Who better to help catch a bad guy than another bad guy?
Or, if you follow the premise of A&E’s new crime drama Breakout Kings, a bunch of bad guys. That’s what happens when two U.S. Marshals put together a task force made up of themselves and convicts in an effort to catch escaped prisoners currently on the run. For every fugitive successfully captured, the convicts get a month knocked off their sentences. But since they are out in the field with the Marshals, the temptation to try to flee is always present.
The task force is the brainchild of Ray Zancanelli (Domenick Lombardozzi), who picked the members because he knows firsthand how tough they were to apprehend. However, he didn’t get to pick his partner, Charlie Duchamp (Laz Alonso), a former desk jockey who insists on letting Ray know who’s boss. The struggle for control is often just as fierce as the chase for the target.
It’s certainly not the first go-round as a cop for Lombardozzi, who is perhaps best known for his work as Herc on The Wire. His intimidating demeanor and thick Bronx accent are ready-made for tough-guy roles, but there is a wrinkle to Ray revealed at the end of the first episode that gives the character an unexpected dimension Lombardozzi found intriguing.
“You go throughout the whole episode where he’s barking at people and he’s giving orders, yet at the end of the day he’s really no different than who they are,” Lombardozzi says. “What attracted me to the story was I see the potential of there being so many different ways to go with Ray.”
All of those ways include Ray seeking a path of redemption, not just through his work but through his family, especially the relationship with his daughter.
Given that Breakout Kings comes from the producers of Prison Break, (Prison Break fans will want to keep an eye out for an upcoming episode featuring Robert Knepper, reprising his role as Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell.) it’s not surprising that the convicts are among the more intriguing characters. Jimmi Simpson (Date Night) is perhaps the, er, breakout star as Lloyd Lowery, a former child prodigy with mommy issues and a gift for psychoanalysis. There’s also Malcolm Goodwin (American Gangster) as Shea Daniels, a former gang member who knows the streets and comes up with the idea of calling the task force the “Breakout Kings,” and Serinda Swan (Smallville) as Erica Reed, a wily beauty who learned how to track people from her bounty hunter father.
“I think the heartbeat of the show is the fact that each one of these characters is running away from something to something,” Lombardozzi says. “Each one of these characters is extremely different. … Everybody’s got their own little quirks, but at the same time we’re working at the same goal.”
Breakout Kings airs Sundays beginning March 6 on A&E.