Category: TV Written by Lisa McMahon
“It all feels completely real to me”
Whenever I have a hairy moment driving, or indulge in some adult stupidity, I wonder “am I really alive? Did I survive that? How do I know I am not just living in some altered post-death universe?”
It’s that the catch in this gripping drama series. Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) returns to work following a car accident only to find himself in one of two alternating realities every time he wakes up: one where his wife Hanna survives the accident and the other has Rex, his son, as the survivor.
The cast is stacked with accomplished actors. Isaacs will be familiar to Potter-heads as Lucius Malfoy. He is able to convey the pain, pleasure and confusion of vacillating between his realities. Laura Allen (The 4400) is a sympathetic wife; however she also seeking her somewhat selfish ways to “move on” from her own heartbreak. Serial Disney starlet dater Wilmer Valderrama (That 70s Show) gets to grow up into a dramatic role as Michael Britten's rookie partner in one reality, contrasting Steve Harris’ (The Practice) long time and trusted partner in the other reality.
Challenge yourself to play spot the Law & Order franchise faces in Awake. DB Wong is just one. Again he plays a psychiatrist, attempting to force Britten through one of the realities of his tragedy. But is this reality the real reality?
This show teases your brain as you try to untangle Britten’s two realities. The intersection of the two realities, where elements in one reality are co-incidentally related to the events in another builds the mystery. Don’t think that the “sliding doors” puzzle starts and stops with Britton’s reality conundrum. As the perplexing coincidence of elements crossing over adds more mystery, and not wanting to spoil it for you, but by second episode there are more “so what does that mean?” moments as the plot travels backwards and forwards. Is someone else pulling the strings of this enigma?
If you love the premise of not knowing exactly what’s real and what’s not, pulling together clues as the show unfolds, you will be rewarded. Awake gratifies that aspect of human behaviour driven by our Neo-cortex – how we strive to find an answer to everything to deliver the rational.
I didn’t need to suspend my disbelief as much as say, Dexter, and Awake allows you to indulge in alter-world “what if?” paranormal dreaming delivered in Medium. Like many crime dramas, it’s procedural with Britten investigates parallel cases every week. However there’s also a personal drama beyond the police work; you start to become emotionally involved in the survival of both Hannah and Rex if Britten was to leave one reality behind.
If guidetogay.com had a water cooler to hang around, I would be gossiping about Awake all day... as I am feeling a little smug about getting to preview this show and stay one step ahead of everyone else. This series is so worth going gay-for-pay TV.
Mondays on Foxtel W Channel (in Australia) at 9:30pm, from 11 April. For other territories, check your local TV listings.