Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pilot Review: Nikita

Nikita (CW)
Premiered September 9 at 9pm

Who would have thought that the CW would produce one of the most enticing shows of the new season? While I’ve only had the chance to see other pilots from FOX and ABC at this point (reviews coming soon for all), this show ranks as my favorite out of the ones I have screened. Leading up to this show’s premiere, most were stupefied by the fact that this cool premise was being developed by CW and as a result, they doubted its potential. It’s worth remembering that the early season(s) of “Smallville” were actually quite good, and this first installment may even be better than the pretty awesome pilot of the Superman reboot was. What’s most thrilling about it is the pacing and the scoring, and it manages to make the events of the show just as compelling, unlike post-pilot episodes of both “Flash Forward” and “Rubicon.” The show makes sense, which is refreshing, and boasts a whole handful of great actors as well as plenty of room for the introduction of new scene-stealers on both the inside of the Division and the outside (I’d suggest anyone who used to star on “Dollhouse”). I feared that having Alex as a central character could make this show too much about the main character trying to find a protégé to train, but the end reveal that she is a plant working for Nikita was a terrific surprise that makes her presence totally legitimate. Maggie Q is a perfect fit for both the dialogue and action scenes of her character, and Lyndsy Fonseca, most recognizable as Katherine’s daughter on “Desperate Housewives” and Ted’s daughter on “How I Met Your Mother,” is a good choice for the role of Alex, a part I’m pretty sure would have been played by Mia Kirshner if this show had been made ten years earlier (I’m not familiar with the earlier versions of this series, so I’m not sure if the character existed back then). I’m most excited by the return to television of two actors who played iconic roles on once-great shows: Melinda Clarke, unforgettable as Julie Cooper on “The O.C,” as Amanda, and Xander Berkeley, who stole season two of “24” as George Mason, as head honcho Percy. I’m less thrilled about Shane West, but so far, he’s not doing such a bad job. This show is energetic, action-packed, and a whole lot of fun. I can’t wait for episode two.

How will it work as a series? There are so many characters being trained in the Division to choose from for spotlighting or for violent encounters with Nikita, and Alex’s undercover operation will make her job all the more dangerous and engaging. This show has plenty of ground to cover and lots of great characters to assist in the storytelling. It shouldn’t be a problem to keep churning out episodic and series-long plotlines.
How long will it last? Unless it stumbles later on in the season, a long time. The CW should be desperate for a new big hit with many of its shows entering seasons that need to be counted on two hands. This is the kind of show that could put them on par with other networks, and record-breaking ratings are a big help. A season two renewal shouldn’t be far off, in my estimation.

Pilot grade: B+

1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

I wasn't quite as impressed as you were. I thought the pilot was good, solid, and pretty entertaining. However, the early dialogue was extremely clunky. It also remains to be seen if the characters are at all compelling. I want to know more about Nikita, Michael, and particularly Alex.

A more pressing concern is whether this show is going to follow a "Burn Notice" formula involving "missions of the week", or focus on the intriguing overarching story. I'm hoping it's the latter. Still, an intriguing premiere. I'm still looking forward to "Lone Star" more, though. And maybe "The Event".