Reviews

Standoff

The first episode included a good deal of Where Is This Relationship Going, a little of Isn't My Floppy Fringe Just Fantastic, and a couple of hostage situations.

Standoff

Airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm ET
Cast: Ron Livingston, Rosemarie DeWitt, Gina Torres
Network: Fox
US release date: 2006-09-05
Website
Amazon

It may be telling that several days after Standoff debuted, its official website was still "under development" and full of features that were "Coming Soon". Could Standoff be going shortly? I'd be hard pushed to argue otherwise. The premise is flawed to the point of fatuousness. You can almost hear the cookie-cutting geniuses at work: "Hey, let's take an idea for a movie, say, hostage negotiation. Stir in a little Moonlighting chemistry and a bit of that stuff called humour. It's primetime TV gold. Waddaya say?"

Um. No.

Confronted by a P.O.C. (work it out) like this, you have to ask yourself whether the creators of Standoff ever expected it to develop any kind of legs. Did they believe they could contrive a suitably different and yet convincing scenario each week for a full season? And if they honestly thought they could pull off that very difficult trick, then why didn't they come up with a better idea for their premiere episode?

To be fair, the Standoff debut began quite nicely. An all grown up Luke Duke (Tom Wopat) had a handgun, his two kids, and a cell phone in his car; and negotiator extraordinaire Matt Flannery (Ron Livingston) was trying to talk him out of a Hostage Rescue Team sniper's bullet with his name on it.

But no sooner had this promising opening scene been established than Standoff began its rapid and apparently irreversible descent.

Acting on the orders of Supervisory Special Agent In Charge, Cheryl Carrera (Gina Torres), HRT took control of the crisis and prepared to take the former Duke of Hazzard out. Following Hollywood conventions, Flannery then had no choice but to put himself between HRT's super-sniper scopes and their target. And to start chewing up the scenery like a bulimic showboater on crank.

I didn't time it, and I don't have the heart to watch the scene again, but I'd guess it took Standoff less than four minutes to have its star broadcast to the entire world that he'd been having a secret affair with his negotiating partner, Emily Lehman (Rosemarie DeWitt), and consequently, he knew exactly where Luke Duke was coming from. Because sleeping with your partner is now and has always been every bit as serious a crime as kidnapping your own children and threatening to shoot them in the middle of downtown Los Angeles while holding up traffic.

The initial crisis resolved, Standoff moved immediately to its next point of tension. In the straitlaced world of Crisis Negotiation, partners are encouraged to hang out together, but not to exchange fluids. One, apparently, is good for morale. The other might affect the negotiators' judgment. Oh my. Where now for TV love?

A long and silly story made short: there followed a good deal of Where Is This Relationship Going, a little of Isn't My Floppy Fringe Just Fantastic, and an entirely risible second hostage situation. The college-aged son of a Senator pretended to be an Islamic convert to the gospel of Al-Qaeda just so he could kill himself in public and really stick it to his parents. Rosemarie DeWitt exchanged herself for an entire coffee shop full of hostages. The boy's mother told him she was sorry. He cried. And everyone went happily home to exchange fluids.

Or did they?

Standoff almost entirely lacks the imagination and strong characters of Fox's Justice. And despite an occasionally fine comic touch, it has nothing like the stellar wit of House. Standoff does, however, have a cast that deserves better, especially Torres. Unhappily for these actors, and for fans of Ron Livingston's fringe, I can't see Standoff remaining with us for many more weeks. But then, I expected the same of Bones and look what a truly first rate show that has become.

3

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image