When they’re announced every summer, the usual boring, predictable nominations for the Emmy Awards just make me sigh and roll my eyes. (“Two and a Half Men,” again?) But the wealth of high-quality shows these days makes it a little harder to screw up. Still, for every nominee that’s a welcome surprise, there’s an unappreciated gem that got snubbed.
So who were the overall winners this year? “Glee” (19 nominations), “Mad Men” (17), and “The Pacific” (a whopping 24). “Lost” came out pretty well, “True Blood” is feeling good, and “Friday Night Lights” finally got noticed.
Who’s bummed? Everyone associated with “Sons of Anarchy,” which was inexplicably snubbed in multiple categories, and “Treme,” which just proves that Emmy voters hate David Simon. On the comedy side, the excellent ensembles “Parks and Recreation,” “Cougar Town” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were largely left out.
Here’s a look at the major-category nominees and my reactions:
Drama Series: “Breaking Bad,” AMC; “Dexter,” Showtime; “The Good Wife,” CBS; “Lost,” ABC; “True Blood,” HBO; “Mad Men,” AMC.
Reaction: Wow, no “Sons of Anarchy”? That’s a head-scratcher. Do Emmy voters not get FX on their cable? The biker-gang drama had an outstanding second season, and was probably the third-best series on TV last year, behind only “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.” Huge disappointment here, though not really surprising. Emmy voters seem to have an aversion to grittiness. Which probably doomed “Treme” (HBO) too. So who else is grumbling? How about “Friday Night Lights” (NBC), “Fringe” (Fox) and “Men of a Certain Age” (TNT)? I think all were worthy. “True Blood” seems like the odd man out here — it’s an addictive enough soap, but best drama? Seems like a stretch. This was the year “Breaking Bad” surpassed “Mad Men” as best show on TV, so let’s see if voters acknowledge that.
Comedy Series: “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO; “Glee,” Fox; “Modern Family,” ABC; “The Office,” NBC; “Nurse Jackie,” Showtime; “30 Rock,” NBC.
Reaction: “Glee” and “Modern Family” really burst on the scene, and one of the two will most likely win. I’m OK with that, even though “Glee” is overrated. “The Office” and “30 Rock” both had probably their weakest seasons and don’t really deserve it. The only real snub here is “Parks and Recreation” (NBC), which rebounded nicely to become the funniest show on Thursday nights. Would’ve been nice to see “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FX), but oh, that’s right, Emmy voters don’t get FX. Glad to see “Entourage” and “Two and a Half Men” missing from this list. Fans of “Big Bang Theory” (CBS) will say they were snubbed, but — psssst — I think it’s because it’s just not that funny.
Miniseries: “The Pacific,” HBO; “Return to Cranford (Masterpiece),” PBS.
Reaction: Why do they even still have this category? Nobody makes miniseries anymore. Well, almost nobody. “The Pacific” was outstanding and is the only option here.
Made-for-TV Movie: “Endgame (Masterpiece),” PBS; “Georgia O’Keeffe,” Lifetime; “Moonshot,” History; “The Special Relationship,” HBO; “Temple Grandin,” HBO; “You Don’t Know Jack,” HBO.
Reaction: “Temple Grandin” all the way. It deserves a big squeeze from a hug machine.
Actor, Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad,” AMC; Michael C. Hall, “Dexter,” Showtime; Kyle Chandler, “Friday Night Lights,” NBC; Hugh Laurie, “House,” Fox; Matthew Fox, “Lost,” ABC; Jon Hamm, “Mad Men,” AMC.
Reaction: Can’t complain about any of ’em. Cranston has won two years in a row and deserves a third. Nice to see Fox get recognized for his best season of “Lost,” and doubly nice to see Chandler finally get a nod. At least “Friday Night Lights” gets some recognition after all these years. Timothy Olyphant was good on “Justified” (FX), and so was Peter Krause on “Parenthood” (NBC) and Ray Romano on “Men of a Certain Age,” but just not as good as these guys.
Actress, Drama Series: Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer,” TNT; Glenn Close, “Damages,” FX; Connie Britton, “Friday Night Lights,” NBC; Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife,” CBS; Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” NBC; January Jones, “Mad Men,” AMC.
Reaction: I’m stunned that Katey Sagal from “Sons of Anarchy” isn’t included. She had the performance of the year, hands down, as the emotionally scarred matriarch of a biker gang. It’s just as stunning to see Khandi Alexander (“Treme”) missing from the list; her character was the emotional heart of the series. On the bright side, it’s good to see Britton get her first nomination. Like Chandler, she’s deserved it for a few years now. Would’ve been nice to see Lauren Graham (“Parenthood,” NBC) finally get a nod.
Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad,” AMC; Martin Short, “Damages,” FX; Terry O’Quinn, “Lost,” ABC; Michael Emerson, “Lost,” ABC; John Slattery, “Mad Men,” AMC; Andre Braugher, “Men of a Certain Age,” TNT.
Reaction: Maybe the strongest category, top to bottom. Every nominee here was terrific. But the most terrific? Aaron Paul. The guy was mesmerizing this season as he turned from dopey meth addict to pure evil dope dealer to the last remaining character with a conscience. It’s great to see Short nominated, his take at dramatic acting was eye-opening. Walton Goggins was good on “Justified,” but not good enough for this field.
