Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day Break

This week, I'm reviewing a very little-known TV show called Day Break. It's a one-season, 13 episode show that got the FOX treatment. Well, it ran on ABC, but they cancelled it after 6 episodes. Fortunately, they'd already filmed all 13, so a couple of years later a cable channel picked the show up and completed the run. Now you can find it on DVD and Hulu. (Here's the link for the Pilot episode.) It's the story of LAPD detective Brett Hopper (played by Taye Diggs, who gives an amazing performance,) who wakes up one morning where nothing seems to going right. It starts out okay, waking up to his beautiful girlfriend (played by Moon Bloodgood) but things take a turn for the worse rather quickly. It's mostly a bunch of little things, but there are a few big things, like barely saving a woman from being hit by a bus, it looks like his sister is being abused by her husband, a super-important gang informant of his has gone missing, and, oh yeah, he's been framed for the murder of Alberto Garza, a district attorney he's never met.

Well, that evening he's kidnapped out of jail and taken to a gravel pit in the middle of nowhere and told to confess to murdering Garza. He's then shown a video of his girlfriend being shot to death and told that the same will happen to his sister and her family if he doesn't comply. They inject him with... something, and he falls asleep.
The next day, he wakes up next to his beautiful girlfriend (played by Moon Bloodgood) but things take a turn for the worse rather quickly. It's mostly a bunch of little things, but... wait a second, what just happened?
So, yeah. This show is basically Groundhog's Day meets any movie where acop or spy or escaped fugitive is really innocent and has to clear his name. Only it's about 100 times more awesome than that sounds. And it already sounds pretty awesome.
So, yeah. Hopper has to clear his name using the knowledge he gains from each previous day to start that far ahead of his pursuers the next day. The thing is that the more he finds out, the more he discovers that most of the people he knows are involved somehow, whether directly or indirectly. However, he's got one BIG problem. He can't just go around doing whatever he wants to with no regard for safety, because while other people may get killed and then wake up the next day without a scratch, any harm that Hopper takes carries over with him. So if he cuts himself shaving, he's got a scratch the next day. If he gets shot, he wakes up the next day bleeding out, since the bandages are gone. The one thing he does have going for him is that sometimes, if he focuses on helping a specific person and is able to help them overcome a certain problem or make an important decision, that decision will carry over to the next day, too. The person won't actually remember anything, but they'll suddenly decide to trust Hopper and give him information that he needs to progress in his investigation to clear his name. Unfortunately, this cuts both ways, as it's also possible for him to offend someone so harshly that the next day, they suddenly don't trust him anymore and will actually hinder his investigation, even if only obliquely.
This series freaking rocks. The acting is amazing, aside from Taye Diggs we have Adam Baldwin as Hooper's jerk ex-partner, Andrea Battle as Hopper's current partner, Daimien Ortiz as Hooper's informant, Moon Bloodgood as Hooper's girlfriend (and his ex-partner's ex-wife), and Clayton Rohner as the scruffy-looking man who may or may not be crazy and may or may not be stuck in a time-loop similar to Hopper's. And that's just to start.
The plot is complex and intriguing without being convoluted, the plot twists are frequent and satisfying, and there's a real sense of tension the whole series through. I cannot praise this show enough. It's just plain good, high quality, TV. However, I think that's the reason it didn't do so well is because it took risks with things like it's complex plot and intentionally having the season be a self-contained plot. It's just plain sad that so often a TV show that takes risks ends up being canceled. Personally, I'd rather see more TV shows take risks. I'll take all of the garbage shows that we'd end up with it it meant more shows like Day break. It's not like they'd be that much worse than what's already out there.

Bottom Line: follow that link up there to Hulu and watch this show for yourself, it is freaking amazing, you will not regret it.

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