The 4-Episode Test: GCB, Touch, Awake, and More

It's baaaack! A few more of this year's new midseason TV shows have reached the four-episode mark, which means it's time to pass judgement on whether or not they're worth your precious time and/or emotional investment. Read on to find out which of the following shows we're sticking with and which ones we're deleting from our DVRs, then tell us what YOU'RE still watching in the comments.



GCB

Sundays at 10pm on ABC


GCB Final verdict: Not my cup of tea, but if you dislike women and love cartoons, enjoy.

Analysis: GCB's glossy production, clever writing, and stand-out performers add up to less than the sum of its parts. The pilot established the show’s proud tradition of quickly rolling eyes at crazy Christians and then scurried not to lose the possibly Christian audience by throwing in a Gospel song. Episode 2 brought the lady stereotypes to a zenith with one character trying to entice her husband by dragging a hot wing between her bosoms. In the third episode we rallied a little; the church was used in an interesting way when Amanda went to a single’s workshop lead by the “mean girls” of the series. The fourth episode also had a solid conceit, featuring a famous-Texans-themed costume party and a villainous Aunt Bitsy choking on a rib. However, the show’s structural problem is a doozy: The heroine doesn’t need to make a hero’s journey...and everyone around her does. The fundamental problem is reflected in the often cartoonish periphery characters who cannot, for the show to stay viable, make emotional gains: If they do, all conflict will be lost. Yet if GCB doesn't humanize its "bitches" a little, the show will stagnate and become irretrievably mean-spirited. So...good luck with that, GCB! —Lily Sparks



Missing

Thursdays at 8pm on ABC


Missing Final verdict: Unless you've got a soft spot for melodrama, quit watching.

Analysis: This series was all cheese and very little substance from the start, but the pilot boasted enough action to make me hope the cheese would eventually subside and make way for a thickening plot. Nope. There isn't an ounce of believability here, thanks to the excessive exposition. Missing plays like a children's movie, with everybody telling each other who they are and how they feel, rather than letting the audience figure things out organically. Giancarlo is probably in love with Becca (Judd), but we only know that because the characters talk about it at the most random moments. Becca floats through her obstacles with unprecedented ease—for example, we still don't really understand why CIA operative Dax is so eager and willing to help. Also, if I have to hear her say the words "I'm just looking for my son" one more time, I'm going to explode. Seriously, that's what makes even the most questionable opponents give in to empathy? In short, Missing in an oversimplified melodrama where one-dimensional characters break for long pauses between sentences—and gunfights. The best thing we've seen so far is a "Richard Castle" nod in Episode 4, in the form of a featured blurb on the back of one of novelist Martin Newman's books. That, and the return of Sean Bean, but I don't think he'll save Missing from its melodramatic doom. —C. Killian



Touch

Thursdays at 9pm on Fox


Touch Final Verdict: It's okay. Keep watching if there's nothing else on.

Analysis: If you're the kind of person who tears up during really artful, heartfelt phone commercials, Touch is the show for you. It's basically emotion porn: Each episode introduces a number of seemingly disparate characters and then builds to an orchestral climax of coincidence and uplift. Touch certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do: I teared up at least once during each of the first four episodes. It's just too bad that these episodes are about as deep as a phone commercial. After four installments I'm still not sure I care about Kiefer Sutherland's character or the nightmarish child he dutifully tends to, and really the only thing I've learned is that "everything is connected" and "we're all in this together." Cool, thanks! And frankly, no matter how uplifting or positive the pay-offs, it's hard to be entertained by so many implausible twists. Touch wants us to believe there's an order to the universe, but then traffics heavily in coincidence and happenstance. In the pilot, a lost cell phone somehow got sent around the world where strangers recorded videos and passed it on until a Tokyo teenager got its contents displayed on a jumbotron just in time for the phone's owner to walk by and see images of his deceased daughter lighting up the streets. Touching! Also, ludicrous! The next two episodes worked the same way: New people, new ways for their intersecting lives to make us cry. At least the fourth episode opened up the possibility that Martin's wife might still be alive and the people we've met in prior episodes may continue to be involved in extraordinary events. Overall Touch is well-made and interesting, but let's be honest: It's basically just an edgier Touched By an Angel. —Price Peterson



Awake

Thursdays at 10pm on NBC


Awake Final Verdict: Keep your eyes open for this!

