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TV Tonight: Violent Femme

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The CW

I don’t have a full-length review for you of The CW’s Nikita, debuting tonight, partly because of other deadlines, partly because, while the pilot is a sleekly executed version of a familiar woman-who-kicks-ass theme (based on the ur-woman-who-kicks-ass story), there’s not enough compellingly original about it to comment on. If it’s a big success—and it might well be—I’ll come back to it, but a couple thoughts for now:

If you’ve seen La Femme Nikita the movie, or the TV show, or its variously inspired successors like Alias, you have some idea what you’re going to see here. A woman—and it turns out, many young women and men—has been forced by a nefarious agency to become a trained agent/assassin. She rebels. Secrets are learned. Knives are thrown, karate is kicked, bikinis are worn. Someone at some point will slink her way into a restricted area wearing a tight evening gown. &c.

So Nikita will not surprise you; boy, will it not surprise you. Here’s a passage of dialogue, from Nikita (action star Maggie Q) describing her training and covert work: “Then I broke one of their rules.” “What rule?” What line of dialogue comes next? If you had, “I fell in love,” you are a winner! And have probably watched a television show or action movie at some point in the last two decades!

So Nikita will not surprise you. If you don’t want or need to be surprised, it’s a pretty well-paced, gorgeously shot and fast-moving pilot, and Maggie Q, who is practically computer-designed to play the role, seems worth all the publicity investment The CW has placed in her. (Was I especially blown away by her acting? No. Is that the main point here? See dialogue in previous paragraph.) It’s kind of a dour show by the network’s standards—the opening sequence, a grim crime flashback, could be something from a CBS drama—but it might not be a bad move for the network to try to broaden its audience base. And a good way to do that is with a familiar serving of expertly popped corn like this.

I don’t see enough new in Nikita to likely hold my interest, but I’ll return at least to see where its running revenge storyline goes. When the rest of the Thursday regulars return, however, it could end up deep in my DVR queue. How high is it on your list?