While viewers will have to wait until next year for a glimpse at the midseason replacement Awake, it looks like NBC will have to wait a while longer for all twelve episodes of the first season to be completed.
Word is the network has given the go-ahead to showrunner Howard Gordon to shut down production on Awake, providing the writers extra time to work out the kinks, and make sure the first season’s storyline lives up to the growing hype surrounding the show.
Early reports are that the show is very good, and that after filming six of the intended 12 episodes of season 1, Awake’s producers are pulling on the reins after concerns began to emerge that, despite the quality of the program, the concept’s ability to sustain itself may be a trickier proposition than the creative team had initially imagined. Furthermore, according to Gordon and Awake creator Kyle Killen, the show is admittedly a little complex – so the additional time should amount to a tighter, more impressive inaugural run.
To recap, Awake (formerly REM), follows Det. Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs, Harry Potter, The Patriot), as a man who, after a fatal car wreck, finds himself living dual existences where in one reality his wife survives the accident, and in another, the survivor is his son.
The complexity of the program comes from the way the two lives connect and differ – with each reality having its own distinct interplay: job environment and who acts as psychiatrist for the Britten character. For example: the shrink of one reality will be played by Law & Order: SVU alum B.D. Wong, while 24’s Cherry Jones plays the psychiatrist in the other. Similarly, Wilmer Valderama (That ‘70s Show) is Det. Britten’s partner on one plane of reality, but Steve Harris (The Practice) is his partner on the flipside.
One can see how crafting a coherent, full season out of such a concept may be a daunting task. As Howard puts it: “This is a creatively challenging show as anyone who has seen the pilot can imagine.”
Howard goes on to say that he and Killen approached 20th Century Fox TV and NBC with the idea of giving everyone but the writers a paid vacation, while the intricacies of the show were worked out. “We’ve got [six] scripts and episodes we’re very proud of, but we felt the show would benefit from having more time to plot out where we’re going.”
Of course, this is familiar territory for Howard who also put the Kiefer Sutherland action-drama 24 on hiatus, so that the tightly woven scripts for that show could be polished prior to the start of production. The difference here being, Awake has yet to even premiere, so the hiatus will likely work to the advantage of everyone involved – an aspect Gordon was all too happy about:
“Because we’re not on a tight delivery schedule, it wasn’t an expensive shutdown and just gives us an opportunity to get it right.”
Instead of time, Gordon will now have to do battle with the impending speculation that Awake is in serious trouble and the network’s decision to place production on hiatus stems from displeasure, rather than an opportunity to let the writers craft a better storyline. According to Gordon, this is untrue; the network is merely making an investment in a show with great potential. “I think it’s a measure of faith in us,” Gordon says.
Provided all goes well, Awake is intended to premiere in January 2012 on NBC.