Sociable

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Likability only gets you so far: Review of Fox's "Breaking In"





I'll say this much for "Breaking In," the new Fox sitcom premiering tonight at 9:30: It has likability to spare.

It stars the immensely likable Bret Harrison, of "Reaper," and "The Loop." It co-stars the often-likable Christian Slater, he of a zillion teen films from my youth. Its premise is pretty likable, too. Slater stars as Oz, the leader of a security firm that tests the security vulnerabilities of various businesses and institutions by having his crack team break into them.
Harrison is Cameron, a hacker who finds himself black-mailed into joining the team. Once enlisted, he quickly falls for the lovely Melanie (Odetta Annable), who, unfortunately, has a boyfriend. The boyfriend is played by Michael Rosenbaum, who I like. Other cast members include the very funny Jennifer Irwin ("Eastbound & Down") as a cake-obsessed underling at the firm and the energetic Alphonso McAuley, who plays the team's nerdiest member (he loves pranks, dresses as Han Solo and once stalked Shatner). I like them too.
But, despite being packed to the gills with likability, "Breaking In" doesn't quite work. I laughed a bit in the pilot's opening moments, mainly at Slater (who is very good here). Yet, so far, the series' writing is a bit flat and unfocused. It coasts far too much on the appeal of its actors. And yes, Harrison is a charming young performer with a gift for playing quick-witted slackers. But even appealing performers can only go so far with weak material.
Don't get me wrong -- I can see this show improving at some point. It just needs to get faster, funnier and a little less lazy in its dependence on its appealing leads and pop culture references. But, right now, it just feels as if its squandering its talented cast. And that? That I don't like.

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