Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pilot Thoughts: Awake

Kyle Killen's last drama about a man leading a double life, Lone Star, was critically beloved. It had one of the most perfect pilots I've ever seen. But then nobody watched it, and it was cancelled almost immediately. And, frankly, some of us (including myself) still aren't over it. This history undoubtedly informs some of the critical buzz and heavy marketing push behind Killen's new drama about a man leading a double life, but when I finally watched the Awake pilot last night, I was delighted and relieved to discover that it's worth the attention on its own merits as well.

Awake, if you've somehow managed to escape the ubiquitous ads, is about a police detective who loses his wife and/or son in a car accident. After the accident, he finds himself living in two different realities: one in which his wife survived, and one in which his son did. Every time he wakes up, his world switches. And he doesn't know which is real. People in both worlds try to convince him to accept that the other is a dream, but he doesn't want to lose either his wife or his son permanently, so he struggles to maintain his personal and professional relationships - and his sanity - in both lives.

I'll admit I have some concerns about the concept's long-term viability - it seems like it might have worked better as a movie or miniseries - but other than that, I'm all in. The premise is intriguing and the writing is strong. Jason Isaacs is, of course, wonderful as the main character, and the rest of the cast seems fine so far. The big question of the show - What's going on? Is either reality real? - is one that I'm spending a fair amount of energy thinking and theorizing about after just one episode. So please, watch this show so that it sticks around long enough to give us some answers.

Awake premieres on NBC tonight at 10/9c.

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