NBC is the butt of a lot of jokes about network television – even on its own programs. The 10pm Thursday slot has been an especially difficult spot on the schedule. Two programs – Prime Suspect and The Firm – have already come and gone this season. On March 1, NBC ventured into slightly riskier ground for the timeslot with the broadcast premiere of Awake, an hour-long drama with a complex premise. On one hand, it shares the low-saturated visual style of other network crime procedurals (including Prime Suspect and The Firm). Its plot, though, concerns a police officer who seems to be living in two realities after a terrible car accident – one where his wife survived the crash, one where his son did. Formally or thematically complicated dramas haven’t always worked out for NBC (Boomtown), but the online buzz for Awake has been pretty positive thusfar. What matters more to networks, though, is broadcast ratings.
Perhaps surprisingly considering the pilot episode of Awake has been online for weeks, the program pulled in 6.247 million viewers (with a 1.9 in the coveted 18-49 demo) in its broadcast premiere. That makes Awake the most-watched program of the night – although it was up against repeats on other networks. It’s not a poor showing for a midseason premiere and shows some increase from the premieres of NBC’s other Thursday night dramas this season (1.9 for Prime Suspect, 1.4 for The Firm). The real test for Awake will come in the weeks to come, though, when it is up against new episodes of programs like ABC’s Private Practice.