Can you get used to seeing Jason Isaacs without the long blond hair? You will within minutes of the debut of “Awake,” an alternate universe-style crime drama that NBC will hope and pray will become a much-needed hit.
“Awake” is set to debut March 1 in a Thursday 10 p.m. timeslot that neither “Prime Suspect” nor “The Firm” could do much with. In fact, it’s the fast demise of “The Firm,” which never grabbed any audience attention, that helped get “Awake” on the schedule so quickly. And it needs to do well, or who knows what NBC will do.
Isaacs plays Michael Britten, a police detective who is suddenly leading two lives following the deaths of his wife and son in a car accident. One of the lives, his son survives — played by Dylan Minnette, while the other, his wife survives, played by Laura Allen.
That means the worlds themselves have taken different paths, and crimes he’s investigating are different as well. In fact, he also has two different partners: Steve Harris as Isaiah “Bird” Freeman and Wilmer Valderamma as Efrem Vega.
Apparently, one of the realities are real, and it will take the work of two shrinks — played by Cherry Jones and B.D. Wong — to figure it out.
Although Harry Potter fans are used to seeing him as Lucius Malfoy in the popular film series, Isaacs does have a lot of television work under his belt. That includes last year’s “Case Histories” on BBC and “Brotherhood” on Showtime. He also appeared in three episodes of “The West Wing” in 2004, and had a guest role in “Highlander” early in his career in 1993.
Minnette, 15, is probably best known to genre fans as playing David Shephard — the son of Jack Shephard and Juliet Burke in the purgatory side flashes — in “Lost.” He has also guested in a number of television shows including “Prison Break,” “Ghost Whisperer” and “Supernatural.”
Allen played Liv Moore Tyler in “The 4400,” and also appeared in “Dirt” and “Terriers” among others.
For “Awake” to impress NBC, it simply has to do something other than bomb. Through the end of January, both “The Firm” and “Prime Suspect” were tied with a 3.1 rating/4 share average, according to Fast National overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co., although those weren’t all from Thursday night airings. They finished the month tied for 11th at the network, but No. 74 overall.
“Grimm,” another NBC genre show, has averaged a 3.3/6 on Fridays while the recently ended “Chuck” picked up a 2.2/4 average for the network, and was NBC’s lowest-rated program so far.
NBC is immediately moving “The Firm” to Saturdays, and will rerun “Grimm” in the timeslot until “Awake” premieres March 1.
For a preview video of “Awake,” click here.