07 September 2006


Taking my morning constitutional (as opposed to my morning ablutions, morning glories, or morning wood,) listening to this week's Contrast Podcast, I found myself for some very odd reason thinking about the premiere of Fox's Standoff. Despite its near-universal bad reviews, we watched the other night. Why? A couple of reasons.

First off, I'd be a leaf on the wind for Gina Torres, too. Unfortunately her character here - Cheryl Carrera - was neither a badass, nor someone who gave the impression that her "pussy tastes like sweet butter". As others have said, she was "wasted as the stock Disapproving Minority Captain". Still, I wouldn't mind "showing her my O-face".

Which brings us to the bigger reason for trying the paint-by-numbers romantic comedy-cum-procedural...Ron Livingston. The problem is, no matter how much everyman charm Livingston brings to the role - and he's loaded to the gills with everyman - the show sucks.

There's no chemistry between Livingston's character and his partner Emily Lehman (Rosemarie DeWitt). At least I saw no chemistry, but that could be because I found DeWitt to be uninteresting, implausible, and unappealing. If she were negotiating for my release, I'd beg for death to end her whining. In a show based on the relationship between its two leads, having one of them be a tomato can (who, unlike her grandfather, never rises to the moment) is a certain route to failure. Creator Craig Silverstein might have been going for a Moonlighting feel, but barely made it to tealight.

There was one bright moment, sort of. Special Guest Star ¡Tom Wopat! appeared in the opening sequence as a distraught father holding his sons captive. This prompted Livingston's Matt Flannery to divulge his secret affair with Emily. Unfortunately, his little speech felt cribbed from Mike Judge's first draft of Office Space. He griped about how bad his life was, how much he hated change, and how he didn't want life to get worse. Or, as Beavis himself might say: "I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life."

Maybe this was an attempt to be "clever" and "self-referential" and "meta". It looked more like "plagiarism". In a romantic comedy where the only humor is unintentional and a procedural where characters repeatedly defy procedure, channeling Peter Gibbons isn't going to save you.

All I can say to Fox, when the time comes to pull the plug, is "good luck with your layoffs, all right? I hope your firings go really, really well."