Analysis: Awake's pilot was one of the best hours of television I've seen all season, if not the best. A fantastic blend of police procedural, emotional family drama, and supernatural psych-out, it's a must-see for people who like awesome things. There was a question about how the show would handle subsequent episodes, and for the most part it's done a stellar job by focusing on its strengths and pacing itself brilliantly. Four episodes in, we're still entranced by the family issues and clues that hint that there's still plenty of great story to tell. —Tim Surette



Bent

Completed its six-episode run on NBC


Bent Final Verdict: Unless it gets picked up, there aren't any more episodes to be seen, but if you haven't already seen them all, don't worry about catching up. Also, don't hold your breath that it'll get picked up.

Analysis: Bent is a show that hinges on a single premise: that you want to see its two leads get together. And when that premise fails to congeal—which is exactly the case with Alex, a Type-A lawyer, and Pete, her womanizing slacker of a contractor—the result is the sitcom equivalent of bland mush. Nothing here gels, from star David Walton’s slack-jawed performance to the overstuffed cast (including Jeffrey Tambor, who deserves so much better) trading limp one-liners in the background. The pilot was mildly better than the episodes to follow, if only because it had the luxury of introducing us to the various players and therefore having some reason to exist. By Episode 2, giant cracks in the foundation began to show. Episodes 3 and 4 ran together into one monotonous mess. How many scenes showcasing an uptight woman sassily dressing down her contractor in a kitchen can one nation endure? In short, who cares? Answer: No one. Ratings were abysmal, and Walton is already jockeying for his next gig on a CBS sitcom. —Seth Abramovitch



Now it's YOUR turn to reveal what you're sticking with and what you're giving up on. Let us know what you're still watching and why in the comments!

Comments (91)
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Remember the show with Danny DeVito where he sent everyone on a cruise. Then while they were on their cruise he turned all their TV's so the ratings of his show would go up. It was great. I want to see more GCB episodes. I am sorry I started watching on the ABC player. as now you don't have my vote. I look forward to seeing more episodes. I might want to see if Danny DeVito is still for hire. We need those ratings!
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I Will Definitely Keep Watching " Missing " Starring Ashley Judd
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ok, I decided to stop being a dick and watch Awake. You know, it was decent.
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I don't watch any of them so I don't care
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Touch is an intelligent show with completed stories every episode and little details about the main story's narrative being revealed each week. Ok, none of the episodes were as good as the pilot, but I still love it. If and I quote " the only thing I've learned is that "everything is connected" and "we're all in this together." " I think it's time you reviewed the season so far without fiddling with your smartphone or tablet 'cause you missed quite a lot!!!
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Touch is NOTHING like Angel!!!! Price-ur an idiot! But like Gifted Man, tv needs shows like this to keep us grounded!!! What with all the other cr@p on!

And Awake is killer!!!!!!!! the rest are just POOP!
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I had hopes for Awake and it's engaging right up until the cheesy music and gag-inducing familial bonding formula.
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sad to see that Awake is going to be canceled. Such a good show..reminds me of Lost a tiny bit in a good way.
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I think Awake is the best of the lot, since it's more psychological than you might think at first, but so far we have only been hinted about it all. I hope it goes well.



The other one I care about atm is Touch, which has had a good start (Safety in Numbers is a fantastic episode) and I hope it grows into something consistenty good.
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i like awesome stuff, but I don't like Awake. Now what?
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Touch needs to figure out where it's going, and fast. Also, give us more reasons to root for Keifer and his kid with more huggy moments like the Pilot.

Awake's pilot - one of the best episodes this SEASON? Try recent memory; that episode could go toe-to-toe with some of the best hours of Lost, and Breaking Bad. I love Awake, and pray that if NBC cancels it, it moves up to FX/AMC/Someone who gives a crap. Haven't seen the rest, don't care to.
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Missing = Cool!

