Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Awake?

We've seen the pilot of Awake, a new drama on NBC that premieres this week. But is it worth your time? We sit down for a chat with you to answer your questions about the show, and help you decide whether you should watch or not.


Awake

When is this thing on?
The series premieres Thursday, March 1 on NBC at 10pm. DVR Archer.

Who is in it?
Jason Isaacs is front and center. You'll remember him from Brotherhood, The Patriot, and the Harry Potter films. It also stars Steve Harris, Wilmer Valderrama (yup), Laura Allen, and Dylan Minnette. B.D. Wong and Cherry Jones play a pair of psychiatrists, and they're excellent.

Who are the brains behind it?
It was created by Kyle Killen, the guy who also created Lone Star. We loved that show (as did most critics), but it was canceled quickly after awful ratings. Howard Gordon serves as showrunner. You know him from his work running Homeland and 24. But this is pretty different from both those shows.

Who will like this show?
Fans of emotional, intelligent, sci-fi-splashed dramas AND catch-'em-crooks procedurals should dig it. But it's not a typical procedural.

Alright. I'm interested. What's it about?
Glad you asked! It follows a detective (Isaacs) that bounces back and forth between realities after a car accident: in one, his son survived but his wife died, in the other, vice versa. While he copes, he's still on the job as a detective and working cases. Yeah, it's heavy.

What makes it worth watching?
This is one of the best sensitive-thinking-person's shows to come around in a long time. The question of which reality is real and which isn't is secondary to the emotional struggle of Isaacs as Detective Michael Britten and how the individual realities react to his behavior and question his sanity. Isaacs is pitch-perfect as the credible, confused man in the middle of it all, and various creative choices (color scheme, cinematography) make this visual art as much as a TV show. It's really pretty.

Anything I should be worried about?
Ever hear the term "too good for network TV?" It's a compliment, but also doubles as a stern warning. Awake just isn't the kind of show that will resonate with the general population, and will probably have a tough time justifying its existence to NBC's bean counters because of crummy ratings. While the pilot serves as an excellent short film (it should be watched for that alone), there's also a looming question of how the series' concept can sustain itself over an entire season. Will it be bogged down with filler procedural episodes (snooze)? And how long can we go on without knowing what is real and what isn't, while the show bombards us with clues? We've only seen the pilot, so we can't say where it goes.

Okay, okay. But should I watch it?
YES! Awake's pilot is the best of the season, hands down. Enjoy it now and worry about the other problems later. Tell your friends to watch it, too.

What should I have on hand while I watch?
We recommend a glass of red wine (something full-bodied, like a Syrah) and a box of Kleenex to harness your tears. Then fire up Archer for emotional balance.

I'd like to get a taste on my own, like now!
The full pilot episode is now available online and via some cable companies' On-Demand, but if you can wait a day, do it and enjoy it on your 70-foot HD screen. But for a good look at the series in less time, check out this in-depth trailer.

Did we convince you to tune in on Thursday?

Comments (76)
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Seriously? Best pilot this season? Absolutely not. Extremely convoluted and over the top. Too difficult to follow. Nothing about it compelled me to watch it going forward. It will probably be around for years, since all the good shows seem to get cancelled after a season or less...
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I didn't like it. :/
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Cmon you watch Alcatraz still. ;) NBC though has not had good management the last six years and it's likely to be cancelled. The show looks good though! From the promos it reminds me of Life on Mars (the UK version).
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I watched it and I loved it! I am worried that they won't be able to top the pilot but here's hoping!
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I had set this show to record tonight, but after reading this recommendation, I think I'll pass. I don't think it'll last, so I just as soon not get sucked into it. My time constraints mean that I'd have to drop some other show to follow this, and I just don't see this being an upgrade over any of my other shows. Also, I just don't like it when TV shows are called "intelligent"; this is usually said by people who want others to think that the only reason someone wouldn't like their pet show is that they're "not smart enough", and past history tells me that most shows described as "smart" are pretty crappy. I'll just wait for a more promising new sci-fi-ish show, and let the few other current ones keep me going in the meantime. It's a shame, though, because it might've been interesting to see Fez as a cop...



Still, I really do appreciate the article; if someone this enthusiastic (along with all the positive comments) couldn't get me excited about it, I don't think I'll regret missing it.
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I saw the show on Monday on "free on demand" and really was engrossed. I plan to watch its debut tonight as well. I also worry whether the "alternate reality" premise can be sustained for a whole season. We'll see.

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I'm afraid for this show since it's on NBC, and it's a pity because it looks like very promising.
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Pretty great pilot. Pretty slow and steady, you get to relate to characters easily. Some very tense and intriguing moments.



DId anyone else else notice that they're a lacking of music? seems to make the show even more intense
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It boggles my mind why AMC wasn't first in line to buy killian's scripts.
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Writers like Kyle Killian and scripts like Awake's pilot episode-- these are the reasons why I watch television. Don't miss this one-- one of the finest hours of scripted television since the turn of the century. Immpecible direction, script, and cast!
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I will definitely be watching tonight. The concept of the show intrigues me. Plus, I'm glad to see B.D. Wong in a new series. I enjoyed him on Law & Order: SVU.
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People with nielson boxes need to watch this show live.

