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October 9, 2015

Standoff: Pilot (series premiere)

by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 5th 2006 10:03PM

Standoff(S01E01) I'm one of those people that truly believes that any TV show or movie premise could be great. Because it's not the premise of a show that's most important. Really, what does the premise of a show have to do with anything? A "great" premise could have horrible writing, acting, direction, while a show that seems to have a "typical" or "boring" premise can be great if it has good writing, acting, and direction. Seinfeld was a show about "nothing" but it was the writing and the cast that made that show great. Heck, what was the movie My Dinner With Andre but two guys eating dinner and talking for two hours?

So it's not the premise of Standoff (hostage negotiators are also lovers!) that is disappointing, it's that there's nothing really special about it. Not yet anyway. But it's a show that has promise, and here's why.

Ron Livingston stars as CNU (Crisis Negotiation Unit) negotiator Matt Flannery and Rosemarie DeWitt is his partner Emily Lehman. They're experts in hostage negotiation, but they're also seeing each other secretly. That could pose a problem if the secret gets out...which is does a few minutes into the latest hostage situation (a dad holding his two kids hostage in a car at an intersection). To get the dad talking, Matt blurts out on the phone that he's sleeping with his partner! That shocks their boss Cheryl Carrera (Gina Torres) and other members of the CNU, including hotheaded sniper Frank (Michael Cudlitz), who doesn't like Matt that much.

Oh, and Emily isn't too thrilled either.

This part was actually a pleasant surprise, the fact that the plot wasn't a "will they or won't they have sex" thing we've seen in every romantic comedy ever made. And it's not a secret that they're having an affair, so it's all out in the open. This will either be a disaster for the future of the show or it's a masterstroke.

I'm not sure if the mix of the romantic, Moonlighting-esque comedy with the serious hostage and kidnapping drama will catch on with viewers, but I was completely wrong about Bones. I thought that show would last less than 10 episodes, and here it is starting a second season. This show makes for a good companion to Bones, actually. Very similar in many ways, though I think right now Bones handles that mix better.

The main plot of this episode, after that dad holding his two kids hostage, is a young man who holds a diner hostage. Is he a terrorist, or is there something more mundane about his motives? An OK twist to this plot (I found the cellphone that plays the M*A*S*H theme oddly humorous), though I'm wondering if, after a few episodes, these "surprise" revelations figured out by Emily and/or Matt will become really predictable.

Of course, Matt and Emily figure out what's really going on, and devise a way to save everyone's life. Matt also finds a way to tell off the pushy, ambitious mom of the hostage taker.

Bottom line? The good: The cast is likable, and if the mix of romance and drama/action works, it could be a kick. The bad? The script has a few cringeworthy moments, some of the characters are paper thin (do we really need another hard as nails commander who is aggravated by his "loose cannon" team and has to give them warnings?) and the way the plots are handled could become routine. But it certainly has promise, and I'm going to keep watching this.

(By the way, check out this online journal from Chip Mazzara, a young writer for the show. He calls himself "The Disgruntled Blogger.")


"I'm wondering if the last time we had sex was the last time we had sex." - Matt, to Emily.

"It makes for slightly better footage than a crater. Better TiVo value." - Matt, about what the hostage taker plans to do.

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Does anyone know the name of the theme song? Please none of my usual boards seem to know.

September 21 2006 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I enjoyed the show and especially the song at the end. Another website posted Yesterday/Tomorrow by The Coral Sea, but the only sample I found was the instrumental portion - no words, so I'm not sure that's correct. Will do more research.

September 10 2006 at 10:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought it was a great show, they definitely have chemistry together and she gives a starmaking performance. It's funny when I first heard about the show I thought he was married -- because they kept saying that he was having an affair with his partner.

September 06 2006 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show better be cancelled (after 5 episodes and before any other new series) because then I get a free SnapStream Beyond TV from TVSquad. ;-) *thank you TVS*

September 06 2006 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 06 2006 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with the "good" and "bad". Comparing this show to Fox's Justice, the writing really needs to be picked up. For a pilot episode I would have expected a stronger story line. I'll keep watching because I like Ron Livingston and he's good in that role.

September 06 2006 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'll have to see another couple of episodes before i can make any solid opinion of this show, however, my first impression is that it probably won't make it through the full season.

It is on Fox after all.

It's a decent show, but nothing about it that really stands out. It's advantage was premiering earlier than most shows, give people a chance to get into it, before the competitin starts up.

But then again, as long as it's still on the air, and as long as there's nothing else on Tuesday's at 9, I'll watch it.

September 06 2006 at 8:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

M.A.S.H. Theme is called "suicide is painless" coincidence?

September 06 2006 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think this one will make it. How many times do we have to be reminded that they are lovers?? Oh yes.. TOO MANY!

September 06 2006 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's okay, I don't have anything else to watch Tues. nights.

September 06 2006 at 12:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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