Based on the film Nikita (1990)
Created by Joel Surnow
Number of Episodes: 96 (5 Seasons)
1996 – 2001
Nikita… Peta Wilson
Michael… Roy Dupuis
Operations… Eugene Robert Glazer
Madeline… Alberta Wilson
Seymour Birkoff… Matthew Ferguson
Walter… Don Francks
Genre: Covert Ops, Tech-Fi, Adaptation
MICHAEL: When I was in there and things started to get bad… I thought I was gonna break, but I didn’t. I thought of you. You’re the only one of us who still has a soul. I’m so sorry, Nikita. We’ll never leave this place alive. I don’t know what love is anymore… but the only part of me that’s not dead is you.*
— “War” (01.17)
Born out of Luc Besson’s 1990 French film and starring Australian Peta Wilson, French-Canadian Roy Dupuis and sexual tension so potent as to be a living, breathing character itself, this high-tech spy caper sees street kid Nikita forcibly recruited by shadowy covert agency, Section One. Headed by the ruthless Operations, Section carries out all manner of heists, deceptions and assassinations in a bid to shape the world order to the specifications of an even shadowier cabal known as Oversight. Proving a capable operative, especially when called upon to seduce or manipulate for the supposed greater good (Peta Wilson is blindingly, almost unbearably beautiful), Nikita is nevertheless determined to escape. But not without Michael…
Why It’s Must-See: Sexy spy shenanigans by turns utterly compelling, exultantly passionate and fatally, desperately heartbreaking. But mostly, watch for Roy Dupuis, whose incredible stillness, economy of movement and whispered French accent are all utterly compelling.
UST Factor: Wilson and Dupuis share a remarkable chemistry, and in between the danger and the lies and the constantly thwarted romance, there is a very real, very tender love story that gets you in right in the gut.
Cancellation: Despite being the top-rated cable drama for its first two seasons, and USA Networks best performer all around, the show was cancelled after four seasons in 2000, by a vastly disinterested studio head, though was briefly resurrected a year later.
And Then What? In 2009, The CW aired Nikita, a reboot taking its inspiration from the original movie and its US remake, Point of No Return (1993), and serving as a sequel to both. Some aspects of La Femme Nikita were employed in the new show, most especially some character names, but little resemblance other than that remained. Nikita ran for four seasons.
Fandom Hall of Fame: A group of fans labelled “First Team” – after the lead operatives in the show – coordinated an ultimately successful effort to bring back La Femme Nikita for a fifth (albeit limited) season, by flooding USA with such items as Nikita’s signature sunglasses, dollar bills featuring Roy Dupuis’s face, and assorted AV equipment.
Fan Collective Noun: None, oddly.
Notable Merchandise: Just a soundtrack. SO weird. The money they could have made off black leather pants…
On the Page: Only a couple of unauthorized biographies of Peta Wilson and a loving behind-the-scenes tell all, Inside Section One: Creating and Producing TV’s La Femme Nikita by Christopher Heyn.
Did You Know? The length of the episode titles correspond to the number season they are in, so Season 1 features outings like “Choice,” “Innocent,” and “Mercy,” while Season 5 has such examples as “The Girl Who Wasn’t There” and “Let No Man Put Asunder.”
*He claims later he didn’t mean it, it was all a trick, but he meant it. Oh, yes. He meant it.