A gripping police procedural with a concept you've never seen before, a solid pilot script with plenty of scope for character development, and a hearty vote of confidence from Isaacs, REM looks like another promising series at NBC.
On page one, we are introduced to Mark Britten (Isaacs) under bizarre circumstances. Bloody and unconscious, Mark, alongside wife Hannah and teenage son Rex, hangs upside down in the wrecked remains of the family sedan.
Months later, a fully recovered Mark sits uncomfortably in the office of his shrink, Dr. Lee one of two therapists he is seeing now, but well get to that. Avoiding the understandably touchy subject of the accident, talk turns to work and Marks new partner, Vega, described as the type of guy who talks to people in the elevator. Cut to a quick introduction of the young, zealous detective at the pairs freshest crime scene, a murdered cabbie. Exhausted and without any leads, Mark makes his way home where he kisses his wife, Hannah, notes Rexs tragically empty bedroom (exactly as he left it), heads to bed, and closes his eyes.
So far, there is very little out of the ordinary. A police procedural, like any other, revolving around a detective with a troubled past is hardly groundbreaking. But brace yourselves, here comes the twist (and the inevitable Inception comparisons).
When Mark opens his eyes hes in the same bed, but hes alone and wearing a tell-tale green rubber band around his wrist. He steps into the hallway and casually runs into Rex, very much alive. Mark bids his son farewell, just like any other day and takes off for a new crime scene. We also meet Dr. Evans, his shrink in this reality, and his other new partner, Det. Isiaiah Bird Freeman, as the two survey their latest crime scene, a double homicide with evidence pointing to the abduction of a young girl.
Faced with an impossible choice between his wife and son, Mark embraces his fractured reality, unable to distinguish which is real and what might be a mental fabrication. In one world his wife survives, they grieve and struggle but move on together. In the other, he loses Hannah, leaving a mother-shaped hole in young Rexs life. He works simultaneous cases with separate partners, tracking both a murderer with a fetish for disguises and a homicidal child abductor. Like Nolans sci-fi thriller, the pilot is built on the premise that, given the opportunity, people would accept a world they knew to be fake in order to see their loved one again. But no kicks, no architects and no tricks; just intriguing emotional territory.
There is also some convenient cross over that helps Mark solve murders, an element that will presumably continue throughout the season if NBC orders it to series. A number from a case becomes significant in the other and a clue found at one crime scene offers a fresh lead on his elusive perp.
It is worth noting that while Mark is unable to tell fact from fiction, it is not through a lack of trying. Tests are performed and possible signs are uncovered, but neither is discovered to be what his psychiatrists believe to be an elaborate coping mechanism. Besides, like Leo Dicaprios Cobb, Mark comes to enjoy the duality afforded to him.