Flashpoint

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Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Friday, July 11 (CBS).

It's not every day you find yourself staring down a hostage-taking, emotionally wrought, lovelorn, heavyset Croatian. Unless, of course, you happen to be part of the SRU team in Toronto. (The Canadian SRU is a lot like American SWAT, only much more in touch with its feminine side.)

During the dark, pre-writers strike days in the fall, CBS screened the "Flashpoint" pilot, which had been greenlighted by CTV. Probably looking for strike-proof scripted series, CBS scrambled on board.

To be sure, "Flashpoint" is a perfectly competent police procedural right down to its convincing weaponry and tactics. However, based on the pilot, it isn't particularly fresh or inventive. Maybe the most unusual aspect of the show is that it is filmed in Toronto and actually set there as well.

Enrico Colantoni, one of TV's rock-solid actors, returns to his native Canada to play Sgt. Gregory Parker, the team leader. The SRU ideal is to defuse a situation without violence, but the two most prominent members of this team just happen to be sharpshooters Ed Lane (Hugh Dillon) and Jules Callaghan (Amy Jo Johnson).

In the pilot, the team springs into action after the aforementioned Croatian shoots a woman and takes another hostage. (The hostage is played by Stephanie Morganstern, one of the writers of this episode. Knowing this in advance might make you less sympathetic to her plight.)

Sgt. Parker tries to calm the hostage-taker but gets nowhere, probably because the guy doesn't speak English. Even with the help of a Croatian interpreter, it remains a standoff. Meanwhile, the sharpshooters get into position, prepared in every way but emotionally to use lethal force.

What happens next isn't particularly surprising. Then again, nothing about "Flashpoint" is terribly surprising. Not the camaraderie among SRU members nor the dependable by-the-book direction of David Frazee. And especially not the CBS decision to schedule this show after reruns of "Numbers" at 10 p.m. Fridays.

Production: Pink Sky Entertainment and Avamar Entertainment in association with CBS Paramount Network. Cast: Enrico Colantoni, Hugh Dillon, Amy Jo Johnson, David Paetkau, Michael Cram, Sergio Di Zio, Ruth Marshall, Mark Taylor, Janaya Stephens. Executive Producers: Anne Marie La Traverse, Bill Mustos, Tessie Cameron. Producer: Tracey Boulton. Director: David Frazee. Writers: Mark Ellis, Stephanie Morgenstern. Co-Producers: Randi Kirshenbaum, Craig Merritt. Director of Photography: Luc Montpellier. Production Designer: Gregory Keen. Editor: Teresa Hannigan. Music: Ron Proulx. Set Decorator: Liz Calderhead. Casting: Marissa Richmond, Melissa Perry, Larkin Mackenzie, Paul Weber.
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