CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASMNetwork: HBO Showrunner: Larry David Total noms: 10 Emmy pedigree: Two noms last year Pro: The most-talked about and buzz-worthy comedy in a down year for laffers. Con: Some remain turned off by David’s self-righteous and annoying behavior. Going against formula: “This show is really respected by the industry. It’s really amazing. … You can try something bold or different during a take and if it’s not good, it won’t make it into the show. It’s absolutely the best job I’ve ever had,” says Cheryl Hines. Critically speaking: “Easily the funniest half-hour on TV,” says Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle. EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND Network: CBS Showrunner: Phil Rosenthal Total noms: 13 Emmy pedigree: Every actor, except Peter Boyle, has won; series has been nominated four times 2002-03 Nielsen ranking: No. 9; 18.5 million viewers Pro: Since it launched in 1996, few shows have been as consistently funny. Con: Never the trendy pick, series doesn’t generate as much buzz as others. Experience counts: “I find that I’m working with such talented people and have so many episodes under our belt, we have a shorthand,” says Phil Rosenthal. Critically speaking: ” ‘Raymond’ is easy to take for granted. But in a season when even longtime faves are running on fumes, this consistently great series is worth its weight in Emmy gold,” says Matt Roush, TV Guide. FRIENDS Network: NBC Showrunners: Kevin Bright, David Crane, Marta Kauffman Total noms: 11 Emmy pedigree: Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow have won; show won last year 2002-03 Nielsen ranking: No. 9; 18.5 million viewers Pro: Vet laffer still pulls in big ratings, Matt LeBlanc’s delivery is pitch perfect, and Aniston, according to Forbes at least, is the most popular celebrity out there. Con: Enough is enough. Skein got its trophy last year and it’s time to leave Central Perk. Comfort food: “These six people have become a part of our lives. It’s like checking in with old friends each week. And we’re all still passionate about making sure it’s always funny and you always care,” says Crane. Critically speaking: “One of TV’s most consistent comedies through the years, partly on the strength of funny and just-goofy-enough writing, but mostly because the cast is special. They each have that precious gift of comic timing, and the producers have been smart enough to constantly mix and match them for us,” says Rick Kushman, Sacramento Bee. SEX AND THE CITY Network: HBO Showrunners: Michael Patrick King Total noms: 13 Emmy pedigree: All the leads except Kristin Davis have been nominated; series won two years ago. Viewer totals: 7.9 million for the season’s most watched episode Pro: Even though all they do is complain about men, it’s still hard not to care about what happens to these women. Con: Is it really a comedy? Breaking out of the norm: “I think since so many shows are similar to each other, that when you try to do something different, people respond. And I hope it’s because we’re funny and because we deal with sexuality in a way that people relate to,” says Davis. Critically speaking: “The vision that made ‘Sex and the City’ so attractive to viewers is back. The great majority of these stories are believable, the characters fleshed out in a way rarely seen (especially in a comedy) and the writing as crisp and fun as ever,” says Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle. WILL & GRACE Network: NBC Showrunners: Jeff Greenstein, Jhoni Marchinko Total noms: 12 Emmy pedigree: All actors have won, except Debra Messing; series took comedy kudos in 2000. 2002-03 Nielsen ranking: No. 12; 16.7 million viewers Pro: It’s a respected vet skein in which A-list thesps still want to appear. Con: Past its prime, so the win in 2000 may be its crowning moment. On the Edge: “There is, perhaps, nothing more irrelevant than a sitcom. The thing is, we know that. So, by mixing a controversial theme with cutting-edge comedy, we take a safe form of entertainment and make it a little dangerous, a little surprising.” Critically speaking: “They did something that nobody ever believe they would do: They married off Grace. And it worked. The addition of Harry Connick Jr. made the show happy for the first time in a long time and created some interesting new relationship between the title characters,” says Alan Sepinwall, Newark Star Ledger.
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