Let me first say that Breakout Kings: The Complete First Season is an absolute delight. I never expected to enjoy it so much. While the premise sounded interesting, it just wasn't what I anticipated. The show surrounds a handful of cons who are offered the chance to knock time off of their hefty sentences in exchange for helping a pair of U.S. Marshalls, Ray Zancanelli (Domenick Lombardozzi) and Charlie DuChamp (Laz Alonso), catch "runners" or prison escapees. Since this group consists of the toughest runners Zancanelli has ever come up against, he naturally wants them on the team. His new partner on this unorthodox team, by-the-book former desk jockey DuChamp, is not so convinced.
The team of cons initially begins with four members during the pilot, but then some whittling is done as well as a swap, and the final team winds up consisting of Dr. Lloyd Lowery (Jimmi Simpson), gambling addict genius; Shea Daniels (Malcolm Goodwin), streetwise "business" mogul; and finally, the beautiful Erica Reed (Serinda Swan), an expert tracker with a vengeful past. The final member of the team isn't a con, but isn't a Marshall either. Julianne Simms (Brooke Nevin) is the data resource whiz, but she has a story of her own, one that ties her closely to Zancanelli. The three cons bring a fantastic mix of personalities to the table and, together with DuChamp, Zancanelli, and Julianne, create a wonderful brew of comedy, drama and action that will keep you coming back for more.
When a dangerous con breaks out of prison, the Breakout Kings get the call, at least during the trial run of their new team. The team will deal with some pretty ruthless criminals such as murderers of many varieties, including a black widow of sorts, a child predator, a female criminal kingpin, a criminal team, and even a familiar face for fans of Prison Break. While I hadn't seen Prison Break, I discovered through a featurette that a character named Theodore "T Bag" Bagwell (Robert Knepper) was a recurring character from the other series. While completely evil, he was a delightful character to watch and the show's creators teased that this won't be the last we see of him, which is a good thing. Aside from simply catching runners, there's an ongoing storyline with each of the characters that winds itself through the season, whether it be Erica's desperation to get back together with her young daughter, Lloyd's odd relationship with his overpowering mother, or Shea's dangerous plan for retirement. Even DuChamp and Zancanelli have stuff to deal with like family and health issues and their new boss threatening to end the team at every turn.
Special features include the aforementioned featurette on T-Bag, plus audio commentaries on select episodes, a handful of deleted scenes and a featurette on the show in general. All are fun to watch, but I enjoyed hearing from the actors themselves about their characters best of all.
Breakout Kings is a can't-miss show if you like a good blend of action, comedy and drama. In a market filled with cop-type dramas, Breakout Kings: The Complete First Season sets itself apart with clever writing and great chemistry among its cast. It's one of the few shows that hits the ground running from the first episode with a cast that is melded together so well from the start, that they seem to have worked with each other for years. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to Breakout Kings so you can be up to speed for Season Two.