Who knew William Shatner would get as much mileage out of Denny Crane as he did Capt. Kirk?
Sure, “Boston Legal” will never be revered as much as “Star Trek” but, Emmywise, Shatner’s Denny Crane has put Kirk into deep space. Including a guest actor nom in 2004 while the show was still titled “The Practice,” Shatner has now scored four consecutive noms and two wins for his work as Crane.
ABC dominates the drama supporting actor category, with not only Shatner filling a slot but two of the “Lost” folks — steely-eyed Michael Emerson and renegade Terry O’Quinn — and “Grey’s Anatomy” resident T.R. Knight snagging the other.
The situation is similar to 2005, when Shatner defeated “Lost”-ies O’Quinn and Naveen Andrews. Interestingly, “Lost” was named top drama that same year but none of the actors have ever won. The fact that the show is such an ensemble piece might work against them.
Much to Knight’s chagrin, he was written up in the press this year more for the show’s off-camera antics than on, but voters were able to get past that and nominate him for his always-solid work as a doc at Seattle Grace Hospital.
And then there’s Masi Oka of NBC’s “Heroes,” who only a few years ago had a nice career as a digital effects guy at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. Cast as someone who can transport himself into the future, Oka was the breakout star of “Heroes,” one of the few freshman hits of the past season.
Emmy pedigree: One win
Best scene: In the season’s final episode, Ben tries to convince Jack that if he allows a transmission to go through, they all could be killed. Jack doesn’t believe him and is under the impression Ben’s associates have shot Jack’s friends.
Why he may win: The never-blinking Emerson manipulates like no one else, and his character is more convincing in his onscreen beliefs than anyone else here.
Maybe not: For those not invested in “Lost,” it might be difficult to understand the power Ben has over the Others and the influence he possesses.
Show: “The Sopranos”
Emmy pedigree: One win plus four other noms
Best scenes: Though everyone will remember Christopher being snuffed out by Tony Soprano, the highlight for Imperioli’s final season had to be his over-the-top confrontations with J.T. Dolan (Tim Daly), most notably when Christopher smashed Walsh’s Humanitas Award against his skull.
Why he may win: A last chance to honor Imperioli for creating such an iconic supporting role.
Maybe not: Did killing off Christopher kill off his chances?
Show: “Grey’s Anatomy”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: While trying to deal with his own emotions, George sits down with his family and explains to them that Dad is about to die.
Why he may win: “Grey’s” remains hugely popular, and Knight’s character acts as sea of normalcy amid the chaos that seemingly always reigns around him.
Maybe not: Creatively, “Grey’s” wasn’t as sharp as in seasons past, and George, stuck in a love triangle with Izzy and Callie, was often moping and never seemed to smile much.
Emmy pedigree: One nom
Best scene: A determined Locke demands to see the mystical Jacob and refuses to take no for an answer from a pleading Ben as they enter a small shack.
Why he may win: Locke has become the polarizing figure on the show, doing what he believes must be done — not necessarily for the benefit of his fellow castaways but for himself. That love-him-or-hate-him reaction from voters might work to his advantage.
Maybe not: While the acting on “Lost” is universally terrific, the show’s well-woven plotlines are what draws attention. Though it may be unfair, the actors have had a hard time moving from the nomination to the winner’s circle.
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: With a triumphant raise of his arms while exclaiming, “Hello, New York!” after traveling through time and space for the first time (in the series’ first episode, “Genesis”), Oka put “Heroes” on the map as a soaring series.
Why he may win: There’s no more of an underdog story than Oka. To predict he would be the face of the show would’ve been impossible a year ago, yet audiences seemed to relate to his plight more than any of the other characters.
Maybe not: Though it’s not impossible, first-time nominees — and especially those relatively new to television — sometimes have difficulty winning against more-established folk.
Show: “Boston Legal”
Emmy pedigree: Two wins plus two other noms
Best scene: In “Son of the Defender,” Denny is uncharacteristically unselfish talking about Aaron’s father. “I never considered the hurt. The damage. To him. To his children. I, I should have reached out to your father. His anger for me, and yours is … totally justified. I’m sorry.”
Why he may win: Between Shatner and James Spader, voters are enraptured with everything “Boston Legal.” Both have been underdogs in the past, and each has beaten the odds.
Maybe not: Though he continues to defy those odds, at some point voters may decide that Shatner isn’t the only supporting actor worthy of an Emmy. Maybe not this year, but possibly someday.