When I heard there was a new show called Daybreak about a dystopian high school world, with gangs of 4Hers for example, I predicted cancellation. I didn’t notice it was Netflix, so the business model is different, but the premise was just too weird to renew. I figured it was probably some form of Divergent or Hunger Games.
Nope, the show draws from six separate sources:
- The show takes place after a nuclear attack, which is generic for any number of sources;
- It steals a page from Star Trek back in the Original Series, from an episode in season 1 called Miri. In it, all the grown-ups (called “grups” in the ST show) are killed by a disease. In Daybreak, they are either dead or have all turned into zombies who keep repeating the last thought they had which is annoyingly mundane (i.e., as one attacks, she keeps repeating a desire to get yoga pants at Lululemon);
- Add in a little bit of Red Dawn, where the kids have to defend themselves;
- Pull out the name-dropped Mad Max costumes, vehicles, and marauding gangs;
- Drop a pinch of the Warriors (there is a direct homage scene where five kids are inviting them out to “play” in the streets); and,
- Give it a light-hearted main character narrating directly to the camera like Ferris Bueller. They even have him in roll call having his name called…”Josh Wheeler? Wheeler? Wheeler?”.
That is one hodge-podge of a show premise. There’s even a backstory Princess Bride moment going on in there too.
So, fast plot…Josh was the new kid in town and fell in love with the girl who the Principal assigned to show him around, a human “sorting hat” to help him figure out where he fit in. Then the bomb went off, adults were killed, he was separated from the girl, Sam, and now he’s spent several months trying to find her. All the kids have divided up into varying gangs (kind of like high-school cliques on steroids) all over Glendale, and he is trying to remain unaligned so he can find the girl. Two kids he knew in high school, and never liked, join his quest.
Josh is played by Colin Ford, and while he has done lots of cameos in shows I’ve watched, none of them were memorable. He’s pretty good, has a bit of gravitas in the scenes, accentuated by his narration directly into the camera at times. It worked for Ferris Bueller, it works here. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s NOT super Josh, or some MacGyver getting by on his wits…he’s a C student, not super good at anything, but he’s looking for his true love, Sam, played by Sophie Simnett. A relative newcomer, I’ve never seen her in any of the handful of credits she has, but she sparkles in her limited role. The “English” accent doesn’t hurt.
The two people joining Josh on the quest are Alyvia Alyn Lind as a 10-year-old kid he used to babysit who is also a pyromaniac. I’ve seen her before as the young Amanda from the show Revenge, but she never had much to do in the show, it was almost all silent flashback. Here she has lines, but nothing exceptional or challenging, just watchable. Felt like I was watching Spy Kids or something. She’s joined by Austin Crute as a sword-obsessed pacifist who is along for the ride. Okay, not too challenging though.
Other people are running around, but hard to tell how big a role they’ll have. Matthew Broderick (yes, Ferris Bueller) is in the show as the Principal, and all of his scenes are in flashback (at least in Ep1). No idea what happens to him after the bomb goes off.
Sooooo, is it awesome? No. But it is certainly not like anything else on TV. And I have to confess, oddly watchable. The lighter side is eminently watchable, while the dystopian universe is kind of meh. Nevertheless, I’ll probably watch. But if it wasn’t on Netflix, I’d have to go with my original prediction of cancellation.