Awake captured my interest with a highly promising premise. Detective Michael Britten experiences two realities after a car crash, one in which his wife died in the accident and one in which his son died. Every time he goes to sleep in one reality he wakes up in the other. Queue crime mysteries, excellent dialogue in Britten's therapy sessions and endless pondering about what is real and what isn't.
From episode to episode the writers find new ways of teasing the viewers, reminding us that we are as clueless as Britten about which world is real. With every crime Britten solves, we are given new insight into the exact nature of - and relation between - his realities. I will not spoil anything here, just say that I have been grinning at the screen at the end of many an episode, applauding the show for upping the stakes. However, although the viewer is left asking some major questions, the show is not confusing. The realities are color-coded - one in orange hues and another in blue - and not at a single time was I too confused, which is impressive given the premise.
Jason Isaacs (Britten) carries the show with an impeccable performance; without it the show would have failed. Laura Allen and Dylan Minnette are convincing as the wife and son; Steve Harris and Wilmer Valderrama play Britten's partners in the different realities. The really enjoyable performances are delivered by BD Wong and Cherry Jones as Britten's therapists. It is in these scenes the show shines. The dialogue is excellent and serves as a counterweight to the (only somewhat) more traditional crime and family story lines.
The show is refreshing in its originality, the story lines and most of the dialogue is, as far as I can tell, excellent craftsmanship, and great acting brings every episode home. In fact, the show has thus far shone brighter with every episode. I have long awaited a show like this, and it is by far the most interesting _new_ TV-series this year.