Kyle Killen's 'Awake'

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Photo Credit: NBC via Global TV

Compelling, smart, and suspenseful, the series premiere of Awake offered viewers a complex storytelling puzzle that has you rooting for the 'lone ranger' protagonist standing at the precipice (or frontier) of dreams and reality.

Meet Michael Britten. A veteran homicide detective that we first encounter when his car plunges off a cliff critically injuring his wife and his son. After he regains consciousness, Michael discovers two separate realities - one where his wife is dead and his son is alive, and another where his son has died but his wife lives.

This excruciating conflict is what drives the drama as Michael transitions from one world to another when he falls asleep with no idea which one is real. Luckily, the viewers learn how to distinguish between the two realities through the sophisticated use of visual cues and colour palettes - cooler, starker tones when Michael is with his son Rex and warmer, softer environments when he's with his wife Hannah.

Photo Credit: NBC

Photo Credit: NBC
For Michael, the key lies in his wrist where a simple rubber band is worn - green when he is with his son and red when he is with his wife.  He claims it's what helps to keep him straight, but the panic that ensues when he wakes up one morning with no rubber band at all only illustrates how deep and disturbing this psychological coping mechanism may be.

As Michael returns to the police force and begins work-mandated therapy, the struggle between what is real and what is fake becomes strangely advantageous as details from one crime case often lead to clues and key breakthroughs in a parallel case worked in the alternate universe.

Rounding out Michael's support team are rookie partner Erfam Vega and pragmatic psychiatrist Dr. John Lee in the green/Rex reality and veteran partner Isiah "Bird" Freeman and Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Judith Evans in the red/Hannah reality.

From the producers of Lone Star (an excellent but short-lived drama that similarly explored issues of dual identity), this taut psychological, science fiction thriller packs a philosophical punch that combined with slick cinematography and the grittiness of a crime procedural makes it a surefire contender in its time slot.

The next episode of 'Awake' airs in Canada on Thursday, March 8th at 10:00 pm on Global TV. 

Missed the series premiere? Catch up online with full episodes at Global TV (Canada) or NBC (America). 

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