Friday, March 2, 2012

Pilot Thoughts: Awake

Suffice it to say, I had very high expectations for Awake. It was my favorite trailer from the network upfronts during this past summer and increasingly became my most anticipated new show for this new season. It didn't help that the network kept pushing its premiere date back. All that did is increase my need to see the damn thing. They finally made it available online a few weeks ago and let's just say it was awesome.

If you don't know by now, here's a quick primer on the show. It stars Jason Isaacs as a detective who gets into a car crash one night with his wife and son. Since then, he lives in two realities in which in one his wife died and in the other it was his son. When he falls asleep in one reality, he wakes up in the other. Let's stop right there. That concept alone is worth anyone's time. It's just so ambitious for network TV and while ambitious can also result into a hot mess, I was heartened to see that at least for the pilot this idea was executed perfectly.

My favorite parts of the pilot is Isaacs' character jostling with his pair of psychiatrists (one for each reality of course) played wonderfully by BD Wong and Cherry Jones. The different counseling styles they use on him is fun to see especially for a former Psychology major as myself. It's also the best place for Isaacs' character to literally talk out whatever this amazing thing that is happening to him. His quest for an answer, a truth, an explanation, and a tangible reality is wonderful to see. The anger, sadness, frustration, and finally determination he displays in these sessions give the pilot its heart and I do hope this part of the show is expanded somehow even though I feel they'll be pushed aside for the one problematic part of the pilot for me and that was the procedural elements. I know that the procedural parts of this show is needed especially if it has any hopes of continuing on as a show, but they need to make them more compelling, or at least as affective, as the other parts. The way his cases interact with each other, sharing vague elements as a sort of hint, is intriguing, but can get old pretty quickly.

With that said, if the therapy sessions were the heart, then the procedural parts were the bones. His relationship with his son and his wife is everything else. I'm looking forward more to how his relationship with one will affect the other. Already his wife resents him for not being able to let go, though her final words to him before he fell asleep to see his son in his "dream" made me tear up: "Tell him I love him." And really, that pretty much sealed the deal for me. Poignant and heartbreaking. This show is just too good. A-

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