Nikita Pilot – Recap and Review

(Playing Catch-Up With The CW Dept:)

BY ANTHONY MEDINA

**This episode originally aired in September 2010. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

“Three years ago I escaped, and have been hunted ever since. I was the first recruit to get out. I’m going to make certain I’m not the last.” – Nikita

Sexy women, rogue assassins AND an interesting story?

Count me in.

We open on Nikita (Maggie Q.), a highly trained assassin, typing away at her computer. The voiceover informs us that she has spent the last three years in hiding but is now resurfacing to wage all-out war against Division, a covert government organization that recruits its agents through kidnapping and extortion. This means fighting and killing many of her former colleagues and friends, including the Head of Division, Percy (Xander Berkeley), his second in command and Nikita’s former trainer, Michael (Shane West), and Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) Division’s resident computer genius.

We then drop in on two masked bandits robbing a drugstore. When the owner resists, he is killed. One of the thieves escapes. The other, a teen junkie named Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), is arrested. Soon afterward, Division comes calling, taking her to a training center where Michael explains that as far as the rest of the world knows she is now dead. She must give herself over to the agency, and in return they will give her a new life as an elite secret agent. Sounds great, but there’s one little catch. Alex later discovers that if she fails the training or in her missions she’ll be killed.

As the episode continues, we intercut between Nikita and Alex, seeing the process of shaping a new recruit and the challenge of eliminating a veteran agent. Through Nikita, we learn more about the reasons for her crusade. Through Alex, we see the various levels of training that shape a young assassin. More than combat skills are involved. There’s also a charm and beauty school run by Amanda (Melinda Clarke), a master manipulator, interrogator, and psychologist who has the potential to be the most interesting yet terrifying character in the series.

The episode ends with a twist: The discovery that Alex, the young new recruit, is Nikita’s inside operative. And that Nikita was the second masked bandit that shot the drug store owner.

Okay, so this show is awesome. Yes, the sexy secret agent thing has been done. But the pilot provides a nice balance of cool action, engaging characters and enough story depth to provide a solid foundation for the future. This is the CW, so there’s the occasional cheesy line and overacted scene, but if you’re in the mood for sexy women with guns AND an interesting story, do yourself a favor and check this show out.

Thinking Man Rating: 11 Thumbs Up

**Be aware the Thinking Man rating system is based on awesomeness and should be disregarded if you are not now, or have never been, awesome.**

 

Hart of Dixie Pilot – Recap and Review

By Anthony Medina

**This episode originally aired in September 2011. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

“Could you get me a venti soy latte so I don’t fatigue?” – Dr. Zoe Hart

Ever find yourself wishing the OC would come back on the air?

Didn’t think so. But like it or not, Summer Roberts has made her triumphant return as a big city doctor in a small town practice. Her name may be Zoe now, but we all know it’s really Summer under that stethoscope. Can I get an Amen?

No? Well, alright then.

We open on a bus headed towards Blue Bell Alabama. The voice over introduces us to Dr. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson), a wannabe cardiothoracic surgeon, who has left her old life behind and is moving to the Heart of Dixie (get it?!) to work in a private practice. We’re given a flashback to her graduation ceremony, where she proudly delivers the commencement address. Afterwards, a kindly and somewhat creepy old man approaches and offers her a job as a general practitioner in Blue Bell. She politely turns it down and explains she already has her plans figured out. She has an amazing boyfriend and is well on her way to becoming a kickass heart surgeon. But just as everything is coming together, everything falls apart. Her longtime boyfriend breaks up with her and she’s denied her fellowship because she views patients as puzzles and not people. With her plans in ruin, she decides to take up the kindly (or was it creepy?) old man’s offer and moves to Alabama.

When she reaches Blue Bell, we’re introduced to a slew of colorful characters. From a good looking lawyer, to a former football star turned mayor. There’s even a high strung Southern Bell that clashes almost immediately with our fancy New York girl. Some stuff happens, then other stuff happens. Everyone hates her so she decides to leave. Then, she finds out the creepy (or was it kindly?) old man was really her long lost father, so she stays. And then it’s over.

