I had a feeling that last week's lackluster episode was just a fluke; this week's installment was a welcome return to the 'Nikita' we know and love, advancing the storyline while providing palpable tension throughout the well-paced hour.
'Fair Trade' was a long-overdue showcase for Aaron Stanford, with Birkoff the focal point for much of the hour, and for anyone who underestimates the importance of our resident nerd, this episode was a welcome reminder of just how integral he is not just to operations, but apparently to Nikita's sanity too. We never forget the devotion that Nikita and Michael share, but sometimes it's easy to overlook our irritable little hacker, grumbling in the corner but always coming through for our heroes whenever they're in a tight spot.
Sadly, even though the loss of Birkoff sent Nikita off the deep end, his presence beforehand wasn't quite enough to stop our heroine from going "on a bender" this week, behaving even more recklessly than usual in Michael's absence.
AOL TV caught up with Clarke yesterday to discuss what's next for Amanda now that she's got rogue agent Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) in her grasp. With only two episodes left in season 1 (episode 21 airs tonight at 9PM ET), the stakes are high, and Clarke shared plenty of juicy tidbits to whet our appetites for what's to come in the next couple of weeks. Caution: Spoilers ahead.
Melinda Clarke Returning to 'CSI' As Lady Heather, 'Jersey Shore' Star Signs With TNA Wrestling and More
In the episode, the 'CSI' team investigates human pets. Yep, human pets. There's a murder in that subset of the dominatrix world and Lady Heather is called to consult on the case.
'CSI' creator Anthony Zuiker co-wrote the episode.
Lady Heather was last seen in 2008. Clarke is now a regular on The CW's 'Nikita.'
In other TV news ...
• 'Two and a Half Men' will tape with a live studio audience when Charlie Sheen returns. Despite some conflicting reports about a tropical vacation, Warner Bros. has ordered the show back into production on Tuesday with a taping on Friday. [Los Angeles Times]
• Chandra Wilson is stepping behind the camera of 'Grey's Anatomy' again. Wilson will direct this season's 20th episode. She has previously directed the show three times. [TV Guide]
• Natalee Holloway's mom will star in a Lifetime reality series. Beth Holloway will star in the 10-episode unsolved crime series 'Vanished With Beth Holloway.' The network has also ordered 'Justice for Natalee Holloway,' a sequel to its TV movie based on Natalee Holloway. [Deadline Hollywood]
The "gritty cop drama" follows the personal and professional lives of six first-year cops in the NYPD, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Goldberg will play Lazarus on the Robert De Niro-produced show. He joins Leelee Sobieski, who was cast on the series last week. Goldberg played a detective in the short-lived ABC show 'The Unusuals.'
In other TV news ...
• 'Nikita' isn't a sure bet to return for a second season, but star Melinda Clarke is optimistic. "From what I hear, the buzz is that we'll be fortunate enough to have another season," she said. [EW]
• Fox has renewed 'American Dad' for a seventh season. The series will now stay on the air until 2013. [Hollywood Reporter]
• Hallmark is hopping on the royal wedding bandwagon with a new movie. Hallmark's 'William & Kate: A Royal Love Story' will premiere Aug. 13. Lifetime is already well underway with its TV movie take on the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton; it will debut on April 18. [Deadline Hollywood]
The new series is an update on the 1990 movie 'Nikita,' the movie's 1993 remake 'Point of No Return' and the 1997 Canadian TV show 'La Femme Nikita.' In The CW's version, Nikita (Maggie Q) is a rogue assassin conspiring to topple Dvision, the secret government agency that trained her.
But Division has weapons of its own, including Melinda Clarke's Amanda, a manipulative psychologist who may just have been a former assassin herself.
Clarke spoke to TV Squad about learning to kick butts alongside Maggie Q, her mysterious character and whether we'll see her again on 'Vampire Diaries.'
Maggie Q takes on the role in this version, which debuts Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 9PM ET on The CW. The cast also includes Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca and Melinda Clarke.
The pilot sets up some of Nikita's backstory, her relationships with her former bosses/co-workers in the spy biz and how Fonesca's Alex is recruited to become the next Nikita.
