Picks and Pans Review: Standoff

UPDATED 09/11/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/11/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT

FOX (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET)

No one here has the walk down. If you're playing a negotiator arriving on the scene to confront someone absolutely packed to the gills with explosives, you get out of your squad car and you strut forward with shoulder blades cutting cleanly through the air. Crisp, understated authority should be announced with each step. It's not hard: I bet everyone on Law & Order can pull it off, even Lincolnesque old Sam Waterston. But in the premiere of this FOX series, Ron Livingston, as a crisis expert named Matt, scuttles forward crablike. Well, that doesn't look right at all. And Rosemarie DeWitt, playing his partner, Emily, suggests Tina Fey without glasses—unsure and unfocused. She might be trying to remember whether she put coins in the meter.

To be fair, Emily has reason to be muddled: She and Matt have violated protocol by having a fling. Now they can't sort out their feelings. While they're keeping bombs from detonating, what's to prevent their own fuse from igniting? But unlike Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, with their interplay of frost and heat on FOX's Bones, Livingston and DeWitt lack chemistry. Their hearts aren't hostage, and they need to be.


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