Now, I’m sure many of you out there think you know what this show is all about before even watching a single scene. Some cutsie little dramedy without one ounce of originality or depth. Well, to you cynical TV watchers out there, I have only one thing to say! Obviously, you’re absolutely right. But, that doesn’t mean this an automatic “skip”.

I’m not so naive as to pretend this show is some little gem you’ll all love. From a purely objective point of view, this show is below average in just about every category. The acting is mediocre, the fish out of water angle is trite and uninteresting, the dialogue is embarrassingly corny and every joke is basically “HEY, I’M NOT FROM HERE!” But, with that being said, Rachel Bilson is too damn cute to hate. Subjective and superficial praise to be sure, but I calls em like I see em.

If you’re able to give yourself into this show, it will basically cradle you in its arms, pat your head, and tell you everything is going to be alright. It’s a fluffy white cloud with no real substance. But what can I say, it has a certain charm I just can’t ignore.

This show is everything I was worried it would be, but I didn’t come away hating it. It’s sweet and utterly predictable. There are worse things you could do with an hour.

 

Supernatural Pilot – Recap and Review


 TVWriter™ Note: This episode originally aired in September 2005. But some people, you know like most of TeamTVWriter, have never seen SUPERNATURAL because it’s on the CW. (Which, contrary to its claims, would seem to us to prove CW isn’t a viable network at all. But we’ll get back to that another time. Meanwhile, our current point, although it did kind of get away from us for a moment:)

**If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

by Anthony Medina

“Of course you should be afraid of the dark, are you kidding me?” – Dean Winchester

What do you get when you combine a burning mother, ghost hunting, and a couple of pretty boy male leads? Well, apparently you get a hit show on the CW. Welcome to the world of Supernatural.

The pilot opens on Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith), a mother of two tucking in her children. As she walks over to see her infant son, she sees a man standing over the boy’s crib, obviously her husband… OR IS IT?! Nope, it isn’t. When she realizes her mistake she runs back into the room but it’s too late. She screams in terror, which wakes her husband and he immediately runs to help her. And what is it that he finds? That’s right, you guessed it, she’s been sucked up to the ceiling, she’s bleeding from her stomach and she explodes into a fiery inferno that engulfs the house. I mean who didn’t see that coming right? John Winchester (Jeffrey Morgan) tries to save his wife but is only barely able to get his children out of the house before it all goes boom.

Fast forward a couple decades into the future and we are introduced to the two boys, now grown men. Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) is celebrating with his girlfriend on having just passed the LSAT and is awaiting an interview for a full scholarship to law school. However, things get a bit more complicated when his brother, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), appears in the middle of the night to ask for his help. Their father has gone missing while hunting for something. Something… SUPERNATURAL! Here, we get some exposition to help us understand that since the death of their mother, the boys have been raised as soldiers to seek out and destroy the supernatural beings of the world. Their father, who was adamant in their militaristic tutelage, has dedicated all his efforts to finding whatever it was that killed his wife.

Sam agrees to help and the two take off following a lead on the possible supernatural event their father was chasing. Although, they don’t manage to find him in this episode, their search prompts them to impersonate cops, use fraudulent credit cards, get arrested by the cops and oh yeah, help a ghost woman come to terms with her suicide, only to have her dragged to hell by the children she drowned in a bathtub. Take that you tortured bitch!

When Sam returns home, the worst thing imaginable awaits him. His girlfriend hangs from the ceiling, bleeds from her stomach and erupts into a fiery inferno that engulfs his home. With that, there is nothing left to do but join his brother and return to a life of hunting the Supernatural.

This show is really a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, the premise is reasonably interesting. I mean who doesn’t like ghost hunting con men. But on the other hand, I’m not crazy about Sam’s character. Jared Padalecki is a fine actor, but he plays this role just a little too stiff. While I am painfully familiar with the straightman angle, he made everything a little less fun and when you’re talking hip young ghost hunters, fun is a must. I couldn’t help but hear Heath Ledger’s Joker in my head every time he was on screen, “why so serious?” Dean, for me is a much more interesting character and sets the tone nicely for adventure and mystery.

Nevertheless, I was not dissatisfied with this pilot and I believe there certainly is potential going forward. I just wasn’t amazed. I will watch this show, but I probably won’t be dying to see every episode, at least for now.