Day Break: Pilot / What If They Run (series premiere)
One of the big differences between Day Break and the Groundhog Day rules (I am fully aware that one is a drama and one is a comedy -- I am just talking now about the framework with which each main character experiences the day over and over again) is that the marvelous Taye Diggs' Officer Brett Hopper sustains from one day to the next whatever injuries he has sustained the previous day. This raises the stakes for his character (and the show is going for 11 weeks-- until Lost comes back February 7-- so if things don't go well...) because Hopper can be injured, can be killed. Bill Murray's weatherman Phil killed himself in many ways and had a much more existential dilemma. Hopper doesn't have time for contemplation because people are literally dying all around him.
Lucky for the people around him, nobody else seems to die from one day to the next. He sees his girlfriend Rita die, but he wakes up with her the next morning. His biggest fear and simultaneous biggest hope is that tomorrow will happen, rather than repeated todays.
Clearly the show's mantra (Note to the writers if you happen to read this: Please don't hammer this into us too much) is that decisions have consequences. Why don't you just call the show The Butterfly Effect and get it over with? We know that small actions lead to unforeseeable consequences-- like when Hopper saves the woman from getting hit by the bus by being in the right place at the right time. At least the show has a sense of humor enough for him to start muttering things on his third day, "I've gotta bet better about that," when he notes her lying in the hospital because he wasn't there to save her. Or, "I'll get here earlier tomorrow," about the mysterious package in his mailbox. The show does raise questions about all of our influences in the world, doesn't it? If we choose not to get coffee in the morning, is somebody going to die? Probably not, but how do we know? We don't have the luxury (or torment) or having to second guess every decision we make, but Hopper does.
At first glance, it seems that the show might have a finite number of options. However, I think I was looking at it from the two-hour movie feature box. The show has definitely laid the groundwork to explore small deviations in Hopper's day. He knows already that he can't run away from his fate. Like the legendary Oedipus, the road he takes to escape his fate leads him right to it. The Garza Goons (as I have dubbed the guys who manhandle Hopper and who are framing him for the murder of the Assistant District Attorney Garza) are buff, bald Cassandras, ominously warning Hopper about consequences. He believes they somehow have the answers as to why he is living this day over and over again.
I expect that as the season goes on, we will find out more and more about Hopper's past, his rocky relationship with his possibly shady partner Angela, his ex-partner Chad (I'm guessing the ex in partner matches the ex in wife, because Rita used to be married to Chad). And we already know that Chad Mr. Internal Affairs, is crooked and in with the Garza Goons.
So, fasten your seatbelts and hang on for the ride. I think this show has promise and I'll be interested to see what they do with it. So far, I am pleased with the sense of humor the writers have displayed, and some unexpected directions (like killing Angela).
What did you think?