Thursday, September 16, 2010

Does Nikita have a second chance?

I had no clue that the Nikita series were up for a re-boot, until I saw the poster with the one and only chair. In all honesty, I was not a big fan of the original series. TV in my country at the time I was shaping up as a child had not much to offer, so I watched La Femme Nikita for perhaps two or maybe three seasons, but without really caring about it. As you can feel, I wasn't entirely thrilled about the follow-up series. Idea regurgitation in television [and in cinema for that matter] isn't pretty [as I advocate for originality or at least more books to be ordered for serialization], but in the case with Nikita it may be a good thing.

Technically, the new Nikita is a continuation of the series. The same characters are brought in, but the game has changed substantially. While La Femme Nikita focused on the realistic portrayal and de-romanticization of the spy myth [suspenseful work environment, paranoia and Nikita's desperate plans to escape], Nikita presents what happens after Nikita manages to escape from Division. It's early to tell, but the show has oriented towards dynamic action scenes with descent choreography and a complicated cat-and-mouse-game series arc. What I saw from the pilot is satisfying [for a superb, but filled with spoilers coverage, read Ove's post], because while it does not do something entirely original from the get-go, the show is sleek and reminiscent of a Bond movie.

Also, I think CW picked the most welcoming moment to launch a spy show with a strong female lead. Alias and 24 proved that government agents and spies are solid small screen goldmine. Burn Notice, Chuck and White Collar make up the second generation of such TV shows, but their lead is male [though Chuck is more of a male-female duo]. I think there is a strong demand for a spy show with the spotlight on a strong female character, which right now as a type is represented by Covert Affairs. Even so, Covert Affairs [starring Piper Perabo and Christopher Gorham] is on the light-hearted spectrum, whereas Nikita will definitely flirt with danger, suspense and aggression. Annie Walker is one kick-ass heroine during missions, but at the same I couldn’t ignore obvious elements of comedic relief through social awkwardness and dialogue.

The two shows have touching points. Nikita’s been betrayed by Division, which had promised a second chance. Annie, on the other hand, has been recruited by the CIA as bait for Ben Mercer, a former CIA agent and Annie’s lover. Both characters have a rather complicated relationship with the men in their lives, which seem to affect the series’ story arc. Annie relies on computer geek Auggie [Gorham] for support, while Nikita relies on her smartass mole inside Division. Action is featured on both shows. At this point seems that Nikita is indistinguishable from Covert Affairs, which means that a battle for ratings is not far away.

However, I think Nikita will get a second chance as a franchise, because Covert Affairs is family friendly material, suitable for a younger audience and for those who want a little joke here and there. Nikita, on the other hand, is trigger-happy and a lot darker. The high-class Bond espionage vibe, the heavy sexual undertones and the near sci-fi appearance of Division will be highly valued by teenagers and college students, which coupled with the shootings and beautifully choreographed fights [with their specific fan base] will attract a wide and varied audience. Unless the show turns out to be a flunk.

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