February 03, 1997 12:00 PM

USA (Mondays, 10 p.m. ET)


Derived from a 1990 French movie thriller—already the source of a 1993 Bridget Fonda flop called Point of No Return—this idiotic but lively hour-long series about a girl assassin begins when the homeless Nikita is wrongly convicted of a back-alley murder. Always on the lookout for a good assassin, headhunters for an American intelligence outfit are impressed by Nikita’s résumé. They have her removed from prison, install her in a top-secret compound and proceed to school her in a career in professional killing. In addition to lessons in firearms and self-defense, Nikita receives a cosmetic makeover from a woman who looks like a restaurant hostess. “The most powerful weapon you have,” whispers this self-deluded glamor coach, “is your femininity.” In return for her willingness to fire off bullets at a variety of international agents and crime lords, Nikita is supplied with a large and loudly stylish wardrobe, apparently borrowed from Patsy of Absolutely Fabulous, and put up in a roomy apartment that has been hideously decorated with neon tubes. (And why would an undercover assassin want so many refrigerator magnets?)

Peta Wilson, an Australian actress with the harsh blonde hair, snub nose and oversize, depthless blue eyes of your average mass-produced doll, makes a sexy, amusing Nikita. Wilson has pared her performance down to the purely physical—a blasé runway stride occasionally spoiled by nervous tremors. (Nikita, you see, isn’t really all that crazy about her new profession.) Or it may be that Wilson has worked her performance up to this.

Either way, I ended up liking Wilson a lot.

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