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Archive for Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is another ‘Nikita’ really necessary?

September 9, 2010

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How’s this for recycling? The “new” series “Nikita” (8 p.m., CW) offers a reboot of a 1997 Canadian series “La Femme Nikita” (seen here on USA), which was itself based on “Nikita,” a 1990 French-language thriller directed by Luc Besson. Just to complicate matters further, “Nikita” was also remade in 1993 as the movie “Point of No Return,” starring Bridget Fonda and directed by John Badham.

So we’re really talking about Nikita 4.0 here, and, like many Windows revisions, I’m not sure everybody’s interested in the upgrade.

This “Nikita” stars Maggie Q, (“Mission Impossible III”), a sleek killing machine who had a troubled youth and fell into crime. She was rescued from death row by a super-secret government agency that admired her spunk and trained her to be a government assassin.

Apparently, she was good at the job and down with the program until the agency bumped off her boyfriend. Now she’s out for revenge and wants to free all of her fellow fem-bots from bondage.

While competently produced, “Nikita” includes a remarkable amount of casual violence. While I’m never sure there’s a good reason to tell the same story for the fourth time, my real beef with “Nikita” is its context. What’s this doing on the CW alongside “Vampire Diaries,” more clearly aimed at the network’s teen female demographic? Nikita is an “empowered” female role model, but the show is more beset with paranoia, cynicism and gunplay than the very guy-centric “24.” It lacks the breezy humor of female spy effort “Covert Affairs” on USA and even the geeky sci-fi appeal of Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse.”

Like “Dollhouse,” this new “Nikita” may offer a tale of rebellion by a strong woman, but it’s shot through with scenes of women in their undress, acting like puppets with men pulling the strings.

I’m not a market researcher, but I suspect that most women, young and old, will find “Nikita” violent, boring and pointless. As for guys — well, I’m not sure they’re watching the CW. And if they are, there are a million shows old and new just like “Nikita.” Including three vintage “Nikitas.”

• Unleash the Kraken — and everybody else! The six-episode series “Beast Legends” (9 p.m., Syfy) spans the globe and interviews researchers and scientists about evidence of mythological creatures including dragons and griffins.

• It’s difficult to imagine but impossible to forget the chaos that reigned during the early moment of Sept. 11, 2001. “9/11 State of Emergency” (8 p.m., History) recalls the harrowing, split-second decisions made from Washington as sketchy and incomplete reports about the attacks (and a possible imminent strike on Washington) were just coming in. Interviews include former national security advisor Condoleezza Rice; former Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Richard Myers and former White House chief of staff Andrew Card.

Tonight’s other highlights

• “NFL Kickoff 2010” (6:30 p.m., NBC) is followed by the first regular-season game, (7:30 p.m.) pitting the Vikings against the Saints.

• A hoarder’s loot may bury evidence of his murder on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Katherine returns with a vengeance on the second-season premiere of “Vampire Diaries” (7 p.m., CW).

• “Destination Truth” (8 p.m., SyFy) enters its fourth season.

• Andy goes undercover on “Rookie Blue” (8 p.m., ABC).

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