Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not for review: The CW's "Nikita"

"Not for review" is an occasional series of pieces in which I offer my thoughts on the pilots for this year's new shows. These are not reviews, as many of the pilots sent to press aren't final versions. Roles can be recast; scenes can be re-edited and many other changes can be made. These are simply my first impressions based on watching early versions of the shows.
The show: The CW's "Nikita"
The premise: The fourth (!) telling of the Nikita story, first introduced in Luc Besson's 1990 French film. This time, former government assassin Nikita (Maggie Q) has gone rogue. Not only is she hiding from The Division, the shady agency she once worked for, she's trying to destroy the organization.
My thoughts: Quick-moving, with well-executed action scenes, Nikita seems like it could be a fine TV thrill ride. However, I'm a little turned off by Maggie Q's robotic performance in the title role. Part of what made Anne Parillaud so engaging in the original film was her spunk and energy. I realize this is supposed to be an older, wiser, more bitter Nikita, but Maggie Q could stand to loosen up a little. Her work reminded me of Lena Headey's grim performance as Sarah Connor in Fox's "Terminator" series. In fact, "Nikita" has much the same vibe as "Terminator" -- dark and unrelenting. That's not really a bad thing. I liked "Terminator." But if "Nikita" wants to engage audiences, it needs to be a little less grim and a little more fun.

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