THE RIVER (ABC) - One of my favorite scripts. Screener is about 6 minutes too long, so stuff will have to get cut for air. Also, VFX are not done, so it's a tad difficult to fully "judge" a pilot that seems fairly VFX-heavy. That's the pre-amble to a "hm, that didn't come off quite as well as I envisioned it in my head based on the script." I have absolutely no idea how this is a series (granted, that was a problem I had with the script, too, but it didn't seem like as big of a problem versus the "I'm so in love" of my reaction). And this is going to sound really petty, but the guy who plays the lead? He frightens me. Like, in a vaguely Skeletor way. I want him to eat something at craft services. This is a problem in that he's, I think, supposed to be the center of the ensemble (though Leslie Hope really seems to be that, for now). This is a very horror movie-esque concept (maybe that was the point of hiring a skeleton as the male lead?) and the execution keeps it very much in that genre... to the point of me wanting to scream at the characters "NO, DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR" and "YOU'RE BLEEDING, DON'T JUMP INTO THE AMAZON RIVER". Sigh. I hate being disappointed and I'm blind-faith chalking this up to it being long and incomplete and without fully realized music. Fingers crossed whatever airs midseason works better for me.
AWAKE (NBC) - Also one of my favorite scripts! Probably the favorite, from an intellectual level. And there's a lot of intellectual to what shows up on screen. If you'll recall the concept, this is a police character-cedural where the lead, Jason Isaacs' Michael Britten (in the script it was Mark... oh why oh why do things so important have to change? Damn you, clearances! LOL) lives in two worlds thanks to a car accident: one in which his wife died and one in which his teenage son died. These worlds are populated by different crimes, different detective partners, different psychologists, and slightly different color schemes (the son worlds is a bit bluer, the wife's world has a bit of an orange hue). You feel for this man, with people treading carefully around him and tiptoeing around things and both psychologists insisting in their different ways that their world is real and why the other world is fake. Things do spin out of control, or seem to, but surprisingly there was a somewhat staid emotionality to the whole thing. Not a ton of highs and lows, maybe because (even having read the script) there were times that I was thinking "wait, what world are we in?" I'm entirely convinced that this will be a problem for the general viewing public going forward, especially because Steve Harris's detective character (in one world, Britten's partner, in another worlds, just another detective) isn't kept entirely to the sidelines in the world where he isn't Britten's partner. It's easier with Wilmer Valderamma's dubiously-accented character, because in one world, he's Britten's partner and in the other world he's just a uniformed cop. There is some hint at a longer-arc plot (dealing with both worlds perhaps representing clues in a giant mental puzzle Britten has constructed for himself to either deal with his guilt about the car accident or figure out some greater truth / possible conspiracy mystery) that will definitely keep me coming back even if it's only a couple D-story runner beats, USA-style, per episode. I've also managed to convince myself that there's some third reality that will be revealed at the end of the first season where either Britten is in a coma and dealing with things there or there's some world where both loved ones have died... much like I convinced myself that Bob had a secret third wife or at the very least an evil septuplet that would've been revealed at the end of the first season of Kyle Killen's dearly/prematurely departed Lone Star.
PS - There was no reason to make this a "battle" and it really isn't... I just felt like rattling off a couple short reviews in one fell swoop.
PPS - Still really annoyed at the networks in general that this fall is (on the drama side) essentially devoid of anything I want to shout my adoration of from on high (yes, there are things I liked), while I can't wait for NBC's midseason for more of Smash and Awake.