Although everyone has a favorite TV show they feel deserves more recognition, the following programs are some of the standouts when it comes to being left out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:
Fuggedaboutit: While nobody put out a hit or ordered wiretaps, “The Sopranos'” loss in the drama category caused quite a stir in 1999, with many small-screen analysts in large part attributing the Acad’s subsequent switch to the home-viewing of tapes to the defeat of the celebrated HBO program.
“The Sopranos” would go wanting again in 2000 (losing to “The West Wing”), but the swooning of the critics that greeted the third season point to the show’s return for a third round.
Weblet widow: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” may have a firm grip on TV reviewers and auds, but the Sarah Michelle Gellar starrer has failed to stake out a place in the hearts of ATAS voters. Since its 1997 debut on the WB, which it helped turn into a young-femmes magnet, the skein has been lauded routinely for its complex storylines, and blending of the coming-of-age and action genres. Actioners have been a tough sell as of late (unlike the ’70s), and a jump to UPN in the fall could mean new life or push it even further below Acad radar.
No Lynch party: Director David Lynch’s trip to the small screen with series “Twin Peaks” was like an early version of “The Sopranos,” fueling workplace discussions on the show’s minutiae (the pleasures of good pie and a nice cup of joe) and exhaustive study of purported clues as to who killed Laura Palmer. “Peaks” would lose best drama to “L.A. Law” in 1990, and ratings forced ABC to drop the show after the following season. Lynch’s last try at finding a home in TV land turned into a feature, “Mulholland Drive,” which won him a director award at Cannes in May.
D’Oh! Although Fox’s toon warhorse “The Simpsons” has drawn the attention of even the U.S.’ executive branch since its bow in 1989, its failure to garner recognition from the Acad in the best comedy category is a perennial Emmy story. After winning animated show in 1990 and 1991, the show’s creator Matt Groening was not shy about putting the kudos in perspective: “It’s just not that much of a thrill beating ‘Garfield’ every year.” Starting in ’93, the show has been eligible for comedy, but has never made the noms cut.
Working-class blues: The Acad’s “Simpsons” friction was small potatoes compared to its relationship with ABC’s ’80s-90s Nielsen monster “Roseanne” and its star Roseanne Barr, never one to keep her opinions private. Early in its run, after the 1989-90 season, the New York Times’ John J. O’Connor opined of ATAS, “The continuing refusal to recognize even the existence of Roseanne Barr smacks of middle-class stuffiness.” The travails of the blue-collar Conner family, based on Barr’s standup routine, would rack up nominations and wins for its cast (Barr, John Goodman — seven noms, no wins, except for Laurie Metcalf), but never compete as best comedy show.
Beat cops: Two of the most popular and stylized small-screeners of the ’80s were dealt drama Emmy defeats from a series that routinely struggled to stay afloat, CBS’ “Cagney & Lacey.” In 1985, the lady gendarmes apprehended the top trophy, beating heavy favorite “Miami Vice,” Michael Mann’s fashion-influencing, rock-scored police skein on NBC. “C&L” would stay on ATAS patrol the following year, downing the wisecracking, talk-to-the audience P.I. duo of Maddy (Cybill Shepherd) and David (a young actor named Bruce Willis) of ABC’s “Moonlighting.” “Moonlighting” would take one more nom (1987), and then it was over and out for it and “Miami Vice” in the big race.
Sources: Thomas O’Neil’s “The Emmys (Perigee), Imdb.com, ATAS’ online archives