NBC’s “Awake,” starring Jason Isaacs of “Harry Potter” (Lucius Malfoy) fame as Michael Britten — a man living an unbelievable double life — is one of the most buzzed-about mid-season series for 2012. Before it premieres this spring, XfinityTV.com has a sneak peek at five things you should know about the show.
But first, here is the premise: Michael is living the aftermath of a tragic accident that took the life of either his wife or his son, depending on what reality he is living in. In one of his realities, his teen son Rex (Dylan Minnette, “Saving Grace”) died in the crash and in the second, his wife Hannah (Laura Allen, “Terriers“) perished.
In order not to have to mourn the death of either, Michael decides not to delve too deeply into which reality is authentic when he is “Awake” and which world is all in his head.
Watch A Sneak Peek Of “Awake”:
A member of the Los Angeles Police Department, Michael returns to work after the calamity to try to put some balance in his life. But here again, he has two worlds. In one reality, Detective Isaiah “Bird” Freeman (Steve Harris, “The Practice“) is his partner; in the other, Detective Efrem Vega (Wilmer Valderrama, “That ’70s Show“) is promoted to be his partner and to keep a watchful eye on him.
So, What Is Real and What Is Not?: Helping Michael to navigate his two realities are his LAPD-assigned therapists Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones, “24“) and Dr. Lee (B.D. Wong, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit“). While both therapists work to untangle his two worlds, Michael is not the most cooperative of patients. Why would he be? If he discovers the answer, someone he loves will be dead. So, for the first 13 episodes at least, the show is more focused on how he juggles both realities rather than trying to decipher which one is real.
Michael’s Cases Interlock: Michael is assigned a different case in each episode in each reality and he quickly discovers that his dual existence is actually a powerful tool. His solve rate increases as he figures out how to close impossible cases by using his two realities to link clues that cross over from both of his worlds.
No Shower Scene Like “Dallas”: Creator and exec producer Kyle Killen and exec producer Howard Gordon promise that one of the two worlds will be real when we get to the end of the series. Michael will not wake up and discover it was all a dream – or that he is dead.
Team Green vs. Team Red: Michael’s character wears a green band around his wrist in one reality, and a red one in the other. And since it is established in the pilot episode that it is extraordinarily difficult for your mind to construct an alternate universe and keep all the details straight, the crew also wears the appropriately colored wristbands when they are filming a scene, so they know which world they are shooting. The scripts are also color coded to make it clear what reality is on the page.
Hot Guest Stars: We will see a lot of the same great actors — not necessarily big names — that we saw in “24″ – a show that Gordon worked on. Because “Awake” is a procedural in the sense that Michael is a cop solving cases, there are juicy roles to be had. But one name guest star we can reveal is Laura Innes, who is also set to direct an episode.