Review: Breaking In 1×1

Stolen from other series for a fraction of the price

Breaking In

In the US: Wednesdays, 9.30/8.30c, Fox

So here’s something I’ve learnt this week – it turns out that if you can’t actually get the actors you want, there is in fact an entire set of impersonators you can get instead for probably not even a tenth of the price.

Take Breaking In. This has Bret Harrison of The Loop and Reaper as a hapless college student who’s been hacking the college computers to ensure that he never has to graduate and can stay there forever. Except he gets found out by a team of semi-reformed criminals who are hired, Sneakers-stylee to break into places to test their security. They blackmail him into working for them.

So for something like this, with a boss who’s a bit devilish, a bit alpha-male-ish and smokes cigars, you’d want someone like Jack Nicholson. But if you can’t afford Jack Nicholson, you can get Christian Slater instead, since he can do a rocking Jack Nicholson when he wants to.

Now there’s obviously got to be some girl interest for Harrison to pine over. However, she has to be out of his league and just want to be friends. That’s what happened in The Loop. That’s what happened in Reaper. It must be in his contract. So how about we get Missy Peregrym, who did that in Reaper so well? What’s that? She’s starring in some Canadian show? Okay, how about we get Odette Annable née Yustman from Brothers and Sisters instead? They look the same, they act the same. They don’t cost the same.

Now we need some black guy who’s a bit sassy. Clearly, it would be great if we could get Chris Rock or Orlando Jones. No? Fine. Alphonso McAuley’s cheap. He’s barely been in anything. So let’s get him.

So now we pretty much have our cast, how about we get someone to do an impression of a funny script, by nicking a load of bits from other shows, and see where that takes us? Hmm?

BREAKING IN is an offbeat half-hour workplace comedy about a high-tech security firm that takes extreme – and often questionable – measures to sell their protection services. Created by Adam F. Goldberg and Seth Gordon, the series centers on a team of uniquely skilled oddball geniuses hand-picked to work for a manipulative mastermind.

Contra Security, corporate America’s answer to “The A-Team,” gives clients a sense of security by first ripping it away. The firm is led by OZ (Christian Slater), a larger-than-life head honcho who is a man of mystery and master of manipulation. The members of the odd squad include alluring bad girl MELANIE (Odette Annable), who is in charge of lock-picking, safe-cracking and heart-breaking; and CASH (Alphonso McAuley), a fanboy who specializes in strategy, logistics and office pranks only a mad genius could think up.

Oz’s newest recruit, plucked right out of college, is lovable and charming computer hacker CAMERON PRICE (Bret Harrison). Unfortunately for Cameron, cracking into state-of-the-art security systems is a lot easier than dealing with his co-workers. Between Melanie’s sex appeal and Cash’s hazing, Cameron has more than a few obstacles to overcome if he wants to cement his status as part of the team and become Oz’s go-to guy.

BREAKING IN is produced by Happy Madison Productions, Adam F. Goldberg Productions and Sethsquatch, Inc. in association with Sony Pictures Television. Goldberg, Gordon and Doug Robinson (“Rules of Engagement”) serve as executive producers, while Goldberg serves as writer. The pilot was directed by Gordon.

Is it any good?
Well, it’s not great. In fact, it’s not good. But as that trailer probably showed you, it’s not without redeeming qualities. There are some decent actors; it does raise a few laughs; there are some fun moments. It’s just they’re a little few and far between.

The first ten minutes will raise barely a titter from you. A wry smile maybe, but not really a titter. Then Michael Rosenbaum (Lex from Smallville) turns up and a couple of titters will emerge. When he leaves, that’ll stop for a while, then as the show progresses, a couple more will emerge and a few actually clever moments show up, including some fun double-crosses and pranks – the fact there are some quality moments shouldn’t be too surprising since producer Adam F Goldberg was consulting producer on the excellent Aliens In America.

But there’s not a lot that’s new going on here. If you’ve seen more or less any US movies and TV shows for the last 10 years then the three central themes:

  1. Hot girls will eventually like weeny nerds with little to recommend them if the nerds just apply themselves (although not by going to the gym, buying some decent clothes, taking an interest, reading some books, etc – just by being good at their jobs and sweet)
  2. All bosses are dicks
  3. Even out of High School, nerds will get bullied by jocks, no matter what the situation. But now nerds can fight back (see 1)

will come as no surprise to anyone, and this adds no real wrinkles to them.

There’s not a lot going on with the plot and there’s not a lot going on with the characters either. None of them are likeable. They’re all big characters (with the exception of Annable’s, of course) but none of those big character traits – not even Slater’s love of his Captain Kirk chair – will win you over.

It’s basically just a show in which mean people break into places while being mean to each other. At least Leverage was fun with endearing characters.

So I’m going to give the rest of this a miss, despite Michael Rosenbaum being a regular on this and actually being funny. You probably should, too.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.