I’ve been hearing obsessive things about NBC’s drama Awake since last summer. I’ve patiently been waiting for months and tonight, the pilot episode premieres at 10/9 C. Because I lack any semblance of patience, I’ve already watched the episode online (you can find it here if you don’t want to wait) and I’ve got a few things to say about the show.
The premise is solid.
If you’ve seen the promos, you know that Awake is high concept. A man and his family get in a car crash and in one reality, his wife survives and in the other reality, his son does. This foundation makes a great starting point for all kinds of quandaries. What will the long-term impact be on his psyche? How will the alternate reality affect his current reality? How will his therapists deal with his continued insistence that both are real? And doesn’t he ever feel like taking a nap?
The cast is stellar.
Stellar, I tell you! Jason Isaacs plays Michael Britten and the torture that he’s going through is present in his every action. Line readings that might skew cheesy come out as emotional and heart-wrenching. There’s a scene where, for a split second, he doesn’t know which reality he lives in and the panic conveyed in those few moments feels entirely genuine. His wife, Hannah (Laura Allen), is working through the grief of losing her son in a very different way from her husband. You almost resent her for her callousness, even though you know that’s not the case and then you feel bad for her all over again. The boy, Rex (Dylan Minnette), is so sweet and grief-stricken that all you want to do is give him a hug. I’m also a fan of the alternate therapists (B.D. Wong and Cherry Jones) and I look forward to getting to know his work partners (Wilmer Valderrama and Steve Harris) a little bit better.
There’s something in the show for everyone.
What I appreciated most was that the pilot episode felt balanced in the three areas of police procedural, family drama, and sci-fi intrigue. Michael’s detective work seems to be connected between his two lives, which is really cool even if we don’t have very many answers about why any of this is happening. The family drama is fantastic because he wants so badly to hold on to his wife and his son, even though it’s taking a toll on his home life and work life. And the dual-life aspect raises a lot of questions, but does so in a way that you’re ready and willing to go along for the ride to find answers.
The showrunner has a young, yet acclaimed history.
Kyle Killen, the creator, wrote the critically acclaimed Lone Star. Unfortunately, Lone Star didn’t make it past a few episodes. He also wrote the Mel Gibson feature, The Beaver, from last summer. I’m invested to see what else he can come up with.
Don’t get too attached.
I say that firmly tongue-in-cheek, because you should absolutely be watching this show. But in all honestly, it’s a tough timeslot and the shows that preceded Awake on NBC (Prime Suspect, The Firm) didn’t fare so well. So it’s up to you (yes, you!) to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Do you plan on watching? Come back tonight and let us know what you thought!