Monday, April 25, 2011
THE BREAKOUT KINGS
So I watched a couple of episodes of this new show called The Breakout Kings. The plot centers on a group of convicts that are brought into a special program to help cops find other convicts that have broken out of prison. The gist is that each convict they help catch will shave some time off of their own sentence. So week in and week out the show opens with some type of prison break and then our heroic team takes them down. The first time I watched it, I hated it. I decided I'd watch it a few more times just to make sure I hated it. Yep, the show is awful.
For the last few months I've been convinced that Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior is the most melodramatic and badly written show on TV. Turns out I was wrong. True Suspect Behavior is awful (Forest Whitaker should get an Emmy for Ham Of The Year within a subcatagory of Look At Me Look At Me) but at least it's not cliche to the point of being unbearable. The Breakout Kings feels less like a show and more like something put together via focus groups and marketing meetings. Toss in a rousing game of darts, where producers throw them at cliched character profiles to see who is who, and you start to get the idea.
First of all there's the plot. Is anybody else out there tired of these "Special Program" film and shows? It seems like nobody in law enforcement can do anything on their own so they have to bring in Special Programs. This special program makes less sense than all of them. Show in and show out the convicts don't do much but add comedy relief and look good. Thus far not one convict insight has helped do much but edge the plot along slowly.
The characters are also incredibly cliche. It's to a point that you wonder if maybe this show is performance art and they know how bad it is. Here's a breakdown of the cast. I don't remember character names, that's how bad the show is.
Black Cop Leader: Head of the "Special Program". Incredibly well dressed and groomed especially for a cop's salary. He is the smooth alpha male leader, equipped with street tough one liners and yet careful insight. He has his demons to battle but he's really a good cop with a dark view who wants to do right.
White Cop Flunky: He's the Joe Beer Drinker aspect of the cast. Big, burly, badly dressed and unshaven, he's the guy who goes to the cop bar, a real one-of-the-guys type. Tough and with bad attitude but deep down loves his partner and wants to do right. Uses terms in a bad New York accent such as "Scumbag" and "Dirtbag".
Black Convict One: Good looking, street smart but with an educated edge to him. He gets the streets and is the super alpha male of the group of convicts. Always says the right thing and his no-nonsense logic is supposedly vital to whatever it is the team is doing.
Hot White Chick: The girl who is too hot and too well put together to be a convict unless she was arrested in Milan for impersonating a model. She's way too street tough to have the manicure and haircut she has. She always bests the guys with that "Go Girl" sneer and when she beats them she always gives that come-hither look. Probably the most unbelievable character in the cast.
Smart White Guy Nerd: Hacker with cool haircut (apparently they style hair in prison) who is socially awkward and incredibly smart. This combination makes it okay for everybody in the cast to pick on and insult him. He also is always quoting some kind of "Nerd Thing".
Hot White Secretary: Bumbling and awkward, we know she's not hot because she has her hair in a bun and wears glasses. Obviously if you stripped away the painfully over-compensating demure outfit she's a raging hot lady but once again Hair-in-bun-and-glasses. She serves no purpose other than to have another hot chick in the show.
On top of the bad characters there's also really bad dialog. The White Cop "Howyadoin" guy refers to the convicts as animals and you get lots of "You're not out here to do (insert something), you're here to do what we tell you), or some variation of that. Lots of quick quips from the convicts as they engage in banter with their opressor cops. The criminals are usually one dimensional, either way too good looking serial killers or violent offenders who stay too quiet or make too much noise to actually be violent.
The worst are the outlandish prison breaks. If these idiots could really plan something that extravagant and well executed, I doubt they'd be in prison. Breakout Kings also tries too hard to be edgy and cool. Usually that kind of things comes out naturally through the stories and characters e.g. The Killing or Supernatural or Breaking Bad. Here it's like watching CHIPS as seen through the camera lense of an NYU graduate that spent most of his life making in-store videos for French Connection or Ambercrombe. I realize it's the first season but thus far the Breakout Kings can't escape from it's own cliched characters and plot devices.