Sunday, February 19, 2012

Battle of the Sci-fi Pilots: Touch Versus Awake

It's that time of year when the mid-season pilots are premiering, and if you've been watching FOX and NBC, you've likely seen promos for Touch and Awake. I was intrigued by these shows because they both feature science fiction premises. While neither of these shows are actually currently airing, both have already previewed their pilots. FOX's Touch aired its pilot at the end of January, but the show is set to actually premiere on March 19. NBC's Awake released its pilot last Thursday and is set to premiere on March 1. While the premises of the show aren't really similar, there are few enough sci-fi shows on network television that I think it's fair to compare the two. Having seen both pilots, I'm going to do just that.

Touch
Premise:
Widower Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland) is having trouble connecting with his mute son Jake (David Mazouz), but he starts to suspect that Jake is using numbers to communicate. These numbers bring about unlikely connections, and it appears that Jake can see things that others can't.

The Good: 
Part of my motivation for watching Touch stemmed from the fact that it comes from Tim Kring, the creator of Heroes. As an avid fan of Heroes' first season, I was hoping for something similar. In that manner, Touch didn't totally disappoint. Much like Heroes, it portrayed a wide variety of people around the world and then began to bring them together. This was an interesting aspect, and I liked the way that the storylines connected.


Additionally, I appreciated that there were some likable and familiar faces among the cast. Having never watched 24, I'm not really familiar with Kiefer Sutherland's work. That being said, there's something likable about him (although it may partially be that Kiefer is a super fun name to say). As a recent Doctor Who fan, I was excited to see Gugu Mbatha-Raw who I recognized as Tish Jones, Martha's sister. Although I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't recognize him until I did a quick IMDB search, What I Like About You's David de Lautour had a small role in the pilot of Touch as well.


The Bad:
Probably the biggest issue I had with Touch is that the pilot was cloying sappy. The show was so desperate to make me feel sorry for Sutherland's character and his son that it didn't quite feel genuine. For a show called Touch that's about the connections between people, I really failed to connect with any of the characters. They seemed more like sob stories than actual people.

Another issue I had with the pilot is that it was honestly kind of dull. I think I paused the episode 2 or 3 times before actually finishing it. While the idea of kid who knows things that he shouldn't is somewhat intriguing, it's just not that interesting to watch. I'd take Heroes-esque superpowers over that any day.


Will I Keep Watching:
When I first finished Touch's pilot, I thought that I might watch a couple more episodes to see where the show is going. However, the more I think about the pilot, the less I'm motivated to watch any more of Touch. Even writing this review, I was kind of surprised at how negative I felt towards it. It wasn't completely irredeemable, but it wasn't very interesting either. As I have plenty of shows to watch at the moment, it's doubtful that I'll keep watching.

When It Airs:
You can currently watch Touch's pilot at Hulu or on FOX's website. The show officially premieres on FOX on Monday, March 19 at 9/8c.

Awake
Premise:
After suffering a car accident with his wife and son, police detective Michael Britten (Jason Issacs) finds himself switching between two realities every time he goes to sleep. In one reality, his son is alive and his wife is dead; in the other reality, the reverse is true. Additionally, Michael's different cases in the two realities start to bleed together.

The Good:
I thought Awake's pilot was a solid start to the show. The premise is definitely intriguing and is a large part of what hooked me into watching the show, but it's not the show's only strength. I think Awake's cast was chosen well, and they all, particularly Issacs, put forth good performances. There was some sentimentality in the pilot in dealing with the deaths of Michael's family. However, it felt naturally derived from the plot rather than tacked only solely for the sake of stirring the audience's emotions. I felt connected enough to the main characters that I could feel bad for Michael's and his family's pain.

One of the best aspects of the pilot is simply that it made me excited to see where the show is headed. I want to know what's going to happen; I want to find out why Michael's experiencing two realities. It's a good sign when a pilot stirs curiosity in its viewers.

The Bad:
I don't have many complaints about Awake's pilot. I suppose the two cases that were featured were somewhat generic. As the pilot set up the show's slightly complicated premise in addition to featuring Michael's cases, however, I suspect that future episodes will improve in this aspect. To be honest, I'm just assuming that they're going to keep a crime-of-the-week aspect to show, but I don't know for certain.

My only other issue is that it became slightly confusing to keep the two realities straight. However, it wasn't too difficult, and the fact that Michael has different partners and wears different colored bracelets in each reality helped greatly.

Will I Keep Watching:
I'm going to answer this with a definite yes. I am slightly skeptical of how the concept of Awake will work past the pilot. The show could certainly lose its luster and focus over time, but I'm just going to hope the writers have inventive plans for the rest of the series. I'm certainly interested to see where the show is going, and I feel like I'm going to have some fun speculating about Awake.

When It Airs:
You can currently watch Awake's pilot at Hulu or on NBC's website. The show officially premieres on NBC on Thursday, March 1 at 10/9c.

 Bottom Line

I think Awake is a much superior show to Touch, and it's the only one of the two that I plan to keep watching. I found it to be a much fresher, genuine, and intriguing show. Particularly with sci-fi shows, it can often be hard to tell where the show is headed by simply viewing the pilot. However, judging solely by their pilots, Awake is going to be worth your time far more than Touch is.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment