no longer awake

I am always reticent to invest myself in a brand new TV show because of the fear that it could be taken away from me.  This year it happened with A Gifted Man which did make me sad (also for the fact that another NYC-based show was gone, and one with great performances and consistently good scripts).

And then Awake came along and completely blew my mind.  LOVED the premise as I am a complete fool for twists and turns and I adore the blending of reality and fantasy. The show centered around Michael who is operating in two version of his life- initially alternating with his sleep cycles.  In one, his wife died in a car accident that the family suffered before the show begins.  And in the other, their son died in that same accident.

Here is the extended trailer:

I cannot do this show justice in a simple post.  The episodes unfold in such a brilliant way, with truly revolutionary performances.  Awake rapidly became the new LOST for me, something that entertained my mind and my heart.  And we left each episode wondering how in the world they could create something new next week- but they always did.  The twists and turns kept you wondering which reality was true and the interlacing of the stories’ plot details was mesmerizing.  And honestly, if you have Cherry Jones on board, I kind of trust it already.

Jason Isaacs who plays the lead role is a masterclass in acting on a TV show.  And it’s pretty amazing that I adore him so much because I flipping hated him as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.  But here he is truly outstanding, the nuance and depth of performance actually reminds me of the way I feel watching Ralph Fiennes in, well, anything.  Maybe it’s a British dude thing.

Before you race to catch up on Season 1 and set your DVR for the Fall, I have to break the bad news that they cancelled the show.  Which slays me.  Seriously the smartest thing on TV and it’s gone.  I read an article in Daily Variety yesterday that talked about “Eyes vs. Prize” and how there is a growing discrepancy between what is viewed and what is critically acclaimed.  I know that there is Emmy buzz for Jason Isaacs so that even further proves the point.

I know that there are often references made to the fact that networks used to give shows more time to find their footing and to increase their viewership but that it’s not the case anymore.  I guess I hope that the growth of successful shows on other networks (The Killing on AMC for example) might give more options for a show that is in danger of being canned by one of the big networks.  But in the case of Awake, it seems that they knew the end was coming and made a decision to wrap up the series.  This seemed inconceivable to me, although I had two strong theories.  In the end, they gave an “answer” that fit in completely with the layered and fiercely intelligent nature of the rest of the season.  You could see the ending as a satisfying answer (unlike LOST, don’t get me started), or you could see it as simply another twist into the deeply fragmented and in-pain psyche of its lead character.  Ever the optimist- I chose to believe that it was the ending I hoped for in my heart.  But there is this little wiggle that not all is safe and sound for these people and that is what the best work does- creates a world that is not so easy to leave or forget, no matter what.

I think I’ll buy the first/only season on DVD so that I can marvel at the story construction and well-crafted performances (even in the guest stars, seriously some amazing career-making turns happened).  Then it does have to be the end.  And I’m still looking forward to the new shows, hoping that this time is different and maybe lightning will strike.

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