Also, people shouldn't not watch this because a) It's on NBC. They either cancel shows or have a bunch of crap (not true imo), 2) The thought of "Good shows always get cancelled" Please don't think that. If you think that, another viewer thinks that and another..etc.= loss of couple hundred/thousand/million viewers there. Be positive :)
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Actually the way the Nielsen boxes work, you can watch it live or on DVR and it will still count in the ratings as long as you watch it within a relatively short time frame. And even then, it will get counted in those who didn't watch it live but did watch it on DVR. That's how they can tell which Super Bowl commercials were most rewound and watched again. :-)
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i hate to commit to a show and then it get cancelled .. its like a bad divorce



i will wait until the end of this season , and see if this one is a winner
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thank you for doing this I watched the pilot and It was AWESOME
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The only thing that worries me a bit is that it reminds me a little bit of the 6th season of Lost. Maybe it's just because of the kid. This shows seems really exciting after the underwhelming Alcatraz and Terra Nova.
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Smart airing this when ABC and CBS will have reruns [Again same night]. Forget other comment about me dvr- ing ABC. lol
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Bean Counters! LOL love the compliment about us Sci fi fans being emotional And intelligent. Thanks.
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I enjoyed the pilot quite a lot. The cast was terrific overall. Even the teenage son wasn't hateful, which definitely bucks the normal network TV trend.



My only reservation is the casting of Wilmer Valderrama. His very thick accent makes his lines (in all shows, not just this one) really hard to understand. I also think he has a slight speech impediment on top of that, which just makes him all that much harder to follow. The ladies may swoon over him but there are plenty of good looking actors around whose dialogue doesn't need subtitles or closed captioning to be understood. I really don't think he should be on American TV with those limitations and is the only real disappointment in what was otherwise a really promising pilot. (In partial fairness to WV, this was the least annoying I've found him in any role to date, but that's not necessarily saying much.)

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[goosebumps]
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Had my eye on this one for a while. Glad to be hearing good things about it. Could really use a good drama after Alcatraz left such an awful taste in my mouth. This and Touch should help that.
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I saw the pilot during a preview and then told at least three other friends they have to watch the show when it airs because I'll be damned if it doesn't get the ratings to survive. This was the best pilot I have seen for a show since LOST (not to say it is like LOST at all, only that it was gripping and powerful).
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Well it looks like a show that will drive me insane.
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It looks so good!! I can't wait!
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i'll watch. it
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i'll watch. it looks like it will be very interesting
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SOLD! Now all I need is a 70 ft TV screen. I'm metric so that's about... 21 metres. Maybe TV.com has some spares lying around and can send one to my house! (The shipping to Australia is pretty reasonable I think)
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I saw the pilot, and it is PHENOMENAL. I loved it, every second of it, and Jason Isaacs is the best leading man. The monologue at the end is the best.
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I still carry the emotional scars of Invasion, Firefly, Threshold (yes, I really did enjoy it) but will give a quality show a chance to see if it will last a little while.
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I'm with you on Threshold. Another decent show with a great cast that never got a chance to tell the story it wanted to tell.

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Did you know the symbol for Threshold, the strange spiral mandala, was taken verbatim from a crop circle. That crop circle is probably one of the most sophisticated crop circles ever discovered.
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NBC doesn't have a high sucess rate for these types of shows but if word of mouth helps then get to it people.

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I plan to watch it. DVR ABC and Hulu Touch because Idol runs over. lol
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That is a good point. Which reminds me, Prime Suspect was better than this.
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YES! I CAN'T WAIT!!!!
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it was awesome! :D
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but its on NBC? no one will watch and it will get cancelled sorry.
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I will definitely watch this series i have been waiting for this ever since i saw the trailer.
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I LOVED IT! Please, give it a change NBC.



Speaking of great shows: why does SouthLAnd gets so little love from the tv.com staff?
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I want to give it a try.
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Why not no make a mini serial?
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I think that would be great because we will be sure to have a good conclusion rather than some shows that never know when to quit!
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I am excited now
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The trailer was so great that I feel I HAVE to watch the pilot and at least another few episodes after that.

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I have been so excited for this show since the fall it looks amazing and Jason is a fantastic actor to boot
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I'm incredibly excited about Awake. It has a lot of potential. I don't really see a problem if it has some procedural aspects, even Justified and Fringe (both really amazing show) were at the begging a bit procedural-ish. Frankly, procedural is not always bad ...

