Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pilot Review: Breaking In

Breaking In (FOX)
Premiered April 6 at 9:30pm

Just over five years ago, FOX premiered a new spring series with a seven-episode order starring Bret Harrison as a young airline executive in the wacky comedy “The Loop.” The show was very funny at times and less amusing at others, and its surprise second season the following summer, which lost the two female cast members the show had, was an enormous bomb. Harrison, along with several other members of the cast such as Philip Baker Hall and Mimi Rogers, was the highlight, and it was clear that this young actor could do well in comedy. Now, FOX is once again premiering a spring series with Harrison in the lead role, this time as a hacker hired by a security firm to help expose flaws in other companies’ security systems. Harrison plays the role he’s always played, a nice guy without too much self-awareness, eternally destined for mediocrity and boredom and for second place with the girl of his dreams. It’s a part that Harrison plays well, so having him there is no problem, and he excels in it. Unfortunately, his character is the only one who really feels developed. I’m intrigued to know more about the female on Cameron’s team, played by Odette Yustman in what may be her first significant job involving acting, and she definitely has mastered the allure aspect of her character. I’m less impressed by Christian Slater’s one-note commander-in-chief, but he seems like he’s having fun, so it’s not an enormous issue. Alphonso McAuley’s Cash, on the other hand, needs to go. Maybe I’ll warm to him eventually, but for the moment, he’s acting like he’s on his own show, and bringing this one down with it. This pilot is certainly better organized than “Chaos,” which premiered on CBS last week, but I still need to see a few episodes before I decide that I need to make time every week to watch a comedy on FOX. One standout performance that might keep me coming back: Michael Rosenbaum, the onetime Lex Luthor on "Smallville," as Melanie's boyfriend Dutch.

How will it work as a series? This is a perfect setup for episodic adventures, and only having seven episodes in this season should guarantee plenty of room for freshness and creativity, allowing Cameron and his team to help out companies around the globe while learning more about each other. Its half-hour format enables it to be just curbed enough that it shouldn’t go too far in each episode, and also allows each installment to be digested as a standalone experience rather than necessitate chronological viewing.
How long will it last? Ratings for the pilot may have been good, but I can’t remember a FOX sitcom that was an actual hit besides the current “Raising Hope” and the deceased “Arrested Development.” That said, this is the kind of show FOX would ideally like to have in its lineup, and given the fact that “Traffic Light” isn’t going to cut it, this may be just the show to join FOX’s other successful comedy this fall. It’s too early to tell, but this one might make it to a second season simply out of curiosity from those who want to see more than seven episodes.

Pilot grade: B-

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