Touch = Ok!

Awake = Yawn!

GCB = Gay!
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Missing = Cool!

Touch = Ok!

Awake = Yawn!

GCB = AllanMburugu
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GCB is ok, it does have it humorous moments. But I Love Missing...i'm into the action and the desperate attempt for Judd to find her son. For the most part I watch for the son whose pretty smart compared to his mom and isn't so overemotional.
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never seen awake my thursday nights are w/ Abc, or bent. i kinda watch GCB, touch looks like its gonna get old fast!
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Awake is solid and bent just started to hit its stride in episode 5 (most likely too little to late).
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For me Awake and Touch are the best...
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Out of these 4 shows, here are my favorite shows counted down (4 is worst, 1 is best):



4. GCB (never even saw it)

3. Bent(only saw half the episodes)

2. Touch (well-made)

1. Awake (second favorite new series this season, favorite is Grimm)
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I have been watching Awake and Touch since they aired, didn't think the others showed much promise. Glad to see I haven't been missing out on anything.
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Agree on Awake. Really enjoying this. Loving the new twists that have started to get thrown in and deepen the story. The GCB review is right on. Haven't watched any of the others except Touch.



Touch has potential but is too manipulative and contrived for me to really enjoy it. And it is so unrealistic. In real like, the social worker wouldn't have anything to do with the child's school/institution. She wouldn't be sitting around teaching the autistic child letters of whatever, they have actual trained professionals to do that. In real life, she would have a few moments of contact here and there, as she'd have dozens and dozens of other children to check on. The show makes it seem like she is assigned only to Jake and has plenty of time to just hang out and get involved in the whole weird connectivity business. And the dad is annoying and melodramatic and one-dimensional, and so unlikeable. The characters' choices are so illogical. (Martin acting all crazy with very little control over his emotions and temper, practically threatening the social worker all of the time and there is no blowback? Yeah, right.) This show and the weak storylines it dribbles forth stretches too far beyond my abilities to "suspend disbelief". Every episode I start mentally (and sometimes verbally) yelling at the screen saying, no, no way, that is not how the system works, that is not how real people would act or react to that situation... It just feels so artificial, and created completely so that it can suck people in emotionally and manipulate them into getting invested in the show. It assumes that viewers are foolish and/or ignorant and won't notice the glaring inconsistencies and flaws in logic and reality. The completely ridiculous lack of logic and realism in the characters' behavior is getting more and more noticeable in each episode. And, for goodness sake, Keifer Sutherland, dial down the melodrama! You are not on a daytime soap!
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Awake! I loved the penguin episode and that it's starting to move along a bit faster now. I do wonder why the psychiatrists haven't called him schizophrenic or given him medication. They don't seem to do much except sit there and (from our point of view) compete over which of them is real. They are needed as a soundboard for Det. Britton but they annoy me.

I can't stand Keifer Sutherland so I won't watch it but the Touch pilot was fairly interesting. I really really don't like him.
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I love Awake as well. Touch is okay.
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look i am sorry year after year its the same old same old mid seasons before its mid season and nothing is worth watching and believe i watch. television is the best medium according to me ive been watching it for years and more hours than i can count so i should know its the same garbage every mid season.
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I lost interest halfway episode three of Awake. The characters are so boring I just had to give up. Touch I like but I am not sure why. Missing is better than I expected so I will keep watching for a while. The others flew in under my radar and I will keep them there.
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I am totally with you. Awake bores me to death before I can find out what's really going on. I can keep up with Touch so far. Missing is not a good show I know, but Ashley Judd & Sean Bean keep me hanging on. GCB, sorry, myself is a bitch and not necessary to see the others. Bent, what it is? Never heard about it.
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Missing is exactly what I expected it to be, right down to Sean Bean being alive, although I must say I didn't see him being evil. The show logically makes no sense, but it's good action.



