Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pilot Review: Awake

Awake (Thursdays at 10:00 on NBC; Premieres March 1)

I had a whole review typed up and ready to go when Blogger decided to delete it (the auto-save is great so you don't lose drafts, but when you accidentally fuck up the whole document and it auto-saves... not so much), so I'm just going to give a quick rundown of my thoughts on the Awake pilot.

The basic plot: Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) has been in a car crash and is in therapy because his son was killed in the accident. He returns to work after a leave of absence to grieve to find he has been assigned a new partner (Wilmer Valderamma). That night he goes to sleep and wakes up immediately in another reality where his son is alive and his wife has died in the same crash.

  • It's kind of confusing at the beginning. Determining which reality we are in is initially a little difficult, but as the pilot progresses it becomes more obvious. Director David Slade (Hard Candy, Twilight: Eclipse) has given enough visual distinction through colors and other subtle differences (the walls in Detective Britten's home, for example) between the two realities: the one in which Hannah lives is tinted yellowish red, and the other is tinted blue. Slade's work is stellar in this first episode, as is writer Kyle Killen (Lone Star). The whole premise could be totally convoluted, but it's executed wonderfully.
  • Jason Isaacs is beautiful as Britten. He is great at highlighting the small differences between his two realities and playing the complicated emotions of each. He makes Britten totally sympathetic, even in his most unsympathetic moments. Isaacs grounds the whole episode with his performance. He is surrounded by the ample talents of B.D. Wong and Cherry Jones as his two therapists, both of whom are solid but have too little to do so far, and a surprisingly good performance from Wilmer Valderamma.
  • The crime-of-the-week procedural element is very flat in this first episode. The dual cases (one in each reality) are uninteresting, and their only real purpose here is to show the overlap of realities with the repetition of numbers, addresses and names. But they take a back seat (and rightfully so) to the introduction of Awake's main conceit, so the crimes feel like they're thrown together as an afterthought. Going forward, they should either be eliminated entirely or more fully integrated into the story, otherwise they will significantly slow down the show's overall progress and interest.
  • The question of how these two realities can co-exist is a big one. It doesn't really make sense yet, so I'm hoping that will be addressed. How can these two realities exist when he's only ever awake in both? Doesn't that mean he's living something like two 16-18 hour days? Is he asleep that entire time in the other reality? Is neither reality "real" then? The logic isn't there yet, but the potential answers will have me watching again.

1 comment:

  1. here's the thing...after watching a couple of episodes, i'm convinced that he's not awake in either realities. like maybe he's in a coma and he's dreaming this whole thing up. and no one survived that crash, but him, except he is in the coma.

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