Tag Archives: Awake

Spring 2012 Review: Awake

25 Apr

In this reality, his son is Awake

The science fiction – police procedural genre is a limited one to be sure.  Once, in this space, I hailed the original UK Life on Mars as a paragon of the genre.  Awake is a television’s latest play for a standout sci-fi-po-pro.  The high concept of Awake is as follows.  Homicide detective (shows always seem to be made about the homicide detectives, rather than I don’t know, vice) Michael Britten gets into a massive car accident.  After the accident, he lives his life in two separate realities, one in which his wife is alive and his son died in the accident, the other in which his son is alive and his wife died in the accident.  When he goes to sleep in one reality, he wakes up in the other, and he keeps different colored rubber bands on his wrist to remind him which reality he is in at any given time.

He visits two different psychologists in each reality, having been assigned to go by his job after surviving a horrible accident and losing a loved one.  Both psychologists, in different manners, insist that their reality is the true one, and that the other is an incredibly vivid dream.  In each reality, his partner is different as well.  As he goes back and forth, he begins to see strange resemblances between the cases in both realities, and information he remembers from the opposing realities helps him solve them.

One psychologist, played by former 24 president Cherry Jones, is the soft one; telling him that his alternate, though obviously fake, dream world can be very helpful, and he should go with it, taking what he can, while of course acknowledging that it’s not real.  The second psychologist, portrayed by Law & Order: SVU psychologist and Oz priest B.D. Wong, takes a harder-edged approach, telling Britten that all this fantasizing about both his family members still being alive is extremely dangerous, and that if he doesn’t abandon his fake reality, he is in danger of losing his real one.

The best thing I can say about the show, and I absolutely don’t mean this as the backhanded compliment it might sound like, is that the premise is legitimately intriguing.  The premise is more intriguing than the first episode was.  I really like the idea of the multiple psychologists.  Even though he was forced to attend therapy by his job in the world of the show, rather than seek it himself, it seems like a very modern solution to dealing with what seems like an old school sci-fi Twilight Zone or Outer Limits problem.  It’s such a modern first instinct to have doctors in on it, rather than deal with it one’s self – think Sopranos meets science fiction.  I love the psychological parts; it’s the police procedural bit I’m not entirely enamored with.

I liked Jason Issacs, but I felt like I wanted more out of this show than to just be a police procedural where he solves two cases, using his cross-reality knowledge.  I don’t’ think that’s all it’s supposed to be eventually, and if I had to guess, though I don’t know, I’d guess Kyle Killen and co have a bigger plan if the story goes on.  Still, the goal of a pilot besides set up should be to put one’s best foot forward and I’m not sure Awake did that.  It ranks somewhere between Life of Mars (which was better) and Alcatraz (which was slightly worse) in the police produral – supernatural sci –fi mini genre.

Will I watch it again?  Yes.  I’m behind on shows, so it’s hard to say I’ll keep up faithfully, but I’ll watch at least one more.  It didn’t make me immediately wish the next episode was out, which isn’t a great sign, but as far as new shows go these days, it’s more interesting than most.

Spring 2012 Preview and Predictions: CBS and NBC

3 Jan

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (now spring!) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Spring note:  It’s a lot harder to analyze midseason shows as there’s no collective marketing campaigns going on at one time, as many of the shows start dates are spread (or are even unannounced for some)  Still, we’ll take partially educated guesses.  Also, they’re a lot less likely to get partial pick ups, so maybe that trade off will make it easier)

CBS, being the all-powerful leader in television ratings, as older people simply throw out their remotes, because it’s easier to just leave their TVs on the network, has decided that the only thing missing from their line up is a Rob Schneider sitcom.  Thus, because they have just one new show, we’ll be combining their preview with NBC’s.


Rob – 1/12

If not for the existence of Work It, this would have been a landmark moment for obviously terrible television.  Of course, it’s on CBS, so I’d be foolish to count it out so quickly.  Rob is about the comedic and charismatic Rob Schneider, who after years of bachelordom marries into a close knit Mexican-American family which happens to coincidentally conform to a number of Mexican-American stereotypes.  Cheech Marin plays his father-in-law.

Verdict: 12-  Please, please be right about this one.  I’m sure people will watch it because it’s on but at least being on CBS  means you have to beat other CBS shows to stay on, and I’m not convinced it can do that.  I’ve been wrong before about CBS though and I will be again.


Smash – 2/6

NBC’s putting so much stock into this show that they’ve tried to generate good karma by naming it aspirationally.  Postured as Glee for adults, Smash is about the production of a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.  American Idol’s Katherine McPhee stars as a naïve Midwesterner come to take boradway by storm as the favorite for the lead.  TV veteran Debra Messing portrays one of the songwriters and Anjelica Huston plays the producer.

Verdict  Renewal – the midseason show I would be most surprised by a cancellation.  NBC is all in on Smash and postponement to midseason was a strategic decision rather than a lack of faith in the pilot.

Are You There Chelsea? – 1/11

Another title change, this time from Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea?, this show is based on the life of comedian Chelsea Handler, with the original title taken from her memoir, and changed because you can’t put vodka in the title of a network show for some reason.  Real edgy, NBC.  That 70’s Show’s Laura Prepon plays Chelsea Newman, based on Handler, while confusingly, Handler will play Chelsea’s older sister.

Verdict:  12-  It could easily get renewed, because who knows, but yeah, it’s looks terrible, and slightly smarter NBC audiences have not tolerated Whitney in the past and hopefully will extend that same feeling towards Are You There Chelsea?

The Firm – 1/8

Rather than a remake of the movie, The Firm is a continuation.  Set 10 years after the events in the film, The Firm explores what happens to Mr. and Mrs. McDeere after they come out of witness protection and start their own family and firm.  Josh Lucas plays Mitch McDeere and Molly Parker plays his wife Abby.  Much of the first season’s plot involves a battle to keep his firm independent against a takeover attempt by a shady firm.

Verdict:  12-  I don’t have a whole lot of faith in this relatively gimmicky remix.  Is The Firm that popular a product still in the public’s imagination even though the film was almost 20 years ago?

Bent – unscheduled

Amanda Peet stars as a recently divorced lawyer who hires a womanzing contractor to renovate her kitchen.  For some reason that contractor is the other main character, and I don’t know how they would keep the contractor if the show went beyond one season (they’re probably as confident as I am that it won’t.)  Jeffrey Tambor co-stars.

Verfict: 12-  I feel bad because I’ve always liked Amanda Peet.  It looks pretty dead in the water even if it ever makes TV.

Awake – unsecheduled

A far more interesting unscheduled show.     Awake stars Jason Issacs as a police detective involved in a car accident, who upon regaining consciousness, moves back and forth between two parallel lives – one in which his son dies, and his wife lives, and one in which the opposite happens.  The farther the two parallel lives more forward in time, the more they separate.  It sounds like it has the potential to be the best science fiction police procedural since Life on Mars.

Verdict:  12-  This seems so likely to share the same exact fate as fellow Kyle Killen show Lonestar.  Rave critical reviews, but nary a chance to get on its feet and become at all popular.

Best Friends Forever – unscheduled

One old friend moves in with another after the first friend divorces her husband.  This is mildly problemtic though, as the second friend’s boyfriend has just moved in and taken over the first friend’s old room.  Hilarity ensues.

Verdict:  12- A fairly low premise sitcom, it’s pretty difficult just to tell from the premise how it will be.  That said, I’m going to err on the side of cancelled – it is midseason after all.