'Mad Men' faces battle for first directing Emmy

With the directors of four season-enders (three of them series-enders) in the competition, ‘Mad Men’ faces a battle in trying to get its first directing Emmy.

Bill D’Elia
Series: “Boston Legal”
Episode: “Made in China/Last Call”
Highlight (tie): Alan Shore’s impassioned speech before a group of judges asking that Denny be allowed to take an experimental drug to combat Alzheimer’s; Denny and Alan getting hitched in a dual ceremony (along with Shirley and Carl).
Why he might win: Alan’s plea on Denny’s behalf drove opposing counsel to tears; it’ll surely move Emmy voters.
Maybe not: Creator David E. Kelley may have crammed too many issues into the two-hour finale — same-sex marriage, inter-faith unions, Alzheimer’s, the takeover of Crane, Poole and Schmidt by a Chinese conglomerate — and a Dick Cheney hunting joke. Also, the scenery in the Canadian wedding sequences looks like a computer-generated backdrop.

Rod Holcomb
Series: “ER”
Episode: “And in the End”
Highlight: For longtime viewers, it was the seamless weaving in of old favorites like Kerry, Susan, Peter, Elizabeth and Mark’s daughter Rachel. Their returns didn’t feel forced.
Why he might win: Holcomb captured “ER’s” classic edge-of-your-seat tension as to which patients would live and which ones would die. The episode’s final scene of doctors and nurses tending to victims of an explosion (as the “ER” theme played) was a fitting end for this beloved series.
Maybe not: Voters that want to give a final award to a departing series may be torn between selecting “ER,” “Boston Legal” or “Battlestar Galactica” — all of which are nominated for their series finales.

Todd A. Kessler
Series: “Damages”
Episode: “Trust Me”
Highlight: The denouement of the episode (the season finale), when all of the dissonant elements of the entire season finally come to a dramatic head. Patty’s dream sequence is also a standout.
Why he might win: It takes a skillful director to make sense of this series’ constant time shifts and its conspiratorial, over-arching plotlines.
Maybe not: The abrupt shifts “Damages” does so well might not appeal to some Emmy voters.

Phil Abraham
Series: “Mad Men”
Episode: “The Jet Set”
Highlight: Abraham accentuates the stark contrast between daily life at Sterling Cooper and the seemingly endless freedom that greets Pete and Don in L.A., and brings a surreal quality to scenes where Don escapes reality and gets lost trying to find himself.
Why he might win: This was perhaps the most pivotal episode of the show’s season, and Abraham’s direction underscored the contrasts characters were facing within themselves.
Maybe not: Voters may be burnt out on all things “Mad Men.”

Michael Rymer
Series: “Battlestar Galactica”
Episode: “Daybreak – Part 2″
Highlight: Young Hera is saved, and a shocking murder leads to a Cylon-human standoff so dizzying it could only end with Starbuck miraculously jumping the battered Galactica to Earth.
Why he might win: The unforgettable series finale had it all — dazzling special effects, pulse-quickening action, cathartic relationship drama and emotional farewells.
Maybe not: Voters have notoriously overlooked the critically beloved series in major categories, and two of Rymer’s competitors helmed series finales for more Emmy-favored shows.

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