Yes, it only lasted one season, but for fans of the 2012 NBC show Awake, it started off with a spectacular pilot episode–and one worth reading for aspiring TV writers. With a network landscape inundated with procedural dramas, a refreshing take on the genre was a next-to-impossible task. But the unique spin was such an original hook: a detective living disparate realities after a deadly car accident, one where his wife survived and one where his son survived, must figure out how to resolve this seemingly mental disparity while juggling his career and life in two separate worlds. What producer wouldn’t want to read that script? Again, a project that hits the “familiar-yet-different” zone, making for what must have been an easy pitch.
Conceptually, though, it would have been equally as simple to ruin the plot. Two timelines? Two interrelated stories? The same protagonist leading different lives in a procedural crime/drama? Seems like a structural nightmare. The writers managed to pull it off and, perhaps, deliberately set up the fact this would all somehow make sense through the pilot’s opening line of dialogue: “So, tell me how it works.”