This television season has been a series of annoying, and I believe, unsuccessful attempts to cash in on past successes, most notably on Fox’s 24 and ABC’s Lost. Admittedly, I am hooked on both these shows, but they set a rather high standard on the quality meter; therefore, these new shows trying to be the next 24 or Lost always seem to fall flat and force me to click the remote.
An example of this kind of swing and miss attempt is ABC’s new drama, Day Break. There has to be a gimmick or a twist to be like the other two shows (24 takes place in “real” time over twenty-four hours; Lost features castaways from a plane crash living on a deserted island). Day Break plays around with the twenty-four hour concept, but in the case of detective Brett Hopper (played by a standout Taye Diggs) he has to live the same day over and over again.
The following synopsis of the show comes directly from ABC.com:
Taye Diggs (Kevin Hill) stars in this action-packed thriller that takes a bad day and multiplies it by infinity. Detective Brett Hopper (Diggs) is having a hellacious day; the kind of day where nothing goes his way and he just can't wait to put it behind him… only he can't, because he's living the same day over and over again.
So I liked the hook and it was compelling enough to get me to watch the 2-hour season premiere. Unfortunately, the show lost me over that one hundred and twenty minutes because of inconsistency, implausibility, and incredulity. The basic storyline makes sense, especially for the first thirty minutes in. Hopper is being set up for the murder of the ADA; he tries to figure things out, and finally ends up on his back in a stone quarry where some guy warns him to cooperate after showing him a video of his girlfriend Rita (the lovely Moon Bloodgood) getting murdered and his sister and her children being threatened.
I thought, “Okay, this is cool,” after the first half hour, but as we moved into the second cycle of the new day things just don’t make sense. There were two additional cycles of the day in all, including various elements and different plot twists in each of the twenty-four hour blocks. The problem I have with this is that people get killed and are not dead; a woman is saved in one version of the day, for example, (Hopper stops her from being hit by a bus), but in another version of the day she is rushed to the hospital and seems to be dying.
Also, in the third cycle of the day, Hopper’s partner Andrea (Victoria Pratt) gets shot and killed as she tries to save him from thugs. Hopper feels very guilty about this for a moment, but then he is off in his car and we can assume that he must be thinking, “Ah, she’ll be okay; there’s always tomorrow.”
The biggest issue is not these other people living and dying, but more that Hopper gets through the day even after being shot. To make matters worse, his girlfriend wakes up next to him on what is supposed to be the start of the same day and finds him lying next to her in a pool of blood with a bullet wound (stay with me here), which he wouldn’t have received until later that day. Yes, of course he has been through the day before, but so has Rita. If Hopper can stay shot, then why doesn’t she stay dead? Why doesn’t Andrea stay dead? And, for that matter, why is the day repeating itself in the first place?
If this is all sounding a tad familiar, of course one would say it reminds him or her of Bill Murray’s classic little gem, Groundhog Day. The repeating of the twenty-four hours is the same (even the alarm clock clicking off the same time every morning is here), but the difference lies in the tone and theme of the two works. Murray’s film plays with his disgruntled and glum personality, nudging him along slowly but surely to some kind of awareness of life and love and happiness. We slowly understand the reasons why this over-the-hill news reporter keeps living the same day over and over again; the same can’t be said for Day Break.
I really tried to like this show. I wanted to get into something good to hold me over until the return of 24 and Lost (in January and February, respectively) next year. Unfortunately, I feel more annoyed by the concept than anything else. Diggs is a solid presence in the role, but it would have been better to give him a vehicle worthy of his talents. Give him a straightforward detective series and I’d watch that. Make it about serial killers, or better yet, put him on the trail of incorrigible network executives who just want to score with the next big show regardless of the sentiments and intelligence of an audience who can see through their machinations like a screen door on a submarine.
So I will bid adieu to Day Break before I get too annoyed with it (sort of like I did with Jericho and The Nine after three episodes each). My time is precious (as is everyone’s), and I just can’t invest sixty minutes in a show that has not dotted its I’s and crossed its T’s. It’s really too bad. Mr. Diggs deserves better. More importantly, so do we.