The Saga of Season 5: A Personal Rant

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Last year I, along with many other fans, worked hard for a fifth and final season of "La Femme Nikita," a season supposed to answer the many questions left up in the air after USA Network unceremoniously cancelled the series in May.

Now that we are rapidly approaching the final episode of that hard-won season, I ask myself, "Was it worth it?"

At the time of our campaign I thought so. We worked for something that has seldom, if ever, been accomplished before, trying to convince a cable network to continue filming a highly successful series, by cable network standards, with an unusual premise, and we succeeded. How we did it has been written about in many places, and after much hemming and hawing, USA announced they would bring our show back for a final-eight-episode-arc.

Frustrated after months of trying to show them the error of their ways, all to no avail, the fans let the eight eps suffice, but our dissatisfaction with USA and WB was far from dissolved. USA delayed negotiations just long enough for the contracts of the wonderful cast to expire in August, complicating things for themselves and the cast, not to mention the crew, and further annoying fans. Whether this was by design or not, I don't know. Maybe they figured the 'war' we waged would peter out. But they were no match for our endurance.

Throughout the campaign, the fans had made it abundantly clear the revival would need to include the complete cast and the network knew this well. But being the @$^%# that they are, they tried to palm off different agendas, which were clearly unacceptable even to the casual campaign observer. There was the Peta-Wilson-only rendition fostered by Warner Brothers, whose only interest it seems was to keep 'their property' in the public eye. After fans sent in a barrage of complaints to reassert that the whole ensemble cast was wanted in the drastically shortened season, USA 'graciously' gave in.

Yeah, they agreed all right. Apparently the writers were told what they were expected to accomplish — by the same people who introduced USA's unprecedentedly unsuccessful line-up of "Strip Poker," "The War Next Door," "Manhattan AZ," and "G vs.E," the crème de la crème of their programming, in the network's estimation.

Finally the signing of new contracts started, and what a fiasco that was. Negotiations and agreements were as covert as any LFN episode ever written. Gag orders for anyone associated with the show were issued. Then it was announced that Peta would be in all the episodes. Eventually news trickled out that Alberta Watson would make one appearance. Word followed of Eugene Robert Glazer, Don Francks, Matthew Ferguson, Carlo Rota, and Cindy Dolenc being in several episodes. We waited, for a lifetime it seems, to hear how many shows Roy Dupuis would star in. We finally found out that he would be in the last two episodes and would make his directorial debut with an additional one - to include the 60-second-tag at the end of another ep in this count would be an insult to everyone's intelligence, even though TPTB at USA thought they were being most generous when they did this for the fans. And while of course his directing was something for his fans to look forward to, those in charge just didn't, or refused to, understand that Roy as an actor was such an important element in the structure of the series that without him it simply fell apart.

USA meanwhile, in a benevolent mood, gave the fans reruns of the previous seasons, out of sequence and naturally on weekdays at the ungodly hour of midnight, sometimes even as late as 1:30 a.m. The schedule was sometimes changed, without notice, to accommodate 'special programming' such as the "Attila" movie, or because USA tried to be helpful in putting the show on earlier and just forgot to tell the fans about it. Many fans, who had programmed their VCRs because they couldn't stay up this late, repeatedly ended up with only half an hour of LFN followed by that gem "Strip Poker."

So we got a Mulligan Stew of reruns, an all-new eight-episode-arc with LFN cast regulars mostly making guest appearances and the focus on Nikita finding her father. To add insult to injury, USA asked all the fans to promote the new eps and bring new fans into the fold. Did they ever do much to promote the show themselves? I think not. In a last-ditch effort, they re-vamped the official LFN site, but even as the early seasons were rerun, very little advertising was done on the ensuing episodes. No doubt they were afraid we would boycott them, if we knew how poorly they were done.

When Season 5 started in January, I tried to maintain a positive outlook as I watched the first four episodes, but there wasn't much in them to be positive about. I felt Roy would do very well directing the fifth one and as he does in everything he tackles, he brought out the best in the cast. His 'signature' showed in every facet of the filming, the camera work as well as the cast's response to his directing. The follow-up ep was adequate, considering the framework the writers had to work with.

We had heard so much about the romance supposed to be in the seventh episode. Unfortunately none of us have access to the cutting room and all the beautiful scenes must have been swept away by now. It seems the head honchos saw fit to censor this one. They must believe the quality of the romance between Michael and Nikita just didn't fit in with the boobs and thongs of "Strip Poker" and the like. I don't thrive on the romance in this series, but I find it does give balance to the stark world of Section, and I was disappointed.

In closing I must say there was a spark missing even from the usually infallible Mr. Dupuis in this episode. The words he chose in his TV Guide interview will long be remembered by many of us, "It was weird playing Michael again. I had already mourned him, so it was kind of hard to believe in him." To me, this imbalance showed even in his action scenes. As an actor, we know him to be sensitive to his art and completely become the character he is playing. I can well understand his indecision

All that's left now is the eighth and final episode and for me it will be utterly anticlimactic, whatever the outcome. The damage to this series was done almost a year ago, with the initial cancellation announcement. And now I finally know what USA and WB's agenda was: Work at being a loser and do the best job you possibly can. Well, they are in a class of their own. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how to put the screws on the loyal fans of an absolutely great TV series and a sure way to lose your audience for good.

Well, I should feel better after venting here, but still, somehow I don't.

I can't help feeling that I've wasted my time.

In LFN circles Lorraine is known as Babe, aka The Official Hussy Mom.