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Revisiting Taye Diggs In 2006 Canceled ABC Series 'Day Break'

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
August 27, 2012 4:32 PM
26 Comments
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I didn't watch this TV series when it originally aired in 2006, and I stumbled across it this weekend, while browsing through Netflix titles. And, remembering it, I decided to watch it, and ended up watching all 13 episodes over the weekend. 

It's not often that a major TV network like ABC, airs an action/suspense/drama series, featuring a black man as the central figure. So, I had to check it out, if only to satisfy my curiosity. 

And I must say that I actually enjoyed the series, despite all the negative reactions to it. 

In short, in Day BreakTaye Diggs starred as Detective Brett Hopper; and let's just say homeboy is having a really bad day - one that keeps repeating, over, and over, and over again, as he works feverishly to uncover a vast political conspiracy, with him at the center of it all.

Accused of killing Asst. DA Alberto Garza, he has an alibi, but no one believes him. When he realizes that he has been framed, he tries to run away but has to stop when he learns that his loved ones are also in danger. But one morning, he wakes up and relives the same day over and over again.

To stop this cycle, solve the mystery and have a normal life, he must find out who framed him.

Caught in this vicious, seemingly never-ending cycle, are his girlfriend Rita Shelten (Moon Bloodgood), her ex-husband and Hopper's ex-partner, Chad Shelten (Adam Baldwin), Hopper's sister, Jennifer Mathis (Meta Golding), Hopper's partner, Andrea Battle (Victoria Pratt), gang leader Damien Ortiz (Ramon Rodriguez), and other co-conspirators - each with their own secrets that are all connected to Detective Hopper's attempts to uncover the truth, free himself, and see tomorrow.

The series' seemingly complex structure, gradually comes together with each successive episode, and I must admit that I was engaged. The first episode didn't immediately hook me, but I decided to stick with it, and see how it all develops. 

And I'm glad I did, because it got better with each episode. The audience knows what Hopper knows; as he discovers new truths with each repetition of the same day, we also discover the same truths, and it's almost as if we are all working together to get to the bottom of it all.

There was enough intrigue and suspense to keep me watching from one episode to the next, and the entire production was well put together, from the acting (Taye Diggs as everyman, Joe-cop, caught in a wide, messy web of names, faces, actions, words, trying to link them all together; it took a couple of episodes for me to start believing he was this Fugitive-type tough guy character, likely because I'd never seen him in a role like this prior; but eventually, I bought his performance), to the show's production values, the writing, etc.

It all worked for me. But apparently, it didn't for those who were watching it when it was on the air, because ratings for the series reportedly rapidly declined with each episode, and it was canceled by ABC after only 6 episodes; the remaining episodes were subsequently made available online at ABC.com.

Viewers for the show averaged 6.5 million, which wasn't super, but not shabby either. By comparison, Shonda Rhimes' Scandal averaged around 7 million viewers during its first season. So, would Day Break's 6.5 million be enough to keep it on the air today?

Interestingly, TV One picked up the series, and aired all 13 episodes from March through April, 2008 - including the remaining 7, which had never been seen on television, since ABC canceled the series after 6 episodes, and aired the rest on its website.

The season wrapped up quite nicely, so I don't immediately see what they could've done with a second season, if one was greenlit, had the show been a bigger hit for ABC. The mystery is solved, Detective Hopper's Ground Hog day drama ends, as he eventually wakes up *tomorrow,* and all seems well. There were a couple of loose ends, but I'm not sure there was enough there for another 13-episode season.

However, maybe the creators already had ideas for a season 2, just in case...

But, as I said, I dug it. Nothing mind-blowing, but good enough to hold my interest. It's certainly much better than NBC's stale Undercovers was. Definitely more edge, and, overall, better-written and acted.

Maybe watching it today, after 6 years, makes a difference... I don't know. But I didn't catch it back in 2006, so I can't compare experiences.

If you skipped it, I say give Day Break a look; it's streaming on Netflix right now. And if you did see it - whether only 1 episode, or all 13 - what did you think of it?

