Breakout Kings Plays Good Cop, Bad Cop

A&E;'s Breakout Kings came in hot and heavy on my radar after an intriguing trailer laid out the premise of the series: It's a fun cop show where convicts are given easier prison stays in exchange for cooperating with and helping U.S. Marshals who are trying to reel in fugitives. And that was pretty much explained in the first five minutes of Sunday's pilot as if the show's pants were on fire and the first commercial break was a bucket of water.

The fast pacing actually helped the opening, even though viewers' necks had to be set to "swivel" just to keep up. But then the sprint slowed to a jog, and the episode's momentum was impeded by heavy-handed foundation-laying for upcoming season-long arcs. One cop explained that his daughter means everything to him, so expect big-time family drama in the weeks to come. Another cop discretely popped pills in a random bathroom, setting up what will presumably be his eventual turn in the spotlight. (The cons all have their demons as well, but mostly they'll be concerned with getting out of jail.) All told, the pilot was a Merry-Go-Round of the characters' problems, all of them paraded before us to let us know exactly what's going on deep in their hearts—and what they'll have to overcome by the time the season ends. Character development on the most basic of levels.

But as far as "getting stuff out of the way," the pilot worked. It was less of a first chapter than it was a Cliff's Notes for the entire series. We know who the characters are and what they desire, so now we can hopefully spend more time catching the bad guys and making a few wise-cracks along the way. That's what we really want to see, right?

As far as characters and performances go, I'll echo what most of the interwebs are already saying: Freaky-smart con Lloyd (Jimmi Simpson) is clearly the early favorite, with a look and act that's simultaneously funny and creepy. He even made a "Who farted?" joke work. If this show makes it, producers should write Simpson a thank-you card and stuff it with hundred-dollar bills. (In related casting news, sexy seductress-con Philly, played by Nicole Steinwedell, was unceremoniously dropped from the series in favor of a new sexy con played by Serinda Swan. My deepest condolences if you were a fan of Philly, but apparently she wasn't blonde enough.)

There's potential here for a worthy series, but I'm not sure it will amount to anything we haven't seen before. But I'll give it one more shot before I lock it up and throw away the key. Will you?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (13)
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I've seen it now and I like it. I'm surprised they dropped Philly, but I guess I wasn't that attached.
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It has Liam McPoyle/Mary!!!! I haven't seen it yet, but I'm in!!
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I enjoyed the first episode, so I'm gonna stick with this one for a while. :)
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i really liked philly :((((((
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i really liked it .
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It was a little so-so, but I expect the show to improve by at least 37,5% when Serinda Swan comes on board. Even though it doesn't change the fact that it is kind of weird to cast one woman for the pilot only to cut her out of all commercials and trailers because she will be replaced in the second episode.
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dunno, undecided, have high hopes though
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Let's be honest - it was crap.
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Oh come on. Couldn't they've recasted Nicole before shooting the pilot? I really liked her character and it's a shame she was replaced by Serinda. Was so glad to see Nicole after CBS cancelled The Unit back in 2009 and now they take her away again.
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Exactly what staind47 says.

I dont like series with an episodic-flair to it, i want to see a long, deep, intriguing story arc enfolding. Otherwise i could also watch a movie. But i will give Breakout Kings another shot next week, because i really liked Lloyd.
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Its going to be way too procedural for me. Catch a different escaped con every week. Ugh. I'll keep checking it out if there might be more of an overall story arc. Also losing 'Philly' isn't too bad, she was kinda the weak link imo.
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The premiere was.. Alright. It really did just feel like an episode setting up the plotpoints for the rest of the season, but that's what a pilot should do, even if I feel like they could have made the cop(s? What was up with that final moment, is the bald guy in a prison or something too?) a bit more interesting, made the McPoyle twin guy a bit more realistic, and dropped the assistant stuff entirely for now. Also, part of it feels a lot like early Leverage for me.
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I will always think of Jimmi Simpson as his small role of Mary Lightly on Psych.



Didn't watch this, and I really don't plan to, but the promos were interesting.
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