A TV Review by Michael Shonk

AWAKE. NBC. 20th Century Fox Television. “Pilot.” 01 March 2012, Thursday at 10pm (Eastern). Cast: Jason Isaacs as Detective Michael Britten, Laura Allen as Hannah, Dylan Minnette as Rex, Steve Harris as Det. Freeman, Wilmer Valderrama as Det. Vega, Cherry Jones as Dr. Evans, B.D. Wong as Dr. John Lee, Michaela McManus as Tara. Written and created by Kyle Killen. Directed By David Slade. Free sneak preview available at NBC.com, Hulu.com, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and other streaming and downloading services.

AWAKE - NBC 2012

   Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs, Case Histories) was driving one night, his wife and son with him in the car. For reasons unknown the car goes off a cliff and crashes. Now Michael has two lives, one where his wife is alive and his son is dead, and the other where his son is alive and his wife is dead.

   We see him with his wife Hannah (Laura Allen, Terriers) who is trying hard to accept and move on from the death of their son. At work, his partner Det. Freeman (Steve Harris, The Practice) is reassigned and Det. Vega (Wilmer Valderrama, That 70’s Show) is made his new partner. His superiors force Michael to see therapist Dr Lee (B.D. Wong, Law & Order: SVU). His new case has him trying to catch a serial killer who poses for security cameras. Back home he falls asleep next to his wife.

AWAKE - NBC 2012

   He wakes alone. He walks down the hallway of his home and greets his very alive son. In this life, his wife is dead. Freeman continues to work with him and Vega remains a patrolman. His superiors force him to see therapist Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones, 24). The case here is a kidnapped child.

   The characters in the two worlds seem to be opposites: the wife versus the son, the inexperienced new partner versus the experienced partner, the gruff male shrink versus the sweet female shrink.

   Unexplainably, the crimes connect as Michael finds clues in one life that leads to the solution of the crime in his other life.

AWAKE - NBC 2012

   Each therapist tries to convince him that his or her world is the real one and that he needs to accept the death of the loved one in his “dream” world.

   Those who enjoy procedural TV drama should enjoy the double dose every week. Those who enjoy series with deeper mysteries running through the background will find much to speculate about.

   Why did he crash? Why did they find alcohol in his bloodstream after the crash when he hadn’t had a drink that night? Which life is real? Does either world exist beyond Michael?

AWAKE - NBC 2012

   Why did both of his partners have life changing events happen to them, yet see those events as they related to Michael? When Michael woke and could not find his wife or son, why did he freak out?

   Can Michael survive living two lives? Given a chance to live life with his wife and his son, Michael sees no reason to accept the death of either. Except his wife and son can’t move on and start a new life without Michael losing one of them.

   Time will tell how long show creator Kyle Killen (Lone Star) and the writers can keep this premise interesting, but this episode is worth watching.

AWAKE - NBC 2012