'Breaking In' Season 2 Review: Funny Fighting with Frustration
'Breaking In' Season 2 Review: Funny Fighting with Frustration
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
When FOX canceled Breaking In after its first season, we assumed that was the last we'd see of the show's Ocean's 11-meets-The Office hijinks.

Nope. The show is back.

But is Breaking In actually deserving of a season 2? Do the retooled format and major casting changes transform Breaking In from witty-but-forgettable fluff into a show we need to keep on the air?

I have no idea.

The Basics
Things definitely are different in the  Breaking In season 2 premiere, "The Contra Club." Oz (Christian Slater) has run through his company's money and wants to sell-out to a faceless conglomerate. Two characters -- Dutch (Michael Rosenbaum) and Josh (Trevor Moore) -- are MIA with virtually no explanation.

They have been replaced by two new characters. Megan Mullally plays corporate overlord Veronica Mann, while Erin Richards occupies the much-smaller role of Veronica's British assistant, Molly. The rest of the cast -- Bret Harrison's hacker Cameron, Odette Annable's lock-picker Melanie and Alphonso McAuley's techie Cash -- remains the same.

The Result
Breaking In remains pretty much the same too. In some ways this is good -- Breaking In is a fun show. But there are flaws as well, namely not enough action and a couple of two-dimensional characters.

Do Something!
They just don't do enough on Breaking In.

The show's best moments come when the Contra Securities team executes a fun and fast-moving heist. In the vast world of sitcoms, these heists set Breaking In apart.

Unfortunately, the entirety of the heist in "The Contra Club" occupies about 30 seconds. Maybe two minutes if you add in the lead-up and aftermath.

The rest of the show gives us an office workplace where dysfunctional employees work, go out for drinks and pull a few pranks. We've seen that show before. It's called The Office.

Cartoons Are Not People
I'm not exactly sure what makes some of Breaking In's characters tick.

This isn't an across-the-board problem. The actors who make up the worker-bee triumvirate of Cameron, Melanie and Cash give us believable and likable characters that we totally want to root for. We might occasionally want a little more character development, but we can blame that lack on the restrictions of a half-hour comedy.

It's a different situation with the two shining stars of Breaking In. Christian Slater and Megan Mullally over-play their opposed, yet similar, characters.

Christian Slater's Oz is a cartoon. He does crazy things with little motivation, and nothing about him tells us why. Oz even confuses the other characters: midway through "The Contra Club," Cameron rightly points out that no one understands Oz's methods or goals. It doesn't help that Oz is a singularly unappealing human being.

Equally unappealing is Megan Mullally's Veronica. The lady is so shrilly insane that a violent office prank (involving explosives) is almost a relief. Throughout most of the episode, we see nothing but a hyperactive nutjob in Veronica. There are brief flashes of a believable, intelligent and devious woman in the final minutes of "The Contra Club," but that glimpse is all we get.

Almost Enough...
I like Breaking In.

You may not have guessed that from the above comments, but this is the essential frustration of the show. It's genuinely funny, but funny isn't enough.

There are some excellent moments in "The Contra Club." The opening scene -- essentially an extended joke about FOX's cancellation and renewal of Breaking In -- manages to wed blatant exposition to real humor. Bret Harrison is, as always, an incredibly appealing central character. And the brief moment in which the Contra kids get to prove their worth plays perfectly.

But all of these good points just make Breaking In even more frustrating. It's good, but the show should be great. The elements of excellence are all there, but they never quite match up to make the show I want to see.

Are there enough pieces of excellence in the Breaking In season 2 premiere to keep the show afloat?

I still have no idea.

Breaking In season 2 premieres on Tuesday, March 6 at 9:30pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)