‘Remember Sunday’: starting from scratch every day

rememberThe Hallmark Hall of Fame romantic comedy-drama “Remember Sunday,” premiering tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC, has an unsettling premise that could have been used for a horror film with equal success.

The hero Gus (Zachary Levi) suffers from a brain condition that makes it impossible for him to hold on to any short term memory after a night’s sleep. So, he starts each day with a clean slate, and an apartment plastered with Post-Its that are designed to re-orient him.

We learn that Gus had a brain aneurysm three years earlier when he was a successful astronomer remember1in Los Angeles. Due to his condition, he is only able to hold down a much simpler job in a New Orleans jewelry store. He moved to Louisiana so that his old friends and family could look after him.

At this point viewers might wonder if they’re watching a romance or a more realistic variation on “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (without the pods).

Three years of romantic isolation end for Gus when pretty waitress Molly (the charming Alexis Bledel) is drawn to him for his gentle personality, his kindness and his good looks. She is annoyed and even angered, however, by what at first appears to be his extreme absent-mindedness.

It is to the credit of writer Barry Morrow and director Jeff Bleckner (in his long ago theater days, he won a Tony for David Rabe’s “Sticks and Bones”) that “Remember Sunday” doesn’t minimize Gus’ nightmarish condition.

We all talk about trying to “live in the moment” but Gus has been stuck in the same spot for three years by his inability to gain any ground with each new day. He gets by projecting unwavering niceness in almost everyone’s direction, but his situation makes it almost impossible to make new friends (if we don’t share memories with people, how can they become close friends?)

The two leads are very good and Bleckner keeps the saccharine quotient in check. The result is an unusually thought-provoking tale of romance. “Remember Sunday” also benefits from the realistic but beautiful New Orleans setting.

Joe Meyers