With rare exceptions, when someone in television uses the word "reboot" to explain a show's premise, your best bet is to get as far away from whatever is being hyped as possible. From the rancid updated versions of Bionic Woman and Knight Rider to what looks from the previews like a horrific new edition of Hawaii Five-O, the network folks seem determined to ruin old shows right along with their new programs.
Still, there's one 2010 remake that looks promising, at least one paper. The CW (locally CW-58) has resurrected USA's once terrific spy program La Femme Nikita with a new title and star. Nikita, featuring the alluring Maggie Q, debuts Thursday at 8 p.m., and it's the prototype for the CW's new strategy to both retain its core audience (18-34 females) and attract new viewers (everyone else who avoids the likes of America's Next Top Model and One Tree Hill).
"This isn't the kind of show where you are making your boyfriend watch and he wants to kill himself," Q jokingly told TV Guide. "You'll both enjoy it. And really, that's what we're here for: to keep couples together." Judging from the fire-red bikini she's wearing in the opening sequence, it's easy to see how the CW hopes to hook the Spike/WWE crowd.
But there's an added component the original show didn't try until it was well into its run. Nikita will feature the star trying to escape from the deadly agency that trained her. Why she's in that situation is being kept secret by the show's producers, along with the reasons for each week's requisite fight scenes and escape maneuvers. But it's clear they're banking on this show to help a network that's never been a ratings winner.
With Smallville calling it quits after this season and Supernatural showing its age, the CW desperately wants something new and scripted to score. (Gossip Girl gets everything except viewers.) They're slotting it against heavyweights CSI on CBS and Grey's Anatomy on ABC once the new season begins. It will also face off on Thursday against the rematch of the Saints and Vikings on NBC Thursday-night football. But the CW is giving it a two-week jump on the competition, hoping that Nikita can figuratively and literally kick butt.
It has been a big summer for USA Network and TNT. Most weeks they've wiped the floor with network reruns, and each outlet has a brand new hit to exploit (Covert Affairs for USA, Rizzoli & Isles for TNT). Now they're wrapping up the first part of the season for some of their remaining properties with strong episodes.
USA's White Collar has Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) closing in on the murderer of his ex-girlfriend Kate in Tuesday's night finale at 8 p.m. Then Nestor Carbonell becomes the latest figure trying to disprove Shawn Spencer's (James Roday) credentials as Psych completes its summer run Wednesday at 9 p.m.
The con-men-with-conscience gimmick of Leverage doesn't get either the press or audience of The Closer, but TNT's decision to relocate it on Sundays has spiked the ratings. They end their mid-season run with a transitional episode that will bring the team closer to capturing the international mastermind they've been pursuing since the show began.
A word of warning for those who haven't been following Leverage: This is a cliffhanger episode that won't be resolved until December — so a casual watcher may get annoyed or confused at seeing what looks like an aimless scenario unfolding before their eyes. But faithful fans will see major storyline plots progressing and key details revealed. If you missed Sunday's airing, it repeats midnight Thursday.
True Blood puts the bow on Season Three Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. and there are plenty of animated feelings on display. Indeed, it looks as though Sookie (Anna Paquin) may just hit the road by herself. She isn't the only one with problematic relationship issues. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) are about to see sides of each other that aren't pretty, and Tara (Rutina Wesley) finds out something she'd rather not know about Sam (Sam Trammell). All this soap-opera-with-fangs stuff has retained its audience appeal. True Blood hasn't yet reached the heights of The Sopranos, but it's now HBO's signature show in terms of demographics and buzz.
MTV goes Gaga
The year of Lady Gaga continues with the Sept. 13 MTV Music Video Awards at 8 p.m. She's scored 13 nominations and has two items vying for the same award in the Video of the Year category. For those who crave spectacle, besides Gaga this year's host is E!'s Chelsea Handler, and there's also the promise of a return visit from Kanye West.