Tonight was the premiere of the new midseason show, Awake. I was a little worried – it was the show with all the buzz, the one the critics were saying was THE must-see, and it was written by Kyle Killen, the guy who created the similarly buzzed, must-see show Lone Star… which was cancelled after its second episode.
But this show really delivered. And even if you didn’t enjoy the premise, you could simply play the “Name the show where you saw that actor last” game, since it seemed every person in the show was from something else.
The basic premise is this: Detective Michael (
Except… that’s a dream. His wife is dead. His son,
But she is. Because his son is dead. That’s just a dream. His wife is alive. Dr. Lee tries to explain that the other world is a dream, and the sooner he comes to terms with that, the easier it will be for him to move on.
It’s a fantastic premise. And the art direction is rather marvelous, too, shooting the scenes in the wife’s world in warm yellows, and the boy’s world in cold blues, as quick shorthand to remind us which world we’re in. The big catch that shows this is more than just a dreamscape where we have to figure out which is real is that the killer in one world helps them catch the killer in the other. Clues that lead him to the discovery in one – 611 Waverly – are key to catching the baddie in the other. How could either world be fake if he is doing this? How could either world be real if he is doing this?
The idea is great, and I loved the dialogue. In fact, my husband and I both laughed out loud when Isaiah commented on the coffeemaker in the deceased’s house: “I told my ex-wife if she wanted a $600 coffeemaker, she shouldn’t have married a police. Eventually, she agreed with me.” That sounded like something right out of The Wire.
Jason Isaacs is wonderful, and only occasionally belies that British accent. He plays a man caught between two worlds, not sure which one is real, and reluctant to come to terms with which one may be real. For, if he finally chooses one, the other person must die. And he simply can’t do that. In fact, when Dr. Evans tries to “prove” that her world (where Rex is alive) is the real one, Michael almost has a nervous breakdown when he returns to his wife’s world and can’t immediately find her in it. As he says at the end of the episode, if making progress means permanently leaving one of these worlds behind and believing that one of them is absolutely dead, then he has no desire to move forward.
Of course (and you know all of us Lost fans were thinking it!) it’s quite possible that neither world is real, that they all actually died in the car accident and because there was alcohol found in his system – a detail he’s vehemently denying in therapy – he’s now trapped in a purgatory where he has to live with the memories and losses of both these people forever, never able to come to terms with the accident, and never able to move forward.
But for now, I’m interested to see how they keep things moving, and what the coming weeks will bring. If you haven’t watched the pilot episode, find a way to do so before next week. This is a brilliant new show.