TCA: 5 Things to Know About NBC's 'Awake'


Who’s In It: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Rylan Minnette, Michaela McManus, Steve Harris, Wilmer Valderrama, Cherry Jones, BD Wong

What It’s About: The Kyle Killen-created drama follows Detective Michael Britten (Isaacs), who finds himself leading an arduous double life that defies reality after his family suffers a car crash that kills his wife (Allen). (One-hour drama)

When It Airs: TBD

Is Awake too complicated?

NBC touted the critical darling, executive produced by Kyle Killen and Howard Gordon, at the Television Critics Assoc. press tour on Friday afternoon and many of the questions revolved around its complicated premise. Awake centers on police detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs), who wakes up in one world to find his son alive and another in which his wife is.

But with a convoluted plot, is there an endgame already in place?

"We do know," Isaacs told reporters in Pasadena. "We have a plan."

Killen, who created the shortlived Fox soap Lone Star, shared his thoughts on whether audiences have become too obsessed with a show's outcome instead of the journey.

"There are shows that are constantly raising the question about what is the end," he said. "I tink that isn't this show. It's a man who is actively living in two worlds. ... The drama is he's a man in the middle as the two worlds separate ... and become markedly different."

Here are four other highlights from the session:

1. Will there be a point where Michael questions the reality of what is going on?: "I think on a weekly basis, his interactions with his" therapists will bring up conflicts "with both sides," Killen said. "He wants to live in both worlds. We as writers do our best to force him to question that."

2. Will Michael convince his wife and/or his son that there is another "reality" beyond their own?: A big car crash causes Michael to lose either his son or his wife, so being that he's the only one with the ability to communicate with both, what does that hold for the future? "Michael Britten is a bridge between those two realities," Gordon said. "The tension, the frustration, the real emotino of the emotion of the show is his attempt to bridge his family."

3. How will Michael's therapy sessions in the two worlds progress?: Actor B.D. Wong, who plays one of the therapists, alleges that Cherry Jones, who plays the other, isn't right. "I am sure she is not right. That's all I can be sure about," Wong said with a laugh. "It's interesting to play a character who is having an argument with someone he never sees or believes exists." Jones said noted that he and Wong "always shoot one after the other" since they use "the same stage."

4. How do the producers keep the two worlds and the storylines straight?: "There was that great "Remedial Chaos Theory" episode [from Community] and they posted their white board," Killen said. "That's the kind of mess our white board is. It's like putting together a Rubix cube." It's so complex that Gordon shared a color-coding shortcut that the writers have employed to make the stories more graphic (red and green). "It's somewhere between a Community and A Beautiful Mind," Gordon said.