"La Femme Nikita" (known as just "Nikita" in good ol' Canada) is a Canadian spy drama series based on the Luc Besson film Nikita. Nikita is a homeless woman who is arrested and wrongly accused of murdering a police officer in cold blood. She is sent to prison where she is recruited by Section One, an elite counterterrorist organization, who were under the impression that she was guilty. Section One trains and molds Nikita into a deadly operative, and the series mainly focuses on Nikita's struggle to maintain her moral integrity while carrying out the, er... forceful methods that Section One uses.
Callum plays Gray Wellman, a single father who unwittingly gets tangled up in a plot to take down Section One - then falls in love with Nikita when she is sent to investigate him.
IMDB page: "La Femme Nikita" (1997-2001) (1.09 - Gray, 1997 and 1.10 - Choice, 1997)
Gray was directed by Ken Girotti, who directes a lot of television, including select episodes of "The Outer Limits", "Supernatural" and "Mutant X" (but not the ones with Callum). It was written by Robert Cochran who wrote a total of 13 LFN episodes and was creative consultant on the series, but is probably most famous now for creating the series "24".
Choice was directed by George Bloomfield, who has directed a lot of television ("SCTV", "Street Legal", "The Jane Show") and a handful of movies. Most notably (to us) he directed 15 episodes of "due South", including four with Callum (Burning Down the House, Strange Bedfellows, Dead Guy Running, Mountie on the Bounty Pt 1). Choice was written by Michael Loceff, who wrote a total of 25 "La Femme Nikita" episodes. He also produced the series, and is currently writing and producing for "24".
As for the cast, there are a few C6D connections. Alberta Watson (Madeline) was in The Life Before This with Callum, as well as Away From Her. Matthew Ferguson (Seymour) was the voice of Bobby Lee on "Odd Job Jack". James Kidnie (Benko) appeared on "due South" (in Dead Men Don't Throw Rice, where he is helpfully credited as playing 'Man'). Robert Bocksteal (Price) recently appeared on "Flashpoint" (Haunting the Barn) where he played Henry Silver. Joesph Griffin (Valery) also appeared on "due South" (The Man Who Knew Too Little - he was one of the Canadian mob guys) and was in Men with Guns with Callum. Roy Lewis (Janel) appeared on both "due South" (Heaven and Earth, as the manager) and "Slings & Arrows" (Rarer Monsters, as Banquo).
Familiar faces who appear in other episodes of LFN include Polly Shannon, Julian Richings, Colm Feore, Maury Chaykin (who won a Gemini for his guest appearance) and Michelle Nolden.
Cast / Characters:
Eugene Robert Glazer
Callum Keith Rennie
Original Airdates: March 10, 1997 (Gray) and April 7, 1997 (Choice)
Runtime: approximately 45 minutes per episode, without commercials
IMDB rating: 7.6/10 (1,486 votes)
Genre: Action | Drama | Romance | Thriller
Keywords (Select): Fighting, Wig, Counter Terrorist, Secret Organization, Cult TV, Based on Film, Betrayal, Spying, True Love, Disguise, Double Agent, Leather Coat, Character Name In Title
Nothing specifically for Gray or Choice, but the series itself was nominated for 17 Gemini awards between 1998 and 2000, winning 4:
1998: Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series - Maury Chaykin
1998: Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series - Nancy Beatty
1998: Best Costume Design - Laurie Drew
2000: Best Overall Sound in a Dramatic Program or Series - Dan Latour, Scott Shepherd, Allen Ormerod
Peta Wilson was also nominated for a Saturn Award (Best Genre TV Actress) in 1998, but lost to Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek Voyager).
There are 46 user comments on the series page, none of which mention Gray or Choice specifically. (No user comments on the individual episode pages either.) Comments are generally one extreme or the other - best show ever or absolute garbage. More people seem to be in the former camp, though.
Dark, Violent, Cool
It seems that one genre of film has rarely been successfully translated to tv: The spy film. Can't think of one off the top of my head--except the cartoons like Lancelot Link and Danger Mouse. I suppose in the sixties--Man From Uncle, Mission Impossible.
But here comes La Femme Nikita, a very stylish show, no question, with a certain ruthlessness about it that seems cold and dangerous. Everyone in it seems to adequately convey the sense of dangling over a precipice, waiting for the stark harsh powers to send them to their doom. But until then, they combat various and sundry international terrorists.
