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culture

Reel Toronto: Nikita – Season 1 (Part One)

Everybody's favourite female assassin goes globe-trotting while hardly leaving the borders of our fair city.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

2 10 14 nikita

Way back in 1990, Luc Besson made a movie called La Femme Nikita about a female assassin. Because there is no great Europrean movie Hollywood doesn’t think it can do better, it was remade in Hollywood (with Bridget Fonda!) as Point of No Return. Then (still with us?), it was turned into a TV series called La Femme Nikita, which ran from 1997 to 2001 and was one of the prototypical B-level TV series shot here in that period. And that’s what we thought we were going to profile for you when we acquired it, but no!

Because, starting in 2010, they remade the TV series, now just called Nikita. And it’s also shot here! So it’s a remake of a remake of a remake…or maybe a remake of a spin-off of a remake? Well, whatever, it’s probably better than the TV show it’s remaking and maybe better than the American movie, but not as good as the original French movie–and neither of the movies was shot here, but both TV series were. Got it?

2 10 14 base set

Part of the catch with TV series is that, unlike a movie, they can involve roughly 10-20 hours of footage per season. So, if you’ll indulge us, we’re going to take a look only at part of the first season of Nikita now and cover more in another instalment next week. Obviously the Division headquarters we see all the time is a set, but they actually spend an amazing amount of time hopping around the city.

2 10 14 01 nycskyline

So, taking it roughly episode by episode, the series involves a fair bit of globe-trotting but is primarily set in New York City—as you can see from fine skyline shots like this.

2 10 14 01 hotel newyork

But then we find ourselves in a fine hotel like this one…

2 10 14 01 hotel hall

…also seen here…

2 10 14 01 hotel lobby ROYALYORK1

…and as we get to the lobby, we realize we’re actually at the Royal York

2 10 14 01 washingtondc conhall

Another captioning lie, as we’re obviously in Toronto at Convocation Hall and not in D.C.

2 10 14 01 conhallint kingeddie

And then we go inside Con Hall, and we’re a few blocks south, in the lobby of the King Edward Hotel.

2 10 14 01 fromnyctocityhall

Later on, we cut from one of those skyline shots to the rather distinctive back side of City Hall.

2 10 14 02 canadapost
The second episode is all fake New York all the time, even if you have a Canada Post box…

2 10 14 02 ttcpole

…or a TTC pole in the background.

2 10 14 02 kingsubway

Speaking of the TTC, here’s this entrance to King station made up to look like a New York subway (more or less)…

2 10 14 02 lowerbay
…and then, of course, we find ourselves downstairs, in the most recognizable station you’ve never been in…
2 10 14 02 lowerbayshootout

…where there’s a big shootout…

2 10 14 02 lowerbay2

…at Lower Bay.

2 10 14 02 rooftop spadina

Identifying rooftop locations can be somewhat annoying, so we’re not precisely sure which building this is, but here Nikita sets up for an assassination attempt, and we’re looking north-westish, up Spadina Avenue.

x02 10 14 02 belowrooftop coraonpeter

When she looks down to street level, it’s the Cora’s location on Blue Jays Way, at Wellington.

02 10 14 x02 rooftop sohomet

And from this angle, you can see the nearby Soho Met hotel. So, hard to say for sure, but she could be on the roof of the now-deceased Peter Street building that housed Second City and is now in the heaven where buildings go when they become condominiums.

2 10 14 02 protest bayadelaide

We’ve also go this protest taking place, though it’s rather tightly framed.

2 10 14 02 bayadelaide

When we get this shot from the inside of the building, you can tell it’s actually the Bay Adelaide Centre.

2 10 14 02 adelaide trumpconst

Speaking of Adelaide, this is right outside, and you can see a bit of the then-under-construction Trump tower.

2 10 14 02 jeeyunlee

Hey, it’s CP24 reporter Jee-Yun Lee!

2 10 14 02 fonseca

Hey, it’s series co-star Lyndsy Fonseca, who is notable not only for omitting a much-needed “e” from her name, but also for spending time here shooting both Kick-Ass and its sequel.

2 10 14 03 parkinglot1

The third episode starts and ends in this Green P lot…

2 10 14 03 parking end

…the one at the base of Church Street that we’ve seen several times, including in RED.

2 10 14 03 diner1

Then we have this scene where Nikita and her rogue agent pal meet at a homey diner…

2 10 14 03 donlandsmilk

…and when they get up, you can see it must be a local joint, what with the love for Donlands Milk.

2 10 14 03 diner teds finally

Then, thankfully, they go outside, and we can see we’re at Ted’s Restaurant, out in Scarborough. The only other time we remember seeing it in a movie before was in Pushing Tin.

2 10 14 03 vicquad

We also spend a bit of time on a leafy campus…

2 10 14 03 uvic

…and as you can see…

2 10 14 03 nope vic

…despite the caption (again), we’re in the quad at Victoria University.

2 10 14 03 outsidetd

And, back outside downtown, we’re on King Street.

02 10 14 05 meridianbank bayst

This episode kicks off with a bank heist that’s supposed to be in Montreal.

02 10 14 05 711

As you can see out the window, however, we’re actually at this bank on Bay Street. You can even see the 7/11!

02 10 14 05 montreal

Rather uniquely, they actually spend the rest of the episode in Montreal…

02 10 14 05 notmontreal

…but the bank exteriors are here…

02 10 14 05 stanlee whynot

…and, hey, it’s a random cameo by Stan Lee, who is now definitely the king of random cameos! (If you get the gag with his name, you are a nerd. And good for you.)

2 10 14 07 protest seneca

The big local angle in the seventh episode is this protest.

2 10 14 07 senecamarkham

As we zoom out a little, we see we’re actually at Seneca College’s Markham campus

2 10 14 07 protest int

…also seen from the inside.

02 10 14 07 markhamdelta

They even set off a nice explosion in the parking lot, which must have freaked out people on the adjacent 404; you can see the local Delta Hotel off in the back there.

2 10 14 08 parkwood

A key location in the eight episode is “Regal House,” a mansion familiar to anyone who loves the superheroics of X-Men or the, um, superior comedy of Billy Madison. Yes, it’s Oshawa’s Parkwood Estate…

2 10 14 08 moreparkwood

…the interiors of which…

2 10 14 08 parkwood int notregalhouse

…were also used.

09 uzbekbar royalyork library

The ninth episode does some of that previously mentioned globetrotting, this time to Uzbekistan. But, yeah, no. This bar is actually The Library, back at the Royal York.

2 10 14 09 airport

And, hmmm, now we’re at an airport, but not Pearson.

2 10 14 09 hamiltonairport

Based on our knowledge of Copps Coliseum, we’re going to go out on a limb and say the City of Hamilton’s love affair with mismatched, garish upholstery makes this its airport.

2 10 14 09 valleyhalla4

Finally, as we conclude our tour of the first half of this season, we find ourselves outside this rural chateau…

2 10 14 09 valleyhalla3

…which is actually Valley Halla, out by the Toronto Zoo.

And now, with Valley Halla and Parkwood already spoken for, we only need Casa Loma (that’s the centre square on your card) and maybe Eaton Hall to complete our collection of cinematic Toronto mansions! Will they show up on the backstretch of Season One? Stay tuned! (In TV lingo, this is supposed to be, like, a cliffhanger….)

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