Lord Alan Sugar and Donald Trump are arguing on Twitter. It's the latest reality TV feud.
Is high-concept drama Awake too smart for viewers?
The cast of Sky Atlantic drama, Awake
Awake, now airing on Sky Atlantic, stars Jason Isaacs (best known for Harry Potter) as Michael Britten, a homicide detective whose life is turned upside down when the car he is driving with his wife Hannah (Laura Allen of US drama Terriers) and son Rex (Dylan Minnette, best known for Saving Grace) crashes.
Isaacs wakes up to find that Hannah died in the crash. Or was it Rex? Britten returns to work but finds himself going back and forth between the two realities: one in which Rex survived and the other, which sees Hannah Alive.
"Isaacs wakes up to find that Hannah died in the crash. Or was it Rex?"
Each world also offers clues to the case Britten is working on with his respective partners, Detective Isaiah 'Bird' Freeman (Steve Harris from The Practice) or Detective Efrem Vega (Wilmer Valderrama best known for That 70s Show), depending on the reality.
Other Awake regulars include Cherry Jones from 24 as Dr Evans and BD Wong (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) as Dr Lee, Britten's respective therapists, each of whom argues for their reality.
Awake may only share some superficial elements with the reality-bending hit film Inception, but creator Kyle Killen will take the compliment.
"I don't know how much we have directly in common with it, you know, other than there is certainly that idea of your waking life and your dream life and the dreams feeling incredibly real, sometimes so real that you can't quite tell which is which. But anytime someone associates your work with something that, you know, is iconic and, I thought, fantastic, I have no problem with that whatsoever."
Awake's origins lie in Killen's ongoing fascination with what he calls "questions of duality and trying to make a go of living a life in two spaces," a topic he also explored on his last show, Lone Star.
Although critically acclaimed during its brief run in the autumn of 2010, US network Fox cancelled the show after only two episodes. Lone Star was a Sky1 acquisition, but it obviously never made it to air.
The challenges of Awake
Speaking during a conference call alongside fellow executive producer Howard Gordon (The X-Files, 24), Killen said: "This seemed like a good vehicle for exploring a lot of that. And then, you know, the concept of the way your dreams feel real, the way you seem to experience them as something that you don't blink at until something crazy happens that sort of bursts that balloon."
He added: "I think I became interested in the question of what if nothing ever popped that balloon? What if you couldn't tell the difference between when you were awake and when you were asleep?"
The question as to which world on Awake is a dream and which is real is not just a question for the audience to figure out: Killen and his production staff had the same trouble, using tricks like red or green ink on their script outlines and having Isaacs' character wear a red or green wristband (Green, by the way, is for the reality in which Britten's son is alive; red is for the one in which Hannah survived the crash.)
"That absolutely was one of the trickier elements of getting started," Killen admitted. "We found that we would get confused when discussing what someone was pitching or talking about."
He observed: "So the things that are initially confusing to us when we are just trying to break story, I think by the time they reach an audience so much attention has been paid to how to make it clear where you are that all of the little tricks that we needed sort of go away."
Killen adds: "And hopefully, you know, when you see it on the screen you are pretty instantly oriented as to which world you are in."
That said Awake's relatively complex concept is not just a challenge for audiences. Production on the show shut down five episodes into its 12-episode first season last year to give Killen and his writers time to reassess their work and the direction in which they were going with the show.
"Awake's relatively complex concept is not just a challenge for audiences"
"The behind-the-scenes stuff was really - they were just difficult to figure out. And because the show lends itself to so many different directions - you know, it is procedural; it has serialised elements; it has, you know, cop stories; and it has personal stories.
Finding the right balances for that in a way that you tell the different stories in a satisfying way in the course of a single hour-long episode, it just felt like a magic trick, and those take times to pull together," Killen explained.
"And really the break allowed us to assess what we had learned and make sure that going forward, you know, we were doing the things we did best and really learning from the things that we found hadn't quite worked the way we had hoped."
Of course the question remains: will Awake ever decide on one reality for its lead character?
"I think long-term the show isn't built around answering a single question, you know: which is real?" Killen said.
"The show is really about a man who has decided and desperately wants to live in both of these worlds, who refuses to acknowledge which is real and which isn't, and as you try to live two lives in parallel, you see them start to go in dramatically different directions. I think the idea is that hopefully the audience, like the character, becomes invested in not wanting to let either of those go."
So far, Awake has intrigued its small but loyal audience. Jason Isaacs, its star, insists audiences will get it. Let's also hope we get a second season; US network NBC will make an announcement about its future soon.
Awake, Sky Atlantic, 10pm on Fridays
related stories on msn
latest tv videos
Britain's Got Talent contestant Maarty Broekman admits one of aims when he leaves BGT will be to make music with judge Alicia Dixon.
Date 4 hrs ago, Duration 1:15, Views 40