Nikita: "Pilot" - Sept. 9 on The CW - Grading & Discussion

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Aragorn, Sep 9, 2010.

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Grading

  1. Excellent

    3 vote(s)
    15.0%
  2. Above average

    12 vote(s)
    60.0%
  3. Average

    4 vote(s)
    20.0%
  4. Below average

    1 vote(s)
    5.0%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not directly, since there are continuity differences -- the name of the organization, the names of some of its members, the ethnicity of the title character. But it's kind of starting off with the general pre-established mythology of the Nikita character and moving forward from there, rather than telling the same part of the story a fourth time.
     
  2. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Been a while since I've seen it but I thought she was framed or it was an accident or something. Damn faulty memory...
     
  3. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I don't think it's literally in the continuity of the previous versions. It's basically using the concept of the old versions as the backstory for the new series.

    The story of her recruitment and gradual disillusionment was already told at length in the old series, so I can see where they would want to skip over that this time around. Just to do something different.
     
  4. Aragorn

    Aragorn Admiral Admiral

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    I haven't seen the movie in a while, but I think she was part of a group that committed a violent crime but she wasn't an active part of it until it was over and they were all dead, when a cop tried to help her and she blew his brains out.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which is a good idea, but they could've handled it less awkwardly, made it work better as a standalone for those of us who never saw the previous incarnations. Kinda like how the new Doctor Who worked as a brand-new introduction to the Doctor and his world through the eyes of a new, audience-identifiable character and then gradually started revealing the old mythology of the series through her eyes. That was a fine example of doing a show in a way that worked both as a continuation and a new start, speaking to two different audiences equally well. This pilot, by contrast, was too dependent on being a continuation. As a first-time introduction, it didn't work well.
     
  6. Sheep

    Sheep Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I felt pretty much the same way. The show actually impressed me considering the awful ads for it set my expectations way low. This fulfills my "big dumb action" quotient quite nicely.

    Assuming the show doesn't get cancelled first, I don't think Division will last much more than a season or two, with Nikita taking them out only to reveal another more dangerous layer of foes coupled with a few acts of treachery along the way.

    I thought the show worked fine as an introduction by focusing on the action aspects of the show. We know Nikita's pissed at Division and will do anything to take them down. I'm fine with getting more of this Nikita's backstory as the show unfolds.
     
  7. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I see what you're saying, for fans of the movies and the old show, but what about new fans, like me? I think the new show would be better served by showing us that disillusionment and breaking away. Hopefully it wouldn't be exactly like the previous films enough to keep the older fans interested or at least intrigued. Regarding Doctor Who, I would argue that the Nikita franchise history isn't as long as DW's, plus it isn't a linked continuity. To me the new Nikita is a remake and isn't directly linked to the past movies/shows. I mean, its the same concept, but its a new take.

    The main reason I want to see the recruitment process is I want to get more into Nikita's head. I want to see her transformation. I also want to get a better sense of who she is and why she hates Division so much, what drives her, what is she fighting for. With the Alias and 24 openers, I think we got a better sense of who Syndey and Jack Bauer were as people and pretty much invested in them immediately, if you liked the characters/shows that is. Even with Human Target, we got to see Christopher Chance's interactions with Winston and Guerrero, to get a sense of the guy. USA's Covert Affairs, which I'm not much of a fan of, pulled this off better in their pilot than Nikita. With Nikita, we did get some hints but not quite enough for me.

    I caught the reair last night and I thought the pilot was good overall. I thought Nikita got that West African general to the UN a little too easy, but I did like the twist with Michael, and even though I had found out about the big twist, it was still nice. I'll stick with it. The action isn't bad and it provides a weekly chance to see Maggie Q kick tail and wear bikinis.
     
  8. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

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    As a huge fan of the original LFN series, I have to give this a thumbs down. My expectations were low coming into the show and even so I was not that entertained. If Alias was too much like La Femme Nikita, Nikita is too much like if Alias was actively trying to rip off La Femme Nikita.

    Did not like Maggie Q. I don't find her sexy or particularly attractive. Her acting was forgettable. I do think casting an Asian for a role played again and again by a Caucasian is weird and causes unnecessary dissonance for me who has followed the franchise through so many incarnations. Probably wouldn't have been an issue if I was impressed with her acting. Then again, combined with the blah writing she didn't really have much chance to impress either.

    Interesting side note, I never found Peta Wilson all that attractive either. I did think she had a powerful sexuality that worked in her favor, but she never really got a rise out of me physically.

    This version of the Michael character is terrible. He has no menace, no authority, no sense of gravitas. This version is a complete limp-dick so far. He is physically attractive enough for a Michael type--but it ends there.

