I read a review of the show that referred to it as a violent Leverage. I guess. If Leverage didn’t have characters that I love despite its incessant use of hokey music. Breakout Kings is a lower rent version of Leverage populated by people who yell too much and don’t seem to buy their own hypothesis.
It’s a show about a couple of federal marshals (one of which is from The Wire) who assemble a team of convicts to catch a dangerous escaped con. By helping, they get to move to a minimum security jail and get a month knocked off of their sentences for every con recovered. The convicts are a genius, a con, an “entrepreneur” (drug dealer, he’s the black one), and an unlicensed big game hunter (the hitter I assumed). Now the white marshal dude is not really a marshal anymore because he stole some money and lives in a halfway house (which I deduced is a secret from the cons, but I learned that from the previews of the coming weeks). The other one (the brown one) is a desk jockey who is antagonistic to everyone, seems to be on a massive bureaucratic ego trip and was seen taking some pills in a bathroom then seeming woozy afterwards (with no explanation).
The cons are the most interesting thing about the show so far. The genius dude is a former child prodigy, professor, problem gambler and mama’s boy with a breast fetish. The con woman…has no personality and I guess only uses her sexuality to get men to do what she wants (I have been spoiled by Sophie on Leverage who’s mastery of understanding human behaviors make her beauty more interesting). I saw on the previews that she’s getting replaced. Then there’s the “entrepreneur” who wasn’t given a lot to do, but at least put a mark on where the character was going. I’m interested in him. The hitter dude was only in it for like 10 minutes and ended up getting left in a diner. What was the point of that?
Why introduce characters in a pilot you’ll never see again when you’re trying to entice people to commit their hard earned time to your show. It feels like a bunch of people who grew up in the ’90’s and don’t know how good scripted drama feels. They make the same assumptions about our intelligence as the rest of the media. In promos they tout big explosions and chases. I can watch disaster porn or The French Connection for that. I want to see some complex characters whose actions make sense and moves a cohesive storyline forward. White marshal should know that.
It felt like they’d made a 2h pilot and cut it down to the loud parts because shouting always makes me stay glued to the screen. The characters don’t like or trust each other. And I know, I know, they will learn to as their lives become more entwined, I know, I know. But the problem with that is that I didn’t like or care about them either. I love asking why when watching drama. I love a witty aside. I love explosions and ingenious prison breaks as much as the next guy. But if you want me every week to look at your commercials, you have to give me some compelling characters that at least can act like they like themselves so I can like them too.
So no, it’s not Leverage which had me from the first episode. They were smart and funny and had great chemistry. Now the music is too cheesy and omnipresent, but I still grow to love the characters despite the editor. Despite. I’ll give Breakout Kings one more chance. But they’d better hurry up. Once it’s spring, it’s going to be hard to keep my attention unless you’re like Supernatural.