The idea of someone who has to repeatedly live over the same day, making different decisions to see how they play out has been done before, most famously (and in my experience most effectively) in the comedy film Groundhog’s Day. See it if you haven’t; it’s a highly-polished gem.
The new series Daybreak tries to translate this concept to an action mystery drama thingy. Taye Diggs plays a cop who tries to avoid being framed for murder, to keep his girlfriend from being killed, to keep a lot of other bad things from happening… and in doing so, perhaps to figure out what’s going on (more in terms of whose behind the bad things than what’s behind the daily reset.)
Thing is, there are some inherent problems with doing this as an action piece. For one, it’s hard to be particularly concerned about the consequence of the action. We see the cop’s partner get shot? So what! She’ll return to life the next time our hero falls asleep.Â The only one for whom this is not true is our hero, who maintains any physical damage that he picks up along the way (which is oddly logical; the maintenance of memory comes from changes to the physical state of brain cells, so the same effect that maintains memories would maintain shaved hair and gunshot wounds.)
And the mystery is made to look big and complicated and conspiratirial, which seems more needed to drag our heroes research out for 13 hours rather than because it’s what best fits the mystery concept.
But they are doing one thing right – close to the start of the run, they started advertising that all of the secrets would be revealed by the end of the 13 hours (12 nights, with 2 hours the first night.) We’re seeing some of the long storyline shows of this season get cancelled quickly, before they can tell their tale… and I suspect it’s because people stop watching them because they suspect they will be cancelled before telling their tale. After seeing enough John Does, Reunions, and so forth, it can be hard to inspire confidence. Add that to shows like Lost where the key secrets are still years down the road, and one can see where it is hard to inspire confidence. Thirteen episodes, it’s easier to have confidence in.
But still, I don’t think I’ll be around for those episodes.