Taye Diggs, <EM>Day Break</EM> Taye Diggs, Day Break

Decisions... consequences. Decisions... consequences. Such is the mantra of the master villain dogging Taye Diggs in ABC's Day Break (premiering tonight at 9 pm/ET, with a two-hour episode). The serialized thriller has a nifty edge: Diggs' Detective Brett Hopper is forced to relive the same disastrous framed-for-murder/lady love-in-peril day over and over (and over...), until he can somehow "get it right." No easy feat, as Hopper comes to discover that it will be nearly impossible to crack the conspiracy which ensnares him and save the life of his honey, Rita (Eight Below's Moon Bloodgood). Just when he thinks he has solved one sticky wicket — say, eluding capture by crooked fellow cops — he realizes that the stranger he saved from getting hit by a bus the "day before" wasn’t so lucky this time around. Or, he saves Rita, only to stand by helplessly as someone else dear to him gets snuffed. Not until Hopper dots all the I's and crosses all the T's will his alarm clock flip to 6:18 am on a new morning.

In taking the audience along on this wild, 24-meets-Groundhog Day ride, Diggs (Kevin Hill, Ally McBeal) tells TVGuide.com that he sees a huge challenge before him to "sustain, emotionally, where this character has to be because of the circumstances that he is stuck in. Day after day, dealing with stakes so high — his girlfriend's life is at risk, as is the rest of his family — is definitely a challenge."

One of the very few "rules" within Day Break's compelling conceit is that Hopper's memories, as well as injuries suffered, carry over from one "day" to the next, making it difficult at times to explain, say, a blood-soaked bedsheet, or how Hopper knows that Internal Affairs will try to "flip" his partner (Mutant X's Victoria Pratt). But that is about all one needs to know going into the pilot or joining in midway. "Once you accept the fact that the day is repeating itself, it allows us to open up and tell many stories that you cannot tell in other TV shows," says executive producer Matthew Gross. "For example, Rita gets killed in the pilot, but she comes back. In a normal series, you can't do that. You can't kill one of your main characters and have her return in the same episode."

Lest anyone suspect that Day Break, by definition, will repeat the same scenes and dialogue time and time again, rest assured that every tweak to Hopper's routine — every zig he makes when the day before he zagged — has a ripple of ramifications, altering not only his own story but the entire canvas of characters, which includes Rita's ex (Full Metal Jacket's Adam Baldwin), Hopper's foil at the department; Hopper's sister (JAG's Meta Golding), who seems to be at risk of domestic abuse; and a pair of detectives (Mitch Pileggi, Ian Anthony Dale) determined to nail Hopper for the murder of a DA.

"The day is the same.... But it's never the same," avows Gross. "There's nothing repetitive about the show. Rather, what's great about it is that in every episode, the audience is going to get a 'cookie,' a clue, a reward for watching. They’ll be given a piece of the puzzle, one I doubt they will figure out until they reach the last episode in which we will solve the mystery and the day will end."

You read that right: Gross has concrete plans for this very bad day of Hopper's to be wrapped up by the conclusion of Day Break's initial, 13-episode run. And then, for Season 2? Like 24, "It's going to be a different day — three months later, six months later — but when it starts happening again, he knows that there is the potential to get himself out of it," Gross tells us. "And he will be that much more motivated to figure out what is 'broken' in the day."

One mystery that will never be addressed, however, is just why Hopper is mired in this looping existence. "The show is not about the why," says Gross. "You just have to accept the concept, and once you do, it allows us to tell these stories with unbelievable entertainment value. Why is he being framed for murder? Why was the DA killed? What does Hopper have to do to save his girlfriend? This is not just about a guy running down the street, trying to solve a conspiracy. It's full of emotion and relationships, great relationships. And for those reasons, it really pulls at your heartstrings. That’s why I think it will be very appealing to women, and it's appealing to men because of the action."

But will it appeal to fans of that little, temporarily displaced show called Lost? TVGuide.com asked Gross if the bosses of that thriller, now on a mid-season hiatus, had any notes for him on how not to screw up their precious time slot. "No, but if they had any, we'd be happy to hear them!" he answers with a laugh. "We would be lucky to be as successful as that great show."

ABC's Day Break airs Wednesdays at 9 pm/ET.

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