Here's a look (I believe this was the intro for episode 7):

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26 Comments

  • Stacy | March 14, 2014 2:07 AMReply

    I saw a few episodes when it aired and liked it. I saw it in the store for $5 and couldn't pass it up. I watched the whole collection in a couple of days. Loved it

  • Tim | June 10, 2013 5:06 PMReply

    Was really good...

  • Len | October 20, 2012 7:01 PMReply

    I did the same thing! I just saw this show recently, it's freaking good. I got hooked right away and watched the whole thing in 3 days. I want moar

  • archangel2020 | August 28, 2012 9:21 PMReply

    It was a pretty good show but the U.S. needs to get away from the concept of blockbuster shows, it just doesn't happen these days with the choices available to viewers. They need to to go to the UK model of limited series, that may come back every so often. Just my two cents worth.

  • Roddric | August 28, 2012 7:56 PMReply

    'Day Break' was my show! Luckily, ABC Studios and Mill Creek Home Entertainment did right by the fans and released a DVD set loaded with bonus features. A show very similar in nature in terms of supernatural suspense and most importantly diversity would be the on-going webseries "Osiris" starring "Tyler Perry's For Better Or Worse" star Brad James. Check it out here: www.osiristheseries.com

  • Charles Judson | August 28, 2012 4:14 PMReply

    If I remember correctly, the show actually debuted with almost 11 million viewers and by the time it was canceled had dropped to around 3 million viewers. If the show had averaged 6 million viewers, it would have likely at least gotten a second shot. With DVR numbers, it's a show that with 6 million would have probably hit 8 or 9 million if it could have held on. It's another show, like THE EVENT, that didn't really raise the stakes in the first few episodes. As a commentor posted at the time "the bad guys aren't really that bad," combine that with a conceit that most of Diggs' actions don't have lasting consequences except on himself, it makes the start of the show more interesting than dramatically compelling. However, I liked DAY BREAK and thought it was a really well done show and agree that once it gets around episode 3 or 4 it starts to take off. THE EVENT started out as a convoluted underwhelming mess and progressed to just underwhelming once they dropped the flashbacks. It was an undercooked 4400, LOST, 24 hybrid that seemed to have been plotted and premised by TV exec notes.

  • Charles Judson | August 28, 2012 9:59 PM

    You are dead on, V was frustrating to watch as well and stole HEROES' craptacular plotting crown.

  • Akimbo | August 28, 2012 4:41 PM

    Yeah, The Event lost me as soon as they revealed the aliens angle, Flashforward when the characters kept making huge deals out of underwhelming events/information, and V when nothing really happened outside of the first episode. Definitely enjoyed Daybreak more than all of those, though none measure up to Lost, even at its dumbest

  • Tamara | August 28, 2012 3:08 PMReply

    I hated this show wasn't given a chance. I found it in a bargain bin for 3 bucks and purchased and watched it in a weekend and LOVED IT. It was a solid feature; very entertaining and as someone said, each episode built upon the last. Critics, fans, anti-fans, fandoms with their quick assessments and snap/smug judgments (re: AV's comment) spooked the network into cancelling. Had they let this show ride a little... But that song has been sung before and for so many series: "Firefly" (as someone below mentioned), "Profit" (circa 1992/93...a show wayyy before its time; an excellent show also available on dvd), etc. I just recently rented "Flash Forward", another series (not too unlike "Daybreak" in that it deals with quantum mechanics or physics or something) that was hyped up and subsequently shot down and terminated at the end of its tenure due in part to: 1) hype 2) story - jumping the shark 3) playing to fandom by upping the story arc of one character over others (joseph fiennes' character), etc. "The Event" starring Blair Underwood was equally hyped and doomed, imo, coming in on the tales of "Flash Forward" and "Lost" (its series finale), and containing similar themes of science. Its problem was that it suffered from "pose-the-question-provide-the-answer-kill-the-mystery-in-the-first-episode(s)"...itis. But I ramble and digress. "Daybreak" was a solid show; one that I may eventually marathon-view again when given the time and mood. Thanks for highlighting.

  • Whitney | August 28, 2012 2:54 PMReply

    I watched it a year or so ago on a friend's recommendation. I enjoyed it! It may have fared better if it aired a few years later on a cable channel, like Syfy or FX.

