Monday, August 22, 2011

Cream of the Crop: Nikita

With each new television season, there's a giant new crop of television shows. Some of them are rotten, others are just okay, but a few shine as the cream of the crop. In this series of posts, I'm going to share with you the three new shows from the last year that I've watched and enjoyed.

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW

Much like the last show I included in this series of posts, I mocked Nikita before I give it a shot. I had no plans to even give it a chance, and I thought it looked like Alias: The Teen Edition. Well, truthfully, that's not entirely inaccurate, but it's not a bad thing either. I first got a glance at Nikita when the pilot came on after an episode of The Vampire Diaries (another show I initially scorned due to its network). I didn't really pay much attention to it, but I thought that it looked less lame than I had expected. Still, I shut it off about half way through. Flash-forward in time to my experiencing a period of boredom during a break. I'd heard a surprising amount of positive buzz for Nikita, so I decided to give it a shot. I quickly caught up on the episodes and was hooked.

Despite my Alias comparison, Nikita is actually based on prior source material that predates Alias. I've read that there was both a movie, Nikita, and a television show, La Femme Nikita, but having seen neither of these, I can't tell you how similar the current version of Nikita is to either of these. I can however, give you a brief rundown of Nikita's plot. Nikita is former member of an organization named Division. Division was once a U.S. government organization with good intentions but has abandoned those intentions in favor of bad ones. After the death of her fiance at their hands, Nikita has become focused on taking down Division, a goal made easier by the fact that she's got a mole on the inside, Alex.

There's plenty more to the story, but there's enough twists and turns that it's probably best to just let the story unfold by watching it. In fact, the constant shifts in its direction is one of Nikita's best qualities. The plot constantly marches onward; several twists that I would have expected years later if at all happened well before the first season's end. Another aspect I love about the show is that it features two kick butt women (sorry to scandalize you with the PG language, but some ideas call for strong words). Along with categories like "Witty Romantic Opposites Attract Movies," Netflix often recommends TV shows and movies with "Strong Female Leads," and Nikita provides that. There are lots of action sequences where Nikita and Alex kick major butt. Sometimes Michael aka Shane West (who I like to call Shanye West) even joins in on the fun; I like "strong leads" of all genders.

While I've been surprised at how good Nikita is, I'm not going to pretend like Nikita is flaw-free show. It tends to suffer from cheesy dialogue. The cheesiness is not as bad as it could be, but it's undeniably there. In addition to cheesy dialogue, I don't feel as attached to the characters as I feel I should. I like most of them, but they just don't have that extra something that makes me care about them overly much. I feel like part of the reason for this may be that the plot moves forward at such a fast pace that there isn't a whole lot of time for character building. The plot is fun and fast enough for me to enjoy Nikita, despite the deficiencies in its characters. However, I haven't felt much of an urge to watch any reruns, and I think the lack of character development plays a big role in that. That being said, I'm still super excited for new episodes in the upcoming second season.

Overall, Nikita is speedily-paced, entertaining show. If you can withstand a little cheesiness and like watching people kick butt, I'd recommend giving it a try and watching a couple of episodes. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it, and you might even find yourself hooked.

The new season of Nikita premieres on Friday, September 23 at 8/7c on The CW.

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