NAKED CITY (1958-1963)

(Pluto/Roku/tubi/VOD) NAKED CITY was a long-running TV show adapted from the 1948 film THE NAKED CITY, bringing a more grounded police procedural to the small screen, ten years after the film, and seven years after DRAGNET made the leap from radio to TV. While show creator Stirling Silliphant (THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT writer, creator of the previously mentioned ROUTE 66 which was spurred into existence by an episode of NAKED CITY) had nothing to do with the original film, he took to heart the intent of putting NYC and its citizens on display.

The first season features John McIntire and James Franciscus inhabiting the same THE NAKED CITY roles as Lt. Detective Dan Muldoon and Detective Jimmy Halloran although John McIntire quickly grew tired of New York City and the show, so he was written out in a -jawdropping- way, then NAKED CITY was recast and turned from a half-hour show to an hour long, and recast again — this with Paul Burke as the lead detective — and with him it finally found some legs.

The show’s fumbling worked though, as the delay allowed NAKED CITY to capture a completely different New York City than the one portrayed in THE NAKED CITY, a NYC with counterculture, where the youths had started to distrust the police, as opposed to the fantasyland of 60s DRAGNET. (I’ve watched far too much DRAGNET:

Like its modern day companion LAW & ORDER, it made the most of the NYC theater scene and booked a number of extraordinarily talented guest actors who hadn’t been discovered yet, including Cicely Tyson, Peter Falk, Bruce Dern, Suzanne Pleshette, and many more. Even if you ignore the adept location shooting, brisk plotting and deft character work, the show’s worth a watch simply for the faces that pop up.

“There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”

AWAKE (2012)

(VOD) AWAKE was a short-lived high-concept procedural TV crime drama about Michael Britten (Jason Issacs, HARRY POTTER, THE DEATH OF STALIN), a detective who loses his wife (Laura Allen, TERRIERS, THE 4400) in a car accident. He falls asleep and, when he wakes, instead of his wife being dead, it’s his son (13 REASONS WHY’s Dylan Minnette). Next time he falls asleep, his son is still dead. He straddles these two realms, living a fractured life, all while solving crimes and attending therapy sessions with separate therapists (BD Wong in one, Cherry Jones in the other).

The show’s creator, Kyle Killen, previously dabbled in the ‘dual lives’ genre with his infamously truncated FOX series LONE STAR, which featured James Wolk (the Bob in MAD MEN’s ‘Not great, Bob!’. Also, ZOO.) as a bigamist and, while LONE STAR was unjustly canceled too soon, AWAKE feels like a more mature, more interesting take on the material, as it scrutinizes a man who won’t reckon with the schism in his life, so he’s forced to endure all permutations.

AWAKE was one of the rare post-LOST genre shows that used its high-concept to dig deep into the humanity of its characters, while still fueling a remarkable storytelling engine. The season one finale — also the series finale — broke the future potential of the show wide open, or lent the show some closure, depending on how you look at it.

If you do watch it and want to read about what they intended with the finale and potential future of the show, there’s a great interview with Killen here: