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Herc Takes His Shot
At The CW’s NIKITA!!

I am – Hercules!!
I like The CW’s new “Nikita” pilot about as much as I liked what I’ve seen of USA’s 1997 “La Femme Nikita” series. Neither has anything like the precision wit and imagination supplied by 1990 Luc Besson movie on which they are based -- but what does? The new version emerges from the brain of “Standoff” creator Craig Silverstein, who later had a hand in the post-Katrina cop show “K-Ville.” “Standoff” and “K-Ville” were two of the shittiest shows Fox ever broadcast (which is saying something). “Nikita” is better than those, but not better enough to generate surprise. Unlike the old TV show and 1993’s big-screen “Point of No Return,” the new series is more sequel than remake, with Nikita (now played by Maggie Q of “Mission: Impossible III” and “Live Free Or Die Hard” fame) having escaped from her old black-op wetworks job three years earlier. She’s now determined to destroy her old agency, even as that agency is training a new girl named Alex to replace Nikita. Alex is played by the piping hot Lyndsy Fonseca (“Kick-Ass”), one of the best things about the project. The Washington Post says:
… Even with its ample servings of va-va-boom, a lot of edgy potential is wasted … Befitting the McG oeuvre, "Nikita" takes too seriously its own steeliness and, therefore, becomes too laughably slick. …
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:
… sort of ideal for young CW audience, but it also makes for a convoluted series pilot that bounces around from one hollow story line to another. …
HitFix says:
… as I watched the new “Nikita” pilot, I decided I had seen enough - even though, on its own merits, it’s one of the better debut episodes of any new show premiering this fall. … I’m just feeling burnt-out on this kind of show - not just “Nikita” remakes themselves, but dark and brooding spy series with complex mythologies and constant double-crosses - and it would take an extraordinary level of execution to make me care again … “Nikita” is good, but it’s not transcendent - a B when I would need an A or A+ to care again. That’s on me more than it’s on “Nikita,” but given its pedigree, and its timeslot (within a few weeks, it’ll compete with new episodes of “The Office,” “CSI,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Fringe”), I suspect the pilot will be the only episode of it I watch for a very long time. Your mileage will obviously vary.
The Boston Herald says:
… There’s a sense of “seen this, spied that” to the action as Nikita tries to halt a Division-sanctioned assassination, but Q brings gravitas to the story. Nikita’s vendetta seems fueled by equal parts revenge and despair (the latter, over the murder of her fiance, seen in flashbacks). … There are some chasm-size plot holes - like why this super-paranoid organization doesn’t bother to change any of its passwords or check its firewalls after Nikita releases their tech guy Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) from her tight grip. But there’s a smart twist at the end that reveals there’s more to this spy than meets the eye. “Nikita” could fill the hole in the prime-time schedule left by “Alias.” …
The Boston Globe says:
… If it’s true that you don’t miss your water till your well runs dry, then I’m missing my water, because this well — the Nikita well — is all but dust. I groaned when I heard that the CW was coming out with yet another version of the Nikita story, after the 1990 Luc Besson movie, the 1993 American remake with Bridget Fonda, the 1997 USA series, and the rest of TV’s recent kick-butt rebel-chick shows including “Dollhouse.’’ And I’m groaning still, after watching tonight’s premiere … As Nikita, Maggie Q is too much of a sad sack. Partly, her depressed demeanor is appropriate, since Nikita is so scarred and bent on revenge. But Q doesn’t seem able to layer any other emotions over her cold resolve. It’s a stilted, one-note, unsympathetic performance, the weight of the world heavy on her face even when she’s in action mode. …
The New York Times says:
… a surprisingly sophisticated and satisfying adaptation. It’s as sleek as the 1997-2001 television series “La Femme Nikita,” which starred Peta Wilson, but darker and more hard-nosed. … for all its pandering, “Nikita” is actually a well-made thriller for grown-ups: a heroine in a decidedly unheroic line of work. …
The Los Angeles Times says:
… Q, a Jackie Chan acolyte who does her own stunts, provides some sizzle, but her emotions run that famous distance from A to B, as do virtually everyone else's. This is the intrinsic problem with shows revolving around characters stripped of all emotion; it's difficult to make cold-blooded and calculating people interesting and empathetic, and yet it must be done. Because fight scenes will take you only so far. …
USA Today says:
… It's a well-woven tale, with the different strings hanging together nicely and leading off in a few directions you might not expect. The direction is crisp, the cast is fine, the loopholes are mostly closed and the secret-agency/new-identity world is generally convincing, making this in some sense a version of Dollhouse that works better than the original. …
Variety says:
… As series centered on female action heroes in shadowy spy organizations go, this promising newcomer more closely resembles "Alias" than its ostensible namesake, and while Q is probably more adept at flaunting her butt-kicking skills than emoting, the pilot is head-turning enough to warrant a second look at the show. …
The Hollywood Reporter says:
… It's a savvy restructuring, considering that Fonseca might be more appealing to the CW's young-female base than Q, who can convincingly slit a throat clad only in a bikini but is an inert presence in scenes that don't require violence. … The pilot comes across top-heavy with exposition and flashbacks that lay out a dense backstory. While a rich mythology typically is mandatory for an espionage series to attract a cult following, it could prove a barrier to entry when piled too high at the beginning. …
9 p.m. Thursday. The CW.
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