  • Jye Brown | August 28, 2012 9:41 AMReply

    I saw this show back in 2006 when it originally aired on ABC. I absolutely loved it! As the writer of this story points out, it got better with each additional episode; however, I knew it was gonna be cancelled because mainstream television will not allow a black person to have a lead role on a show. Thank God for cable because eventually, cable will dominate the airwaves and the major networks will soon have to bow down and make better series for people of color. I don't have access to TVOne or Netflix so I'll have to buy the series on DVD (which now that you mention it, I saw it in Wally World (Wal-Mart) this past weekend and I will go back and get it). I forgot how much I actually like the show and Taye Diggs did a great job as the guy who couldn't seem to wake up and have a good day. Watch it if you get a chance.

  • ALM | August 27, 2012 9:15 PMReply

    I watched the show when it was on. It really keeps you going, watching Taye's character learn from the previous version of that day to try to make changes for the next version of that day. I'm not sure where Taye's career is going in the future. Bring up his name now a days, and you find that a lot of people feel "some kind of way" about him.

  • ALM | August 28, 2012 2:39 PM

    @ Jye: I do watch "Private Practice" from time to time. I like Shonda Rhime's work. As I stated, I like Taye. I can't control those who don't like him.

  • Jye Brown | August 28, 2012 9:43 AM

    God you guys, Taye is on Private Practice, a show I guess you're not watching as well. That too is a good show. Support your black television shows people---support us.

  • ALM | August 28, 2012 4:46 AM

    @ Rod: I like Taye, but there are some people who don't care for him at all anymore due to statements he has made to magazines over the years. I believe there were several expectations for him both socially and professionally when "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" was released, and some people believe that he failed to meet those expectations. I won't go into details as to what those expectations were.

  • Rod | August 27, 2012 10:55 PM

    Alm: What "kind of way" are people feeling about him?

  • AccidentalVisitor | August 27, 2012 7:56 PMReply

    Very good show. When it first aired it has its share of detractors. There were the "Lost" fans who were mad that the show was supposed to air for twelve or so weeks while Lost was on a hiatus (a new strategy at that time by ABC with the show). "Lost" fans were adamant about not supporting the Daybreak, they'd rather watch "Lost" repeats instead and thus stayed away in droves. There were the TV critics who all felt the need to compare the show negatively to "Groundhog Day" in virtually every review. These critics only saw the first two or three eps and made a snap judgment. A smug snap judgment at that. The thing is the first few eps were good but still probably the weakest of the show. Those three episodes did have a bit of "Groundhog" element in 'em. But once past that point the writers of the show were clever in how they kept changing how Digg's character went about his day. Each episode came across as fresh despite the setup so it wasn't as if you were looking at the same storyline everytime out. Plus the mystery and deepened and the overall arc became stronger. In other words just as Scandal was dismissed early on until it found its footing and got stronger, Daybreak also improved as it went along. Almost every review I come across from critics and fans alike seem to agree on this issue. The original audience missed out on the best stuff because the last seven hours were only aired online....back when folks were still not used to watching TV in that fashion. Alas I must point out another group of people who may have stayed away were black women. There was one online article (I believe it was a black media website) which focused on black female TV viewers who were turned off because Diggs' leading lady was an Asian woman, and it quoted a handful of black women to back up this point. Of course gathering the viewpoints of a limited number of black women is not exactly concrete evidence that this was indeed the case, but I had a feeling that there was at least some truth to this. After all I personally knew of black women who indeed were ticked off about this (even though some of these very same women were/are passionate about that Jada Pinkett nurse show and "Scandal" as well in which the lead black females are not doting on any black guys). Then again most black dudes didn't seem to know about the show at all so it is possible most black female viewers were in the dark too. Regardless I think it is fair to say "Daybreak" was not on many people's must-see list. I can't blame ABC for that, though. They did promos for "Daybreak" that were almost as good as movie trailers. The cast was uniformly good-looking, it was a world with an overabundance of pretty people. And while there may not have been any true great actors in the main cast they all performed their roles very well. The one whiff of disbelief though came in those moments in which Diggs' character was portrayed as some tough guy, some badass (especially when having to take down Baldwin's character who is like twice his size). Diggs was much better at showing his vulnerable side, his intelligence, his drive to solve the mystery while saving the people he loved. And Diggs' character was fully realized which means, when I'm referring to a black male character, that he had an actual healthy sex life that the show played up. Further proof, if any was needed, that the idea was originally created with a white male in mind. The casting of Diggs most likley led to the casting of the Asian (Eurasian) actress because the network was probably reluctant to pair Diggs with either a white or black actress for reasons discussed exhaustively before on this website. As a result this helped give the show one of the most diverse casts I've ever seen. Diggs' character had a sister who was one of the major characters and she had a husband on the show who was black as well. There was also a Latino gangleader who played a major role in pushing the plot forward. And one of the two main cops in charge of pursuing Diggs' character was an Asian male. And there were more minor albeit pivotal characters of color whom I haven't even mentioned. One can argue that with the exception of "Undercovers" no network show before or since has been so multicultural, especially considering that the main lead was not white. I wished the show had more success but as Tambay pointed out the final episode concludes the story almost perfectly. I only wish that its cult status was higher. To be blunt if the lead was a white male I have the sneaky suspicion the show would be more of a fan favorite. It is the type of show that SyFy could have purchased and reaired ala "Firefly." It is basically a high concept miniseries that SHOULD be played on that channel as much as those God awful Stephen King miniseries. I purchased the original DVD release of the series and it was worth every penny. Each show had a commentary track; a couple had more than one commentary track. The commentaries were typically a group of three or more people which could include the writers, producers, directors and actors. The cool thing is that the commentaries were all done by these people after the show was cancelled and yet everyone is having a blast reliving it. Clearly there was a lot of on-set and off-set chemistry amongst the crew. The show was a labor of love and everyone seemed to be proud of it. Unfortunately from what I've been told my version of the DVD set is no longer being sold. In its place is a new set with a smaller number of discs which means less commentary tracks. I'm just glad I got mine in time.