    Alex, the new recruit. Thought her acting was shaky at times, especially during her introduction, but she seemed to get a little better as the episode went on. She's attractive, certainly easy to look at. I liked the character better before the twist.

    Percy, the new Operations? Similar to Michael. No gravitas. He feels utterly ineffectual and I feel no strength whatsoever behind him.

    New Birkoff. He's a nerd! Right? Nerd?! Did they mention he was a NERD?! Lame. All around terrible introduction on the writer's part, but I can't fault the actor yet.

    New Madeline/Old Amanda from the french film? I guess she was okay. She fulfilled her role.

    New version of Section One, Division. Why they changed the name, I don't know. But, they've seemed to neuter the very concept of the organization. Now, it's evil and run amok from the very start. They've painted this whole thing in black and white. In the original series, Section One was all about shades of grey; they would appease a child molester in order to shut down a mass terrorist organization and in the end sometimes they would not give the molester what they deserved. It was an exploration of utilitarianism, of 'do the ends justify the means'. While I can forgive the pilot for not getting into this yet (I can only hope they explore this later), I can fault the pilot for going out of its way to make Nikita the good one and the organization the bad one.


    Overall, below average for me. While I feel there is an off chance a lot of problems could be fixed... I'm not sure I'm willing to stick around to see. I may have to just rewatch with my LFN DVDs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Maggie Q is one of the biggest action stars on Earth right now, though she's better known in Hong Kong than the US. And her profile in the US has been on the rise. It makes perfect sense that they'd want to cast the best, and not rule her out for trivial reasons like ethnicity. After all, it's not like there's anything about the character that requires her to be a given race. And it's not like she hasn't changed nationality before, from French to American (and possibly to Canadian?). Or in terms of actresses, from French to American to Australian, and now to a Vietnamese-American actress born in Hawaii.
     
  10. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

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    This is actually the first I have ever seen of her.

    I didn't see anything from her in this pilot that was notably good. Maybe that's just me.

    I didn't say there was, I was merely citing the the precedent of Caucasian actors being associated with Nikita across three different iterations of the franchise and I found that such a huge change caused dissonance for me. Like I said as well, if I was impressed by her acting it would have slipped me by. Instead, she left me kind of bored and let my mind wander.

    All I'm saying is that it was a a notable, visible change this time around. It's like when everyone was complaining about the casting for The Last Airbender. I think I remember you responding quite negatively to it.

    I'm not even responding strongly. Just pointing out that I couldn't help but notice and it took me out of the show a little because her performance didn't keep my full attention.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I did when I thought the casting process was unfairly biased in favor of white actors. I later learned those fears were unfounded, that actors of all ethnicities were fairly considered for all roles, and accepted the rationale that casting the right actor regardless of ethnicity was the most important thing. After all, it wasn't trying to be the same reality, but a different interpretation of the premise. This show is the same way.

    And I'd say the changes from Anne Parillaud to Bridget Fonda to Peta Wilson are considerable. It's not like they were all alike by any means. One was Francophone, the others Anglophone. One was black-haired, one red-haired, one blonde. Parillaud and Fonda are 5'6", Wilson is 5'10". Parillaud has a slim figure, Wilson is rather curvaceous, Fonda is in between. Three very different women.

    As for Maggie Q, she's the same height as Parillaud and Fonda, has black hair like Parillaud, has long hair like Wilson did as Nikita, is Anglophone like Fonda and Wilson, and has a slim figure like Parillaud. She's worked as a model like Wilson and (recently) Fonda. She even has the same first name as Fonda's character in Point of No Return. So she has similarities to all the others, just as all the others have differences from one another. Ethnicity is just one ingredient in the mix, and I don't think it outweighs the rest.
     
  12. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

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    I just calls 'em how I sees 'em.

    Going from Caucasian to Asian is more of a visual jump than the three previous actors. I think most without an over-the-top PC agenda would agree.

    Did the three women before Maggie Q look like triplets? No, I'm not making that argument. If someone lined them up and told me to pick the most visually distinct form the others? I'd pick Maggie Q.

    I don't discriminate based on ethnicities, but I also don't ignore the differences. That's silly.

    A couple of the visual factors you've brought up are effectively non-issues.


    • For one, height doesn't come across on TV or film very well and I might barely notice 4 inches in real life especially considering how much footwear can factor into it.

    • Hair and hairstyles are variable for everyone, people constantly cut and dye them all the time. In the original television show Nikita even wore wigs from time to time.

    • The way figures look are impacted by clothes people wear and food intake. A person's figure can change throughout their life.

