Sunday, November 19, 2006

Day Break—What if They Run (Pilot)

Last season, viewers of Lost registered a good number of complaints that they didn’t like having to sit through reruns, and that they wanted uninterrupted first-run episodes instead. ABC’s response to this? Run 6 episodes of Lost in a row, then pull the show completely off the air until February, after which they would run the rest of the season uninterrupted. Now, of course, Lost fans are complaining that their show is off the air for twelve weeks.

In any case, for the hiatus we’ll be treated to a new show, Day Break. The premise: Taye Diggs and a collection of ex-X-Files-ers team up to turn “Monday” (a season six X-Files episode in which Mulder relives the same day over and over until he is able to stop a bank robbery and save Scully from blood splattery death) into a thirteen-part mystery. (Or it could be the season eight X-Files episode “Redrum”, but I liked “Monday” better.) The production staff is stellar, including Rob Bowman and Jeffrey Bell from The X-Files (and, in the case of Bell, Angel). In front of the cameras we have Taye Diggs, also serving as a co-producer, Adam Baldwin (The X-Files, Angel, Firefly), Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files), and, in a minor role, John Rubinstein (Linwood Morrow from Angel).

Wednesday night’s two-hour introduction presented a nicely convoluted tale, but for me the highlight was Diggs and Baldwin wrestling repeatedly in the elevator. I’ll tell you what, I could have watched that for the entire two hours. Well, with a break or two to look at Taye Diggs shirtless, another definite highlight of the episode.

Anyway, our story starts with our hero, Detective Brett Hopper, waking up with his girlfriend Rita. Several odd things happen so he’ll have a way to realize his day is repeating once we get to that point—there’s a car accident outside the apartment, he breaks the soap dish (remember Mulder’s waterbed leak and how he kept tripping over his shoes?). And of course we get all the background we need to set up our basic story. Assistant DA Alberto Garza has been murdered, and our hero has been framed for that murder. He’s taken in and interrogated. We find out his sister’s husband abuses her, and that his girlfriend Rita was once his ex-partner’s wife, and his ex-partner is now leading an Internal Affairs investigation against Hopper's new partner, Andrea. Then he’s kidnapped by goons who tell him he has to confess to the murder or they’ll kill his girlfriend. Well, actually they’ve already killed his girlfriend, and they show it to him on tape, then demonstrate that they are prepared and positioned to kill his sister and her kids, as well. They also tell him in a dramatically echoey manner that every decision has a consequence. And then he wakes up back in bed with Rita, faced with reliving the entire horrible day. Just to add insult to injury, rather literally, he wakes up with all the wounds he received on the previous day. This could be a problem.

Thus is our hero’s dilemma. Everything he does or doesn’t do creates a chain reaction throughout the day (and his major choice determines the title of the episode, talk about pressure), with different end results. Hopper acts based on knowledge gained in the previous repetition of the day, but he doesn’t know what the right mix is. In this respect he’s a lot like Tru Davies in Tru Calling, but he doesn’t have to run everywhere and he lacks Eliza Dushku’s cleavage.

Overall, this all worked better than I expected, given the difficult premise. Each repetition of the day reveals a few more details behind the conspiracy surrounding Garza's murder, adding layers to the mystery and the plot. I’m still curious to see how they manage to play it out over the full 12 episodes (13 if this one counts as 2), but so far, so good. And as long as Diggs keeps taking off his shirt and wrestling with Adam Baldwin in the elevator, I’m all good.

Day Break Official Site.