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.
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?