Few shows get a second chance at life after being cancelled. Many that do probably shouldn’t. Case in point, Family Guy. But the relaunch or reboot or rewhatever of Breaking In has to be the most baffling butchery of a TV series ever. Or at least in the last few years. Sure what FOX did to Human Target was inexcusable, but at least there was some way to understand it. Take a producer and some people off your other action series, even if that action series is as lame as Chuck, transplant them to a series like Human Target that seems to have potential, and let them work their magic by ruining it, and then going back to Chuck and killing it too. But that still makes sense.
But take Breaking In, a show with lots of young attractive people who break into places in a wacky security company run by Christian Slater. The show had some potential, its humor was edgy, but not really streamlined and the cases weren’t that interesting. It needed some tinkering. FOX canceled it. Business as usual. Then Breaking In comes back after having added Megan Mullally to the cast, but not just to the cast, but as the central character, while playing the most annoying possible character that you can imagine Megan Mullally playing.
To make this move just that much more insanely baffling, the show has been redesigned as an office comedy. That’s right, Breaking In, an action show about wacky young people who break into places, is now a really annoying version of The Office (except The Office, Parks and Recreation and a bunch of other NBC shows are already really annoying versions of The Office). To get how this works, imagine adding Stanley from The Office to the A-Team and rebooting it as an office comedy.
The only way to understand this is like a fox chewing its own leg off to escape a trap and then wondering if life after that is even worth living. Breaking In got to second two through the most ridiculous means possible. Cut the budget, add Megan Mullally, pretend this thing is now an office sitcom. It doesn’t work, it makes no sense, it’s unwatchable, but everyone involved collects a paycheck for a bit longer.
The Breaking In website with a poster that looks like it was salvaged from a 90’s NBC sitcom gives you some idea of what happened. “BREAKING IN is a half-hour workplace comedy that takes office politics to the next level of genius.” Genius might not be the word for it.
Did this horrible and desperate move work? Nope and nope. Breaking In has been canceled again after apparently five episodes. Those episodes had a third of the viewers that the old series did on average. But here’s the thing. Overall Breaking In had pretty good ratings in Season One. Something happened in its season finale, it may have been the rescheduling, but overall it was running decently for a TV series today. The YAM demos for it were not spectacular, but it was beating its competition. Shockingly adding Megan and turning it into an office sitcom broke the YAM ratings completely.
That’s the strange part of this whole thing. Most networks want a show to go younger. Breaking In went older. Sure there was a mandate to win over female viewers. That’s what killed Human Target. But Breaking In could have added more female cast in a less crazy way. Did FOX really think that airing an office comedy was a good idea when going up against The Voice or Dancing with the Stars?
You can blame some boneheaded network moves on known factors. Terminator’s cancellation on FOX’s relationship with Joss Whedon, his fanatical fanbase, Eliza Dushku and her boyfriend who happened to produce half the cartoon crap on the schedule. But understanding what happened to Breaking In is so much more difficult.