Premiere Theatrical Review
By Chris Rebholz, Feb 22, 2011 07:36 PM EST
A lot of TV shows employ a certain gimmick to ensnare audiences, shows like CSI, The Mentalist, Bones, and Breaking Bad are perfect examples. Using gimmicks like quirky characters, extreme situations, or just great writing all of them have done a great job of putting aside some disbelief in order to enjoy a good story.
Breakout Kings, which is a new show coming to A&E on March 4th is another great example of this type of TV show. The plot is simple U.S. Marshalls employ the aid of ex-convicts the capture prison escapees. The show stars Domenick Lombardozzi and Laz Alonso as Ray Zancanelli and Charlie Duchamp, you'll recognize Lombardozzi from his work on the HBO series The Wire. Here he brings the same level of grit and attitude he had there. Perhaps a bit of a typecast role for him but he plays it well and seems to enjoy it so there is no need to get worked up about it.
The idea of using ex-cons was Ray's but considering it's a fairly radical idea his boss assigns him a CPA (Criminal Profile Analyst), basically a desk jockey, as his superior officer. Duchamp sees this opportunity as his chance to prove that he has earned the right to head up this special unit. There first assignment is to track down a violent convict who beat a man to death for insulting his wife. They learn that when he was younger, this escapee and some buddies of his pulled off a bank heist and got away with a half million dollars. Now on the run he is tracking down all his partners to find the money for himself. Ray and Duchamp gather together four cons for this assignment. The show takes the time to introduce them to us; some of the character types seem familiar, the brilliant but non-threatening bookworm, the gang-banger, and a seductive con-artist.
The terms of their transfer to a minimal security prison are simple, help the agents track down and capture the escapee's and their sentences will be reduced. A bit far-fetched considering what most audiences are used to, but the joy of watching these actors relish their time on screen is too good to spend time over analyzing these things. With the exception of a few bumps in the road along the way, the team is successful in capturing the fugitive and as promised the ex-cons are placed in a minimal security facility until the next assignment comes along.
The second episode features an escaped child predator trying to track down the people involved in his prosecution so that he can somehow prove his innocence. This time around when the U.S. Marshalls round the team of ex-cons they grab two from the first episode, the gang-banger and smart bookworm but this time use a different female ex-con on their team. This seems odd because at no point do they say what she specializes in that can be useful to the team and she spends most of the episode ignoring the agents and running off on her own. You would think this would get her thrown back in prison but all she gets is a stern talking to.
Although if this is a plot device to have a rotating batch of criminals than that would keep the dynamic on the show fresh, not only for the other cast members but for the audience as well. This time the brainy whiz kid if pivotal in helping the team locate the fugitive but also in finding the real criminal in all of this. The show does a good job of keeping the pace moving so you don't have too much of a chance to wonder how a judge or anyone for that matter allowed a team like this to come together. The acting doesn't come off too heavy handed at any time although some of the characters do seem a bit cliché. All in all though the show is entertaining enough that it may have a chance of culling together a fan base that will keep it going.
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