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Sharon Gless, “Burn Notice,” USA; Rose Byrne, “Damages,” FX; Archie Panjabi, “The Good Wife,” CBS; Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife,” CBS; Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men,” AMC; Elisabeth Moss,” Mad Men,” AMC.
Reaction: No Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”)? That’s inexcusable. Her character stepped up this season and she commanded every scene she was in. Her performance blew away every other nominee. Byrne was less stiff this season, but Lily Tomlin would have been a better choice from “Damages.” The stunner here is Gless. That seems more like a lifetime achievement nod than one for the role.
Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS; Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO; Matthew Morrison, “Glee,” Fox; Tony Shalhoub, “Monk,” USA; Steve Carell, “The Office,” NBC; Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock,” NBC.
Reaction: Honestly, I think only David and Baldwin belong. Carell had an off year and the other three annoy me. A pretty solid argument could be made for Joel McHale of “Community” (NBC). And how about Thomas Jane from HBO’s “Hung”?
Actress, Comedy Series: Lea Michele, “Glee,” Fox; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” CBS; Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie,” Showtime; Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation,” NBC; Tina Fey, “30 Rock,” NBC; Toni Collette, “United States of Tara,” Showtime.
Reaction: Not bad, but not great either. Maybe Lea Michele’s singing won over voters, because her acting abilities didn’t impress me. Other than Poehler, who was great, none of the nominees do much for me. I’m a little surprised Courtney Cox didn’t make it for “Cougar Town” (ABC), but like Michele, pretty much all of her lines sounded like an actress reading a script.
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Chris Colfer, “Glee,” Fox; Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother,” CBS; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family,” ABC; Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family,” ABC; Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”; ABC; Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men, CBS.
Reaction: The “Modern Family” guys all deserve it. But how is there no Ron F—-ing Swanson?!? His character on “Parks and Recreation” is the funniest supporting role on TV, and Nick Offerman should be on this list. Toss out Cryer. It also would have been nice to see Ted Danson from HBO’s “Bored to Death,” in the middle of his career renaissance.
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Jane Lynch, “Glee,” Fox; Julie Bowen, “Modern Family,” ABC; Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family,” ABC; Kristen Wiig, “Saturday Night Live,” NBC; Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock,” NBC; Holland Taylor, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS.
Reaction: Is there any doubt Lynch is going to win this? She deserves it. Would’ve been nice to see Busy Phillips of “Cougar Town” in here, she was comic gold in pretty much every scene she was in.
Variety, Music or Comedy Series: “The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central; “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central; “Saturday Night Live,” NBC; “Real Time WIth Bill Maher,” HBO; “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien,” NBC.
Reaction: Awesome. Guess the Emmy voters are on Team Coco. NBC is airing the Emmys this year, and how sweet would it be for Conan to win? I think just as interesting as Conan’s inclusion is the exclusion of both Jay Leno and David Letterman.
Reality Program: “Antiques Roadshow,” (PBS); “Dirty Jobs,” Discovery; “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” ABC; “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” Bravo; “MythBusters,” Discovery; “Undercover Boss,” NBC.
Reaction: My pick would be “MythBusters,” but I’ll bet Kathy Griffin wins.
Reality Competition: “The Amazing Race,” CBS; “American Idol,”Fox; “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC; “Project Runway,” Lifetime; “Top Chef,” Bravo.
Reaction: Wow, no “Survivor.” That’s a shocker, considering “Heroes vs. Villains” was its best installment in years. “Amazing Race” has won this category every year it’s been around, but I think that ends this year, with “Top Chef” taking the prize. The Las Vegas season was great, and “TAR” wasn’t up to its usual standards this year.
Nonfiction Series: “American Experience,” PBS; “American Masters,” PBS; “Deadliest Catch,” Discovery; “Life,” Discovery; “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” PBS.
Reaction: I’d say “Deadliest Catch,” but “National Parks” has the Ken Burns factor. Emmy voters love Ken Burns.
Reality Host: Phil Keoghan, “The Amazing Race,” CBS; Ryan Seacrest, “American Idol,” Fox; Tom Bergeron, “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC; Heidi Klum, “Project Runway,” Lifetime; Jeff Probst, “Survivor,” CBS.
Reaction: I like Phil and his eyebrow, but Jeff does more as host. Probst for the win.
Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Jeff Bridges, “A Dog Year,” HBO; Ian McKellen, “The Prisoner,” AMC; Michael Sheen, “The Special Relationship,” HBO; Dennis Quaid, “The Special Relationship,” HBO; Al Pacino, “You Don’t Know Jack,” HBO.
Reaction: I’m sorry, is this a list of nominees for an Emmy or an Oscar? Quite a powerhouse lineup. But I didn’t see any of the nominees, other than “The Prisoner,” which was awful.
Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Maggie Smith, “Capturing Mary,” HBO; Joan Allen, “Georgia O’Keefe,” Lifetime; Judi Dench, “Return to Cranford (Masterpiece),” PBS; Hope Davis, “The Special Relationship,” HBO; Claire Danes, “Temple Grandin,” HBO.
Reaction: Claire Danes wins, case closed. She was that good.