I'M ALL IN FAVOR of TV shows that dispense with the tired-to-the-point-of-comatose "will they or won't they?" Unresolved Sexual Tension gimmick, but the new Fox drama "Standoff" (tomorrow, 9 p.m., Ch. 5) goes even a step further than I would.
The story of two FBI hostage negotiators whose secret romance gets outed to complicate their work life, "Standoff" doesn't even bother to draw out the secret for more than three minutes, and skips past the start of the relationship. Forget "will they or won't they?" Here, it's "when exactly did they?"
Ron Livingston, the immensely likable regular guy actor from "Office Space" and "Band of Brothers," plays Matt Flannery, who in attempting to defuse a hostage crisis in the show's opening scene, admits over an open radio channel that he's been sleeping with partner Emily Lehman (Jersey native Rosemarie DeWitt, granddaughter of "Cinderella Man" hero James Braddock) for the last three months, against Bureau protocol. The crisis is resolved without anybody dying, and Matt, greeted with eye-daggers from Emily, shrugs and says, "What!"
This is followed by some harrumphing from their boss (and Matt's ex-partner), Cheryl Carrera (Gina Torres from "Firefly," wasted as the stock Disapproving Minority Captain), some ribbing by gung-ho tactical team leader Frank Perry (Michael Cudlitz), and bickering between Matt and Emily over whether they should stay partners, lovers, both or neither.
Problem is, while Livingston and DeWitt have nice chemistry together, it's hard to shake the feeling that this should have all happened in the second episode, or the sixth, both to have some fun with how they decided to dip their pens in the company ink and to give us a foundation to actually care about whether or not they break up.
To read the full column (which also includes a dissection of the inaugural MyNetwork TV offerings and whether they achieve "so bad it's good" status), click here. Happy Labor Day. Off to throw my daughter the best (albeit only) three-year-old birthday party she's ever had.