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comebacks

Can Breaking In End Christian Slater’s Bad Luck in TV?

Christian Slater's new workplace sitcom, Breaking In, about a high-tech security firm, starts tonight on Fox. On the show, Slater plays the boss man Oz, who oversees a bunch of quirky characters, including the protagonist Cameron (Bret Harrison, who stared in The Reaper and The Loop and thus has as many failed series under his belt as Slater). There are prank wars, fast cars, co-worker rivalries, and the hot chick with a horribly annoying boyfriend: In other words, Breaking In is not the most original show on television. Nonetheless, we here at Vulture hope that it succeeds. We are starting to feel bad for Christian Slater.

Back in 2008, Slater signed on for his first TV show, My Own Worst Enemy. At the time, it was seen as something of a coup for NBC and its then-capo Ben Silverman, who got a former movie star whose career had pretty much stalled out to lend his recognizable mug to the network. Slater, for his part, was gamely jazzed about it ("Yeah, you're absolutely right, it is a dream job," he said in one interview). Unfortunately, as previously stated, My Own Worst Enemy premiered during the Silverman years and thus, was inevitably canceled. Undeterred, Slater soldiered on, taking the lead role in ABC's The Forgotten, a drama about a group of people who try to I.D. John and Jane Does. (Of course, he didn't dive into another show so quickly because he wants to work; no, he did it because "it was the team of people who were involved, such as Jerry Bruckheimer. I'm a huge fan of his and after meeting him, it's clear he's a phenomenally passionate guy. I really take my hat off to him, and to ABC for being willing to put a show like this together. It really is about raising the awareness that this is a national crisis, that there are 40,000 John and Jane Does across the country and there's actual organizations out that do this.") It was canceled after seventeen episodes.

Now, a season later, Slater is back with Breaking In. Despite being accompanied by the least promotion and the least high-profile premiere date, it may be the best show out of Slater's three. It's professionally executed and fairly funny, and as the slightly mysterious, tech-savvy boss, it's possible to imagine Slater is playing an all-grown-up version of radio pirate Hard Harry. But, really, Breaking In could be much, much worse and we would still be crossing our fingers for it. We're having a sympathetic anxiety attack for Slater just thinking about a third flop. It's as if Michael Jordan came out of retirement and no one cared. Or, more accurate, if Alonzo Mourning came out of retirement to play in the CBA, was really horrible at it, and no one cared. Which, fine, maybe no one should care, but that doesn't mean that if you thought about his particular circumstance, you wouldn't feel bummed for 'Zo. All to say, thinking about Christian Slater going 0–3 makes us feel a little sadface for him: The guy just wants a day job. If Breaking In should bomb, maybe Slater will finally face facts, and make like Chris O'Donnell and go get himself an NCIS franchise.