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La Femme Nikita    
All you'll ever need to know!  

from Cult Times #63

The Premise: Nikita, a street kid, sees a man stabbed to death. Found by the police she is arrested for the crime. An organization called Section One thinks she would make a good assassin and take her from prison. Nikita becomes their only agent with a conscience and falls for one of Section’s most lethal killers, Michael, their relationship leading to danger of ‘cancellation’ (ie death) for both of them.

Background: The series is based on the movie Nikita (aka La Femme Nikita), made in 1990 by French genius Luc Besson. A cult hit across the globe, it was remade as The Assassin (retitled Point of No Return) starring Bridget Fonda and flopped hideously due to being rubbish. Leon, from the same director, used similar themes.

First Run: The show began its run in 1996 and was cancelled (ho ho) in 2000. However, it has been returned to production for a few extra episodes after fan complaints.

Number of Episodes: Eighty-eight to the close of Season Four.

The Good Guys: Nikita, obviously. Walter, the weapons specialist, is a good friend to Nikita and tries to help when he can. Birkoff, computer genius, tries to be a good guy, but can be naïve and tends to bow to the orders of Operations, whatever the consequences. Possibly Michael Samuelle, whose impassive exterior hides many a secret feeling.

The Bad Guys: The head of Section, Operations, determined to keep world peace even if it means nuking the odd country. Real name Paul. Madeline: ice-cold torturer and former lover of Operations. Apparently has no feelings for anyone or anything any more. Plus many terrorist organizations, the most prominent being Red Cell.

And Isn’t That... Juliet Landau (Buffy's Drusilla) brilliantly plays diametrically opposite roles in Season Three’s Before I Sleep; Hercules/ Xena/ Cleopatra 2525 celeb Gina Torres turns up in a prison in Open Heart. David (E:FC) Hemblen plays the only man who can control Operations, George from Oversight, from Season Three. Oh, and Mark ‘X-Files’ Snow did the fabulously funky theme tune.

Overdone Clichés: A dramatic rebellion occurs in Section, only to be revealed as a trick to bring down a terrorist or find a traitor; Nikita or Michael’s jealousy leads to trouble.

Fashion Statements: Nikita seems to have access to the latest Paris fashion trends, from odd sunglasses to huge hats. Otherwise, it’s pretty much completely black outfits all the way, plus coloured glasses for Birkoff and a bandana for Walter.

  Nikita and...

Old Habits
Nikita is horrified to learn how the Section operates when she meets one of the organization’s most valuable informants: a serial killer. A horrible episode as Nikita can’t intervene while women are murdered.

End Game
Season Two’s finale sees Nikita apparently holding all the cards to bring down Section One. Packed with turnarounds, betrayals and shocks, this is tense and unmissable television.

Threshold of Pain
Captured and tortured, an operative points to Nikita as a traitor, putting her life in danger. A simple idea, which reinforces how precarious Nikita’s existence is.

In Abeyance

Not Was, in which Michael loses his memory and becomes all nice; Last Night where Madeline gets a chance to torture an intelligent computer – just silly.


La Femme Nikita
Channel 5 – Tuesday 5th, 23.30

See listings section of this Cult Times for details

Paul Spragg

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Feature © Visual Imagination 2000. Not for reproduction.