A mix of cops, docs and vampires all manage to keeps auds entertained and Emmy voters wondering who’s the most deserving.
For five years USA Network has been the No. 1 entertainment cable network, and actors such as the affable Bomer are a good reason why viewers keeping tuning in. Bomer wows the ladies without intimidating their boyfriends and husbands. A rare feat, indeed.
He sat in that chair, day after day, session after session, listening compassionately while nursing all his own bitter wounds, a treadmill with no off switch … until now, when Byrne’s inimitably prickly Paul Weston finally walked off into the sunset (or did he, HBO?) after being the centerpiece of more than 100 episodes in under three years.
“Mike & Molly”
Standup pro Gardell has long been comfortable on TV and feature films, and now with the help of exec producers Chuck Lorre and Mark Roberts, he’s a bonafide sitcom star. His puppy dog charm with co-star Melissa McCarthy helped make the freshman series a success.
Boyd Crowder’s diabolical side is balanced by a heart as big as his vocabulary, a character that might be utterly unbelievable if not for the exceptional craftsmanship of Goggins, who has proven beyond a doubt that his critically acclaimed work on “The Shield” was no fluke.
“Sons of Anarchy”
Jax (Hunnam), along with his merry motorcycle renegades, crossed the Pond to Ireland in search of his kidnapped son. There, he found out who was loyal to the club, all the while unwillingly getting involved in both an ugly IRA feud and the shenanigans of the Catholic Church.
Managing a household with a sometimes-manic wife, a son with Asperger’s and high school-age daughter sleeping with an older man who happens to be an alcoholic would turn any middle-age man into an emotional wreck, but Krause’s Adam Braverman carries himself with an emotional steadiness that’s refreshing.
After four seasons as a loveable lowlife who often found himself in trouble with the law in “My Name Is Earl,” Lee proved he’s equally capable wearing a badge. His character’s love of the blues scene plays like a basic cable version of HBO’s “Treme.”
Crime took many forms on the FX drama, but the biggest felony surrounding the series might be what few viewers saw Logue create one of the most memorable new characters of the 2010-11 TV season, a best-intentions soul trying not to let his past and his passions drag him down in a hard-boiled world.
McCallany managed to fit both bills: Menacing enough to pass as a prized pugilist, while also lovingly tender as a devoted husband and father. In a starring role that seemed perfectly suited for him, McCallany was able to defeat his onscreen boxing rivals, yet Nielsen proved too tough and delivered a devastating knockout blow.
Ben McKenzie, Michael Cudlitz and Shawn Hatosy
It’s impossible to single one perf more worthy than another on TV’s most realistic police drama. LAPD beat cops McKenzie and Cudlitz saw their three-season partnership conclude on combative terms while Hatosy went through an emotional ringer in dealing with the loss of a longtime partner.
Noble, stellar since the sci-fi skein’s launch three years ago, was doubly impressive this season. He played dual roles — and sometimes even beyond that — as the show flip-flopped between present and future universes.
“Parks and Recreation”
Amy Poehler’s the star of the show, but it’s hard to imagine “Parks” building in popularity without the inimitable Ron Swanson, portrayed with deadpan aplomb by Offerman. He’s a supporting actor the way the Grand Tetons are a supporting mountain range.
We toss around “he owns the screen” with regularity, but if possession is 9/10ths of the law, Olyphant’s smoldering lawman Raylan Givens might have the best claim of all. Navigating a world of con men, killers and complicated ex-wives, Olyphant turned on his rich charm at the drop of his indispensible hat.
Bill Henrickson would be a challenge for any actor: an ambitious family man (to say the least) who thought he was doing the work of God. In the final season of “Big Love,” Paxton made real the torment of all the inner and outer conflict swirling in his world.
In each season, Skarsgard’s Erik Northman gets a larger role in the Louisiana-set vampire drama — no doubt due to his fan-favorite status and scene-stealing antics. Viewers learned about Northman’s royal Viking past and Skarsgard’s delivery only makes his character more appealing in his quest for revenge.
Antiheroes and the actors who love them | Actors always playing the bridesmaid | Prior noms hope to repeat | Actors in Emmy contention
Lead Actor Contenders
Sean Bean | Steve Buscemi | Jeremy Irons | Matt LeBlanc | Andrew Lincoln | Louis C.K. | William H. Macy | Tom Selleck