Day Break

At some point in the past couple years, Karen (and possibly other people) recommended a fairly obscure 2006 TV series called Day Break. I took a look at it in mid-2012 and was immediately hooked.

(Btw, the series has nothing at all to do with vampires, which I mention only because everyone I mention the title to immediately asks if it's a vampire show.)

The starting point of the premise is that an LA police detective, excellently played by Taye Diggs, is framed for murder. But there's a great sfnal twist that doesn't happen until halfway through the first episode, and I'm not going to say any more than that about the plot in case any of you who haven't seen it want to watch it without spoilers.

Well, okay, I imagine that some of you who don't care about spoilers will need more impetus than that to watch it. So here's my rot-13-encoded high-concept description of the premise: “Tebhaqubt Qnl nf n cbyvpr qenzn.” But I recommend watching the first episode before decoding that sentence; I really liked experiencing the twist along with the protagonist.

There are only thirteen episodes. The show was canceled after about six episodes; the remaining seven eps weren't broadcast, but were eventually released on DVD. Fortunately, the main storyline does come to a satisfying conclusion in the final episode, though its intriguing hints about what would've happened in the second season remain, alas, unresolved.

I loved the whole series. It's well-written, smart, and stylishly edited, with a compelling mystery and good characters, and some surprisingly good emotional bits. It's one of the few sf shows I've encountered with a black man as the protagonist. It has good female characters. The sfnal aspect is deeply integrated into the structure and plot, and handled very well. And if that's not enough to convince you, Adam “Jayne” Baldwin plays another cop.

The theme of the titles of the episodes is also great, but kinda spoilery; if you can avoid looking at the titles until after you've seen the pilot, I recommend doing that.

So, you may be asking, how can I watch this show?

Unfortunately, that's not so easy. It used to be available on Netflix streaming, but apparently isn't any longer. It also used to be available on Netflix DVD, but they've bizarrely stopped carrying the first of the four discs, and I beg you not to try to start watching this show in the middle.

So another option would be to buy the series on DVD. On the plus side, you can get the whole series on DVD for under $10 at Amazon. On the minus side, almost everywhere that sells it sells the unfortunate 2-disc version of the series, which crams all thirteen episodes onto two discs, which I gather results in extremely low-quality video and audio.

So I have only two three approaches left to recommend:

  • (Added a couple hours after first publishing this entry.) It's available on Hulu Plus! It's totally worth a one-month paid subscription to Hulu Plus (which I think costs about $8?) to watch this series.
  • Find and purchase the 4-disc version of the series. I have no idea whether any of the copies available on Amazon are the 4-disc version. There are also several copies available on eBay, but they currently appear to all be the 2-disc version.
  • If you know me (or someone else who owns it) and are local, ask to borrow the 4-disc version.

It was already frustrating enough that this great show got cancelled; it's perhaps even more frustrating that the people who own the show are making it so difficult to see a high-recording-quality version of it. Why did Netflix take it down? Why is the first disc no longer available from Netflix? I have no idea.

Anyway, if you get a chance to watch the series, I highly recommend it. It's in my top five favorite shows from the past few years, and in my top ten favorite shows of all time.

2 Responses to “Day Break”

  1. plantgirl

    I just checked and Netflix currently has all 4 discs (November, 2014). I have added them to my queue, and am (only sorta) looking at you all squinty-eyed and annoyed because I’m trying to get my queue to zero so I can cancel the DVD portion of my account.

    • Jed

      Glad to hear Netflix has the first disc again! But it’s worth noting that if you don’t want to watch on Netflix DVDs, Hulu Plus still has the whole series, and I think it’s still only $8 for a month’s membership, which might be cheaper than Netflix DVDs, not sure.


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