Austin writer Kyle Killen’s new TV drama Awake premieres on NBC this Thursday, and let’s just say the Burleson native, whose last show, 2010’s Lone Star, was canceled by Fox after a mere two airings, has his good-humored defenses up:
Awake – Thursday March 1 – Appointment television for at least 40-50 of you. Only takes three aired episodes to crush our old record folks!
— Kyle Killen (@killen8) February 3, 2012
TEXAS MONTHLY writer-at-large Christopher Kelly called Lone Star “an exquisite mix of subtlety and flash, Greek tragedy and Texas twang … In other words, the next great Texas-based TV series that never was.”
Like Lone Star, which was about an oil heir with two families in two cities (Houston and Midland), Awake turns on a duality. Jason Isaacs’ (Brotherhood, the Harry Potter movies) character is a police detective who is in a car accident with his family, after which he finds himself experiencing two realities: one in which his son survived and one in which is wife did, with different partners, police shrinks and cases in each “world.”
“It’s not what I would call easy viewing — you’re not going to confuse it with one of the “NCIS” shows,” wrote the influential Hit Fix TV critic Alan Sepinwall (he means that as a compliment).
Kelly felt that Lone Star might have worked better on cable, and and the same may be true of Awake. It airs Thursday after NBC’s more prestigious than popular two-hour comedy block, a time slot that has already seen Prime Suspect and The Firm get axed by NBC. Awake‘s competition is The Mentalist (procedural mystery comfort food) and Private Practice (medical soap opera comfort food), both highly-rated shows.
“Is the show going to be successful?,” Bill Gorman of the website TV By the Numbers asked during a segment with Neda Ulaby of NPR Morning Edition. “That’s a really, really, really difficult timeslot for NBC.”
Defensive cynicism aside, Killen has at least made it far enough to write the last of Awake‘s initial thirteen episodes.
“Finales are so much easier to write when they just cancel your show,” he joked on Twitter, which prompted this exchange:
@TheSpaceBar approaching it as a finale they could shut the whole network down with
— Kyle Killen (@killen8) January 31, 2012
Read Alan Sepinwall’s Q&A interview with Killen and Awake co-creator Howard Gordon (24, Homeland) for a more in-depth look at the show. Or just watch the pilot episode–it’s already up in full on Hulu:
Also, an unaired episode of Lone Star will screen at June’s ATX Television Festival.