A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this high-concept police drama features occasional criminal violence and scenes of graphic injuries. The plot revolves around the main character's grief after losing a family member (or two) in a violent car crash. The show also features occasional sexuality, including simulated sex between a married couple, and some mild language ("damn," "pissed," etc.).
What's the story?
As AWAKE begins, police detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) has just suffered a catastrophic car accident. He survived, but he now lives an intense double life that defies explanation. In one reality, his wife has survived, but his son has died; in the other, it's just the opposite. Other details vary, such as his partner on the police force and the crimes he's investigating. Suddenly he notices unexpected clues in each reality that help him solve impossible cases in the opposite world. As he works with two different psychologists, Michael struggles to piece together what's a dream and what's actually happening, all while trying to preserve every second he can in each reality with both his wife and his son.
Is it any good?
As high concepts go, Awake has a doozy -- one man who lives dual lives after a tragic car accident, one in which his wife survived, and the other in which his son did. It's a fascinating psychological twist to unravel, and it's admirably executed by the show's producers and some top acting talent, including Harry Potter vet Isaacs and network TV stalwart Steve Harris.
Unfortunately, the show's ongoing mystery is bogged down by the need to fill an hour of airtime each week with relatively pedestrian police procedural storylines that might fit just as well on an episode of Law & Order or CSI. When the focus rests on its main characters and their extraordinary circumstances, Awake shines, but when it becomes just another cop show with an eccentric lead, the storytelling falters. Ultimately, Awake is worth watching for the quality of its actors and the moments when the high concept truly pushes through.
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