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Breaking In makes it a trifecta the hard way for hapless Christian Slater

Christian Slater on fumes in the new comedy Breaking In. Fox photo

Premiering: Wednesday, April 6th at 8:30 p.m. (central) on Fox
Starring: Christian Slater, Bret Harrison, Odette Annable, Alphonso McAuley, Trevor Moore, Michael Rosenbaum
Produced by: Adam F. Goldberg, Seth Gordon, Doug Robinson

Somewhere, somehow, some way, somebody at Fox gave the go-ahead to Breaking In.

But why? Is there some sort of intra-network game we don't know about to make Christian Slater a three-time loser in rapid-fire fashion? Or does Slater have compromising 8 by 10s of various network executives caught in the act of voting for Tea Party candidates? There must be some logical explanation.

Slater previously came up empty in 2008 as the star of NBC's very muddled My Own Worst Enemy. Same result a year later in ABC's faintly remembered The Forgotten. But those two dramas were positively Dostoyevsky compared to what unfolds and unravels Wednesday night after a 90-minute edition of American Idol.

Is it too late to pad Idol with an extra half-hour of Ford Focus commercial outtakes? Could the nine remaining contestants perhaps don Lederhosen for a tribute to the Trapp Family Singers? How about having Charlie Sheen drop in and do whatever he wants? In short, anything. Even him.

As of this writing, though, Fox still intends to go through with Breaking In. It's an attempted half-hour comedy in which Slater appears to be unclear about whether he's doing a sendup of Jack Nicholson or an amazingly prescient imitation of Sheen in the clutches of his "Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour.

But the credits and script identify him as Oz, officious head of Contra Security. It's described in Fox publicity materials as a "top-notch security firm that seeks out security breaches." Coulda fooled me.

The dumb thing begins on the campus of Loyola Technical College, where a cocksure guy named Cameron Price (Bret Harrison) strides past three co-eds sunning themselves in bikinis. They should have stopped right there, kept the cameras on the babes and continued filming until the allotted 21-minute running time plus commercials was achieved. That at least would have made Breaking In ready-made for a prime-time slot on Spike TV.

Instead, Cameron is shanghaied by Oz, who's onto his game of hacking his way into college as a phony, long-term student. Now Cameron will be exposed unless he works for Oz and his other "uniquely skilled oddball geniuses." Namely a candy-imbibing black dude named Cash (Alphonso McAuley), a territorial white dud named Josh (Trevor Moore) and the resident eye candy, Melanie (Odette Annable).

Wednesday's opening half-hour proceeds to bounce around with no seeming purpose in mind other than to stitch a buncha scenes together. In one of 'em, Cameron comes upon Melanie's boyfriend, Dutch (Michael Rosenbaum), who makes a living selling clean urine on ebay for the purposes of passing drug tests.

"I love the crap out of this woman!" he explains. So far, though, he's not hawking stool samples.

Oz later informs Cameron that "life is about either trying to dodge a bullet or hit a bullseye. And trust me, kid, this job is the bullseye,"

This series is a complete mis-fire. There are no relatable characters, every joke's a dud and Slater seems to have no earthly idea what's befallen him. Breaking In succeeds only in being a stupendously bad half-hour of television that should be charged with breaking and entering into unsuspecting living rooms.