The worst part of Touch is that he calls his 10 year old kid sweetheart. If the kid could take, he'd say "dad, get the sand out of your vagina and call me buddy or champ or something"



Awake is so good. Like why is this on network television good (NBC no less). Michael Britten's shooting days must be ridiculous. He probably doesn't need to fake looking strung out. - Prediction, HE'S in a coma and his wife and kid survived the crash. It'd be an awful cop out, but it is network TV after all.

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It must suck to be a TV blogger, you HAVE to watch all this stuff so we don't. I have watched Awake on your recommendation and despite a really poor showing in the second episode, it has otherwise been enjoyable. But you would literally have to pay me to watch Bent, Missing, GCB, or even Touch.
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Awake and Missing to me pass with flying colours.

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I just watched last night's episode of Awake and I have to say I'm starting to really like it. Last week's episode was good and I love that questions about Det. Britton's condition are arising. Is he schizophrenic? Is he just traumatized by the death of his wife OR son? Is there something else going on? And what's up with this new conspiracy with the police captain? The first two episodes for me were so-so and I'm glad that it's not as cut and dry as the first two episodes made it seem. There's more questions which are making things more interesting.
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awake is the only new show worth watching. i said that last yr when the new show trailers came out
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touch is amazing
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GCB is funny. I see it more of women poking fun at women. A rehabilitated Mean Girls. I can see it getting cold soon, but I expect a renewal and strong second season.



Awake is good, but not as good as the picture painted here. I'll keep watching, but expect it to derail before the end of next season.



Missing played before the trailers at the theater a few months ago and everyone thought it was a joke. Not stupid, literally a joke. I didn't fall for it and wouldn't fall ofr it.



Touch is okay, it's got that Heroes stink on it and I expect it to fall apart or self destruct long before it's time.



Bent looked like something meant for Webisodes and I just wouldn't invest the time.
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Love Awake! Bent is really good. GCB makes me laugh. I've lost interest in Touch and Missing. I've had the third episode of Touch on my DVR for over a week and I have no interest to watch it. I think a lot of it has to do with the social worker taking the child from his father. They would do everything they can to keep the child from being a drain on the state - they'd do their best to keep the child with a parent or other family member. This social worker keeps pushing to take the child. That's ridiculous and would never happen. The child runs away from services, not from him. I just can't get past that. Oh, and social workers are far too busy for the one on one stalking she's been giving this family. Now Missing. I like the show, but they haven't given us enough information into Ashley Judd's character's life to become attached to her. So I just don't find myself caring what happens. I'd like to though. It has potential.
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Wow...your name is actually quite ironic; you definitely have a mind malfunction for sure. All you have just said about children's services is easily disproved. I know MANY kids who have been thrown around by the system you claim 'they'd do their best to keep the child with a parent or other family member.'

Are you that naive? They have done the opposite in more cases than I care to count. I know kids whose parents are very great and yet, they get kept away for YEARS due to what...unsanitary conditions that are cleaned up in days? And yet, I know another child who was abused but handed right back a few days later. Yeah, you're definitely having a mind malfunction; all social services does is tear families apart.
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I most certainly am not naive. Children Services will only remove the child if they're being abused, neglected, or suspected of either. Not only was the child not being abused or neglected, but child services doesn't have the manpower to spend so much time with one family. MAYBE that's how its done in the US and if that's the case, than I feel very bad for our neighbouring country. In Canada, that would NEVER happen.
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Good job FluffyAngel, you hit the nail on the head.
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Awake and Touch are excellent, Missing is ok, certainly watchable and Bent I felt was very funny.
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Awake is the only watchable show of the bunch. Well done but it has low ratings and is heading for cancellation. Too bad, because it is my favorite new show.



