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'Awake' is NBC's strongest drama in a while

"Awake," an ambitious new show debuting tonight at 10 on NBC, might be the strongest drama the network has offered in the past couple of years.

It stars Jason Isaacs as Michael Britten, a homicide detective who in the aftermath of a fatal car accident, lives in alternate realities in which either his wife or his son did not survive the crash. It's up to the viewer to decide -- along with Britten -- which reality is real and which is a dream.

Tonight's pilot episode opens with the horrifying, slow-motion car crash and fast forwards to Britten and his wife (Laura Allen) at the funeral for their son (Dylan Minette). In this world, Britten goes to his job, works his homicide cases, sees his shrink, and comes home to his grief-striken wife. The next morning he awakens and his son is alive, but his wife is not. He repeats a similar version of his other life (different homicide case, different partner, different shrink), only this time he has his son.

The pattern repeats each morning.

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