Nikita Pilot – Recap and Review

(Playing Catch-Up With The CW Dept:)


**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.**


Here’s One For the King

by Larry Brody

Appropos of TV writing in absolutely no way, here’s a pic I found that I’d like to think even Jack (King) Kirby – as Stan Lee used to call him – would love:

Yes, the original Hulk was gray. And how I wish I still had that issue!

I want to attribute this properly, so if anyone reading this article knows the origin of this pic, let me know!

EDITED TO ADD: Aha! Found it. This pic is courtesy of Spectral Motion. These guys do amazing creatures. You’ve got to take a look at both their site and their Facebook Page.

Two Very Cool Creepy Things

The First Very Cool Creepy Thing:

666 Park Avenue – Pilot Review
by Kyle

Evil has a wickedly delicious new home Sundays this Fall on ABC…

The cinematography in the Pilot Episode was spectacular, with eerie lighting and camera movement to create a glossy but dark tone for the show. The episode was also very well-written, with several jaw-dropping moments and a cliffhanger at the end that will certainly leave viewers wanting more. While not much is given away about why the incidents that occur in the Pilot are happening, viewers do get an insight into the lives of the residents who live there, who all seem to have made a deal with the devil for a better, more comfortable life.

666 Park Avenue is dark, scary and seductive and is easily one of the best new shows of the fall season.

Read it all

(And, no, we’re not saying this review is creepy cool, we’re talking about the show.)

The Second Very Cool Creepy Thing:

Augmented Reality Girlfriend
by John Farrier

I weep that I went through my teenage years with nothing remotely like this technological marvel:

The character chosen to show off this augmented reality girlfriend tech is [Hatsune Miku], a voice synthesizer personified as a doll-eyed anime avatar. [Miku] is an immensely popular character in Japan, with thousands of people going to her concerts, so choosing her for this augmented reality girlfriend project was an obvious choice.

Read it all

Idoru lives! And we don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Screenwriting MFA Programs: How Do I Pick the Right One?

by Larry Brody

Hot off the presses – or, actually hot off the  TVWriter™ Message Board, comes this Q and A about a subject quite a few TVWriter™ visitors are wrestling with:

Question from Ghost:

It’s been awhile since I’ve been here! But I am in somewhat of a dilemma. I’ve been accepted into three MFA programs, LMU (TV writing), Chapman (screenwriting) and Emerson (fiction). I’m on the waitlist for USC but don’t think that’s going to happen.

I am trying to figure out if I’ll be able to swing the move at all, since fun life stuff interrupted those “save for grad school” plans, and this is all very last minute, but I have to make a final decision very, very soon (like, Monday) and the available information is pretty contradictory. I know most people don’t think an MFA is worth anything, but let’s just pretend it’s not the worst mistake I could make. I’m wondering if anyone here has done one of these programs or if one has a distinct advantage over the other? I think Chapman and LMU have the advantage of actually being in California, but Emerson does have its LA internship program.

Answer from LB:

This is an excellent question. Thanks for asking it publicly so others can benefit from my sagacity/foolishness/whatever-the-hell-it-really-is.

I’m not going to waste time by listing/recommending specific programs, especially ones to which you didn’t apply, or that you don’t mention being accepted by. There are any number of sites with ardent boosters recommending their alma maters, et al. Instead, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of your particular dilemma.

If I were in your shoes, I’d be factoring in the following:

  1. Which is the most creative program – as in the one that will give my imagination a chance to soar highest while I hone my skills?
  2. Which program has the most qualified personnel – as in real writers who have worked in the field I’m most interested in and accumulated genuine experience/credits/publications? (Because, I’m sorry, but “teachers” who’ve tried to become writers and already failed aren’t worth a damn.)
  3. Which program has the most successful alumni – as in the best network of contacts who can help me achieve my professional goals?
  4. Which program just plain “feels” right – as in where does my body feel like I belong?

BTW, congratulations on being accepted. I know the competition is tough. And whatever you decide:

  • Please let us know
  • Good luck!



THE 3 LITTLE PIGS – As Contemporary Media Would Cover the Breaking Story

This video from The Guardian U.K. seems to us to be an ideal lesson in how current events should be covered by contemporary media. And a damn fine example of satiric writing/video-making to boot. Enjoy:

Oh, Guardian, Guardian! Why do you have to be so possessive?  The Guardian uses Brightcove for its videos, and Brightcove doesn’t play well with WordPress, so you’re going to have to take that extra step and click above. Our apologies to TVWriter™’s loyal visitors, and brickbats to The Guardian U.K. (That’ll learn ’em!)