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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
BREAKING IN (FOX)
(written by Adam F. Goldberg; directed by Seth Gordon; TRT: 20:47)
The network's description: No official description has been released...
What did they leave out? ...so everything.
The plot in a nutshell: Slacker Cameron (Bret Harrison) is more than content as a perpetual college student at Loyola Technical College. But after his grades-for-cash hacking operation is busted by Oz (Christian Slater) - the owner of Contra Security, a firm devoted to testing its clients' resistance to thieves - he's given two options: Oz can turn him into the university, who's acquired Contra's services, or Cameron can go to work for Contra itself. It seems Cameron is far more clever than he's ever been given credit for and his aptitude would make him a perfect fit for Contra. There however he's quickly ostracized by Josh (Trevor Moore), their intel/undercover guru, who's not thrilled about Cameron's threat to his top dog status; creeped out by Carol (Jennifer Irwin), the office manager; gets pranked by Cash (Alphonso McAuley), the resident techie/womanizer; and fails to charm Melanie (Odette Yustman), the company's lockpicker.
He'll have to win them all over however as he's appointed team leader for their latest mission: steal a silver Lamborghini from Mayfair Motors, a high-end automobile dealership. Said task comes with the additional caveat that if Cameron fails, he's out of a job and left alone to deal with his crimes against Loyola. In any case, he manages to rally the troops and the job is a success except for one small problem: Cameron, thanks to some purposely confusing suggestions by Josh, stole the car from Mayfield Motors, not Mayfair Motors. Now he not only has to break into Mayfair Motors but also return the current hot merchandise to Mayfield Motors. His solution: trick Eddie Gold (Jareb Dauplaise), the frat guy son of Mayfield's owner, into thinking he accidentally stole the car, and then just flat out rob Mayfair by breaking the front window. Ultimately it all works out as Cameron carves out his own niche on the team and takes his first steps into adulthood.
What works: Slater appears to be having the time of his life as the cigar-chomping, wall-punching, Sky Mall-loving Oz while Harrison fits the manic slacker persona like a glove ("I'm just your average 27-year-old college student with 12 majors living the dream," he tells Melanie). And for the most part it gallops along rather entertainingly, a cameo by Michael Rosenbaum as Dutch, Melanie's high-energy, Humvee-driving, Natasha Bedingfield-listening, sells-clean-urine-on-eBay boyfriend being a standout.
What doesn't: On the flip side, it never really comes together as a show. The espionage elements are presented as the driving forces of the plot however they're ultimately played as an afterthought. (Oh no, big problem! Here's the solution! The end.) Furthermore, the few actual bones we are thrown in said area are just silly for the sake of silly (Josh as an undercover frat guy: "Sup Frat Daddy, name's Weezer. I'm a Beta Pi over at Kansas U. I was on a little frat-cation when I had a total frat-tastrophy. Any-rape..."). While obviously the show doesn't have to be set in the real world, by hyperstylizing their job it deflates the central stakes in the show: that Cameron has to succeed or he'll be turned into the authorities.
Like Cameron himself, the show doesn't seem to have any ambition beyond showing limp office pranks (Cash glues Cameron's desk to the ceiling, has his car turned upside down, all ending with him dropping the zing "Boom goes the dynamite"), serving up redundant flashbacks (not only was Cameron picked on now, but also high school, grade school, etc.) or remind us that all geeks love "Star Trek" and "Star Wars." When all's said and done though there's some stuff to like here...
The bottom line: ...I just wish I liked it a lot more.