[As I’ve already mentioned, and will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: “Nikita,” The CW
The Pitch: Pretty much what it sounds like. The “Nikita” franchise gets CW-ized.
Quick Response: Since the last incarnation of “La Femme Nikita,” we’ve had uncredited knock-offs like “Alias” and “Dollhouse,” so it’s no surprise that at times, The CW’s new “Nikita” feels more like those shows than like the Luc Besson feature or the long-running USA drama. It’s very, very sturdy. Ace pilot director Danny Cannon keeps things motoring along, fighting off a clunky, exposition heavy script by Craig Silverstein. The action is solid and Maggie Q is unsurprisingly convincing with her role’s physicality. Interesting cast overall, really, when you factor in Lyndsy Fonseca, Melinda Clarke, Xander Berkeley, Ashton Holmes and Aaron Staford, who are all solid and sometimes (Fonseca, Clarke) excellent. It’s gonna take work to convince me on Shane West, Badass, however. In the pilot, West just furrows his brow and grimaces a lot. Despite Fonseca’s centrality, “Nikita” feels like it skews older than “Vampire Diaries” or most of The CW’s lineup, really, but it’s definitely better matched with “VD” on Thursdays than anything in the first half of The CW’s week, because there’s darkness here. Cannon deserves much of the credit for how well “Nikita” works. The guy gives good pilot, always has. Barring minor tweaks, I doubt this pilot will change much before air. Given how serialized the show seems to be, it’s also unclear how well it’ll hold up when Cannon goes back to Bruckheimer Land and in-house directors have to take over. “Nikita” feels mighty serialized. After watching the pilot, I don’t necessarily get what the week-to-week series is going to be.
Desire To Watch Again: Solid. I wasn’t instantly gripped, but I was definitely engaged. The time slot — “Fringe,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” NBC comedies — is a bear, though.