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Thursday, May 19, 2011

breaking_in goes to "21.0 Jump Street"

Breaking Out     FOX's breaking_inwas recently canceled after a mere half dozen episodes, the last of which aired this week. The episode "21.0 Jump Street," which will serve as the series finale, found most of the team assigned to work for Mike Tyson (guest starring as himself), while Cam (Bret Harrison) is supposed to help a high schooler being cyber-bullied. But Cam finds the assignment harder than expected, and after asking Cash (Alphonso McAuley) to assist with a photo shop project, the situation gets even more complicated. The entire team ends up helping Cam right the situation, but as it turns out, the whole thing may have just been a nice present to Cam from his boss, Oz (Christian Slater).

     It is sad that yet another funny sitcom bites the dust without really being given a chance. breaking_in has a unique concept and a wonderful cast. Oz is the crazy, paranoid boss. Cam is a slacker hacker. Cash is the tech geek whiz. Josh (Trevor Moore) is an expert with disguises. Sexy Melanie (Odette Annable) can pick any lock. And Melanie's crazy boyfriend, Dutch (Michael Rosenbaum), is the wild card. Besides each member fitting into place nicely, with wonderful chemistry, Rosenbaum in particular stands out for making viewers forget all about his many years as Lex Luthor.

     Because there are no other sitcoms with a similar concept, its departure is a major loss to television. The premise is original and fresh, and the writing and acting are solidly funny. There are plenty of pop culture references, and zany, but not wholly unrealistic, situations.

     Even sadder, this marks the fourth project in as many years that has been pulled out from under Harrison, a very talented actor due to get a big break any second. The Loop is only vaguely amusing, but Harrison had a memorable recurring role in the second season of just-canceled V, and his star turn in Reaper, which criminally lasted a mere two seasons, should be remembered for years to come. Harrison picks good projects, that aren't given much of a chance.

     Plenty of sitcoms, much more poorly made than breaking_in, have gotten much longer lives. Currently on the air, Rules of Engagement, The Middle, and Two and a Half Men spring to mind. If justice exists, breaking_in will be rescued, as efforts are currently underway to do just that. It's a slim hope that the series may see a second season, but it's there all the same.

     The episode "21.0 Jump Street" is a great example of the series, allowing each member of the ensemble some meaty material, and so it is as good as any to end with. Cam returns to his high school and finds romance with a former classmate who has long harbored a crush on him. Melanie gets to try out high school for the first time, having been denied the experience by her grifter father. Oz plays things cool, and leaves viewers wondering if the whole episode is in service of helping an employee, or an actual job. Dutch gets to work through finding out that Cam has a thing for Melanie, but does not fall into predictable tropes.

     If you are so inclined, please write to FOX and ask them to bring back breaking_in. It deserves more time.

     If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Click here for all of my Current Season Reviews.

     To purchase breaking_in streaming episodes, please click here.

Article first published as TV Review: breaking_in - "21.0 Jump Street"on Blogcritics.

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