Let’s talk about Breakout Kings today! For those of you that have missed it, Breakout Kings is a show about convicts helping US marshals capture other escaped convects in return for reduced time in jail. The show is a spiritual successor to Prison Break, since it is made by the same people, uses the same sets, and even features the odd character from that show.
The premise is a familiar one. Many shows have convicts that help police in return for less time in prison. However, Breakout Kings has aggressively tried to market itself as something new and innovative, when it just… isn’t.
There are some good parts. The show knows what it is doing in terms of action and direction, and the characters seem at home with their roles.
The standout of the group is undeniably Lloyd Lowery. The actor has made the neurotic former psychiatrist character his own, and has infused him thoroughly with his personality. There can be no doubt that this guy is funny. Quite frankly, he’s the only one that I’ve even felt any empathy for. The marshals are simply unlikeable, while the other cons are unmemorable because they fall into character archetypes seen dozens of times before.
All in all, Breakout Kings just seems kind of tired and formulaic. And it compensates for the tired plot by amping up the violence with every episode. I know- prime time TV is a place for violence. That’s part of the spectacle. However, brutal violence just to draw attention is kind of dumb. Every plot is like this: A con escapes, usually by murdering a guard. They then go and murder someone else. They steal a weapon and a vehicle and murder someone else. They have a standoff with the Breakout Kings, usually immediately after murdering someone else. Then they get caught. Yay.
It’s like they’re beating you over the head with the idea of “Can you tell that this is a bad guy???” It’s kind of annoying, actually. When you remove any value from human life in a show, it loses the tension and dramatic element. I watched an episode last night that featured a convict slitting his own mothers throat and executing a cop in about a 3 minute increment, for no reason at all. Come on.
I really liked Prison Break for the first couple of seasons, but the idea for the show lost steam after those first two seasons and became not that good. Put simply, you can’t really keep a show that centers around escaping going for a long time without it becoming bad.
Breakout Kings has already gotten a bit boring, because with every week it gets less and less novel to have a prisoner escape. At least with Prison Break, breaking out was always interesting because of the lead up over dozens of hours. I’ll just finish with this statement. Breakout Kings is Prison Break Lite.