Awake — “Awake” may be my favorite new network drama of the season. The show comes from Kyle Killen, who was responsible for one of the best pilots in recent memory, “Lone Star,” a show that Fox pulled two years ago after only two episodes despite wide critical acclaim. “Lone Star” was about a guy who led a double life: He was involved with two wives/lives and had to shuttle back and forth between the two. “Awake” plays in the same ballpark. It’s about a detective who was in a tragic car accident in which either his son or his wife died. For reasons that aren’t entirely yet evident, the detective lives in one universe where his wife is still alive, but when he goes to sleep, he wakes up in another universe where his son survived the accident. Neither the detective nor the viewer knows which life is real, and despite seeing a shrink in each universe to deal with the trauma, the detective just as soon continuing living both lives, as it means he gets to continue seeing both his son and wife. On the flip side, he also has to deal with their grieving. Naturally, there’s a procedural component to it, as well: The detective uses clues in one life to help solve murders in another life, and vice versa. Kyle Killen had hoped to avoid being burned by the serialized nature of “Lone Star,” so he installed an episodic element to this show.
“Awake” is a little airless — there’s no humor to speak of — and it hews a little too closely to the procedural formula, but it’s intriguing. I want to know which life is real, if either is. Plus, there’s an ongoing conspiracy surrounding the circumstances of the accident that killed his wife and/or son that has me hooked.
Will It Be Renewed — Ratings have not been stellar; in fact, they’ve been downright dismal. The most recent episode scored a 1.2 in the demo, and only 4.6 million viewers overall. But, it is doing better than “The Firm” did in the time slot and no worse than “Prime Suspect.” I’d say there’s only a 25 percent chance that “Awake” returns, but it will depend on whether NBC develops anything good during pilot season. As it is, “Awake” does as well as anything in that time slot for NBC, so they might be smart to let it have some time to pick up some viewers. The compelling premise should eventually snag a few additional eyes.