Saturday, May 5, 2012

TV Series - "Awake": Two Realities in the Life of Michael

Like any fatal car accidents, Detective Michael Britten’s (Jason Isaacs) was life changing. In his case, it brought him into two bewildering but distinct realities. Every waking hour takes him into one of two alternate situations: one has his wife Hannah (Laura Allen) survive the accident; the other has son Rex (Dylan Minnette) survive it. When he wakes up, he is alternately taken into either “world”. But what’s more jarring is how each of these “dreams” seems real, even irrefutable; he fails to deduce which is the figment of his unconscious mind anymore. Which is a dream and which is reality?

To extirpate the trauma from losing a loved one, Michael is assigned a shrink from each "world": the nurturing and decorous Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones) and the confrontational Dr. Lee (B.D. Wong) who warns Michael that his situation just may go out of hand. That when he embraces the other as “real”, his psyche would spiral down the point that blurs lunacy and normalcy. Each psychiatrist is aware of the presence of the other as though rivals, occasionally asking Michael to send a message to the other - “Tell Dr. Lee that…” and so on. 

But that’s not where these coagulating situations end. Michael, a great detective, finds hints, i.e. “cross-over clues” that help him decipher the variety of cases from each alternate world: the abducted child in one; the mysterious taxi driver-killer in the other. His partners – longtime colleague Freeman (Steve Harris) in one world, the rookie Detective Efrem Vega (Wilmer Valderrama) in the other – are as confounded by Michael’s extra-forensic intuition. How was he aware of the clues: an unparked car; a ginger hair, etc.

While Dr. Lee considers Michael’s situation aberrant, thus potentially dangerous, Dr. Evans bides her time, occasionally reminding him to “go pinch yourself” (he does – it doesn’t help). But if you were in Michael’s shoes, would you let go of the other “reality”? In these alternate macrocosm, Michael gets to keep his wife Hannah and his son Rex. But how far will his condition take him where his “cognitive capacity” is concerned? 

Which is reality - Michael grieving with his wife - or with his son?

Creator Kyle Killen’s “Awake” is an intriguing play on the fickle consciousness of a grieving mind. Britten’s continuous grappling of his misfortune hooks you to your screen. The interplay of situations that seemingly connect both separate alternate worlds are as fascinating.

Jason Isaacs perfectly tempers his role with emotive panache. There’s palpable balance between his grief and coping. Moreover, there are scenes that persistently linger in your mind, like when his son Rex, a great football player in high school, suddenly turns to tennis (his mother’s sports activity). Rex’s breakdown scene during a tournament was particularly heart breaking.

We bemoan the paucity of original stories in films and television. Many of these film and TV narratives are derivative. When we find something inceptive like this, we can't help but get excited. “Awake” is fresh, intriguing and compelling. And I can’t wait to watch more.     

Rex loses a mother.

Psychiatrists from alternate worlds come to a head: Dr. Lee (BD Wong) and  Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones).

Detective Michael Britten gazes with those piercing eyes. Spank me, daddy! :)

The Brittens figure in a car accident and loses - two?

Beautiful Laura Allen is Hannah Britten, Michael's wife.

Laura Allen

Dylan Minnette is Rex, Michael's son. Too pretty for words. :)

Dylan Minnette

Always reliable Steve Harris as Michael's longtime partner Bird Freeman.

Wilmer Valderrama is rookie detective Efrem Vega who becomes  Michael's new partner in one reality. Was he really assigned to "babysit" the grieving detective?

Wilmer Valderrama: Oohlala! Opps, it should be "Ayayay, mama mia!" :)

Wilmer Valderrama - How to pose with a skin tight shirt?

Michaela McManus is Tara, Rex's tennis coach and Hannah's former playing partner.

Michaela McManus - She played Lindsey Strauss in "One Tree Hill" and was also in  "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit".

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