Sadly, the writing is officially on the wall for one of my favorite new series of TV season. Anyone who has seen the ratings for the past few episodes of Awake knows we are pretty much done with Detective Britten, his wife, his son, and his imaginary penguin. The ratings are horrible and pretty indefensible, but I hope NBC chooses to take a closer look at the situation. If they really take a look at it, they will see many reasons to bring the show back. Today, I thought we should take a look at some of those reasons.
All television critics have devoted some gigabytes to piling on the sad state of NBC. However, just because it’s the popular opinion doesn’t mean it’s untrue. When you go through the list of pilots slated to be in consideration for a fall slot, there is not a single drama that really jumps out at you. Now, I haven’t seen any of these pilots, but I can’t imagine them being able to match the character depth and engaging premise that Awake has given us these past 8 weeks. Unfortunately, Awake has not been seen by a great many eyeballs. This idea leads me to my next point.
One of NBC’s major problems at the moment is that it cannot launch new shows. There are no big juggernauts to put new programming behind. They thought they had something when they stuck Smash behind The Voice, but they forgot the key point that Smash is terrible. Though it’s very hard to launch any show right now, Awake got even less of a chance than most. First of all, NBC decided to run it on Thursdays at 10. At the time, it was the only slot available once The Firm vacated that spot. Sadly, NBC doesn’t seem to realize that Thursday is no longer “Must-See TV.” Even though they trot out some really strong comedies on that night, nobody seems particularly interested to watch them. Sticking Awake in the dead zone of 10 PM behind another freshman series struggling to get viewers (Up All Night) gave Awake almost no chance to attempt to hold an audience that was a tonal match to their program. If you really enjoy the silliness that Up All Night revels in, chances are you are not sticking around to watch Detective Britten solve grisly murders. Though it doesn’t have a lot of options for launching new shows, NBC could have done a lot better by Awake then they did.
The entire ensemble of Awake does a nice job. Dylan Minnette is our payment for having to put up with the rest of the horrible teenagers on network dramas (I’m looking at you, kid from Terra Nova). B. D. Wong and Cherry Jones both play their parts exceeding well as Britten’s therapists. For crying out loud, even Wilmer Valderrama is competent in this show. I’ve had to rethink his entire ceiling as an actor watching this show.
Even though all of those guys are great, the person that really makes this show go is Issacs. In the hands of a lesser actor, this role could have easily been taken to an over-dramatic place, but Britten has managed to keep this character grounded. Also, watching a man struggle with the potential of madness is exceedingly fascinating. Issacs does a great job of portraying a man who questions himself all while trying to hold the very thing that may cause his madness together. It’s the question at the heart of the series: “Is this guy crazy?” and Britten does a great job of giving us no clues.
I could easily go on for days about the reasons why NBC should keep Awake. At the end of the day, I know that the outstanding effort put forth by the people who work on this show will go for naught. It will be sad to see it go. I will put in the file with Journeyman and Daybreak and always wonder what the heck was going on with Michael Britten. Still, I hope NBC finds a way to keep it around. I know they like the show. Hopefully, they keep it and give it the proper treatment for a show of this level of quality.
What do you guys think? Should NBC find a way to keep Awake? Sound off in the comments below.
The TV Czar
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