By Kimberly Rosales |Staff Writer|
“Awake,” a high-concept fantasy crime drama, is the latest thriller to grace the NBC television lineup.
The show, which premiered March 1, will be replacing “The Firm” due to the latter’s less-than-stellar ratings.
The show stars Jason Isaacs as Detective Michael Britten, who was in a fatal car accident with his wife, Hannah (Laura Allen) and son, Rex (Dylan Minnette). After the fatal crash, Britten discovers that every time he goes to sleep, he switches between two alternating realities.
Britten lives one life in which his wife lives and his son died and another in which his son lives and his wife died. The detective’s alternating lives go beyond his family and touches upon other aspects of his life, including his career.
Britten has different colleagues in each reality and the crimes he investigates share similarities but at the same time are completely different from one another.
He remains uncertain which of the two realities, if either, is real. He, and others around him, begins to question his sanity when details begin to cross over.
Though the concept of “Awake” is somewhat complicated to follow, the pilot episode made it understandable for viewers tuning in.
Differentiating color palettes (warm tones for the living wife and cool tones for the living son) help the viewers recognize which reality Britten is living and it also lets viewers experience it themselves.
The pilot for “Awake” was highly intriguing and it does a great job of keeping the viewer interested.
Though it spent a lot of time focusing on the emotional/mental toll on Britten, it did a good job of integrating the “Crime TV” aspect seamlessly without taking away from the emotional investment viewers immediately develop with the main character.
A potential strength for the show is that even though Detective Britten will continuously work crime scenes, which adds a “CSI” element, his character development will most likely become very multi-faceted.
When Britten is forced to consider which of the realities is the actual one, he is compelled to accept that he either lost the love of his life or his reason for living- a choice no one should ever have to make.
Though it is still too early to tell whether the show will have a mass following or will even make it past the four episodes NBC has ordered, it is definitely on the right track.
Meanwhile, critics are giving “Awake” more positive than negative reviews.
“The show works on many levels, of course, which means there are varying ways for viewers to find their way into its labyrinthine core,” according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
“The story can be downbeat, the pace at times languid. But this is a show with a brain and a heart. NBC finally has quality back on Thursday night at 10,” raves Newsday.
“Awake” was also one of eight honorees in the “Most Exciting New Series” category at the Critics’ Choice Awards. The awards were selected by members of the press who had seen the pilot.
Overall, the show has great potential among both the viewership and critics if the writers give the pace of the show some momentum and manage to keep the emotional aspect relatable and alive.