Silver Chips Online

Whatever you do, do not call the police

Three primetime shows enter the realm of hostage negotiation

By Bridget Egan, Online Art Editor
October 3, 2006
While reading about a kidnap victim or a hostage situation, the same thought crosses everybody's mind: what would I do? The "would I crumble under the pressure?" and "I could have done thats" circulate through the minds of every viewer as the plot thickens, as the show intensifies. As far as the shows goes, there is nothing more dramatic and pressing than a hostage situation. Such situations are comparable to trying to climb uphill on a slippery slope in the middle of El Niño. Shows that feature such intense concepts are sure to attract viewers for the dramatic tension results in popularity, just as J.J. Abrams achieves in his creation "Lost." As the fall television season kicks off, two out of the four main television stations have a show featuring kidnapping and hostage situations.

"Standoff"
The plot
FOX's "Standoff" goes behind the scenes of a fictionalized special organization whose sole purpose is handling hostage situations. "Standoff" focuses on the top two organization's negotiators, Matt Flannery (Ron Livingston) and Emily Lehman (Rosemarie DeWitt), the dynamic duo that can handle any hostage situation, regardless of the risks. But FOX adds a twist; Lehman and Flannery have hidden a romantic relationship that their co-workers know nothing about. The chemistry between Flannery and Lehman is undeniable, an element that bodes well for the show.

The lowdown
Straying from the cookie-cutter image of crime shows is undoubtedly a difficult task, made even harder by the number of new crime shows premiering this year. FOX's "Standoff" does an excellent job of creating believable characters, who have to compete against CBS's popular show, "The Unit." While "Standoff" is worth watching, try not to get attached— it may not last long.

"Vanished"
The plot
Some television shows revolve around a plot so simplistic that a brain-dead duck could comprehend it and write an award-winning essay on the thematic elements. Then there is "Vanished." When a senator's wife goes missing in the middle of a benefit gala, without a trace, the best hostage negotiators are called in to return Sara Collins (Joanne Kelly) to her family. What makes this show interesting is what Special Agent Lin Mei (Ming-Na) and Graham Kelton (Gale Harold) discover about Sara Collins while investigating her disappearance it seems she has more mysteries than Sherlock Holmes and the FBI together.

The lowdown
While "Vanished" is unique, the show's plot rivals the complexity of "Lost," but lacks the addictive quality. The actors might want to consider finding a better job where their talents could be used more effectively.

"Kidnapped"
The plot
When the teenage son of a key member of the community is kidnapped in a traumatizing event resulting in the hospitalization of his bodyguard, his parents call the notorious Knapp (Jeremy Sisto) who is known for returning victims to their family. Leo's wealthy parents choose not to tell the police as the kidnappers demanded, leaving the fate of their child to a man who makes a habit of breaking the rules.

The lowdown
"Kidnapped" will be compelling for anyone who has ever envisioned themselves as a victim. While Knapp seems like a typical bitter officer of the law who has witnessed far too many horrors in his life, the rest of the characters are unique enough to make up for the stereotype.

The likelihood of any of these shows making it to a second season is slim to none. But if any show makes it, "Standoff" is the most likely candidate. In addition, "Standoff" is the only show of the three with a finite plot— the situations in "Kidnapped" and "Vanished" must eventually be resolved.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/6692