Detective Brett Hopper is about to have a really, really bad day – over and over and over! In a dramatic take on what has come to be known as The Groundhog Day Plot, ABC's Day Break [two-hour premiere Tuesday, 9 p.m./8C] finds Hopper framed for murder and trying to save not only himself, but his girlfriend, his sister and their children – and maybe even his partner [who is being investigated by Internal Affairs]. Somehow, he has begun to repeat the day he is arrested for that murder…
It's just another day. Detective Brett Hopper [Taye Diggs] wakes up with the woman he loves – Rita Shelten [Moon Bloodgood] – and heads off to get ready to testify for his partner, Andrea Battle [Victoria Pratt] who is being investigated by Internal Affairs. He finds his apartment trashed and is about to take his dog, Rambis, for a walk when a S.W.A.T. bursts into the apartment and arrests him for the murder of an assistant district attorney named Alberto Garza.
Other events that brighten his day include: learning that his sister's husband is beating her; the safe house he where he had stashed a witness he was protecting turns out not be so safe; and his sister's husband is beating her. Clearly, he has been set up – and there are a number of people who could have done it.
For whatever reason, my screener for the Day Break premiere only included the pilot – but that was enough to see that the series – which will allegedly solve the big mystery by its thirteenth episode – is clever enough to work. There is a great deal of attention paid to details – as one of Hopper's recurring tormentors says, "Decision – Consequence." An early example is a lady whose life Hopper saves when a bus driver has a stroke and loses control of his vehicle…
It doesn't take Hopper long to figure out that he's re-living a day, either. When he looks out his girlfriend's bedroom window and sees exactly the same people and vehicles doing exactly the same things, he manages to accept the evidence of his senses. Thus, a series of events is set in motion that causes changes – each with its consequences.
Even in just the first hour, it becomes clear that there is more than a simple frame-up going on here. An encounter with Chad Shelten [Adam Baldwin] – Rita's ex, as well as Hopper's ex-partner – of Internal Affairs, and Rita's suspicious disappearance seem to point to a lot of things going on behind the scenes. When Hopper sets up a meet with his current partner, Battle, things again go awry.
Diggs is a very talented actor, and though his previous series, Kevin Hill, was well received critically, it bled viewers like a slit carotid. Day Break is also a quality piece of work. It is well thought out – if the pilot is any indication – and the actual writing is pretty tight. The cast is terrific and the pilot was directed like a good action/suspense feature.
I find it interesting that the Groundhog Day Plot has almost invariably been put to use by a number of TV programs – and that even the lousy ones seem to find a way to create excellent episodes around the premise. From "Xena – Warrior Princess" to "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda," the premise has been done well – if only for one episode. Day Break is attempting to take the premise a lot further but based on the pilot, I expect it can do the job. The big question is, will it?