With "The Firm" tanking badly in the ratings in NBC's once-prized Thursday at 10 p.m. timeslot, the only question was exactly when NBC would pull it and whether it would be replaced by a pair of comedies ("Community" and "Bent," perhaps?) or by NBC's only unscheduled mid-season drama: "Awake." After "The Firm" pulled a pathetic 0.8 rating last night in the adults 18-49 demographic, it was finally decision time, and the answers are as follows:
* "Awake" will take over the Thursday at 10 timeslot starting Thursday, March 1.
* "The Firm" will move to a Burn-Off Theatre timeslot on Saturdays at 9 beginning February 11.
* Between now and the "Awake" premiere, NBC will air "Grimm" repeats on Thursday nights.
Had NBC made this decision a few weeks ago, they could conceivably have gotten "Awake" on the air as soon as next week, banking on promotion during the Super Bowl to get the word out. But at this point, the Super Bowl would essentially be the series' entire promotional campaign, and even with the expected audience, that's not enough.
"Awake" was created by Kyle Killen from "Lone Star," and stars Jason Isaacs as a cop who gets into a car crash with his wife (Laura Allen from "Terriers") and teenage son (Dylan Minnette), and finds himself living two lives at once: one where only his wife survived, and one where only his son did. As I've said before, it's the best network pilot I saw this season, though I'm not sure exactly how Killen and producer Howard Gordon ("Homeland") can make it work on a weekly basis. (Then again, I felt the same way about the second-best network pilot, ABC's "The River," and what I've seen of later episodes in advance of next week's premiere has been surprisingly reassuring.)
Considering the state of NBC in general and NBC in Thursday in particular, that 10 p.m. timeslot isn't the prize it used to be when "L.A. Law" and "ER" aired there, but the "Awake" pilot at least feels like a creatively worthy successor to those shows, "Hill Street Blues" and "Homicide."