I wanted to like Touch, but it is maudlin, sentimental pap, where everything always works out miraculously. Gag. I was going to say it is really for "Touched by an Angel" fans, but you beat me to it.
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The social worker in Touch bugs me. She's too young, too irrational and ruins it for me. LOVE Awake, loved Bent. I watch GCB and Missing just to waste time. There's a few British shows that are amazing; One Night - 4 episodes (AAAAMAZING), The Syndicate, Mad Dogs (AAAMAZING), Scott and Bailey, Outcasts, Survivors, Top Boy, Misfits and Twenty Twelve. Look them up on IMDB. The brits now how to make fantastic tv.
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I am quite baffled that you would not notice the shift from the end of episode 2 of Awake and on. What was an amazing pilot and ep. 2 turned sour with the realization of a plot, but it was nothing compared to the tired and predictable tearjerker that was ep. 3 - which was, to an avid fan of original TV - unwatchable.
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Great reviews, concur wholeheartedly...Particularly with Awake...Missing Isaacs from Case Histories but this series has been excellent so far
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Awake has such potential; but it'll probably get canceled; as everything nowadays.
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AWAKE : 5 5 5 5 : PERFECT !



Touch : 4 1 0 1 : VERY BORING ! i am very disappointed ... i prefer "early edition" with Kyle Chandler.
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Yeah, Early Edition was great. Too bad they cancelled in Canada after season 1, I had to wait until it was posted on YouTube to watch the rest.
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Oh man - I used to watch early edition with my Mum!
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All I can say is that you're really kind to GCB.
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Awake is only one show I watch right now. others just blah, just crappy shows. I didn't like third episode of Awake and wasn't so into it in fourth ep (coz of annoyin' procedurality, cases were weak), but the next episodes of the show especially with penguin lured me back in its reality. and I'm glad. It's getting better.

Ashley Judd career not so great hah? if she is in this crap of a show? But actually it's kinda right show for her. I remember only 2 good flicks with her and it was very long time ago in 90s.
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I have watched Awake and the first 3 or 4 episodes of Touch (depending on whether the 'premiere' counts as an episode).



I like Awake, although not quite as much as Tim. The three different aspects of the show (police procedural, family drama and supernatural mystery) work reasonably well. The police part eats up most of the time so the other two parts do not get a lot of time to develop. That is particularly the case with the supernatural mystery which is treated almost exclusively as a psych issue. The main character isn't actually doing anything to try to figure his situation out (beyond the mental health sessions).



I can buy that for now on the basis that he is content to have this double life and doesn't want to do anything that might disrupt that. Fairly soon I am going to want to see some progress on that front though since that is my main interest in the show (I would not watch either a police procedural or a family drama per se).



I watched several episodes of Touch but quit a couple weeks ago. I actually use exactly the same comparison as Brice except that I refer to it as a pseudo scientific version of Touched by an Angel (interesting similarity in titles - but of course there are no coincidences). I've never actually seen an episode of TBAA but I've seen 10,000 commercials for it in its day and the practical results seem pretty much the same, except that instead of angels you have a cute autistic kid and his dad.



Like Awake, my main interest was in the central mystery of the show - Jake's condition. It took me a couple episodes to realize that his condition is basically just a vehicle for Keifer to run around doing random good deeds. At that point I gave the show a couple more episodes to do something interesting but no such luck.



There are also several things that started to bug me about the show. First, I found Keifer's need (as a middle aged parent) for approval from his pre adolescent son progressively more creepy. Get a life Keifer. Go to a club. Join World of Warcraft...



Second, the emotional manipulation is so heavy handed it started to create anti bodies in my psych so I started to actually wish ill on the random people being helped. I was ok with the guy who wanted to commit suicide jumping off a bridge (and maybe taking the dog with him).



Finally, the underlying mystery has not evolved and in fact I find the show to be completely inconsistent with its own premise. The premise is that there are all these connections tying people and events together and when something happens to disrupt these connections (mathematical fate) there are people like Jake who help to put things back on track.



The problem is that in every episode I saw Jake (and his handy sock puppet Keifer) were actually disrupting fate not supporting it. If we take the suicide example I refer to above - the person was actually going to kill himself. Absent outside involvement that was his 'fate'. Jake (via Keifer) did not act to restore fate and put things back on track, instead he screwed around with fate and imposed a different outcome with who knows what consequences - which presumably disrupt any number of other things that were fated to happen (since the guy will live and have many other interactions that should have never happened).



