With the 2012 Emmys completed, we can finally close the books on a year in which the four major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – had nary a drama series nomination.
How likely is that to change in 2013?
Given that all six drama nominees for 2012 (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men” and champ “Homeland”) will be eligible next year, the odds aren’t particularly good.
Because of the perception that it is the lightest-weight program of the bunch, most vulnerable might be “Downton” – which, of course, was the only non-cable show to make the drama finals in 2012. So in fact, what we might see next year is a step backward, in which there are truly no broadcast shows in the drama nominations.
On the other hand, part of the strength of “Downton” might be in that it is a drama that doesn’t bring quite the heavy intensity of its cable rivals, which also include FX’s “Justified” and TNT’s “Southland.” So whether it stays or goes, it’s not clear that broadcast drama is already DOA at the 2013 Emmys.
In any case, here are what I’d consider to be three of the top broadcast drama prospects (listed alphabetically) to make it to the series nominations next year.
1) “The Following” (Fox): This is a non-cable show that has as much cable sensibility as anything the big four networks will air this year. From exec producer Kevin Williamson, “The Following” is dark, features a movie star (Kevin Bacon) in the lead role, has a shorter, manageable episode order in the teens … and based on its pilot, is pretty riveting. Though perhaps it isn’t quite daring enough to match the level of the typical cable nominee, it will benefit from the exposure it gets once it debuts at midseason. It’s not likely to meet the fate of, say, NBC’s “Awake.”
2) “The Good Wife” (CBS): Nominated as recently as 2011, this well-respected show probably fell victim to “Downton”-mania. It’s never easy to bounce back from an Emmy omission, but a strong year from the Julianna Marguiles starrer automatically puts this show back in the running.
3) “Last Resort” (ABC): The latest candidate to fill the intellectual-adventure gap vacated by “Lost,” this Alphabet net drama (exec produced by Shawn Ryan and Karl Gajdusek) offers smallscreen biggie Andre Braugher in the lead role of a complicated and potentially enthralling narrative. Premiering Thursday, the pilot tantalizes while also leaving open questions of whether all the elements will click in ensuing episodes, though based on Ryan’s track record with shows like “The Shield” and “Terriers,” one can be optimistic.