Daybreak Season 1 Review
High school outcast Josh is searching for his missing girlfriend in post apocalyptic Glendale. He's joined by a group of misfits Angelica and his former bully Wesley. On the way they'll face many weird things.
Format: 10 x 60 min episodes
Cast: Colin Ford, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Austin Crute, Matthew Broderick, Sophie Simnett, Gregory Kasyan, Krysta Rodriguez, Jeanté Godlock, Cody Kearsley
Directors: Brad Peyton, Michael Patrick Jann, Sherwin Shilati, Mark Tonderai-Hodges, Kate Herron
Writers: Brad Peyton, Aron Eli Coleite, Calaya Michelle Stallworth, Andy Black, Ira Madison III, Emily Fox, Jenn Kao
If you were to put Mad Max, Zombieland and a John Hughes movie into a blender and then sprinkled in some Arthurian legend and Asian warrior themes, you would get Daybreak. That combination could have easily become a bloated mess that collapses under its own weight, but creators Brad Peyton and Aron Eli Coleite have found the portions of each in this series based on Brian Ralph’s comic series.
Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford) used to be a C-student and an outsider at Glendale High School until a series of bombs hit America after an American President taunts his enemies (*cough*Trump*cough*). The bombs seem to have been filled with a biological that causes all adults to either dissolve into a puddle of goo or turn into a Ghoulie, which are pretty much zombies who say the last thing they were thinking. Now Josh is in his element as a survivalist in the apocalypse. With his trusty skateboard and his new found sword, Josh travels across the wastelands of Glendale in search of his lost love, Sam Dean (Sophie Simnett).
It is hard not to see the initial influence of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on the show, and I’m not meaning just that Matthew Broderick is in the series as the school principal. Right from the start, Josh smashes the fourth wall and talks to the camera, just like in the classic John Hughes film. There is a general fun vibe through the series which mixes it up just when you think you know how it is going to continue with other character’s getting to narrate episodes, or choose to have RZA narrate for them (yes, seriously), or experience sitcom-styled flashbacks. Not every chance hits the mark but you have to appreciate the chances the show is taking.
Daybreak has a pretty stellar collection of characters to utilize. Early on, Josh rescues Angelica (Alyvia Alyn Lind) from a gang of golfers with modified golf clubs and golf cart, mistaking her for Sam. Angelica is 10 year old highly unstable kid genius who Josh used to babysit and also created a collection of slime drugs and somehow has a flamethrower. Soon after, the pair bump into Josh’s former bully, now reformed pacifist samurai Wesley (Austin Crute). The trio join forces and come to rely on each other as they try to stay one step ahead of Turbo Bro Jock (Cody Kearsley), the bloodthirsty mute leader of the Jocks, a tribe of the best athletes who are unrivaled in both brawn and viciousness. Josh’s quest to find Sam leads them to the Greendale Mall where they encounter Eli Cardashyan (Gregory Kasyan), an annoyingly goofy guy who has managed to take over the entire mall with a series of booby traps that it seems he has taken from Looney Tunes cartoons. There is one with an anvil, an anvil! They also come across the former biology teacher Miss Crumble (Krysta Rodriguez) who hasn’t turned into a complete ghoulie yet.
There are a lot of good performances with Colin Ford doing a good job as the lead. He is pretty charming and comes across as very likable which makes a reveal later in the season hard to accept, something that could turn people against the character. Alyvia Alyn Lind is enjoyable as Angelica in a performance reminiscent of Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit Girl in Kick Ass, but with a much more soft centre. Matthew Broderick looks like he’s having a blast as Principal Burr, who may not be as nice as he first appears. Sophie Simnett is used sparingly but does enough to make us understand why Josh would be scouring the wasteland in search of Sam. In episode eight, “Post Mates”, Simnett is given a chance to give Sam more layers in an episode solely focused on Josh and Sam’s last day before the apocalypse.
The world of Daybreak is quite interesting with the high school students breaking into different tribes and staking their own claims over the suburb of Glendale. The Jocks are the main group we get to know as the main adversaries to our protagonists. They all wear Mad Max-style uniforms made from sports outfits, with the exception of the Golf team who just wear golf clothes and work as comic relief. The other tribe we get a good look at is The Cheermazons, a tribe of powerful warrior women who are also very interestingly costumed. The production design across the board is very well done. A prison guarded by the boogieman-like figure Baron Triumph is a very cool set built in an old cereal factory.
While Daybreak doesn’t always hit the mark, it is so ambitious and weird that it is hard not to want to see what it does next. We have seen a multitude of zombie apocalypse shows before but Daybreak’s style and cast of characters make it one well worth your time.
Daybreak releases on Netflix 24th October 2019
Advance screeners provided for review