Awake Round Table: Series Premiere
It earned decent ratings, endless praise from critics and, now, a spot in our weekly Round Table debates.
What did you think of the Awake series premiere? Below, staff writers Carissa Pavlica, Lindsey Kempton, Carla Day and Nick McHatton discuss the intriguing new NBC series...
What did you think of the premiere?
Carissa: I liked it. It's an interesting premise, but like others I do have concerns as to whether they can keep it going. However, I was also a huge fan of Life On Mars (British version, thank you very much) so I know anything is possible given the right crew. I hope this is the right crew.
Lindsey: Loved it, even though it was very different than I was expecting. I thought it was going to begin when Jason Isaac's character, Michael Britten, first realizes he has two realities, but I think the way Awake actually did it was much better. Opening up after he's already become accustomed to it forces the viewer to come to terms with it and accept it much faster.
Carla: It was engaging and thought-provoking in a good, but perhaps too much of a way. I hope the show finds an audience, but I'm not sure people are willing to watch a procedural that requires constant attention, while also being emotionally heart-wrenching.
Nick: They keep it going Carissa, it's pretty amazing how consistent it is. The premiere is stunning (as I've said in my review), and there are so many different emotions and character beats it's rather amazing. Yes, there are some low points, but there's an air of happiness to it that's just not going on to this degree in other shows of its kind. I think part of the reason why some associate Awake with being a little depressing is due to the blue hue color scheme.
Do you have a favorite reality at this point? Is there one you'd rather spend more time in?
Carissa: First, I have to admit to a girl crush on Laura Allen, so that does bias my opinion. As does the incredible season of Terriers on which she starred. It's due to her that I'd rather Michael spend more time in that timeline. I also like the warmer coloring of her time (strange, as my favorite colors are purple and green... this show is an enigma).
Lindsey: There are parts of each reality I would rather spend more time in, but not one reality as a whole that I prefer more. I would much rather have Dr. Evans as my therapist, but I also love Allen and want her on the screen as often as possible. On the other hand, I prefer Detective Freeman, Britten's partner in the non-wife world. I think I'm pretty evenly split at this point.
Carla: Definitely the son's reality, but primarily because I just don't like Hannah. Unlike Carissa and Lindsey, I didn't like Allen's portrayal of Britten's wife when I saw the pilot and she bothered me just as much on a second watch. I hope that as Allen grows into the role, I will like Hannah more.
Nick: At this point I like Rex's reality, the green one, more. I find it more relatable, and Britten's partner Freeman cracks me up. I also prefer doctors who take a more sympathetic approach to their treatment instead of doctors who are headstrong.
Are there any characters that are not grabbing your attention?
Carissa: Not yet. But it's early. Given time, there is bound to be someone I want written off.
Lindsey: Not yet, although Wilmer Valderrama's character, Detective Vega, is low on my list.
Carla: Not yet.
Nick: Tara the Tennis Instructor isn't particularly entertaining.
Which doctor had the better argument to explain why their reality is real?
Carissa: I like the female doctor's approach better, which shouldn't sit well with me, since I want her reality to be the "un"reality. But she's not as clinical, is happier and more forgiving of what he is going through. The way Dr. Lee approaches things is off putting and somewhat offensive. Hmmm... maybe I want him written off and replaced with someone more willing to listen rather than judge.
Lindsey: Hands down, Dr. Evans. Her argument using the Constitution was much better than anything Dr. Lee came up with.
Carla: They both need to justify their own existence, so I found both of them self-righteous in their arguments. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but something to watch going forward. I loved that they started to communicate with the other through Britten, I'd love to see more of that. I agree with Carissa about Dr. Lee. He came across as a jerk, while Dr. Evans was more caring and understanding.
Nick: Self-righteous is pretty strong, Carla. They're both trying to treat a patient with a unique predicament. Of course they're going to say their reality is the real one. They both have solid arguments, and it's hard to say which one had the better one because they both poke holes in each others arguments. Dr. Lee and Dr. Evans mirror each reality. The Red reality, Britten is, at times, combative in a sense toward his wife who wants to change everything around her and he wants nothing to change. While he's much more sympathetic in the Green reality because he has a son who now has no mother.
Real Reality Check: Which reality is real and which one is not? Why?
Carissa: I'm not sure either is real. He could be in a coma. Shut up! I know it's been done before and it would be a cop out. He could be spending all this time in the moment before his death. Shut up! I know that's been done before, too. But they both work. Assuming he is actually dreaming one life, I would assume he is dreaming his son's, because the thought of losing a child would be more difficult for your mind to process. So I'll go with that for now.
Lindsey: I'm going to suggest something a little crazy and say that it doesn't matter. I'm hoping Awake decides to continue prioritizing the procedural-with-a-twist format rather than pursuing a mythology with the goal of discovering the answer to Britten's curious circumstances. I think the show will be much more sustainable if it asks the viewer to accept his split realities as part of the storyworld rather than an all consuming mystery to be solved. After all, Britten said it himself: he has no desire to find the answer if it means losing a loved one.
Carla: This mystery is one that bothers me about the show. Kyle Killen and Howard Gordon, executive producers, have specifically said that it doesn't matter. They have created this story of a man that "lives" in two universes and the end game isn't to answer which is real. It seems they don't know the answer to that, so there won't be clues within the episodes to answer the question. If we have to pay close attention to the cases because they impact each other, I'd love for their to be clues about the true reality as well.
Nick: Carla, they've said it doesn't matter because they want us as an audience to be invested in both worlds, even though one is a dream. They find an "it was all a dream" ending to be "unsatisfying." Meaning those who think everything he's going through right now, both realities, to be all fiction is something they don't want to do. All clues right now are what happened to cause the car crash and that's what Season One is about.
Killen, Howard, and Isaacs all know the series ending, and which reality is the real one. As for which reality is the real one, like I said in my review this week I believe it's Green/Rex. It's fun to speculate, but like Lindsey, I'm along for the ride and would rather not find out which one is the real one. It's a fun mystery instead to think about instead.