A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM AMC
Cynopsis Media presents
Before the Ballots: Drama
2011 Primetime Emmy® Award Pre-Nomination Special Report
by Daisy Whitney
Good morning. It's Monday, June 20, 2011, and this is the 5th and final in this five-part series predicting the nominees for this year's primetime Emmy® Awards. Today's installment looking at the potential nominees for Outstanding Drama Series.
BEFORE THE BALLOTS: Outstanding Drama Series
By Daisy Whitney
Can Mad Men four-peat or will its absence this summer from the TV lineup open the door for another drama to steal its Emmy thunder? Television fans won't know the answer until the Emmy telecast on September 18, but on July 14 the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will unveil its Emmy nods, including those in one of the most-coveted categories best drama series.
The AMC show has swept the race since its debut in 2007, collecting gold three years in a row. But the show is off the air until 2012, and while its fourth season that ran in the summer of 2010 is eligible for an Emmy nod, there's a slim chance that the adage "out of sight, out of mind" might apply at trophy time. If so, the show with the best chances of toppling Mad Men may be the broadcast hit The Good Wife, a show revered by critics.
Neither show, however, will square off against AMC's Breaking Bad, a perennial nominee that won't even be in the mix this time since its fourth season begins after the eligibility period ends. Other contenders likely to wind up on the ballot include Boardwalk Empire, Dexter and Friday Night Lights.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM A&E NETWORK
The Front Runners
While Mad Men faces challenges in its quest to join Hill Street Blues and The West Wing as the only shows to win four times in a row, the period drama is still in the lead. "Of all the drama series on the air, this show has the kind of style that does not exist merely in the lavish sets and the classy costumes but also in the acting style, the writing and the direction," said Jim Halterman, Entertainment Journalist at www.JimHalterman.com , who also writes for FutonCritic.com. "Mad Men masterfully holds our attention whether it's a showdown scene between characters or a quiet scene in the office late at night between Don and Peggy. When a show has a long period off the air and you truly miss it, that is the sign of a great drama and Mad Men is one of those."
Plus, the show has become a phenomena in critic's circles and its allure should not be underestimated, said Sarah Barnett, executive VP and general manager for Sundance Channel, which isn't touting any shows in the drama category but is pushing Carlos for best miniseries, especially since that program took home the Golden Globe earlier this year.
But sophomore broadcast hit The Good Wife may peel off its first win. "It's this headline-grabbing story about a particular kind of woman and a particular kind of place," Barnett said. "And this year it's more subtle and more interesting and it feels fresh and well-observed."
Halterman agrees that The Good Wife may be a Mad Men toppler. "No other drama series had me on the edge of my seat all season and surprised me in ways I didn't think television could surprise me anymore. Also, The Good Wife managed to employ the entire cast in unique and interesting ways that had me making sure to actually be home to watch live instead of DVR, which is probably the only show I do that for," he said.
The show had a "sensational year" and is the "best drama" on broadcast, said Maureen Ryan, Television Critic for AOL TV. "If it doesn't get a nomination, something's even more wrong than usual with Emmy process," she said.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM A&E NETWORK
Not-So Dark Horses
But there's a not-so-dark horse in the running, Boardwalk Empire, and it could play spoiler in a lot of ways. Since its premiere last fall, the show has received near universal acclaim from critics at Chicago Sun Times, Variety, USA Today and others, in addition to nabbing a Golden Globe win for best drama. "This is a natural fit for the Emmy voters, who'll trip over themselves to reward HBO's classy, highbrow offering," Ryan said. The show also has a fantastic pedigree, Barnett added, with Steve Buscemi in the lead role and a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese. But is it more respected than loved, she asked?
According to the top critics casting mock ballots at awards prediction site Goldd erby.com, Boardwalk Empire has one of the best shots at winning, right after top contenders The Good Wife and Mad Men. GoldDerby's critics also expect to see Dexter in the mix, along with The Killing and Friday Night Lights.
In its swan song season, the question surrounding Friday Night Lights is whether it can ride a sentimental vote all the way to the winner's circle. "One thing that Friday Night Lights has that other shows don't is not only the viewer's love but the viewer's respect and that is what every show should be striving for," Halterman said.
There's also the possibility of some unexpected nominations, Ryan suggested. "This is the wild-card genre slot, and it could be taken by either Walking Dead (a big commercial hit) or Game of Thrones (a classier fantasy offering). It'll be interesting to see if the Emmy voters spurn both buzzy shows, which they might," Ryan said.
Finally, some critics point to Treme as a sort of unsung hero. "This is the best show you're not watching. I hate when people say that but it's true," said Frank Nicotero, Comedian and Host of Yahoo TV's Primetime in No Time.
This 5-part series of 2011 Primetime Emmy® Award Pre-Nomination Special Reports are available on the Cynopsis website in our special Primetime Emmy® 2011 section.
Daisy Whitney for Cynopsis
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