From the very first episode, I loved the concept of NBC’s Awake. It was a sort of Life On Mars, but seemed to dive into much more muddied waters. Never knowing what was real and what was not and trying to figure it all out was part of the adventure. And Jason Isaacs was compelling to watch as he trekked through that adventure with us.
Last week, NBC announced they would be canceling the series. This came as no huge surprise as the ratings seemed to have been all over the place. There were also a few episodes where much of the show’s premise and plot were not really delved into. The show was what I like to refer to as a “slow burn” series, one in which it takes its time to tell the story, using that time to get viewers to emotionally connect with its characters.
On the other hand, the series Grimm was renewed. I watched two episodes of that and realized that there was no character development whatsoever in those few episodes. I hated that and I hated the show. Sure, maybe it was an adventure (albeit a predictable one) every week, but even when I’ve tried to tune in since then, I have just not liked it.
But that’s what live television users go for. They like a quick burn series, one where you don’t have to invest a lot of time and energy. I would go so far to surmise, though, that DVR watchers, as well as those who watch later online prefer a show more like Awake. And what’s sad about that is that those numbers count for very little in the outdated ratings system.
I would also argue that the complete lack of the series being promoted in any way on social media probably led to a lot of people never even knowing that it existed. I know people who did not even know that the show existed, so we can also blame poor marketing on that.
Whatever the reason, NBC is screwing up by letting this one go. It has the potential to draw fans in, if given the opportunity to, much in the way that the UK’s Life On Mars and subsequent Ashes to Ashes did. There’s so much story to be told here and if you watched last week’s episode, you know that the story is bigger than we could have even suspected. We’re back to the conspiracy, learning the reason as to why Detective Britten is simultaneously living in two worlds (or universes) at the same time. And it all has something to do with the night of the car accident that killed his wife or his son, depending on which universe he’s currently living in.
Maybe I’m seriously disappointed because we’ll never know where this show was going. In the world of network t.v., shows, ones like this rarely get a chance to hit their stride and find their footing. It’s really frustrating to me, as a viewer, that a network is willing enough to put the show out there for a season and then completely give up on it before the season is over. Had this been something on HBO or Showtime or Starz, I’m guessing things would have gone a lot differently.
So if you have not yet watched Awake, do so. It’s available on Hulu right now. And let me know what you think.