“Breaking In” was the biggest surprise of the spring crop of midseason shows. I didn’t expect to like it, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Also, I watched it after “Traffic Light” so the bar had been significantly lowered.
Cameron (Bret Harrison) makes a cash exchange on the USC campus, providing a teacher’s password for a student who needs to hack his way to an A. It turns out the classmate was a mole for Oz (Christian Slater). Oz shows up in Cameron’s dorm to force him to work for his high tech security company.
This is act one and there’s already a lot of fun non sequitur humor. The teacher’s password is a joke. Flashbacks show Oz’s heists and tell an entire story in one shot. The vibe of the show is Oceans 11-y with the geek references of “Family Guy.” Sometimes it tries too hard but it’s so fast that at least 50% of it is funny.
When Cameron gets to the office, he meets the wacky cast of characters. Cash (Alphonso McAuley) is a prankster who never lets up. His catch phrase is “Boom goes the dynamite” and it could get old, but it also seems to get funnier the more often he says it.
Josh (Trevor Moore) is paranoid about Cameron stealing his jobs. It seems annoying at first because Josh is really reaching for things to be worried about. It totally pays off though when Josh is the cause of the show’s biggest twist.
Melanie (Odette Yustman) is just one of the guys except she’s totally hot. She has a boyfriend, Dutch (Michael Rosenbaum) who’s intense and in your face, but actually does sweet thoughtful things for Melanie so he’s not a D-bag. My favorite is Creepy Carol (Jennifer Irwin), who hovers around Cameron reminding him to get a cake for the birthday party. Adorable.
The whole crew is totally nonchalant about all the high tech hacking and heisting. The technology is ridiculous because it’s just supposed to be fun. There’s a tracking device in a Goober, a US drive that creates a backdoor to the system and a really cool toy to circumvent a laser grid. It’s Roger Moore era Bond.
Oz is the ultimate Christian Slater character. It’s like J.D. from Heathers grew up. He’s into anarchy and condones his employees causing trouble. He’s got cool memorabilia like Captain Kirk’s chair because he’s a man of exquisite tastes. It’s that smooth talking slicked back cool guy from the ‘80s (and ‘90s if you count Kuffs, which I do.)
There are so many schemes in the pilot, I wonder if they’re going to keep up this momentum each week. It’s a really quick half hour so it works as a standalone short. If it works every week, that’ll be a refreshing caper on TV. If it peters out, then the complete first season DVD will be short and inexpensive.