Time to see if I misjudged a series: let’s re-evaluate Standoff. But what’s this? Shock, horror! It was a show that started before The Carusometer was even born! Its third-episode verdict was qualitative, without even the slightest hint of the overwhelming quantitative power The Carusometer has to offer.
Now, it can have the rating it deserves.
Anyway, we rejoin Standoff at episode 14, in which our dynamic FBI negotiating couple have to deal with a cult leader with too many wives who wants to get his own back on a church leader. We start with some clumsy interplay between the two about desirable holidays as he (Ron Livingston) says an RV holiday is the best, while she (Rosemarie DeWitt) says it’s not. Oh the relationship-depth explored…
We then have another interminable hostage negotiation. Now, the problems with a show about hostage negotiators are
- there aren’t that many different hostage negotiations that are realistic and common yet interesting
- hostage negotiations drag on for a bit and certainly don’t take just 40 minutes
So just about any episode you can come up with is bound to
- have an unrealistic, TV-friendly scenario
- be unrealistically plotted so it only lasts 40 minutes (minus couple time)
And episode 14 was no different from episodes one to three. Lots of negotiations handled in a way only an idiot would handle a hostage negotiation. You’d have to have been in an isolation tank from the day you were born, slowly being fed porridge through a tube, to think their tactics were good ways to bond with the hostages/kidnappers.
But guess what. The incredibly well conditioned cult members needed only two minutes of talking to the negotiators to be convinced they were in the wrong and must fight their cult leader. And they don’t get killed in the process. How incredibly, incredibly lucky and unlikely.
While there’s some reasonably non-stupid plotting, all the characters are essentially ridiculous. It’s not believable. It doesn’t compensate for this by making anyone interesting enough to make you overlook the flaws. It’s action by numbers. You could probably throw every single plot at Criminal Minds and it would morph into that show’s plots with just a couple of quick line changes.
So The Medium Is Not Enough has great pleasure in declaring Standoff a “Major Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Major Caruso corresponds to “a show that David Caruso might exec produce or star in. He will insist on vetting every female cast member before they are cast, to ensure ‘He has chemistry with them’. All the auditions will actually consist of is seeing if they can convincingly ‘Make goo-goo eyes’ at him and not be sick, while being shot at by AK47s before begging to have seven children by him and give up their high-flying, emotionally satisfying jobs since ‘he completes them’.”