  • bob | May 29, 2013 11:31 PM

    actually shes not native american, shes korean and dutch

  • Akimbo | August 27, 2012 11:43 PM

    Black woman here, teenager at the time. I watched every episode, even remember how ABC.com posted the final episode edited incorrectly & all out of order. I enjoyed the show, but think the concept for the show was superior to the actual execution. Never cared about Moon's ethnicity and I'm tired of everyone acting like black women can't handle IR romances; typical scapegoating for larger issues.

  • Daniel | August 27, 2012 9:24 PM

    Actually Moon Bloodgood is Native American. I also thought the show was cancelled to quickly. Thanks for the heads-up that it's on Netflix.

  • Nicole | August 27, 2012 6:39 PMReply

    It seems that the Taye Diggs led tv shows suffer from poor marketing and promotion. It's like, the networks throw them out there and expect them to just...survive. I'm convinced that 'Scandal' would not be around if Shonda Rhimes wasn't the creator. Her name saved that show. Period. (saved it for another season at least)

    And please don't bring up 'Undercovers'. I'm still mad about how poorly NBC executed that one.

  • ALM | August 27, 2012 9:18 PM

    @ Nicole: I agree with your comment about Shonda Rhimes. It would be great for S & A to do a post on her impact and how she currently positively impacts the careers of actors of color. I keep telling people that the Isaiah Washington debacle would have gone MUCH worse (believe it or not) if Shonda had not been his boss. I truly believe that Shonda fights for diversity.

  • Helluva | August 27, 2012 6:33 PMReply

    Diggs has had a couple of good TV series in which he was the star. The one from UPN where he was an attorney, I believe, was also good TV.

  • Jason Pollard | August 27, 2012 5:18 PMReply

    A fantastic series that was cancelled way too early, before it got its footing. The last couple of eps were great, another good show gone too soon..

  • Lawrence Lee Wallace | August 27, 2012 4:57 PMReply

    The problem with network TV is, (as its always been) marketing. The clips that were showed to promote the show did not appeal to me at all. So I never tuned in, but as you said I watched the series online and it is actually good. They made the same mistake with the "Under Covers" series on NBC. Its like they take the most boring and uninteresting clips from the show and use them to market it then say the show did not work because black people don't want to see those type of shows.

  • Rod | August 27, 2012 4:55 PMReply

    I've never even heard of this show but the intro looks great; may have check out the 13 eps.

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