The Division is a training ground for assassins and spies run by some organisation which may or may not be connected to the US government. Nikita was one of their operatives, she escaped, and now wants to destroy them.
I haven’t seen any of the previous versions of this story, not the 1990 film, 1993 remake or the 1997-2001 TV series. But, it still all feels painfully familiar thanks to the half dozen episodes of Alias I’ve seen.
The pilot is pretty slick, all shiny sets, fancy clothes, gadgets, weaponry and plots. Personally I prefer the Burn Notice style of spying – Macgyvering what you can find and being a bit more creative with a corresponding lack of polish from behind the scenes as well. Nikita just felt like any other spy show or film that’s ever been out there – big budget, ultra shiny and extremely smug.
Looked at in isolation, there’s some interesting ideas being set up. While the characters as presented in the pilot aren’t that exciting, there are a couple of relationships that have potential, playing about with the tried and tested spy issues of who’s a single agent, who’s a double and who’s just all over the shop and only really in it for themselves. I’m always encouraged when characters seem to have actual strengths and weaknesses and that’s acknowledged and appreciated by the other characters around them, it makes for actual realistic team dynamics.
One of the problems I had with the show however is that Nikita herself was NOT interesting, and was presented as a bit of a superhero. She’s beautiful (45 minutes and they managed to get her in her underwear, a bikini AND an evening dress – subtle guys, really subtle), smart, fast, strong and scary. She’s also got that whole emotionally shut down “I was deeply in love but then he died, and now my heart is stone” thing going on, which makes her somewhat tricky to actually connect with.
I guess my issue with this show is that I’ve only seen half a dozen episodes of Alias and therefore couldn’t really come up with a reason of why I should watch Nikita rather than just working my way through the dvds of that. Maybe if I’d not seen any Alias, I wouldn’t have made the connection, or if I’d seen all of Alias, I would be looking for more of the same. But as it stands, I can’t think of a reason to take a chance that this show will be any good (or even last long enough to resolve its storylines) when I know there’s a highly recommended complete series alternative out there.
Living will be showing Nikita in the UK, starting in October
TVSquad – “when it comes to espionage stories or action-adventure in general, originality isn’t as crucial as a good execution of the basics, and in that regard, the first hour of ‘Nikita’ delivers.”
CliqueClack – “While I enjoyed the good parts, I do see where the acting, writing, and directing need more development.”