Diversity is not the underlying theme of this year’s comedy series writing race. And it’s not just because all but one nomination went to former denizens of the “Saturday Night Live” writers’ room.
Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, each tapped for their work on NBC’s “The Office,” are competing with the show’s British forefathers, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who are jointly up this year for HBO’s “Extras.”
Emmy voters dissenting from “The Office” pool will be limited in their alternatives. NBC’s rookie skein “30 Rock,” another Thursday show, generated the only other nominations, with one each going to series creator-exec producer Tina Fey and staffer Robert Carlock.
It’s certainly not an unprecedented situation — two years ago Fox’s “Arrested Development” had three nominations in the category, with series creator and exec producer Mitchell Hurwitz ultimately winning the trophy. But last year, when Schur, Gervais and Merchant were all nominated in this category, “My Name Is Earl” creator-exec producer Greg Garcia triumphed.
This is the second consecutive year in which the category has featured entirely single-camera skeins. CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond” was the last multicam laffer to generate a win, with series staffer Tucker Cawley taking the trophy in 2003.
Show: “30 Rock”
Kudos pedigree as writer: He shared an ’01 variety-music-comedy nom with Fey.
On the resume: Also on staff at “Friends” and “Joey.”
Memorable scene from nominated episode: Liz (Fey) hears Jenna (Jane Krakowski) suggest she has what it takes to catch the eye of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). Replies Liz: “Yeah, so now all you have to do is make yourself 10 years younger and Asian.”
Why he may win: Any episode that features Donaghy has a good shot.
Maybe not: Considering that he’s up against his boss in this category, a nom might be better than a win.
Show: “The Office”
Episode: “Gay Witch Hunt”
Kudos pedigree as writer: Daniels led “The Office” to 2007 WGA recognition for comedy series. Back in 1989, during his “Saturday Night Live” days, Daniels was part of an ensemble team of scribes who shared a variety-musical scribe trophy.
On the resume: In addition to his “SNL” work, Daniels was a producer on “The Simpsons” and exec produced “King of the Hill.”
Memorable scene from nominated episode: Besides the kiss between Michael (Steve Carell) and Oscar (Oscar Nunez), viewers got to witness the aftermath of Jim (John Krasinski) confessing his love to Pam (Jenna Fischer).
Why he may win: As the season premiere of the skein that took home the comedy series trophy last year, it’s a prominent episode written by the showrunner himself.
Maybe not: “The Office” vote may be spread thin, especially with Gervais factored in.
Show: “30 Rock”
Episode: “Tracy Does Conan”
Kudos pedigree as writer: Fey was thrice nommed for Emmys in variety, music or comedy program with “SNL.”
On the resume: Fey broke both herself and Lindsay Lohan out in 2004 by penning “Mean Girls.”
Memorable scene from nominated episode: Liz (Fey) and Conan O’Brien have an awkward meeting that implies a sordid romantic past.
Why she may win: Mitch Hurwitz supplies some precedence, winning this category two years ago with his similarly high-IQ single-cam laffer “Arrested Development.”
Maybe not: “The Office” is also smart … and perhaps a little broader-skewing.
Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Episode: “Daniel Radcliffe”
Kudos pedigree as writers: Gervais and Merchant also received a tandem writing nom last year for “Extras,” and both were tapped in 2005 in the mini, movie or dramatic special category for penning the British version of “The Office.”
On the resume: Both best known for creating “The Office.”
Memorable scene from nominated episode: On the set of Andy’s (Gervais) new film, “Harry Potter” star Radcliffe tries relentlessly to hook up with female cast and crew. Remarking on a makeup artist’s wedding ring, he says, “Don’t stop me. A ring don’t mean a thing.”
Why they may win: The U.S. “Office” received a series trophy in ’06, but voters may be looking to more specifically reward Gervais and Merchant for the first time.
Maybe not: TV Academy members obviously love their work, but they’re more familiar with “The Office.”
Show: “The Office”
Episode: “The Negotiation”
Kudos pedigree as writer: Schur was nominated in this category last year for the series’ “Christmas Party” episode. He was also part of an “SNL” writers’ room that won for variety-musical in 2002.
On the resume: Beside “SNL,” Schur has written for HBO comedy “The Comeback”; he also co-wrote last year’s indie feature “Totally Awesome,” starring Chris Kattan.
Memorable scene from nominated episode: Michael (Steve Carell) proudly shows off his new suit to the staff, but the preening ends abruptly when warehouse foreman Darryl (Craig Robinson) informs him that it’s a piece of woman’s apparel.
Why he may win: Sharp episode with a bunch of funny scenes.
Maybe not: Like Carlock, Schur has the dubious honor of competing with the series showrunner for the win.