Awkward pairing of relationship drama and procedural cop show, "Standoff" bombs on both counts. Suspense, whether romantic or dramatic, never builds in this pilot centered on a pair of FBI agents who talk hostage takers out of killing anyone and carry on a clandestine love affair. That ticking sound is marking the seconds until cancellation.
An awkward pairing of adult relationship drama and procedural cop show, “Standoff” bombs on both counts. Suspense, whether romantic or dramatic, never builds in this pilot centered on a pair of FBI agents who talk hostage takers out of killing anyone and, once the workday is finished, carry on a clandestine love affair. That ticking sound is marking the seconds until cancellation.Matt Flannery (Ron Livingston) and Emily Lehman (Rosemarie DeWitt) are negotiators for the FBI in Los Angeles. In the series’ first case — a troubled actor in an SUV with his two young boys and a handgun parked in an intersection — Matt lets it be known he and his partner have been dating for three months. Once they solve the crisis, it leads to a questioning of the relationship — it’s against policy, and the two have to decide which is more important, working or sleeping together. Just when it appears they have made that decision — in the lobby of a hotel, wink, wink — they are off to another hostage situation: A college student and Muslim convert wearing a bomb vest holed up in a diner. With zip-zip-bang authority, not only does Emily talk him out, she figures out he’s bipolar, suicidal and Oedipal. (Most impressive is how fast the FBI’s home office can teach a delivery truck driver how to locate in his van a digital camera, set it up and then take and transmit a photograph.) With credibility being stretched in cop land, Matt and Emily don’t do much better with their relationship. Since they can’t speak freely in front of their colleagues, much of the time is spent essaying stunned looks; at least Matt gets to crack a half-smile. Emily, the less convincing of the two, is stuck with lines that seem to spring only from anger and disillusionment, and DeWitt looks absolutely lost in most scenes. Supporting cast is, not surprisingly, one-dimensional: Michael Cudlitz plays sniper force leader Frank Perry, who wants to shoot first and ask questions later; Gina Torres plays their commander, Cheryl Carrera, whose instinct is to stop negotiations but then stand back as Matt or Emily take matters into their own hands. Tim Story’s direction fails to deliver any sense of excitement or danger. As much as this wants to be a marriage of aspects of “The OC” and “NYPD Blue,” it lacks an interesting ensemble, good acting or even a plausible plot. Viewers intrigued by the sophistication of lead-in hit “House” will be the first to lose interest.