Butt-Kicking Chicks

My parents came down for the weekend (Happy Birthday Mom!) and we watched quite a bit of TV together. After we finished "Burn Notice," we watched the recorded "Eleventh Hour."

During that episode, FBI agent Rachel Young (Marley Shelton) gets in a close-quarters fistfight with a thug twice her size, and holds her own. We had just watched Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) in "Burn Notice" blow up a van and the debate started as to whom TV's toughest chick was.

The concept of women being top-notch fighters in addition to possessing their feminine charms probably goes back to Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) in "The Avengers" in the mid-1960s, probably appropriate with the beginning of the sexual revolution.

But whereas the movie versions of butt-kicking chicks, such as Rippley in "Alien" or Marion Ravenwood in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" got going in the early '80s, it took their TV counterparts a while longer to get going before shifting into overdrive with the likes of Buffy Summers or Sydney Bristow in the '90s.

Now, TV is full of lovely ladies who are hardly damsels in distress.

So, who would you take along on a mission when you need someone to watch your back? Who is the toughest of the tough currently on the air?

(You can't count Cam-bot from "Terminator" or Number Six from "Battlestar Galactica," since they'd probably win any fight being machines and all).

Here's my list, in no particular order:

--Rachel on "Eleventh Hour." Despite Shelton's delicate appearance, she has shown herself to be more than adept as Jacob Hood's bodyguard, though he seems to end up in a lot of unnecessary dangerous situations.

--Fiona on "Burn Notice." She's shown herself to be a good fighter in hand-to-hand combat, though her specialty is long-range kills with explosives or as a sniper.

--Ziva (Cote de Pablo) on "NCIS." My parents' pick for top butt-kicker, Ziva is Mossad-trained and an expert both with a weapon and without, plus she speaks six languages. Last week alone, she took out two gang members by herself and showed her adept touch at the gun range.

--Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) on "The Sarah Connor Chronicles." An expert in guns, explosives and other things, Sarah may not have the training of the other ladies, but in sheer willpower and determination, particularly playing with pain, few can match her. You'd think such a woman wouldn't have such a whiny little brat as a son...

--Kate Austin (Evangeline Lilly) on "Lost." Again, not someone with a lot of formal training, but Kate has shown herself to be incredibly resourceful, be it blowing up her mom's abusive boyfriend, escape the US Marshal's service, or landing on a weird island full of exotic dangers.

--Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) on "In Plain Sight." Well trained, she shows more restraint than the other ladies on this list, since she hasn't put a bullet in her mother or sister -- yet.

--Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) on "Battlestar Galactica." She was able to stand toe-to-toe with Number Six in a fistfight, is the best shot in the fleet and the top pilot as well. Starbuck may lose some points because of her drinking, but you definitely want her as your wingman.

--Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) on "Chuck." Sarah is a top, well-trained NSA agent assigned to protect Chuck (Zachari Levi). It's a bit hard to tell how tough she is, because she shares the job with hulking John Casey (Adam Baldwin) of the CIA. You can judge for yourself on tonight's new "Chuck" (NBC, 8 p.m.)

Who is your top butt-kicking chick?

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Thankfully, President Obama decided not to go through with another TV news conference tonight, so there's some new stuff.

After "Chuck," there are a few butt-kickers on "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.), but really, is it a fair fight if you can freeze your opponent or run at super speed? It's followed by a new "Medium."

"House" (Fox, 8 p.m.) returns after last week's unscheduled break to treat a priest who believes he saw Jesus. During the commercials, there's the second minute-long ad for "Wolverine." It's followed by "24" at 9 p.m., which added that FBI butt kicking chick this season.

CBS is all repeats with the exception of the season finale for "Worst Week," (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) in which the baby finally arrives -- and Sam naturally is at the wrong hospital.

On cable, there are new episodes of "Secret Life of an American Teenager" and "Kyle XY" on ABC Family, beginning at 8 p.m.

TNT has new episodes of "The Closer," beginning at 9 p.m., and "Trust Me" at 10 p.m.

Finally, HBO airs the documentary "Right America -- Feeling Wronged: Voices From The Campaign Trail" in which filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi (Nancy's daughter) talks to conservatives during the 2008 Presidential campaign.