3 March 2012 | j-davidc13
Awake is the story of Michael Britten, a police detective who is in a terrible car crash which has claimed at least one of his family. The premise of the show is that Michael does not know which one, his wife or his son, died in the crash. His mind has split into two realities, one in which his wife survived, and other in which his son did.
The pilot episode was very well made and engrossing. The two realities make for tricky and complicated television viewing: each has different police cases. and different character dynamics for Michael to navigate. There also seem to be links between the two worlds, as if Michael's mind is using one world to solve the problems of the other, but which is real and which the illusion is not known. I really enjoyed the different twists and turns, especially in the psychiatry scenes where Michael discusses his dilemma with two different psychiatrists, each with similar yet opposed theories about each other.
The show has an excellent cast. Jason Isaacs (probably best known to American audiences as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series) is brilliant as the tortured lead. Laura Allen (The 4400) is likewise very sympathetic as his wife. Wilmer Valderrama (That 70s Show) gets a chance to flex his dramatic muscles as Michael's partner in one world, while Steve Harris (The Practice) is a very different partner in the other. Lastly, Cherry Jones and BD Wong both excel as Michael's dueling psychiatrists.
One thing the show needs is an injection of a bit of action, or something to lighten the tragedy a bit. Dealing as it does with loss and grief and fractured psyches, it's a bit heavy, and will need something to keep an audience entertained along with the intrigue. It also has the unfortunate problem of hanging its hat on something extremely unlikely: that a cop who has admitted to no longer having a grip on reality would be allowed to keep doing his job. (This problem, however, hasn't stopped House from having a successful run, so...)
Overall I thought Awake was well-made and well-acted, with a strong story and very interesting twist that made it even more enjoyable. It's a welcome addition to my list of shows to watch. Rating: 3.5/5 Recommendation: Watch it!