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By Hannah Goodwyn Producer - This new FOX drama isn’t an edge-of-your-seat show like the network’s mega hits 24 and Prison Break.  It’s got some intense scenes, but isn’t full of high-energy action, twisting plots, and violence all the time.  In fact, it is a great alternative for those who want action without adding stress to their lives by watching shows that are too intense. 

Stepping into the series premiere this past week, Standoff had a plus on its side.  For starters, one of the main characters is played by Ron Livingston, who starred with Jennifer Aniston in the popular ‘90s movie, Office Space.  Executive produced by Craig Silverstein, Tim Story (Fantastic Four), and Glen Mazzara (The Shield), this new show takes you inside a crisis through the actions of two top-notch FBI agents.

Livingston is Matt Flannery, an impulsive negotiator, who usually doesn’t have a problem with talking with criminals.  Coming up with solutions to defuse explosive situations that he and his partner, Emily Lehman (Rosemarie DeWitt – Cinderella Man), encounter on the job is routine.  But they are utterly incapable of understanding and communicating with each other about their personal relationship.

One warning that’s important to note is that there was some sexual dialogue in the first episode.  Also, profane language was spoken a few times.

From its commercials, Standoff seemed like it was going to be an interesting look into the lives of two professionals and how they analyze people to negotiate their surrender.  It was, and much more.  Flannery’s witty humor and Lehman’s by-the-book work ethics clash, all the while, a possible catastrophe is unfolding and they are the ones in the Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU) that the officers in charge look to.

They are the first to establish contact with the stalkers, kidnappers, those who are suicidal, and suspects who make bomb threats.  In the pilot, Flannery and Lehman had to take control of two crises.  Careful there are spoilers ahead.

First, Flannery is seen trying to calm down a man who has blocked an intersection and made threats with his gun all the while he two sons are in the back seat.  Behind the scenes, Cheryl Carrera (Gina Torres – Alias), commander in charge, questions the progress he is making and must decide if and when the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), who is already in place, should be given the go ahead to use force.  It’s only when Flannery admits a huge personal secret that the man is willing to surrender.  In front of the entire squad, he shares that he and Lehman have been sleeping together – even at the office once.  Knowing that this stunt could cost him his job, Flannery takes a chance, wins the suspect’s trust, and a crisis is averted.

Next, it was Lehman’s shot at being lead negotiator in a scene where a young white male threatens to blow him and a dozen or so hostages up in a Los Angeles coffee shop.  The suspect’s true identity and reasoning behind his actions are revealed, and she is able to end what could have been a tragic event.

Carrera, the boss, decides they're too valuable as a team to split them up for their office romance.  So, Flannery and Lehman must find a way to leave their feelings in the past – a task both are having a difficult time doing.  At one point in the episode, sexual tension enters the picture.  They kiss and convince each other they should get a hotel room despite their boss’ order.  The scene ends there with them being interrupted by work.

The only regret is that the previews included so much of the story that the episode itself seemed like a prolonged commercial.  Bits and pieces of the plot were filled in, but advertisers gave too much away.  This could have been intentional – to introduce us to their brand new show.  So, hopefully next week we’ll want to watch an hour-long show to get the full story instead of being satisfied with a 30-second ad.

Overall, Standoff had a great start.  The talented cast and comic relief offered by Livingston’s character make a great new show.

If you want to give it a try, check out next week’s show where an air traffic control station is taken over.  Standoff airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

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