When I heard that Breaking In was being resurrected from its cancellation last year, I was conflicted. I remember really liking the show, but I feared that it wasn’t popular enough to last in today’s TV market demanding immediate success, so I held off on committing to it. Didn’t want to get attached to the thing and I could always catch up on it later.
Breaking In revolves around Cameron, played by Brett Harrison, a hacker blackmailed into working for a high tech security firm by the mysterious ex-thief Oz, portrayed by Christian Slater. Rounding out the cast were fanboy gadget-eer Cash (Alphonso McAuley) and safe cracker/requisite love interest Melanie (Odette Annable), and each week the gang took on a new heist, each crazier than the last. Quick, fun TV, right?
Unfortunately, my instincts proved right and the show was cancelled after 7 episodes. But at least I hadn’t wasted any time getting invested in yet another show only to have it yanked from in front of my eyes. I’ve been hurt too many times before. However, since I have a Stockholm Syndrome relationship with my television overlords, I decided to give the second season of the show another chance, if for no other reason than to see why Fox brought it back from the dead.
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the set of the revamped show to meet the retooled cast (former series regulars Michael Rosenbaum and Trevor Moore are no longer on the show, although everyone reassured us that the door has not been closed on their later return). The most notable new face in the cast is Megan Mullally, who plays Veronica Mann, the new head of the security firm which has been bought by a corporation now that Oz no longer has the funds to afford it. Also new aboard is Welsh actress Erin Richards, who takes on the role of Molly Hughes, Veronica’s executive assistant (and, perhaps, eventual puppet master).
Of course, proving to the world that a show is worthy of a reboot is no easy task. Series creator Adam F. Goldberg explained that this season, they’re taking cues from shows like The Office and focusing on the relationships between the characters in the Contra Security workspace, reeling in the elaborate heists of last season.
They’re also nerding out a lot more, perhaps to fill a Chuck-sized void, although these pop culture references skew away from fanboy to fan-man. Viewers of a certain age might have, say, recognized Rowdy Roddy Piper in the season premiere on hand to hear Mullally quote one of his lines from cult ‘80s film They Live. All of the cast couldn’t wait to tell us about an upcoming episode when Cash dresses up as Sho’Nuff from The Last Dragon. Goldberg revealed to us that an entire storyline was created around the very expensive Back to the Future sneakers he bought last Fall. And expect plenty of nods to Slater’s oeuvre of work.
They’re currently figuring out how the cast could, in fact, gleam the cube.
The elephant in the room was wondering how Annable will be on both Breaking In and House, on which she became a series regular last October. The simple answer is: She won’t. She’ll appear in the first couple of episodes but was written out in what they promise to be a very powerful farewell. As with the other missing characters from last season, though, they hope she can return whenever available.
The reboot relies heavily on the almost universally beloved Mullally. Knowing that she is such an accomplished sitcom actress, the creative forces behind the show have given her the freedom to improvise scenes she feels might work better another way. The rest of the cast noted how much more they’ve been improvising around her, making the show a more collaborative effort between the actors and writers.
The premiere felt very expositional, but that’s to be expected when it was essentially a pilot for the reboot. The show really hits its stride now that we’re caught up in the new world they’ve created. Harrison remains a goofy actor I’ve enjoyed watching mature across his different shows (Grounded for Life, The Loop, Reaper). McAuley’s nerd-dom and fun costume changes are gleeful surprises each week. The addition of Erin Richards was hinted as a point in a love triangle over the season, but I’m more eager to see how she reveals herself to be a bigger geek than McCauley. And Slater still has an intense crazy that proves to be on the rise, since he’s beginning to lose his fortune.
The show has the potential to create a dedicated niche fan base of Community-esque proportions. The addition of Mullally has convinced me that the Powers That Be have some gutty confidence in this show. So I’ll watch more regularly this time around, without living in perpetual fear of impending cancellation.
But, like I said, I’ve been hurt before.