NBC, 1 March 2012
Following a car crash, cop Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) finds himself experiencing two realities: one in which his son survives the crash, and another in which it’s his wife who’s alive…
This show seems like it might have been better served as a Sliding Doors-style movie than an on-going TV series with a resolution to the fundamental question offered at the end of a couple of hours. Instead, we have an effective—if talky—set up for a series that will depend upon audience patience and the withholding of answers to work.
Isaacs plays a remarkably calm protagonist, given the emotional turmoil of the two (one signified by a red rubber band around his wrist, another green) realities he is experiencing. The gimmick of structuring the opening episode around his chats with two different psychiatrists is useful, although it makes the show very talky at times and may be difficult to maintain for long.
Various genre names pop up, with The 4400’s Laura Allen as Britten’s wife Hannah, and Lost’s Dylan Minnette as his son Rex. Britten’s two alternative partners make little impact so far, but 24’s one time President Cherry Jones impresses as one of the shrinks.
The idea of clues to various crimes crossing the realities is interesting, but much will depend on how that plays out. Similarly, the end-of-episode trailer suggests some kind of conspiracy might be involved in Britten’s predicament and that could go either way. A promising start, although it is difficult to tell if Awake can go the distance.
Verdict: An interesting idea, but whether it has the legs to run for several series or hold an audience is another matter.
Episode 1 ‘Pilot’: 7/10
Brian J. Robb