Voters mainly stuck to their guns in the Emmy drama nominees, with four of their six selections this year having received a nomination in this category in past years.
Among the newcomers, “The Good Wife” is not only the sole selection from this year’s freshman class, it is also that rare procedual that came in from the cold. Unlike some other legal dramas, “Wife” showed viewers its ability to balance the court battles for Julianna Margulies’ Alicia with a personal life that includes overcoming the political scandal of her husband’s affair.
“True Blood” is the other first-time nominee, bringing the kind of supernatural flair and multifaceted storyline that also helped “Lost” get nominated.
The Academy also showed it has have no problem nominating bad-guy TV, as America’s favorite shows about serial killers and drug dealers, “Dexter” and “Breaking Bad,” return to the finals.
Of the several 2009-10 shows in their final season, voters chose only to honor “Lost” with a nomination, while skeins like “24,” “Law and Order” and “Ugly Betty” came up emptyhanded.
Rounding out the nominees is two-time winner “Mad Men,” which returns to defend its title while also carrying the most nominees of any drama with 17.
Emmy pedigree: Nommed in 2009, 2010
Highlight: Never short on suspense, ‘Bad’ delivered one of this year’s best action sequences on TV when Hank (Dean Norris) was ambushed by the Mexican twins in a parking lot, leading to a bloody shootout and another unforgettable moment in the show’s history.
Why it might win: The show built momentum with each week’s episode. Add to that a number of strong of performances the actors and showrunner Vince Gilligan’s strong vision, and you have the recipe for a victory.
Maybe not: Voters have had no trouble honoring Cranston for playing a drug dealer, but they seem hard-pressed to reward this criminally good series.
Emmy pedigree: Nommed in 2008, 2009, 2010
Highlight: Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow shared plenty of great moments in season four, but after the infamous “Thanksgiving dinner” scene started with a prayer and ended with Hall holding a knife to Lithgow’s throat, it’s hard to look at Turkey Day in the same light.
Why it might win: Still offering viewers a stellar showing from Hall, the show took big steps this year by giving Dexter an adversary that auds wanted to root for as much as him. The shocking ending to the season finale also showed how the creators are not fearful of delivering the unexpected.
Maybe not: Like “Breaking Bad,” voters may be a little leery of giving the big prize to a show that roots for a serial killer, and they might also think that Hall is such an important part of the show that voting for him in the lead actor category would be a big enough reward.
“The Good Wife”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Highlight: After Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) arrives as a bulldog political consultant, he finds Alicia anything but a pushover when asking whether she’ll be on board with the suggestion of Peter (Chris Noth) once again running for office.
Why it might win: Voters could empathize with the difficult balance of career, wife and motherhood that Alicia constantly struggles with. The stories of a hard-working woman dealing with divorce, teenagers and a scary job market could prove irresistible to those in the Acad.
Maybe not: Though the character arcs are what makes the show popular with its fans, the procedural elements of each episode could hurt its chances from a kudos standpoint. Case-of-the-week dramas rarely find traction at the Emmys.
Emmy pedigree: Nommed in 2005 (win), 2008, 2009, 2010.
Highlight: In a season that found every episode expected to deliver a major moment, the series finale reunions between such characters as Charlie-Claire and Sawyer-Juliet were strong enough to bring tears to any viewer who has stuck by this show’s side.
Why it might win: Nabbing the Emmy in its first season, “Lost” proved that voters have no problem honoring a show with sci-fi elements attached to it. Delivering this year’s award would be the perfect send-off.
Maybe not: Even though many felt it was a strong final season, 2009-10 still didn’t quite measure up to the first season. Plus some voters might think the one win in this category was already enough.
Emmy pedigree: Nommed in 2008 (win), 2009 (win), 2010.
Highlight: In finding out that Betty (January Jones) has been having an affair with a local politician, Don (Jon Hamm) bursts into the house drunk and confronts her. After many disputes and arguments, this final confrontation is the eventual last straw in what was already a destructive marriage.
Why it might win: As the two time defending-champ, ‘Men’ hardly let up in its third season, still delivering all the power voters have rewarded in the past.
Maybe not: While it is still as sharp as anything on television, some voters may think “Men” has hit its plateau, while other shows are rising.
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Highlight: Since none of his brethren can be with him in his final moments without succumbing to the same doomed fate, high sheriff Godric (Allan Hyde) asks Sookie (Anna Paquin) to stay so he won’t die alone. In a show where violence and sex usually lead to many of the show’s highlights, this softer scene showed off “Blood” as more than your average Vampire-centric show.
Why it might win: As “Lost” and “Mad Men” have proven, voters enjoy a show’s ability to balance a large ensemble and multiple storylines without overloading viewers.
Maybe not: Voters might not feel the same love for vampires that viewers have given, and while the Acad has never turned away from shows built on sex and violence, some could decide that ‘Blood’ is a little excessive when it comes to these traits.