TV Review: Awake PILOT Episode from NBC

I’m really getting tired of network programs manufacturing plots where every story element and every character fits together perfectly like puzzle pieces to a predictable, boring conclusion.  This is my gripe with NBC’s new drama offering, Awake; a show about a homicide detective , played by Jason Issacs, who lives between two alternate realities.  These two realities stem from a terrible car crash that claims the life of Detective Britten’s wife in one reality and the life of his teenage son in the other reality.  Every time he lays his head down to sleep(presumably just when he goes to bed at night) he “awakens” to the other alternate reality.  The question is, is this as real as it feels to Detective Britten or is he just dreaming up one of the two realities?

The show’s strength is in its psychological explorations.  It’s interesting to see how his two different psychologists, who are assigned to him by the police department after his accident, from both realities are reacting to his “condition” and how the emotional strain from his apparent delusion plays out amongst his friends and family.  For me, the show starts to fall apart when the details of one reality’s murder investigation begin to fit into solving a separate murder case in the other reality. In other words, the show’s formulaic underpinnings become crystal clear, that in every episode we can come to expect a crime solved by fitting pieces of one reality into the gaps of the other.  This is just like almost every episode of House where  you know  that 2/3 of the way into an episode Hugh Laurie will once again miraculously decipher a patient’s condition or just like the end of any episode of Lost where we’ll be left with more questions than answers.

Why not just tell the story of someone caught between two realities and embrace the ensuing madness that would naturally come with such a premise!  Instead we’re given just a taste of the show’s potential before falling into the typical, cookie-cutter police procedural where you know what the final outcome will be.

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