Plus, nowadays intelligent cop shows are pretty rare. I think that's another reason Awake is so important. Enough with the dumb cop shows! I'm so sick of them.
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Absolutely LOVED the pilot, but I'm quite worried that the story isn't very sustainable, but doesn't really matter, still going to watch every episode, the pilot was just THAT good
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I am so excited for it since I first heard about it. Will it get cancelled? Maybe. I seriously am so excited for it I can barely wait. Thanks for getting me even more excited.
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I don't know if I am going to watch it. For one, Wilmer Valderama. Yea, Out of the tons an tons of quality actors out there today why, why would any casting director choose him. Secondly I am not sure I can get beyond the aspect of the two Pscyhs. Their patient can not discern between reality and dreams. Any psych worth the cost of the paper to print their degree simply wouldn't allow an officer to continue working in that state. They can't, they are mandated to not allow people on duty like that. Even if you didn't have a cursory knowledge of psychology or psychiatry you know that. So that aspic t of the show is asking the viewer for a great deal of suspended disbelief. Possibly more so than any other show I can think of. Even American Horror Story.



I will give it a couple more viewings but I doubt it is going to last in my cue.
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I also think that Valderama being typecast as Fez might hurt his image here. He's a perfectly adequate rookie detective (or uniformed officer in the Steve Harris reality).
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The point is that one or the other or both psychs may not be real. Each one believes the other is a manifestation of their patient's subconscious. And if he's hallucinating both realities, then neither psych is real.
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At this point I am hoping that he is in a coma with serious brain damage because then it would make more sense.
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it won't be the case. At least, show creators said, none of the obvious explanations, like "he's the one dead / in a coma" will be used.
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That may also be the case. It's also possible that he's imagining the psychs and everything else is "real." (Will we ever see either one of them outside of the office?) Or he could be on a flight to Mars and undergoing a mental simulation. :)
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Good job with the Life on Mars reference.
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That could be cool. But then I am reminded that it is NBC and that would be too interesting for this network.
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Well, I get your point about the two psychs, but ... This is America, land of the Free. We just love people who are messed up in the head.



Y'know, for some reason I am channeling my inner Denny Crane.
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Waitwaitwaitwait. So you're okay with ghosts and all that jazz, but not this? Obviously this story does require a certain suspension of disbelief, but if the quality of the storytelling and the philosophical themes are rich, shouldn't it be worth that suspension? That's odd. But tastes are tastes, I suppose.
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No I don't like ghosts and found AHS horrible. What I am saying is that two professional psychs wouldn't be allowed to let a cop with this serious of a mental disorder on duty. At best the man has schizophrenia at worst he could have any significant number of disorders in the DSM-IV that would require his not only immediate removal from duty but him being remanded to a psychiatric facility where I am sure he would make a great Oneirology study for some grad students thesis.



That for me takes a great deal of suspension of disbelief. And is one more thing coupled with the casting of Valderama (which to be honest is enough to get me to not watch the show in itself) that I am not sure I can get over. Every moment he is still on duty is just simply ridiculous.
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YES YOU SHOULD. Pilot was AMAZING.
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I'M SO EXCITED.



Except for the part where I have a weekly Thursday night commitment and will have to somehow watch this after the fact and be unable to help it get the zillions of ratings points it probably already deserves.
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I can't wait for this show. I had been wondering how good it was going to be, but now I'm really excited!
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OK im interested but what is TVs obsession procedurals?
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this is a procedural you've NEVER seen before. I asure you.
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Watched the Pilot twice. Story is great and was shot beautifully. Wouldn't be surprised if Wilmer Valderrama's character gets re-cast. So hard to get over him being a detective. Definitely a stretch.
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My comment above also addresses my reservations about Wilmer being in this (or any) show, but for different reasons. Sadly, I don't think he'll be recast due to the Eye Candy Factor.

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Why is he going to the shrink if he doesn't want to let go? Why is he trying to rationalize the fact that he's living in two realities one where his son died and the other where his wife died? Unless it's the police shrink and he's forced to go but I'm unsure why would they let him work...

I don't know if I'm gonna watch. The show honestly doesn't appeal me. I'm sick and tired of police shows and it's heavy with the drama so it's a turn off for me. I'll might watch the pilot, but unless it's awesome ( and the ratings are good ), not going to watch again.



Let's guess the rating: It's on NBC...it's from the Lone Star dude...I say 2.0-2.5
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he's going to shrink, because he's forced to. He's a cop, and he lost a family member during the accident. His supervisors forced him to go to shrink to deal with loss and not get distracted in work.
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Why would they let him work if he's "living 2 realities and having two different partners"...it doesn't seem right.
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maybe his boss is his best friend or something, or he's so good as the detective, they can't afford to loose him, or whatever reason :P
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Well he's obviously the only one experiencing it. And the shrinks kind of can't reveal all the details of their sessions with him (doctor/patient privilege and all that jazz), and if he's doing his job without problems, he'd probably be allowed to investigate again.
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While I am interested in the concept, and Steve Harris and BD Wong are usually a treat in this sort of thing, I am apprehensive about the emotional manipulation going on here, I'm sick of TV jerking the audience around for a "big moment", I prefer quiet nuance. But, partly on your recommendation, I'll be giving this a shot tomorrow - got nothing else to watch on network since they moved CSI to wednesdays. But if it sucks, I'm out for your blood, jerks. ;-)
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