“Awake” – TV Review

Tonight, a new show will premiere on NBC, and ten weeks from now, it will probably be gone from the airwaves. So whatever your plans are tonight, take an hour from 10-11 (or 9-10 CST) and watch the best new network show of the season, Awake.

From brilliant writer and USC film school alum Kyle Killen (who continues to get work due to his incredible level of skill with delicate high-concept material despite its continual failure to attract a mainstream audience [see Lone Star, brilliant, and Black List-topper The Beaver]), this show is too good for network TV, which is why I predict its imminent cancellation. This is a show that belongs on HBO, Showtime, FX, AMC, anyplace but the doldrums of NBC after the decaying remains of a once-staunch, ratings-wise, Thursday night comedy lineup.

The show, shot beautifully with a great deal of attention to color paid by stylistic champion and director David Slade (Hard Candy, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), opens with a devastating car accident. The driver is Detective Michael Britten, played by Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs, always a brilliant actor), and in the car are his wife (Laura Allen) and son (Dylan Minnette). “After the crash, Britten discovers that every time he goes to sleep he switches between two realities, one in which his wife died in the crash and one in which his son died. In the reality where his wife is alive he is partnered with rookie Efrem Vega (Wilmer Valderrama) and is seeing a confrontational department-recommended psychiatrist Dr. Lee (B.D. Wong). His wife has redecorated the house and begins pushing him to move in an apparent effort to move past their son’s death. In the reality in which his son is alive, Britten maintains his long time partner Isaiah “Bird” Freeman (Steve Harris) and sees a more nurturing psychologist, Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones). His son, previously a football player, has recently returned to playing tennis, and is coached by Hannah’s former doubles partner Tara (Michaela McManus). Britten remains unsure which of the two realities, if either, is real, and begins to worry he is losing his sanity when details begin to cross over between the two” (NBC via Wikipedia).

Hot damn, what a brilliant premise. And hot damn, the execution of that premise. The pilot sets up an opportunity for a brilliant show, and helping Killen execute his unique and interesting vision is Howard Gordon, the co-mastermind of the season’s best new show, Homeland.

I won’t say more, because I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. Tune in tonight. It’s worth your time.

About Dylan Visvikis

Dylan Visvikis is a working screenwriter and director in Los Angeles. View all posts by Dylan Visvikis

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