While viewers will learn that Nikita had a relationship with West's Michael, a new dude will enter her life as the series continues.
"It was important for us to come up with a fresh take [on Nikita] that isn't just a rehash," explained Craig Silverstein to Con attendees. "There's now two of them [Nikita and Alex.] You don't know how it's going to end. We're going to be telling the story of how Alex and Nikita got together."
(S05E16) "Don't come back. You'll be dead too." - Cassidy from the mirror
Last week's 100th episode was a tough act to follow. We couldn't expect an episode as action packed as 'Implosion' was this week but we were given spooky episode that, even if somewhat a "filler episode" because we didn't learn a lot of new tidbits about the Shadows, helped push the issue about the Shadows and them wanting children a bit further.
'Old Sins Cast Long Shadows' was yet another rather dark episode of the series this season. Madame Greta looked so spooky and scary that I'm glad I forgot to record the episode on Friday so I couldn't watch it on my return around 11 p.m. and had to watch the episode online during the day (which is why my review is late as I had to wait for it to be online). Yes, I scare that easy.
More TV casting news after the jump.
Salivating for the return of 'Chuck' on January 10? Then set your DVR for January 7, because Syfy is planning to air an eight-hour marathon of the cult NBC series.
Creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak have selected their eight "best of" episodes from season 2, including the premiere and the finale, which will air during the marathon.
Still not watching 'Chuck'? We're here to help. Below, check out our 5 reasons to watch Syfy's 'Chuck' marathon.
(S06E11) "E, I've had most of this town, so it was bound to happen that our trees would dabble in the same forest at some point." - Drama
One down and one to go in Entourage's sixth season - a season I should point out that started off incredibly strong and ended up flopping around like a dead fish after those first few stellar eps. However, last week's installment, "Berried Alive," redeemed much of what had been bad and for the most part, "Scared Straight" continued that trend.
With that in mind, there's at least a little excitement going in to next week's finale because we really don't know what's going to happen on a few fronts.
(S01E09) "I feel like the weirdest drug dealer of all time." -- Bert "Sock" Wysocki
If there were a country populated by MILFs, Julie Cooper would be the President. I never realized how much I missed Melinda Clarke until tonight. She must have a great time running down her resume for people..."I've played a dominatrix, a scheming predator of high school boys and the devil's girlfriend."
(S07E23) "So now you're building your own?!?" -Catherine
A fan favorite returns. This was only Melinda Clarke's fourth appearance as Lady Heather on CSI, and I'm fascinated with how much they've developed her character in that short time frame. It just proves that good writing can go a long way, especially when the notion of "less is more" is kept in mind.
The episode started off quite unexpectedly, as we were reintroduced to Heather in a situation that didn't exactly jive with her own beliefs. She's a dominatrix, so why has she put herself in a submissive role? Recall what she told her late daughter Zoey in her very first appearance? Something like, give your body and heart to a man but never your power? Well now Heather is ignoring her own advice. Sounds like a good premise for an episode to me.
(S04E16) Does this count as the end of an era? I'm not sure. When The OC first began, it sure felt like the beginning of an era. Now that it's over, I'm not exactly sure what it's the end of. Other than something that I'm really, really going to miss.
I have to be honest. The first twenty or so minutes of this episode fell pretty flat for me. I really wasn't enjoying the six-month jump, only to find out that everything we thought we knew was no more. Julie was engaged to Bullit, Taylor was back in France, and Seth and Summer had become "comfortable." Nothing was right, and despite the fact that we all knew how this was going to end, I was a little put off by the way it started. But it picked up steam and by the episode's end, I was completely satisfied with the way it all turned out.
(S04E10) You can tell that Josh Schwartz and his writing team are having fun with this season. They knew the show was going to be canceled well before we did. So it only makes sense that these remaining episodes feel fresh, like the writers are taking chances. Why wouldn't they? The show is over -- they can do whatever they want.
There are pros and cons to that though. Sometimes too much creative freedom can be a bad thing. Example one? I feel like Sandy and Kirsten have been forgotten. Especially Sandy. It seems that lately his only role has been popping in here and there to offer brief words of advice to Ryan. Although I will say that his Jerry Lewis impersonation was hilarious.
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