Screen Savors: No pain, no gain

Canada contributes a plucky super-woman to AXN.

Kristanna Loken 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Kristanna Loken 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Life is full of unexpected pleasures, such as discovering a great new show on AXN. We're treading here lightly, folks, cuz the last couple of times we have dared to tackle AXN programs, denizens of the deep cut us down for getting some of the details wrong. But fans of Painkiller Jane, AXN's latest offering Wednesday nights at 22:00, can stop worrying - the series about the agent who heals from all physical damage is a knockout. So's its star, Kristanna Loken, probably best known for her role as TX in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Hey, who'll ever forget that bathroom showdown with Ahhhhnold. Here, Loken plays tough DEA agent Jane Vasco, who we learn from a flashback wasn't very popular in school. "When I was little, my dad called me his Painkiller Jenny. Whenever I got hurt, I made the pain go away. Only I didn't just bury it or put it aside - I pretty much murdered it," she recalls, pretending to machine gun all the mean kids chasing her. Next thing we know, she's being thrown out of a skyscraper window. "Some things you have no control over, gravity being one of the big ones," she observes in a laconic way that runs throughout the show and fits its comic book heroine origins. Flash back and she's on the trail of baddies in a nightclub with her partner Maureen. In this very Alias and Torchwood-inspired show, she and her partner kick some very serious butt as the music revs high before encountering... three versions of the same dude. Turns out two of them are bad guys, and the good one is Andre McBride (Rob Stewart of the old Tropical Heat series), who heads up a special team that fights "neuros," neurological aberrants who can force people to do things for them they don't want to do. McBride, realizing Jane has special gifts, drafts her onto the team. As expected, there's a techie, a doctor, a brute strength dude, and one or two others to give back-up to our girl Jane as she goes after the baddies. On her first mission, things do go a bit awry. Caught with her partner, the two are pushed out a 46th floor window and land splat on the pavement. They're about to body bag her when she flashes back to her mom's funeral. Before you can say IRT she's crawling through the old subway tunnel to headquarters, having survived the fall with no real injuries. Returning home, she cuts her hand on a shard of glass but it immediately heals. When her friend Maureen joins the force and finds her life at stake, it's Jane who saves her, then puts her own body on the line for the team to catch the neuro babe who's been making all the trouble, even if it means about 20 bullets in her back. "For the record, I knew something else - it was going to hurt like hell," she says a moment before launching the rescue. The dialogue's tight, the storyline a bit muddled but fun, and it's easy to like Loken. The series, produced in Canada, had a 22-episode run last year on the Sci-Fi Channel, one of our favorites, but failed to make it for another year. Still, spending a fast-paced hour with Jane is a painless way to spend an evening.