Repeat as Necessary

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s COLD out there today!

It’s cold out there everyday. What is this – Miami Beach?

Many people will recognize those lines as the ones that haunt Bill Murray in the classic 1993 flick, Groundhog Day. Every morning, his alarm clock goes off at exactly 6:00 am to the sound of “I Got You, Babe“. Then the DJs jump in and begin their traditional “morning-zoo” style banter.

With the real Groundhog Day just a few days away, I figured it would be fun to do a post about the best Groundhog Day-style movies out there.

But you know what?

So did every other blogger for the past ten years. Seriously, do a quick Google search of “Groundhog Day movies” and you’ll find a list of the same 15 films (ironically) repeated again and again.

So much for that…

Just for the record. Mine would be :

  1. Edge of Tomorrow
  2. Happy Death Day
  3. Source Code

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s COLD out there today!

It’s cold out there everyday. What is this – Miami Beach?

Many people will recognize those lines as the ones that haunt Bill Murray in the classic 1993 flick, Groundhog Day. Every morning, his alarm cock goes off at exactly 6:00 am to the sound of “I Got You, Babe“. Then the DJs jump in and begin their traditional “morning-zoo” style banter.

Hold on a minute – this seems familiar…

I had this idea to write about movies like Groundhog Day, but a bunch of others already have.

Hmmm – How strange….

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s COLD out there today!

It’s cold out there everyday. What is this – Miami Beach?

Many people will recognize those lines as the ones that haunt Bill Murray in the classic 1993 flick, Groundhog Day. Every morning, his alarm cock goes off at exactly 6:00 am to the sound of “I Got You, Babe“. Then the DJs jump in and begin their traditional “morning-zoo” style banter.

I’m having total deja vu here.

Oh man, it’s happening right now. I can’t get away from this post. It’s got me trapped inside a time loop. That’s what I get for watching all those movies back to back to back.

If they taught me anything, though, it’s how to escape. I just need to change my thinking and find a fresh approach to the original problem.

I need to put up a post and I can’t use the same things as everyone else, so I need to find something new. Instead of movies, I’ll look at TV shows. And a modern classic featured one of the best time loops ever.

Here goes nothing….

I was never a huge Star Trek fan. (I know – I probably just alienated a bunch of you.) Growing up, my brother used to watch the original series on a regular basis and it just bored the heck out of me. (Except for the Tribbles. I have probably seen The Trouble with Tribbles ten times.) I was always much more in the Star Wars camp vs. Star Trek… until they rebooted it.

These days, reboots are everywhere. Every week, the industry mags list yet another tired, often outdated, franchise that is getting a new coat of paint. Just today, they announced Mel Gibson & Danny Glover are coming back for Lethal Weapon 5.

I love those early Lethal Weapon movies. They are time-capsules, but do we need to see a 70-year old Danny Glover rehashing his own movie tropes? Hey Danny – you are finally allowed to say you’re too old for this s–t.

But in the mid-80’s, the idea was still fresh. Take a franchise that never got to live up to its full potential and do something new.

Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted on September 28, 1987 and ran for 178 episodes. A new, interesting cast led by the dynamic Capt Jean Luc Picard brought something fresh to the otherwise stale concept. It still wasn’t appointment television, but I watched a ton of episodes during their initial run. One in particular has always stuck with me.

Season Five’s Cause & Effect started off with a bang. The senior members of the crew are on the bridge facing a disaster. Lights flashing, sirens blaring as they try to assess the danger caused by a “spatial anomaly”.

Said anomaly turns out to be another StarFleet vessel. As they try to evade, the Enterprise collides with the other ship and explodes before they can evacuate. Cut to Black.

That’s just the pre-title sequence.

Obviously, we can’t kill off our heroes just like that, so when we come back from commercial, a few of the senior members are settled in for a poker game, and we see them interact and go about some regular business just like any other day. Suddenly, they are all called to the bridge to examine a “spatial anomaly”.

The explosion occurs again and then we’re right back to the poker game. The same cards are dealt, but this time, there’s some familiarity not only to us, but to the characters as well. They conduct their activities the normal way and before we know it, the same actions have caused the ship to explode once more.

Eventually, just like the best of these movies and shows, they realize they are caught in a loop and figure out a way to break out of it.

The thing I enjoy most about this kind of movie/episode is how they manage to make things fresh each time. Prior to filming, producers sent out one directive for the show. (A Prime Directive, perhaps?) The repeated moments each had to be shot a different way each time so viewers wouldn’t just think they were watching a clip show.

Jonathan Frakes (who also played Commander Riker on the series) directed the episode and claimed that was the toughest part. Some moments are repeated five times and they could seem stale, so he shot from opposite corners, over shoulders, etc., to keep it looking unique.

In a way, doing the same scenes over was comforting. It was fun to come up with different takes and to think how I could get that glass to break each time. …Finding those little nuggets and pathways and weave through as we were structuring it – that was a terrific challenge.

Writer Brannon Braga

The story itself, though was well-written. A subject like time travel/time loops/etc can be a tough thing to write well. It’s far too easy to go over the top with explanation and scientific gibberish. Here, it was kept simple enough that it didn’t bog anything down.

By the end, after the final loop, a ship was able to escape from the anomaly and we find it was one that hasn’t been seen for many years. Almost ninety years. That’s more than twice as long as Bill Murray was caught in the Groundhog Day loop. (A few smart types have calculated his total time at about 34 years.)

And, like many movies that I mentioned earlier, this is often compared to Groundhog Day even though it came out a year earlier. But, given time loops and all, maybe it was actually later….

Once the Enterprise crew is able to contact the lost ship, we see a familiar face on the bridge:

Kelsey Grammar took a break from everyone’s favorite Boston pub to appear as Captain Morgan Bateson in his only Star Trek appearance. This was filmed during the second-to-last season of Cheers. Sadly, the TNG producers weren’t able to get another Cheers alum to reprise her role as Saavik from The Wrath of Khan.

Depending on who you ask, she was either unavailable or wanted too much money to just stand behind Frasier. It’s a shame, though – that would have been fun to see.

One final word about this episode involves explosions. Because of the nature of the episode, the producers got to do something they often couldn’t – actually blow stuff up. Usually, if they had to “blow up” a ship on the show, they would just superimpose an explosion over stock footage of the ship and that was that.

This time, though, because they wanted different angles and a real show stopper, they built four models, filled them up with pyrotechnics and let ’em rip.

By the way, Picard returned the favor a few years later on Frasier:

So, that’s Cause and Effect. Hopefully, this entry was enough to let me get away from here. Otherwise, I may be here a while.

Oh, crap…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.