David Shapiro
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By David Shapiro

Saturday, July 24, 1999

‘Nikita’s’ well written—
the babe is nice, too

I take a lot of grief from women when I admit that my favorite TV show -- in fact, the only program that I watch dutifully -- is "La Femme Nikita."

Giving me no credit for taste, they assume I watch because the title character is a tall, imposing, strikingly beautiful woman with whom the camera is in love. When I tell them I watch for the excellent story lines, they give me that look women give to men who say they subscribe to Playboy for the writing.

I could take it from my wife, but when a co-worker started complaining that her boyfriend was spending too much time with Nikita, I'd had enough.

"Look," I said, "if all we cared about was skin, we'd watch 'Pacific Blue.' "

OK, so "Pacific Blue" comes on just before "Nikita" and I've been watching it a lot lately. But that's only until "The X-Files" comes out of reruns.

I'll admit I watch that one solely for the lovely Agent Scully. Author Stephen King earned the gratitude of the American male when he wrote an "X-Files" episode that took Scully out of the FBI dress-for-success suit she always wears and put her in a bathtub.

I didn't think much of her partner Mulder until an episode last year when he and Scully were captured by aliens and placed in adjoining shower stalls to clean up before meeting a horrible end. Despite their profound trouble, Mulder had the presence of mind to sneak a peek over the top of Scully's stall. Now there's a man who has his priorities straight.

Anyway, back to Nikita. I finally got tired of the razzing and challenged my wife to watch an episode and see for herself that its main attraction is a well-written story line about a woman with a conscience battling to stay alive in a sinister organization that has none.

This show isn't about sex any more than was my all-time favorite, "The Avengers" -- Emma Peel's catsuits notwithstanding. Heck, "Nikita" is filmed in Toronto and she spends most of each episode in sensible winter clothes when she's not wearing her commando gear.

Darned if it didn't work. My wife is hooked. She not only watches the new episode with me each week but stays up after I go to bed to watch the reruns of old episodes.

She peppers me with questions about the histories of the characters such as Madeleine, who is in many ways more compelling than Nikita even though she doesn't look as good in sensible winter clothes. And don't try to tell me women don't find ogle value in the enigmatic Michael.

My wife still offers theories about my attraction to Nikita. She thinks the actress who plays Nikita -- I'm embarrassed that I don't even know her name -- reminds me of Kathleen Turner, long No. 1 on my celebrity hubba-hubba list.

"Funny you should mention that," I said. "I must have seen 'War of the Roses' 47 times, but it was on the other day and I watched it again. I don't know what keeps drawing me back to that movie."

"Gee, that's a tough one," she said. "Could it be that long scene in the rain where she first meets Michael Douglas and treats the movie-going public to an extended wet T-shirt show?"

That could be it.

David Shapiro is managing editor of the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at

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