Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Awake (TV series 2012) ***

TV14, 13 43-min. episodes
Creator: Kyle Killen
Director: Jeffrey Reiner
Writers: Kyle Killen, Howard Gordon, Leonard Chang, Evan Katz, Noelle Valdivia, Davey Holmes
Starring: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Steve Harris, Dylan Minnette, BD Wong, Wilmer Valderrama, Cherry Jones, Laura Innes, Daniela Bobadilla, Mark Harelik, Michaela McManus, Kevin Weisman

I was reading some comments online at about the time this show wrapped up its run. One person said that “Awake” fell the way of so many of NBC series. He complained that NBC seemed to be in the business of creating great shows and then cancelling them before they even got a chance. Yes, the turn over rate at NBC is very high. This is because they’re just about the only network willing to take risks. The risks result in a high rate of original quality programming. It also results in the lowest network ratings of the bunch. For my money I’d rather have NBC keep plugging away and being satisfied with last place, than settling for the status quo. Of course, it would be even better if people would tune in and some of their shows could stick around.

“Awake” is yet another original take on the ever-popular police procedural. In this one the twist is that the main detective is literally living two lives. After having lost a family member in a car accident, Detective Michael Britton finds that whenever he goes to sleep he switches to a world in which a different family member died. In one life his wife was killed in the accident, in the other his son died. In each world, he finds clues that help him solve the cases he’s working in the other world. He sees a police psychiatrist in each world, each doctor taking an opposing view to what his waking time in the other world means, each doctor sure that their reality is the real one.

Now, that’s some high concept stuff, especially for a police procedural. Quite frankly, it made for a fascinating series. Unfortunately, it was destined for the chopping block. While it was good, it never broke out of the box like a “Lost” or a “Grimm”. It seemed to be made with the tentative attitude that it probably wouldn’t make it to a second season. This freedom from the ratings race did give it some teeth at times, but it never really seemed sure that it was willing to commit with the outside possibility that it could be renewed. I would’ve watched another season.

Unfortunately, the ending they tacked on after its cancelation was tepid. They had nothing to lose. They should’ve been bold at that point.

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