“Breaking In” should be better. It starts with a promising concept — an off-the-wall workplace comedy in which a team of super-skilled hackers break into companies to test security systems — but there is little to like about the grasping pilot. The viewer knows where jokes are supposed to be, but the laughs just aren’t there.
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The plot, though based on an interesting idea, is questionable at best. There is a certain degree of incredulity that just can’t be ignored. A remote control toy helicopter navigating its way through crisscrossed lasers and managing to swipe a card to gain security access? Nobody’s buying it. It isn’t even particularly exciting. Breaking into a car dealership and stealing a silver Lamborghini shouldn’t be so easy, but for this team it’s not even cause to break a sweat.
The entire 30 minutes of the pilot feels contrived. The show is definitely trying too hard, and yet is succeeding at very little. But it moves at such a fast clip, it’s hardly noticeable. The pilot flies by, jumping from scene to scene in a chaotic mess. When the end arrives, it’s hard to know whether to be confused or relieved.
And the characters prove to be even less interesting than the plot. The headliner, Christian Slater (“Interview with a Vampire”), does what Christian Slater does best — fall flat. It’s unclear whether his character Oz, the head of Contra security, is crashing and burning because of his acting or the campy writing. And his apparent catchphrase, “I’ll allow it,” is eye-rollingly annoying.
At least the show has the promising Bret Harrison, who shined in his former role as Satan’s reluctant assistant on the short-lived series “Reaper,” as the focus. However, he’s been unfortunately typecast once again as the slightly awkward underachiever who’s in love with an out of his league brunette. Harrison should have perfected the character type by now, but his portrayal of Cam borders on tired.
The rest of the team is rather unremarkable. The only secondary cast member who displays any kind of promise is Josh (Trevor Moore, “The Whitest Kids U’Know”). He manages to pull a laugh or two but goes over the top by using phrases like “multi-assing” instead of “multi-tasking” and actually referring to his bicep as a “gun rack.”
But there might be something here. With as short a runtime as pilots often have, there isn’t enough time for “Breaking In” to establish anything. In future episodes, there’s always the hope that the show will gain its footing, work through its kinks, fix Slater’s acting and come out as a decent option. With how quickly the pilot speeds, it can hardly count as an episode at all. If “Breaking In” can make the effort to focus on the quality — rather than the quantity — of both the acting and the jokes, something brilliant may come out of the unfortunately lackluster pilot.
Will it be another workplace comedy gem like “The Office?” No. Will it even make it through a decent first season? We’ll see. But it’s too soon to give up on “Breaking In” just yet. Give it till the next episode and if that one is just as bad, then forget it. But it’s worth sticking around until then, just to be sure.