Standabitoff

The new season has begun at Fox (eager to build momentum before they kill it with the World Series). This brings us Standoff, a series about two crisis/hostage/whatever negotiators who are romantically entangled.

The first part of that is a plus. Crisis negotiation is a good hook for a series; it’s procedural, but it’s not the same old procedural. Plus, it’s inherently about humanity, dealing with people’s interests and problems. You can set up some real moment-by-moment drama that you have trouble hanging on the popular corpse-dissection shows. Ron Livingston (perhaps still best known as the lead in the cult film hit Office Space) is a good choice for the male half of the team, with that I’m-feeling-but-not-expressing look of his being good for someone who se job needs him to be both emotionally communicative but in control.

But its the whole relationship angle that makes this thing feel tired from the start.  We come in after the relationship has not only started but as it is ready to be put on the shelf. There isn’t enough interesting banter spark there to carry through even the conflict of the first episode, much less whatever string of we-want-to-be-together-but-for-the-job, or we-love-each-other-but-neither-wants-to-admit-it, or I-hate-you-but-lets-have-more-sex conflict that this relationship brings with it.

I do give them points for using Gina Torres as the boss. Gina exudes “smart” well… frankly, too smart for whatever’s going on with her underlings.

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Published in: on September 7, 2006 at 8:04 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. Pretty much my reaction to the show as well. I turned it off about 20 minutes in. I felt the relationship angle was cliche and they could either do without it or very very gradually hint in coming episodes at some awakening attraction and their conflicts about whether or not to start something up because of the baggage it would bring to their jobs. Of course that latter scenario isn’t original either, but I prefer that over the relationship starting point they did go with in the show.

    What I couldn’t figure out was when the guy blurted out on the phone to the hostage taker all about the relationship with his negotiator partner, why did everyone automatically assume it was true? Apparently they’d hidden it well. So why didn’t their colleagues (at least some) assume he was just “making stuff up to sound human” to the hostage taker? And why didn’t the guy himself (and/or the gal herself) at least try to deflect it later by saying “Eh, I (he) was just wingin’ it, makin’ stuff up to try to confront the guy, shock him, make a connection with him, whatever…”?

    As I said, I didn’t watch the whole episode, so maybe they somehow ended up there, but it sure seemed like everyone, especially the boss, was taking him at his word and neither he nor his partner seemed to be even attempting to deny the relationship in any way.

    It just doesn’t seem like my kind of show. I don’t generally watch police procedurals—haven’t really regularly watched any straight cop shows since Hill Street Blues, best cop show ever IMO, though NOT a procedural one—and while I agree Standoff does have a slightly fresh perspective with the crisis negotiators angle, it still seems to be a simple procedural-based cop show at its core.

    I like Gina Torres from her Angel and Firefly days, but she’s not enough to make me tune in week after week. Think I’ll be standoffish on this one…

  2. I agree about the “why assume he was telling the truth” problem. Certainly, there seemed reasonable reason to lie. (It also wasn’t clear to me why they had to make the first standoff one with a TV star; while it has dramatic possibiities, it didn’t add much to that scene. Thing was, it might have added something to a longer, more involved base in a later episode – not unlike when Boomtown had an ex-TV star involved in a hossstage situation – but now they’ve wasted it.


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