Though it has a Prison Break pedigree, with PB executive producers Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora as co-creators, Breakout Kings seems a lot lighter in tone, and there's no guy completely covered in a largely unnecessary tattoo. In fact, while the show has a dark premise (convicts getting time off of their sentences in exchange for helping to chase down escapees) this new A&E series has more of a USA vibe to it than anything. It would fit right in with Burn Notice. Or it could also live on TNT, as it is pretty much the same show as Leverage, except with fashionable prison jumpsuits.
Duchamp (Laz Alonso) and Zancanelli (Domenick Lombardozzi) are law enforcement agents who have assembled a team of some of the toughest criminals they've ever caught to help them hunt convicts who have escaped from jail. The team is: Shea (Malcolm Goodwin), an "entrepreneur" (a.k.a. former gang member); Lloyd (Jimmi Simpson) a behavioral expert; and in the first episode Philly (Nicole Steinwedell), a con artist/beauty queen. They all get together, and with the help of non-inmate Julianne (Brooke Nevin), who is just a tiny bit neurotic, chase down the missing criminals and put them back in jail. Naturally, they call themselves the "Breakout Kings."
The format is more than a little procedural, though the criminals they are chasing are somewhat interesting. The first episode involves some nice, nasty torture, but there's not enough of a sense of urgency to the proceedings. Prison Break, even at its most ridiculous, at least made it seem like everyone could get caught at any given moment. Here, we know that the bad guy is going to bust out of jail and that the Breakout Kings will have to track him. Otherwise, there is no show. So there's a distinct lack of suspense.
But the biggest problem I had with the show was that in episode 2 (which I saw via an advance screener), Philly is replaced with Erica (Serinda Swan), so instead of this interesting con artist who even Lloyd has trouble reading, we're stuck with a woman who learned how to track from her dad and spends most of her time whining about how she doesn't get to see her kid. It's a major downgrade. Major. Even my love of Jimmi Simpson can't really make up for it, though his character is the most interesting one to be sure. He's sort of like Lightman on Lie to Me, but with the lack of social filter or self-awareness like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. Plus, he's a convict. I dig him. The rest of the gang, not so much.
I was originally planning to keep watching because T-Bag (Robert Knepper, reprising his infamous Prison Break role) is supposed to join the show, and I love me some ludicrous T-Bag, but that apparently won't happen for a while. Until then, it doesn't seem like I'd really be missing much.
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