Television Review: Awake

Hulu has a preview of the upcoming television show Awake. Not one to miss an opportunity to see something early, I sat down and watched the pilot episode of Hook living in two parallel universes. Set to air March 1, 2012, Awake is the story of one man, Michael Britten (played by Jason Isaacs, ala Hook and Lucius) is in a car accident who wakes up in a different universe each morning. One where his wife is alive and his son is dead, and one where his son is alive and his wife is dead. Michael struggles to understand what is happening and processes his feelings and thoughts with a therapist in each universe.

One way he ensures he knows which universe he has woken up in, is by wearing a red band on his arm in one universe and a green band in another.  As he goes through his days with his wife or son, solving cases (Michael is a police officer in each universe, but with a different partner), and talking to his therapist, Michael is trying to discover which universe is “real” and which one is the “false” universe he has created to cope with his loss. Each of the therapists offer irrefutable evidence that the universe they are in, is the real one, confusing Michael even more.

The episode was decent, but frankly, the whole story was told in every trailer prior to the pilot and I’m not really sure what the pilot added. The cases that Michael worked in each universe seemed to bleed into the other, informed each other, but were ultimately forgettable. So, there isn’t much to add on there in subsequent episodes. Michael can’t seem to understand which universe is real, and by definition they both can’t be, unless of course he is actually from another parallel universe where he is the one who died, ala Fringe.  So I figured that would be the overall story that drew back the viewer, which universe is real? And guess what he decides in the first episode…….

**spoiler alert**

Both of them are. What a feakin’ cop out that was seen from miles away. Of course he wants both of them to be real, he doesn’t want to deal with the loss of one of them, and so he chooses to not choose. Because who wouldn’t do that? But what does this mean for subsequent episodes? That he refuses to see one of the universes is fake? They bleed into each other and mess each other up? Where do things go from here? Toward uninteresting cases solved with the help of different but equally bland partners? I’m confused.

The cinematography was beautiful, the filming was exquisite, from universe to universe it was fairly easy to know because of the different tint used for filming them. The acting was superb. I probably would have stopped watching the first episode about half-way through when I could tell where it was all headed, but Jason Isaacs is great, his wife trying to move past her own sadness is heartbreaking, the son trying to figure out his place in the world is relatable, and the two therapists played by BD Wong (who I love) and Cherry Jones are perfect and both of them equally believable. So, I kept watching, and I kept hoping, but I’m not really sure where I am left at the end of the episode. Pretty is as pretty does, I’ve been told. And this episode did not have a lot of does. But, I will probably watch the three first episodes like I usually do with new shows, and hope that something emerges worth watching.


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