    But, again, it's not a detractor from the show. I think the person chosen to play the character is the detractor at least as far as I've seen her work so far--her lack of ability to keep my attention was the reason for all of this.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't have any "agenda." And I never said I "ignored" the ethnic difference, I just don't see it as overwhelmingly more significant than the other differences I mentioned. For instance, in college I knew two really gorgeous young women, both around the same height, both with huge smiles, high foreheads and cheekbones, and sleek, leggy figures, and I thought of them as looking a lot alike, even though one was a green-eyed strawberry blonde and the other was a fairly dark-complexioned African-American. To me, that difference was outweighed by all the similarities. Conversely, the way I perceive a given woman's appearance can be radically altered just by a change in her hairstyle. In high school, I had a hopeless crush on a girl for two years, knowing it was hopeless but unable to move on because I just found her so beautiful, but then she got a perm and I lost interest. In other cases, I've had trouble recognizing actresses when they change the style or color of their hair.

    So ethnicity is simply not the overriding factor in the way I perceive people or the differences between people. It's just one element in the mix and not always the one that looms largest in my perceptions. That's not a political agenda, it's simply the way my brain processes the appearance of other people. All I was doing was offering an alternative perspective on the question under discussion. Discussion means exploring an issue from multiple angles, examining all its possible facets. If you feel threatened by the existence of alternative points of view, that says more about your "agendas" than mine.
     
  14. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

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    Your previously vocal negative reaction to the casting of The Last Airbender led me to believe otherwise. You do seem to care very deeply about casting in film and television in regard to ethnicity.

    The fact that you took one to two sentences out of my entire reaction to the show and responded with a hefty paragraph only about that tiny note of pause also makes me believe otherwise.

    I certainly respect your personal reaction to people's physical characteristics and their impact on perception.

    However, I don't think yours is the majority reaction. It's possible I'm wrong.

    I, personally, do not hold as much weight to hair and the like because they can change so readily. They are fleeting characteristics. People grow their hair out, get it cut, put on some pounds, work out, all the time. I've seen people go through dramatic changes in relatively short times. You say you've experienced the same thing.

    Skin color, ethnicity, and an outgrowth of those two, facial structure, seem to be much more constant to an extent as a decent way to form a snapshot of a person and differentiate them from others. I certainly don't put the effort into differentiating between specific, drilled down groups... I don't have the eye for detail to tell what portion of Europe or Africa a person's lineage hails from... But, I know people who can and are relatively good at it. The wider net I cast works for the snapshots I need.

    Maybe because I come from largely Caucasian communities across the board (neighborhoods, schools, work place, etc.) that's how I've come to be. However, given how often race and ethnicity are brought up in media and the like I tend to think that the majority reaction is similar or has at least been crafted in a similar way.

    I felt threatened because I've seen you hone in on ethnic discussions in the past and it was the only criticism you had about my large reaction... And I only wrote one sentence about it (two if you stretch it out).

    Ethnicity is a touchy subject in America and it doesn't take much for someone to label you as discriminatory. Which I am not.

    At least not based on ethnicity. I like to think there are more important things about people to like and dislike and act accordingly in how you interact with them. :p
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That was a different conversation about a different topic. I'm referring to my posts on this topic. As I said, my problem with TLA was not that the characters' ethnicities had been changed, but that it seemed as though the process was discriminatory in favor of white actors. I'm opposed to job discrimination in any context. But clearly that's not an issue here, so it doesn't come into play in this thread. I'm simply offering an alternative point of view from your own. If you see a political issue here, that's coming from you, not me.


    I get that reaction a lot. I'm a curious person and a compulsive researcher. When I start thinking about a topic, I want to get my facts straight so I research it, and since I'm a research junkie, I gather a bunch of information and include it in my comments. Sometimes that seems to people as though I'm piling on them or arguing with a passion. But it's just my own intense curiosity, my compulsion to gather as much information as I can find about the topic that's on my mind at the moment, combined with my academic training to back up my positions with evidence and to show my work. I apologize for giving the wrong impression.


    Does that matter? My intent was simply to illustrate that there was an alternative way of looking at the issue. Discussion doesn't have to be about winning or showing up the other guy. It should be about comparing and considering different points of view.


    I still don't see how it matters whether it's the "majority" reaction or not. We're just different, that's all. I went to a racially integrated high school and spent a total of 11 non-consecutive years in a university with students from all over the world. I've lived for nearly seven years in an apartment building near that university, and a great many of my neighbors over the years, even the majority of them at times, have been of various nonwhite ethnicities. And that was after maybe nine years in a neighborhood that was largely African-American. That's my experience.


    Anyway, the bottom line that I think we need to take away from this discussion, the one overriding message that I feel it necessary to promote, is that Maggie Q is hot. Ultimately that's my agenda: to defend the casting of Maggie Q because she's hot.
     
  16. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

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    I understand that. I was only giving you an example of the sort of post from you that I've noticed in the past which informed my feelings while posting now.

    Fair enough.