While the acting never really rises above adequate--the dialogue really doesn't allow it, the characterizations themselves are rather enjoyable. Megalomaniac Operations, icy Madelaine, zombie like Michael, etc. There's a certain menace that hangs in the air, as if even humanistic Nikita wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet in you were the situation to require it.
I'm not suprised this show draws a devoted following--probably some who put it in the same late nineties genre of women wandering around beating the hell out big bad men (see VIP, Xena, Buffy, etc) But it's rather a bit more than that, the plots are routinely more complex than most spy movies--the last few James Bond movies in particular, maybe they could donate a few writers to the cause in bringing some life in that series.
The endless maneuvering for advantage, the incredible withering amorality, the sudden violence ... and don't forget the clothes, all give this a pretty slick, sexy feel to it. Like a very shiny, glistening new gun--lethal, but undeniably attractive.
You can find all the comments here.
Callum Quotient: I'd say around 50% throughout the two episodes.
Courtesy of scriggle. ♥
- Benko: [slides box across the table] And I went through the trouble of bringing you a present. Knowing how concerned you are about your operatives, I took the opportunity of returning Mr Lang... what's left of him.
Michael: [deadpan] Thank you.
- Gray: I bring my daughter by here every once in awhile.
Nikita: Hoping she'll get bitten by the bug?
Gray: No, the only architecture she's into is Barbie's dollhouse.
- Nikita: Listen, Gray, I've got to go. Believe it or not, I've got a lot of homework tonight.
Gray: Need help? I've got a home.
- Madeline: You can't hide who you are from the people that you care about.
Nikita: What are you telling me? That I can't see him? That I can't care about him?
Madeline: One or the other.
- Price: The only reason you're sitting here and not doing 20 to life is because of me. I own your ass, let's keep that straight. I'm not one of your street slime homies. So when you talk to me, you look me in the eye and you use complete sentences. Are we cool, bro?
- When naming episodes, the series stuck to titles with the corresponding number of words to the season. i.e., all season one episodes had one word titles, all season two episodes had two word titles, etc.
- In the episode Gray, it was originally scripted that the Directory was discovered in a magazine in Gray's apartment, but the ending seemed too pat and forced, so the producers decided during the editing of the episode that leaving it open-ended was more interesting story-wise.
- Gray's daughter is named Casey - as is Leoben's 'daughter' on "Battlestar Galactica". They even kind of look alike, with the curly blonde hair and all.
- Choice is the last episode in the series to use elements of the original feature film. (Specifically, the scene in the hotel bathroom.)
- Michael and Benko meet with Schtoppel to bid on The Directory. (Gray)
- Madeline interrogates Gray (haaaaaands *flails*), intercut with the searching of Gray's appartment. (Gray)
- Gray and Nikita walking outside, particularily in front of the church. Their flirting is cute - you can see them really becoming interested in each other. And of course, Callum is adorable as all get out in that beret. (Gray)
- Benko gifts Nikita with a necklace and demonstrates what happens to girls (and statues) who don't do as they're told. (Gray)
- Michael drops in on Gray and Nikita for, um, a friendly visit. With bonus sexhair!Callum. \o/ (Choice)
- Nikita dropping in to the Rosewood headquarters. The whole sequence is gorgeously filmed with a great soundtrack, and nothing says badass like crawling through air ducts. (Choice)
- When Nikita and Gray first get to the hotel room. That sprawl of his is downright pornographic, okay? And that interests me greatly. Also, if you pay close attention, you'll see her lick him (right before she answers the phone), which appears to be a trend with Callum and his co-stars. (Choice)
- Madeline and Operations give Nikita an ultimatum about Gray, as well as the following scene with Nikita and Gray in which she makes her choice. (Choice)
Do I want to show this to my parents / friends / co-workers?
Not so good.
In short: yes, lots.
Those guys sure do like their guns.
That mannequin was asking for it.
I'm quite sure that Lang merely stubbed his toe... perhaps broke a nail as well.
It's all fluffy kittens and rainbows. Honest!
A genuine laugh riot - my sides are still aching from it.
Sure, a little.
I giggled. Once. At the guy with the box.
