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Breaking In, “Pilot” (1.01)

The series title, BREAKING_IN, over the view of a city from a satellite camera above.

A review of the new FOX comedy, written by Adam F. Goldman & Seth Gordon, and directed by Seth Gordon, after the jump…

Breaking In is the most charming pilot I’ve seen since, well, Raising Hope earlier this season. The fact that FOX commissioned both of these reflects well on their comedy development team, because I can tell from this pilot I’m going to stick with it at least for this season.

Why does Breaking In work where, say, Mad Love fails?

Fun: The cast of Breaking In makes the show a really enjoyable half-hour, even when the jokes are funny-but-not-that-funny. Every castmember is charming enough, and makes their character distinct enough, that the show doesn’t have to make brilliant metacommentary on modern film to get a laugh (not that you ever had to, Community, you just wanted to). Each oneĀ  is simple, but not a caricature; they breathe beyond the stereotypes. And they have perfect chemistry, which fills a lot of holes on the writing side. That’s important.

Engine: There is an engine here: each week, the group takes on the security system of their client. Whether that engine will produce not just stories, but worthwhile stories, is for the future to tell. That said, it holds much more inherent promise than something like Mad Love, which merely tells two stories with their endings already obvious. Yes, there’s the larger arc of Cameron mooning over Melanie, but even that doesn’t necessarily have to be predictable, after a spate of shows denying the longform will-they-won’t-they trend in the past few years.

Clever: Although the ‘Mayfield’/’Mayfair’ trick is simple, it works really well. Unless you’re really paying attention, you’ll get tricked just like Cameron does. That, plus the pilot is smart enough to not just be one job; instead, it’s three: steal the Mayfield car, ‘return’ the Mayfield car, and steal the Mayfair car. That means it doesn’t suffer too much from predictable pilot syndrome. Nicely done.

Ultimately, this pilot could have been sunk by a few things. A different cast with less chemistry. Poorer direction. A lack of cleverness from the writers. But it wasn’t: it all comes together for a fun pilot with a strong season ahead of it. I hope it can keep it up.

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