“To put it country simple …” – William S. Burroughs
When my brother, a musician, introduced me to the above Gary Clark Jr. performance, we talked a bit about the blues. Clark’s Bright Lights, Big City is nice, but the performance is what really elevates it. Or, as my brother put it, “The blues isn’t about re-inventing the wheel. It’s just about doing it right.”
I thought of my brother’s comment when I read a recent blog post by Margaret Atwood. The post itself is about dreams, but at one point Atwood mulls whether or not you should allow your characters dream. She notes it’s somewhat forbidden, or at least frowned upon, and that you can’t necessarily control the interpretations of the readers. But her final line in that brief section of the post is what nails it for me: “As in so many things, it’s not whether, but how well.”
I’m a fan of the CW’s Nikita. It’s something of a guilty pleasure. Lots of gorgeous women – Maggie Q., Lindsay Fonseca, Lyndie Greenwood, Melinda Clarke – as well as more than its fair share of explosions and fights. It’s a guilty pleasure because the relationship stuff is incredibly soapy, so much so, in fact, that I’ll be disappointed if Susan Lucci doesn’t make a guest appearance at some point. And Nikita definitely isn’t re-inventing the wheel. It’s pretty similar to what you’d find in the Mission Impossible and James Bond movies, as well as Alias.
But I’m not looking for the same depth of engagement I get from critically acclaimed shows such as The Walking Dead, Fringe or The Wire when I watch Nikita. I’m looking for pure escapism, where a tiny, beautiful women in shoes so ridiculous you wonder if they might actually be instruments of torture takes a piece of pipe and beats the living snot out of half a dozen, roided-out giants whose lunch weighs more than Maggie Q does, probably while she’s holding a 10-pound bar bell. I’m looking for a race against the clock, a hero to save the day, over-the-top villainy, subterfuge, seduction, laughs, bullets flying, cars exploding and, if I’m lucky, the occasional surprise.
What I guess I’m saying is, they’re “getting right.” Nikita has figured out “how well” to do what they do, and they do it. Fulfillment of potential. As writers and as fans, can we really ask for anything more?