In television, it turns out, old series die and fade away.
Despite buzz in some circles that Emmy might recognize esteemed veteran shows like “ER,” “The Shield” and “Battlestar Galactica” for nominations in their final seasons, the trio failed to get in the spotlight.
And the changing of the guard at “The Tonight Show” had little impact on TV Acad voters, with Jay Leno coming up empty (well, except for a second consecutive special-class, short-format, nonfiction nom for “Jay Leno’s Garage”).
The departing dramas made their final run at the Emmys with different pedigrees. “ER,” the most nominated series in TV history with 122, including 22 in 1996, hadn’t been tapped for the drama category since 2001. But some powerful moments at the end of its 15th and final season had kindled hope that the medical blockbuster might earn its eighth series nom.
Instead, “ER” settled for Rod Holcomb’s director bid for the series finale and a guest actor nom for Ernest Borgnine.
“I feel like the show was already the most recognized in terms of Emmy, although it would’ve been nice for the team to be recognized again,” NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman said.
Conversely, “Battlestar Galactica,” which premiered in 2004, followed in the tradition of chronically (some would say criminally) under-recognized shows like “The Wire” that never received a series or acting nomination. Though “Battlestar” continued to tally strongly in the tech categories, Thursday brought only its fourth non-tech nom, for director Michael Rymer.
In between “ER” and “Battlestar” came “The Shield,” which made history following its rookie season in 2002 when Michael Chiklis became the first basic-cable thesp to win a lead acting Emmy. But despite what many critics considered a slam-bang final campaign, the FX drama fired blanks at this year’s noms.
“I think of the final season and final couple of episodes of the season as maybe the best (finale) of a series ever,” FX prexy John Landgraf said. “Obviously, I think it’s ludicrous it wasn’t nominated for an Emmy, but I think it’s just the nature of the game. It’s a subjective process, and I think it’s difficult for shows that have fallen off the Emmy radar to get back on it.”
As for Leno, not even his May farewell to latenight after 17 years, on the cusp of the nominations balloting, could help “Tonight” earn its first Emmy nomination of any kind since 2005. Leno will try again in September, when his primetime comedy series begins airing five nights a week.
Interestingly, though the TV Academy offered little in the way of sentiment toward older series, it has grown anything but tired of individuals with decades of experience. Among those being nominated for acting awards were Alan Alda (73), Shirley MacLaine (75), Cicely Tyson (75), Carol Burnett (76), Ellen Burstyn (76), William Shatner (78), Edward Asner (79), Bob Newhart (79), Gena Rowlands (79), Elaine Stritch (84), Betty White (87) and Borgnine (90). Some old soldiers simply can’t be stopped.