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David Shapiro
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By David Shapiro

Saturday, June 24, 2000

No, No, Nikita

I got good news and bad news this week about my favorite TV show, "La Femme Nikita."

The good news is that a run of 10 new episodes will begin showing this Sunday on the USA Network. The bad news is that they might be the final 10 episodes of "Nikita."

A frantic email I received from a fellow "Nikita" fan says the show is off the USA Network's fall schedule because its four-year contract is up and the network has been unable to reach a new agreement with the show's producer, Warner Bros. The two sides disingenuously blame each other.

Says USA Network: "USA did seek to continue production of this show, but we were unable to conclude a new agreement with the supplier of the show, Warner Bros. As a result, Warner Bros. has declined to continue producing the show."

Says Warner Bros.: "We are extremely proud of our show and love it just as much as all of our loyal viewers. Unfortunately, we are only the distribution outlet, therefore we are unable to control USA Network's decision to cancel 'La Femme Nikita.' "

This is a compelling series with devoted fans who are on the warpath. Led by Web sites such as, fans are inundating both the USA Network and Warner Bros. with nasty missives that include dollar bills, sunglasses like those the "Nikita" characters wear and, lately, old TV sets.

Why are fans so upset? Many who have not seen the show say the noise is coming mainly from men who are charmed by the deliciously lovely Peta Wilson, who plays Nikita, a former street punk unwillingly recruited into a sinister anti-terrorist organization and trained to kill.

But it's about more than sex appeal. Women, too, are hooked on a show that features intricate plots with endings that truly surprise. Moral dilemmas are portrayed without sugar coating as Nikita clings to her humanity in an organization that has none. Her relationship with enigmatic fellow operative Michael explores the meaning of love with depth rarely seen in series TV.

One feminist writer called the show's cancellation "just devastating." She said, "It's about rationality versus emotion. Having a woman as the main character and having her transform the guys into more human-type characters was fabulous. Believe me, society has been put backward by this move."

There's a bond among fans who follow the show. I wrote about "Nikita" once before and have since received Monday morning phone calls from strangers who missed the show the night before and desperately want to know what happened.

I'm not easily seduced by TV series. Only a handful have captured my attention in the same way as Nikita, often for the same reasons. Among those that come to mind are "The Avengers" with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee, "The Prisoner" with Patrick McGoohan, "The Fugitive" with David Janssen, "The Outcasts" with Don Murray and Otis Young and "Homicide: Life on the Street" with Yaphet Kotto and Andre Braugher.

Fan support couldn't save some of these shows after relatively short runs and it may be too late to save "Nikita" except for possibly some future TV movies. Reports have it that Wilson has already signed up for another series and the "Nikita" crew has disbanded.

Let's hope it's just posturing and "Nikita" will escape this just as she has survived so many other plots to "cancel" her by assassination, torture, brainwashing, sending her on suicide missions and selling her to evil drug lords.

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

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