It’s hard to judge Breaking In solely on its pilot: The new Fox comedy certainly has potential, with intriguing characters, high-stakes situations, and plenty of charm. But it’s also one of the most fast-paced sitcoms I’ve seen in recent history. It feels a little like NBC’s spy comedy Chuck, but condensed into a measly 22 minutes. Add to that a chunk of exposition and a few cutaway gags, and Breaking In’s premiere had an exhausting, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it feel.
Still, there’s a lot to like. The conceit is an interesting one: Contra Security is a high-tech security firm hired to break into its clients' companies and find loopholes in their security. This allows the show to take on a wide variety of locations, which it can (ideally) mine for comedy. The pilot focused on stealing a Lamborghini from a car dealership, but I’m holding out for the upcoming episode set at Comic-Con. (Hi, I’m a nerd.) While I’m reluctant to compare Breaking In to Party Down—the latter is on my list of the top five TV comedies of all time—the new series has the same advantage of switching things up on a week-to-week basis. It’s an office comedy that won’t get stale.
The cast also meshes well, which is essential for an ensemble comedy like Breaking In. I love Christian Slater as Oz, because, well, I love Christian Slater. He’s perfectly cast here, because he’s adept at walking the line between likable and sleazy. Bret Harrison is also great as new-employee Cameron. I never much cared for Reaper, but I always thought he was the best thing about it. The rest of the cast members—Alphonso McAuley (Cash), Odette Annable (Melanie), and Trevor Moore (Josh Armstrong)—round things out with ease. Though I do hope Cash gets rid of his “Boom goes the dynamite” catchphrase, an internet meme that should have died long, long ago.
And for those of you who were tuning in just to see Michael Rosenbaum, Smallville’s Lex Luthor, as Melanie’s not-bald boyfriend Dutch, I’m sorry his appearance was so brief. He’s only signed on as a guest star for now, but I thought he stole his single scene, so maybe we can get him hired on a long-term basis? Ooh, preemptive fan campaign!
I will say that the pilot, while cute and mostly fun, was short on laughs. And no, not all sitcoms have to be LOL-worthy; in fact, some of my favorite shows are more about the situations than the punchlines. But in order to keep up with Fox’s other joke-heavy series (Raising Hope, Bob’s Burgers, some other popular shows I won’t name), Breaking In may have to step things up a bit. As Harrison noted when I interviewed him at Wondercon last weekend, Fox takes more chances with its programming, but it’s also quicker to cancel underperforming shows. While Breaking In isn’t an instant classic, it has a lot of room to grow, and I’d love to see what its producers do with the concept. So check it out, won’t you? For me?
As for the frenetic pacing, let’s hope things slow down a bit. It’s ambitious to do a series like this in a half-hour format. And the pilot had a lot of ground to cover, so I don’t blame the writers for glossing over the heist details and focusing instead on introducing us to the characters. I’ll buy that Cameron would develop an instant crush on sexy lock-picker Melanie, just as I’m sure Trevor would quickly butt heads with an interloper. But let’s allow these story lines to develop organically. Can Breaking In do that and still have time for a different mission every week? I’ll be tuning in to find out. And, yes, to see more of Michael Rosenbaum being ridiculous.
Follow TV.com writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom