pm MST

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 is a little better…

  • Glee (FOX), 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • NCIS (CBS), 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • Raising Hope (FOX), 9pm CST/8pm MST
  • NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 9pm CST/8pm MST

Wednesday, September 22, 2010, we only have a couple…

  • Undercovers (NBC), 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • The Defenders (CBS), 10pm CST/9pm MST

Then Thursday (September 23, 2010) explodes again… Even though I won’t watch Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice (they’re my wife’s shows), that’s still seven out of nine shows…

  • Bones (FOX), 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • Big Bang Theory (CBS), 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • S#*! My Dad Says (CBS), 8:30pm CST/7:30pm MST
  • Fringe (FOX), 9pm CST/8pm MST
  • Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 9pm CST/8pm MST
  • CSI (CBS), 9pm CST/8pm MST
  • Outsourced (NBC), 9:30pm CST/8:30pm MST
  • Private Practice (ABC), 10pm CST/9pm MST
  • The Mentalist (CBS), 10pm CST/9pm MST

And Friday (September 24, 2010) we only have a couple again:

  • Supernatural (CW), 9pm CST/8pm MST
  • CSI: NY (CBS), 9pm CST/8pm MST

So in the first big week of premieres, we’re looking at… 25 shows potentially.

To add insult to injury for our poor DVRs, there are more premieres scattered throughout October and November too…

  • No Ordinary Family (ABC), Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • Stargate Universe (Syfy), Tuesday, September 28, 2010,
    9pm CST/8pm MST
  • Human Target (FOX), Friday, October 1, 2010, 8pm CST/7pm MST
  • The Walking Dead (AMC), Sunday, October 31, 2010, 9pm CST/8pm MST
  • Lie to Me (FOX), Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 9pm CST/8pm MST

That’s a lot of television and I’m guessing a few will fall by the wayside before too long, but still… As Keanu would say – “Whoa.”

What are you planning on watching?
–Fitz

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