March 6, 2011


Last year, Breakout Kings was one of the pilots that piqued my interest  because it's right in my wheelhouse. I'm a sucker for shows about bad-guys turned good-guys like Leverage and White Collar. and I was bummed that FOX decided to pass on the drama.

Luckily, A&E swept in and picked up Kings and prepped it for a spring 2011 debut. The premise is pretty straight forward. Two U.S. Marshals, one straight arrow and one rebel, put together and motley crew of convicts to find recently escaped fugitives. If the baddies play ball, and don't try to escape, they'll be rewarded with reduced sentences. You have pretty much every cop, con-man, fugitive trope known to man on display during the first episode, which gave the pilot a very familiar feel.

Tonight's series premiere was a mixed bag because it was exactly what I expected, which was both good and bad. There is no hiding the fact that Breakout Kings is a police procedural that will follow a Fugitive of the Week format. While this concept isn't inherently bad (both Leverage and White Collar are procedurals at their cores), it's just one more in the long line-up episodic cop shows, and I doubt it will break the mold. Then again, I've only season the pilot and hopefully I'm wrong.

Where this show deviates from those of its ilk is the tone. Leverage and White Collar (sorry, it's too easy to compare it to these two) have a lighter feel to them, whereas Breakout Kings wants to be darker and grittier in the vein of Southland and Dark Blue. The characters take their jobs way more seriously, and while Lloyd Lowery will be the comic relief, there isn't an abundance of laughs which may work against the show. I'm not saying Breakout Kings needs to be an action comedy, but there's a reason why I didn't watch Southland, Dark Blue, or The Shield, and why I find The Chicago Code boring; I don't want to be choked out by all of the "grittiness".

Most critics are picking apart Breakout Kings because it's just another police procedural that mimics all of the other cops shows on the air right now, and it's hard to disagree with those criticisms, but I'm willing to give it more leeway. Yes, the show could fit in with all of the CSIs and L&Os, but there's enough potential to keep me around for a few more episodes to find its footing.


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