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Review: Christian Slater's 'Breaking In' Doesn't Break New Ground But Is Worth a Look

by Maureen Ryan, posted Apr 5th 2011 12:00PM
In some ways, 'Breaking In' (9:30PM ET Wednesday, Fox) is exactly what you'd expect. The new comedy about a team of security experts stars Christian Slater doing his Christian Slater schtick, which hasn't changed much in the last couple of decades. It also features Bret Harrison doing his usual put-upon everyman thing, which has been seen in everything from 'Reaper' to 'V' to 'The Loop,' a short-lived Fox sitcom from a few years ago.

Yet there's a frisky energy to this half-hour comedy, which does two things for which I'm grateful: It takes a concept suited to a USA Network show and crunches it down to half an hour (a move that I think would benefit some of USA's less sturdy programs), and it does not offer viewers yet another take on young adults navigating the pitfalls of modern relationships, as almost every other mid-season comedy has.

The truth is, if you like Slater and enjoy the work of Michael Rosenbaum and Alyssa Milano, both of whom offer excellent guest turns on the show, 'Breaking In' is not a bad way to spend half an hour.

Rosenbaum is only a guest star, but he's very funny as the skeevy boyfriend of Melanie, the security firm's safecracker. Rosenbaum is best known for his work on 'Smallville,' but his comic chops are something to behold: He plays a walking douche-pocalypse on 'Breaking In' with winning cluelessness. I wish his idiotic, frighteningly man-scaped character, Dutch, was in every scene.

Harrison, the eternal straight man, is in almost every scene as Cameron Price, who is recruited by Oz (Slater), a security expert in need of Price's computer hacking skills. Oz's firm breaks into homes and businesses to test security systems, and the company employs a master of disguise named Josh (Trevor Moore), a nerdy oddball named Cash (Alphonso McAuley) and the aforementioned safecracker, Melanie (Odette Annable).

Various elements of 'Breaking In' feel as though they were pilfered from shows like 'Leverage,' 'Burn Notice' and especially 'Chuck' (Cameron is comfortable with computers but nearly undone by his crush on Melanie), and in the early going, Josh and Cash's quirks are a bit overdone and Melanie's only attributes are that she's really hot and knows how to pick locks. To say she's underwritten is putting it mildly.

But in the second episode, which features an effective guest turn from Milano, 'Breaking In' turned down the franticness, and once the tone evened out, it ended up being a surprisingly entertaining half-hour. Your ability to watch 'Breaking In' may depend on your Slater tolerance level, but I actually found his gravelly-voiced schtick not only acceptable but pretty enjoyable in half-hour increments.

More work needs to be done on all the characters; so far they're just types, and the first episode, perhaps because of its manic tone, didn't make me laugh much. But I can see 'Breaking In' growing into a pleasant, mildly goofy comedy that offers the light-adventure qualities of a USA or TNT show and the silly diversions of a half-decent 'Chuck' episode.

Then again, given that this comedy doesn't quite fit into any pre-determined format, Fox may just be burning it off before the season ends. If that's the case, try to catch at least one episode, if only to witness Rosenbaum's entertainingly unfortunate fauxhawk.

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Slater deserves nothing.

August 26 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think is the perfect vehicle for Christian Slater, and he’s surprisingly funny in this show. I really enjoy just about everything Bret Harrison has done, too, and though some of the characters feel a bit underwritten I like the rest of the cast and hope the shows lasts long enough to really allow the writers and actors to explore them more fully. In case anyone missed this, you can catch it at DISH Online, for free, if you’re a customer or employee like I am.

April 07 2011 at 10:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Christian Slater and Bret Harrison are both giving Nathan Fillion a run for his money on failed series. Putting them together in this show (although it looks pretty good) is just bad karma, man. :)

April 05 2011 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Ipsilon's comment

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