Friday, May 25, 2012

Sleep Well, Awake.

(goodbye, show!)

I wanted to give a shout out to a little show called "Awake" that aired on NBC that I and approximately five other people across the country watched. The ratings were abysmal and no one I knew ever mentioned watching it, but I thought it was very good. It starred Jason Issacs, who I enjoy very much, and had a very strong supporting cast of actors you would know from several well-known shows, including Laura Innes, Cherry Jones, Steve Harris, Wilmer Valderamma, Kevin Weisman, B.D Wong, and the kid who played Jack's son in the Sideways World of Lost. All really strong performances. I'm sorry the show didn't find a larger audience, but then again, it was on NBC, so the odds were against it.

The basic premise was that Detective Britten (Isaacs) and his wife and teenage son were in a horrible car accident, after which Britten found himself living in two realities. One where his wife had died and one in where his son had died. Whenever he fell asleep in one reality he would wake up in the other. This way, he didn't lose either of them completely but was also always mourning one of them. They tinted the son's world green and the wife's word red, so you could keep track of where the hell he was at any given time. Britten's two lives grew increasingly divergent, and harder for him to maintain, but case details that showed up in one world helped him solve cases in the other. They also led Britten to unravel a conspiracy in his own police department that was actually the cause of his car crash. It was an intriguing concept for a show, well-executed and acted, and I assume it was a bitch of a show to write. You essentially had to have two different crimes every week that were not the same but had similar themes and locations so that Britten could take details from one reality and apply them to the case in the other. All this plus the family drama had to happen in the course of roughly 44 minutes of show. Nicely done, Series Creator Kyle Killen. Your team got it done.

The essential mystery behind the two universes was wrapped up in the season (now, series) finale. One world was always going to be "reality" and one was be a dream world he'd constructed for himself, and the way it played out felt earned. The premise for what would've been Season 2 was a hopeful spin on the dream world dilemma, but again, with this season finale, it felt like a complete story was told and the show didn't end off on some horrible cliffhanger or unresolved reasoning. There were still things left to think about and a path forward for the characters, but I as a viewer (one of the few!) didn't feel cheated.

Well played, Awake! No go take a nice long nap. You've earned it.

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