    I think it matters a lot, given your alternative is rarely adopted for good reason... At least from my perspective in both regards. It seems people naturally gravitate the other way or have adopted it readily.

    I also pointed out how the characteristics you're using are generally more fleeting and unreliable in comparison to recognition using more lasting ethnic features.

    We are different in many ways. This is going to have to be another one. She does not do it for me whatsoever.

    Lyndsy Fonseca, on the other hand, is lovely.
     
  17. JoeD80

    JoeD80 Captain Captain

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    Enjoyed the music; I think it's paced pretty well; agree that the exposition was a little heavy but it is the first episode so I'm sure that will fade with time; the action scenes are hit and miss for me, but OK so far. I'm a little worried that the makeup/wardrobe character isn't going to have much to do, but I enjoyed the other characters so far. I'm looking forward to watching the series.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I disagree profoundly that there is any "good" reason for defining a person's ethnicity as overwhelmingly more important than anything else about them. And I find it rather sad that you feel the need to assert that your perspective is somehow more correct than mine. It makes you come off as rather defensive.


    In earlier generations, yes. Not so much now -- for good reason. Insular life experiences like yours are becoming less common. Whole generations are growing up in more multicultural, multiracial environments. We have a lot more bi- or multiracial role models on our TV and movie screens, Maggie Q being just one example, the current President of the United States being another. Not as many people, at least not in the US, are growing up in the kind of single-race environment that you were limited to. Americans today are increasingly experiencing diversity as a routine part of their lives, as I did. So it's not realistic to assume they'd end up perceiving ethnicity the way you do.


    The characteristics I'm using include a person's height and build. How are those any more "fleeting" (assuming we're talking about an adult) than the shape of their eyes or the tint of their complexion? It's not like a grown woman's height changes with the seasons while her skin tone remains constant. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    And yes, people can change their hair color and length, but they can also get cosmetic surgery to change their features or skin tone. The features you ascribe disproportionate importance to are not really more fundamental than the features I've listed; it's just that your own personal life experience has conditioned you to react more strongly to them.

    I know it's not easy to look beyond one's own lifelong assumptions and accept the validity of other ways of looking at the world. But really, you don't have to see this as a contest where you need to "win." The real way to "win" a discussion is to learn something from it.
     
  19. Aragorn

    Aragorn Admiral Admiral

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    I don't know if this show warrants a grading thread each episode, but if you want it, the job is yours. I'm done watching after one episode.
     
  20. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

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    Well, you seem to be insinuating that I'm attributing more than a dominant physical characteristic to the ethnicity. There is no inherent judgment or assumption in using ethnicity as a way to physically distinguish between people. It has the same bearing on a person as hair color, it's just a trait that is more static.

    Height can be very fleeting when it comes to women because footwear designed for women can appear to extend the length of legs and whatnot. In general though, I don't think height is a very distinguishing characteristic. The best it can really do is narrow it down somewhat. I can say that if I someone lined up people that dressed similarly in silhouette... I'd probably be stumped at picking them out.

    Build changes depending on diet, exercise, and clothing. It's trivial to mask a person's build unless they fall into extremes. Push up bras, sweaters, jackets, baggy jeans, etc.

    Yes, skin tone can very depending upon seasons and general lifestyle. However, skin tone is only a portion of an ethnic differentiation. It is difficult to change the shape of a person's eyes and general makeup of their face. You can enhance and hide qualities with make-up, but the recognizable structure underneath remains recognizable in most cases...

    Though, I'll admit, I've seen some before/after makeup shots of some models and the effect can be dramatic. Given the field I think I can place that in an 'exception to the rule' category.

    Yes, people can get cosmetic surgery and change their appearance. But, the point is you then associate that person with the new facial features. It's not as if then you ignore their face and color because it has changed. You associate the new features to them and while their general sense of their base ethnicity is then blurred, you still associate the shape and color of their face with the person and modify the snapshot in your head.


    I think there is a major disconnect between what we're discussing here. It's not as if I'm walking around going "Black, Asian, Latina, Caucasian, etc." all day. It's much more general than that.

    The process is matching up the image you have of a person you recognize with the person you see in front of you. Because hair and body structure are less static or prominent as the case may be, the color of their skin and shape of their face become the most prominent way to match that image. The concept of ethnicity happens to be a catch all for these characteristics. There is probably a better word for it that isn't coming to mind.


    Anyway, because I do feel like I am being put on the defensive here and that you are insinuating more than I mean in the negative direction, I will have to bow out of the discussion. I'm just not comfortable with this anymore.



    Now to get back on topic...

    I think I may give it one or two more episodes to see if they're going to bring any complexity back to 'Division' as there was in Section One. But, because I don't really like the way Michael is or the new Operations are portrayed... I doubt it'll go in a direction I like.
     

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