To be consistent with the premise you would need to have some event that disrupts fate that Jake fixes. So if suicide guy was fated to run into his daughter, which would keep him from killing himself, but some small thing happens that means they miss each other by a few seconds, then Jake could spring into action (by taking various ridiculously complex steps to ensure they actually do run into each other, which ensures the guy does not kill himself since he was fated to live). The show can't be bothered though to take the time to setup those initial situations though and just jumps straight to 'good deeds are us'.



In a variation on the same theme - there is no indication that the show is capable of dealing with negative fate. For example, what if the mathematical formula of the universe is that a sweet old lady played by Betty White who works at a soup kitchen is fated to be distracted and step in front of a car and die but something stops that from happening? Is Jake going to spring into action to restore fate and ensure that Keifer gets Betty White to eat some undercooked chicken? Seems unlikely.



So in the end, despite great production values and good actors I gave up on Touched and would not be sad to see it go. I hope Awake gets another season, although that is looking less and less likely unfortunately. Maybe that is something Jake can take care of.
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As for the other shows, no way I'm touching GCB, and it sounds like Bent is history.
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I'm definitely watching and will continue to watch Awake. I agree with Tim that it's one of the best shows on right now, and the only thing that's hard to understand about it is its low ratings. The acting is stellar, the story unique, and yes the pacing is excellent.



I'll keep watching Touch when I run out of other shows to watch -- it's just too vapid and cheesy, and while it's supposed to be about the 'deeper' connections between us all, and healing the suffering of ourselves and those around us via these connections, I just don't buy it and don't think it's deep at all. I like Danny Glover's character, but I don't by Kiefer's one bit.



And yeah, the whole cell phone thing being passed around the world was interesting for a few minutes, but should have stopped in Japan or soon thereafter -- there's no way it would keep getting passed on like that, and eventually it'd end up some place where there was no adapter to charge it with.
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GCB: Two episodes and that was enough for me. No way was I going to make it to four.

Missing: Not bad. I will continue to watch, but it's no 24.

Touch: Love eps. 1 and 2. Three was a disappointment and haven't seen ep. 4 yet. I'll continue to watch, but it may get stale if it sticks to the status quo.

Bent: Awful

Awake: Only watched the pilot and then quit. The police procedural between the 2 dreams was dull and seeing as how this would be part of the show each week, I quit before more dullness creeped in. Really, the pilot was quite boring to me. Not my cup of tea.





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Pretty disappointed with Touch, I was expecting more continuing storyline rather than side story every episode. I don't really have anything to look forward to other than the usual side stuff. I'd rather get to know Kiefer's character more beyond the "JAKE! JAAAAKE! JAKE! JAKE, JAKE, JAKE WHERE ARE YOU GOING, JAKE? JAKE WHAT... JAKE!"



Awake seems to be good, I've enjoyed every episode mainly because it's different, however it has the same gimmick, nothing really to look forward to and no real character development.
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Finished watching all the Touch episodes, fun series, hoped more after the pilot but its kinda getting stale, i hope it leads to a BIG thing, like discovering a huge conspiracy or whatever.

Also i hope Keifer would stop shouting at the kid, its damn clear he will do as he pleases and its annoying to have him screaming at his hid half their screen time together (this is why im staying away from "missing"; all the *my kid*- comments warned me.







Gonna start watching Awake
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I didn't think GCB would be any good, compared to shows like Desperate Housewives. But I take back what I said. GCB has become one of my favorites with just the few episodes I've watched. All the witty lines keep me laughing all the while and entertains me to no end. LOVE IT!
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I skipped Missing, the first few commercials looked good but the more I saw, the less interesting it seemed. Glad I did.



I do watch Touch and Awake. I'm an emotional sap, I admit Touch gets me every single time. However I never got the feeling that Martin's wife might still be alive.



Awake just blows my mind all the time. I love it. So good, hard to describe how caught up I get in it all.
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bent is ok. its a nice light comedy
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The only one I'll be watching is Awake...so awesome.
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I'm liking Missing. If I wanted reality I'd watch a documentery. Of coarse, Sean Bean is what drew me to it in the first place.
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