The 25 Best TV Shows Of 2012 (So Far)

24. Awake (NBC)

Stars: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Steve Harris, Dylan Minnette, BD Wong, Michaela McManus, Wilmer Valderrama, Cherry Jones

Kyle Killen really can't catch a break. After creating the critically praised but quickly canceled Fox series Lone Star, the experienced showrunner took a second stab at backing an intelligent, slow-burning character study—you know, the kind of program that most network executives love to bypass. And, wouldn't you know it, Awake, poor Killen's latest show, met a similar unfortunate fate, getting axed after only airing 11 of its 13 shot episodes.

Our guess: The ratings never beefed up due to many people tuning into the pilot, seeing how methodically the narrative was unfolding, and checking out. Those who hung in for the whole 11-hour ride, however, were rewarded with a formidable leading man (Jason Isaacs), uniformly solid acting, and a difficult plot that gradually revealed its transfixing inner workings.

As for that plot, maybe it was a bit too transgressive for its own good. A police procedural show in which the main character shifts from one reality (where his wife lives and son is dead) to another (vice versa)? Doesn't Mr. Killen know that procedurals aren't supposed to be so intelligently ambitious? For shame.

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