Another season, another bag of radically mixed opinions.
As Emmy hopefuls prep for campaigns, caviar and constant attention from spin doctors, there is, as always, a swell of support for lesser-known actors and previous nominees who never heard, “And the Emmy goes to …”
For every Helen Hunt (four best actress wins) and Kelsey Grammer (three best actor wins), there are actors such as Laura Innes (“ER”), Kevin James (“King of Queens”) and Wendie Malick (“Just Shoot Me”), performers who have generated boffo buzz all season long — and all series long– but haven’t been able to snare the hardware.
That’s what critics are for.
As the nominee deadline approaches, the country’s professional channel surfers are hoping their faves become Emmy faves. Like a sportswriter touting a local hero for the league’s MVP award, coast-to-coast critics are doing their best to push some worthy candidates.
Los Angeles Daily News
Call it the WB’s rookie of the year. As television’s biggest Nielsen battle raged on — “Survivor: The Australian Outback” vs. “Friends” — “Gilmore Girls” was sitting quietly, building a solid audience.
“Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel play off of each other very well,” David Kronke says. “There are few shows that contain such genuine chemistry on television. It didn’t get the press of its competitors, but it certainly built a loyal fan base. They both should be rewarded.”
From family bonding to family dysfunction, Kronke thinks 2000 winner Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) still deserves Emmy’s attention, but at an unfortunate price.
“She’d be competing against Doris Roberts, and that’s a shame,” Kronke says. “She’s always excellent amid incredibly funny chaos. She’s the Livia of sitcoms.”
Kronke’s other hopefuls: Jane Kaczmarek (nommed last year for “Malcolm in the Middle”), Stacy Keach (“Titus”) and Evan Rachel Wood (“Once and Again”).
New York Daily News
David Bianculli doesn’t go out on a limb when it comes to his favorite shows, but his list, which includes “Oz” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” brings up a valid criticism directed at Emmy voters: They don’t take many risks.
“These shows are extremely popular within the industry, among the public and with critics,” he says, “but when it comes to the individual performances, they never get noticed.”
Bianculli’s five-star recommendations aren’t the safe bets voters usually honor. Instead, he would focus on a group of killers, rapists and thieves.
“Lee Tergesen and Christopher Meloni (“Oz”) are two of the most watchable, menacing characters on television. ‘The Sopranos’ is the cable show for performance nods, but voters should really consider ‘Oz.’ It’s completely driven by powerful people every episode, and the cast is extremely deep. J.K. Simmons is always terrific, and Rita Moreno was great.”
Bianculli is also on Emmy’s case about never having recognized Sarah Michelle Gellar (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). “A show that consistently takes risks is made even better by Gellar’s flawless execution,” he says. “She’s the biggest reason why it has become so popular.”
Bianculli’s other selections include James Marsters (“Buffy”), Annabella Sciorra (guest star on “The Sopranos”) and George Segal (“Just Shoot Me”).
San Diego Union Tribune
Despite plenty of cast changes, “Law & Order’s” fan base has stayed extremely loyal. In fact, Dick Wolf’s franchise shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s become a big ratings hit all over again on cable.
“It’s a basic format show,” says Bob Laurence, “but it’s the best of its kind, and the actors are tremendous all around. Jerry Orbach and Sam Waterston are rocks of stability on a show that has gone through many big changes, but they stay superb.”
From a seasoned vet to a novice, Laurence thinks a primetime newcomer also deserves a nod this year.
“William Petersen is a compelling presence,” he says. ” ‘CSI’ is an emotional journey into the minds of some very complex characters, and he pulls that off quite well.”
Not just a drama fan, Laurence also singles out “Dharma & Greg’s” Jenna Elfman as the ideal Emmy candidate.
“She deserves more recognition than she has received,” he says. “Her personality is a perfect fit for what the show delivers. She has become a great comic actress, and there aren’t many on television right now.”
Laurence’s other picks: Ryan Stiles (“The Drew Carey Show”) and anyone from Bravo’s “Cold Feet.”