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Sub shows make reruns look good

Chuck Barney
Contra Costa Times

It's one thing to have a really bad day, but it's quite another to endure the same bad day over and over and over. That might be enough to tire out even the tireless Jack Bauer.

In the new high-concept thriller, "Day Break," Taye Diggs is the beleaguered victim of repetitive stress. He plays Brent Hopper, a Los Angeles cop who gets framed for murder and then is inexplicably put through a series of instant replays -- assembling the puzzle as he goes. Blend "Groundhog Day" with "24" and you get the general idea.

"Day Break," which is subbing for "Lost" on ABC until February, is one of two new replacement shows debuting this week. The other is "3 Lbs.," a CBS drama starring Stanley Tucci as a brilliant, but icy-cold, neurosurgeon who keeps his patients and co-workers at arm's length. The title refers to the weight of an adult brain -- though we've discovered in our daily dealings that size does vary.

"Day Break" starts out well enough. It's another glorious morning in L.A. as Diggs awakens next to his beautiful girlfriend, with whom he proceeds to build up quite a lather during a steamy shower scene. All in all, not a bad start to the day.

But things quickly begin to go awry. He cuts himself shaving. He breaks his girlfriend's soap dish. He returns to his apartment to find it ransacked. Oh, and then comes the biggie: He's arrested for the murder of District Attorney Alberto Garza. It's enough to make you want to jump back in bed and start all over again, which is exactly what our buffed-up hero does. Each time he reawakens, he's armed with a little more information and tries to approach the day a little differently in an effort to nail the culprit. In the process, he gets beat up a lot, things get blown up and people get shot.

There is much initial intrigue to the handsomely crafted "Day Break." But it gradually melts away into a murky mess of confusion, excessive violence and tedium. And though the show tries its best to hold your attention -- mainly through amped-up action scenes and numerous shots of a shirtless Diggs -- its concept ultimately wears thin as we're forced to relive this awful day ad nauseam.

All of which brings us to a bit of irony: ABC put "Lost" on an extended hiatus to avoid dealing with growing complaints over a litany of reruns. But they've replaced it with a show that -- when you boil it all down -- is one long, relentless rerun.

It doesn't take substantial brain power to figure out the inspiration behind the lead character in "3 Lbs." Tucci's Dr. Doug Hanson is basically a "House" clone -- a medical dynamo who is in a league of his own, but has a lousy bedside manner. To him, his job is all about dealing with "wires in a box." Nothing more. Nothing less.

In Tuesday's ho-hum pilot episode, we learn that Hanson's socially stunted attitude will meet much resistance in the form of young Dr. Jonathan Seger (Mark Feuerstein). He's Hanson's newly hired protege and he -- you guessed it -- has a much more touchy-feely approach when it comes to dealing with patients.

The relationship between the men has a generic feel to it, and though Tucci is a stellar actor, his character and performance doesn't contain nearly the amount of texture and/or magnetic power of Hugh Laurie on "House."

When placed on the scale of quality TV, "3 Lbs." simply fails to carry enough weight.

___

SERIES PREMIERES

WHAT: "3 Lbs."

WHEN: 9 p.m. EST Tuesday, CBS

GRADE: C-plus

WHAT: "Day Break"

WHEN: 9 p.m. EST Wednesday, ABC

GRADE: B-minus

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