The Complete Series
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Reviewed by Will Harris
hose who would complain about the fact that there are only 13 episodes of “Day Break” should seriously consider the fact that, given the premise, they’re lucky the show ever got greenlit in the first place.
The series focuses on Brett Hopper (Taye Diggs), an LAPD detective who is framed for the murder of an assistant district attorney. The gimmick: he’s caught in a time loop that causes him to relive the same day over and over again, which gives him the opportunity to gradually figure out who’s really responsible for the murder and find out who’s trying to frame him. Save your comments about the similarity to “Groundhog Day,” because executive producers Jeffrey Bell, Rob Bowman, and Paul Zbyszewski have heard them all. Instead, try to focus on the interesting twists that any injuries Hopper may experience will still be felt when the day restarts, and that Hooper’s girlfriend (Moon Bloodgood) wakes up each day in a mood directly related to how he acted toward her the preceding day.
Are you focusing on these things?
Didn’t help, did it?
Nope: you’re still busy thinking about the similarity to “Groundhog Day.” And that’s why it’s so amazing that ABC ever decided to give this series a chance. In fact, it’s safe to say that they wouldn’t have given it a chance if, in the 2004 – 2005 season, “Lost” hadn’t been so successful at slowly unfolding on a weekly basis while still keeping viewers coming back. It’s the same reason they also gave the alien-infestation drama, “Invasion,” a shot for the 2005 – 2006 season. Unfortunately, “Invasion” didn’t take off the way “Lost” had, and by the time “Day Break” emerged as part of ABC’s mid-season replacement, the network had little interest for allowing a second serialized drama to find an audience, especially one with a concept which had the average American viewer wondering from the outset, “How can this possibly work as a weekly series?”
But “Day Break” does work, in no small part because of its tremendous ensemble cast. Diggs is one of those actors who always turns in a solid performance, and he’s surrounded by others with the same level of talent, including Adam Baldwin (“Chuck”), Mitch Pileggi (“The X-Files”), and Jonathan Banks (“Wiseguy”). In fact, there aren’t really any sub-par thespians to be found here, though there are plenty of folks who have made a living out of acting in one-season wonders, including Moon Bloodgood (“Journeyman”), Ian Anthony Dale (“Surface”), and Victoria Pratt (“Cleopatra 2525”).
And, of course, let’s not forget the writers. Once Hopper realizes that he’s living the same day over and over again, he begins to adapt to his situation by remembering what needs to stay the same and what needs to change, trying to work within the confines of what won’t get him arrested for the murder for which he’s being framed. He soon discovers, however, that every action (or lack thereof), no matter how small, can cause significant effects in the way the day goes down; as a result, he has to quickly come to grips with the realization that sometimes he just isn’t going to be able to prevent certain things from happening. It proves so frustrating that, after a particularly trying day where it seems that he’s fixed everything but still finds himself starting over again the next morning, he decides that he’s just going to keep ignoring the day’s events by skipping off to Mexico every morning with his girlfriend (Moon Bloodgood). It doesn’t work, of course, but it’s a perfect example of how the writers of “Day Break” worked within the established concept and still managed to surprise on a weekly basis.
Fortunately, the ultimate fate of “Day Break” was learned in enough time for the show to produce a relatively satisfying wrap-up. There are, inevitably, still imperfections with the conclusion – most notably the total lack of an explanation as to who or what was responsible for Hooper reliving the day in the first place; a plot hole made all the more frustrating because of a revelation in an earlier episode that he’s not the only one who’s experiencing this phenomenon. But if you’re afraid to get involved because it ends abruptly, fear not: the mysteries surrounding Hooper’s frame-up are indeed solved, and better yet, it doesn’t feel like the explanations emerged from a frantic last-second writing session.
“Day Break” will likely find its way onto many lists of the Best Short-Lived Series of All Time when all is said and done, but the truth of the matter is that, had it gone on much longer, it probably wouldn’t have earned as much praise. As it stands, these 13 episodes are downright perfect.
Special Features: As befits such a significant cult series, “Day Break” has been given a nice array of bonus material, including audio commentaries on all 13 episodes, some with more than one commentary track. There are also additional interviews with cast and crew, a fair amount of behind-the-scenes footage, and several photo galleries.