There is nothing funny about spy thrillers. This is serious business.
Callum. Bed. Sprawl. Um.... what was the question again?
A little bit, yeah.
Sex? I don't know what you're talking about.
Non-stop, all over the place.
More than your average, yeah.
Well, she pins him down a lot. But who wouldn't?
A little here, a little there.
100% violence-free sexin'.
*swoons* My hero!
A pretty cool guy, who is made awesome by how much he obviously cares about his kid.
Not the greatest guy ever, as it were.
He has the crazy eyes.
Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Cuckoo.
How many people does he kill?
None. This show predates Callum's fixation with playing murderous psychopaths.
Maybe one. They never said *how* he became a widower.
Okay, so maybe five.
I suspect Gray was the mastermind behind everything and is therefore responsible for the 12732 deaths that occur.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the craziest? 17.
Gray Wellman is the posterchild for sanity.
Again I say: sexhair! \o/
There is nothing sexier than a man with a kid.
He's alright, I guess.
I don't see the appeal, possibly because I am blind.
I suspect he listens to a lot of Elton John.
Well, he is awfully well dressed for a single man...
...and that hair colour is in no way natural.
Maybe just a little.
Completely straight. He was married, after all.
Does he die?
You really want to know? Are you sure? Really sure? Well, then. (highlight to read)
::Not dead! Just threatened with death. Hey, this is Callum: count your wins where you can get 'em.::
"Choice" is one of the few episodes of La Femme Nikita since the pilot to utilize significant elements from Luc Besson's feature film. In this case, it's the moment in Venice where Nikita is with her lover and she receives a phone call instructing her to assassinate a target across the street from where she is, taking aim from her bathroom window. The boyfriend in question is Gray Wellman (returning from the episode "Gray"). Joel Surnow considered it significant in terms of the "legend" of the character. "I thought it was important," he told Cinescape, "to put her with a boyfriend and have her try to have a real life, and we see how the Section interferes. I guess I also feel her chemistry with Roy is so strong that I never quite believed that she would choose this guy over Roy. Not that she has the choice of Roy."
Why, he mused, would someone like Nikita settle for Gray when Michael is there, even peripherally? It becomes a problematic situation because Michael truly is the guy for her. "Everyone else," he said, "gives the impression that she's just settling. And you don't like to see a main character just settle.I even felt that in the movie."
From La Femme Nikita X-Posed: The Unauthorized Biography of Peta Wilson and Her On-Screen Character.
Flash Mission is a very thorough LFN fansite, including episode guides, character profiles, image galleryand more. They also have full transcripts for all episodes, including ones for Gray and Choice. Section Intel is another thorough fansite.
Inside Section One: Creating and Producing La Femme Nikita is a .pdf glossary of all things LFN. I imagine it would come in handy, say, someone were to write Gray Wellman fic. /subliminal messaging
Our resident mistress of picspam, scriggle, has made lovely picspams of both Gray and Choice. And by lovely, I mean "HOMGPRETTY" and "very, very distracting". More caps can be found at stormymouse's CKR/PG caps site. (Gray and Choice.)
There are several LFN communities on LJ, most notably lfn_fans, lfn_icons and lfn_fanfiction.
Finally, I was able to find a few Gray-centric fics on various off-LJ sites:
The Truth About Gray by AuroraNikoleGeorge
Gray - Gray's Version by Genevieve, and it's sequels Gray - Nikita's Version and Gray - Michael's Version.
All five seasons of "La Femme Nikita" are available on DVD. You can buy them in stores, or from your favourite internet retailer such as Amazon. They are generally much cheaper in stores, though.
Most of the thoughts I have about these episodes involve Gray Wellman somehow becoming my boyfriend, so this is so the wrong place to look for something serious and well thought out. *g* In all seriousness, these episodes are very enjoyable - lots of spy action, some crazy-ass bad guys and lots of gunfire/things going boom for those of us who are into that sort of thing. And of course it's early enough in the series that you're not lost completely on the backstory, which is nice. Callum does well with the character, who is surprisingly fleshed-out for a guy who's only around for two episodes. Plus, he gets to be the totally innocent guy for once! \gray/
(Please feel free to poke me if I screwed something up here. :D Also, I think someone modly needs to add 'la femme nikita' as a tag. ♥)