REASON TO WATCH: Highly polished reboot of USA's "La Femme Nikita."
WHEN/WHERE: Thursday at 9 on CW/11
French director Luc Besson launched the original "La Femme Nikita" as a theatrical film in 1990 with Anne Parillaud in the title role as a swaggering homicidal cop killer forced by the government to become a trained assassin.
A couple of American movies followed, and then the USA series (1997 to '01) with Aussie actress Peta Wilson as Nikita. Wilson's Nikita was slightly less wicked; she had been wrongly accused of killing the cop.
WHAT THIS EPISODE IS ABOUT
Nikita (Maggie Q) escaped from an abusive foster home in New Jersey, did drugs and was told she killed a cop but "I don't remember," she explains. A highly secret agency within the government known simply as The Division then faked her execution, and gave her a new identity. After a stint at a military "charm school," the rest was "Nikita" history - a lot of bodies piled up in her wake.
But three years ago, she broke free of the Division, which killed her one true love, Daniel (relationships are forbidden). She's now out for revenge, and has to battle the Division's Michael (Shane West) under orders to kill her.
Pretty much all a fan (or critic) could ask of a cult series remake is this: Does the newbie measure up? Based on all available evidence - the 42-minute premiere - the answer is yes. Let's break it down. You've got McG at the helm as executive producer; he's the one-time music video specialist who's now got a hot batting average in series TV. You've got a beautifully crafted pilot that has retained core elements of the original premise; for example, the Division has indoctrinated a whole new batch of mini-Nikitas, like Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), who are similarly lethal and conflicted. Finally, there's Maggie Q - her name was shortened because her Asian fan base couldn't pronounce "Quigley" - who has built her action-adventure rep in movies like "Mission: Impossible III." She's sensational here as a Jack Bauer-like killing machine with both a wounded heart and a grudge.
Off to a promising start.