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Golden Globe contenders for television

Golden Globes Race

The Globes get first crack at honoring new fall TV shows, but they come in second to the Emmys when it comes to spring debuts. How will these newbies fare against ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ ‘Good Wife,’ ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Glee’?

Game of Thrones
(HBO)
Precursor: “Rome”
Why it might: The pay cabler’s much-anticipated adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s bestselling novels was a big success in the spring, spiking the fantasy milieu with gritty human drama. Then again, the genre isn’t for everyone, much less the show’s penchant for graphic sex and violence.
If not the big one: Viewer favorite Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of cagey outsider Tyrion Lannister has already earned him an Emmy.
An upbeat opinion: Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times: “A great and thundering series of political and psychological intrigue bristling with vivid characters, cross-hatched with tantalizing plotlines and seasoned with a splash of fantasy.”

* * *

The Killing
(AMC)
Precursor: ABC’s “Murder One,” which initially gambled with the one-case/one-season construct.
Why it might: Moody Pacific Northwest atmospherics, a twisty murder and compelling characters added up to a water cooler spring hit for AMC. Then again, red herrings in the plot didn’t always please fans; nor did the season-ending episode.
If not the big one: Mireille Enos scored as the series’ thoughtful, melancholy lead investigator, while Joel Kinnaman as her enigmatic, tart-tongued partner became a fan favorite.
An upbeat opinion: Alessandra Stanley, New York Times: “Scary and suspenseful, but in a subdued, meditative way that is somehow all the more chilling.”

* * *

Homeland
(Showtime)
Precursor: “24” for the propulsive sense of a threat in our midst, mixed with the psychological suspense of “Rubicon.”
Why it might: A timely show about the cost of hypervigilance in the War on Terror, it combines thriller smarts with acute character study. Then again, the up-and-comer batch of dramas is strong this year, and the popular holdovers (“Boardwalk Empire,” “The Good Wife”) exhibited tough staying power.
If not the big one: Claire Danes, as an intensely committed intelligence analyst, and Damian Lewis, as the returning war hero she suspects of sinister doings, are turning in memorable work week after week.
An upbeat opinion: Matt Zoller Seitz, Salon: “The best new show of the fall.”

* * *

Enlightened
(HBO)
Precursor: A look at the self-destructive side of well-meaning betterment, “Samantha Who” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
Why it might: Edgy yet empathetic, it reinforces HBO’s stature as a place for offbeat, culturally relevant comedy, and offers a killer star turn from Laura Dern. Then again, the humor might be too brittle and dispersed for all tastes — and it’s not always a comedy.
If not the big one: It’s hard to deny the force of nature that Dern is here, a potent combo of pinwheeling eyes, strategic gamesmanship and hair trigger temperament.
An upbeat opinion: Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times: “White and Dern might have settled for lampooning a certain strain of spiritual striving and the blindness the convert mistakes for sight. … But they’re out for something more.”

* * *

New Girl
(Fox)
Precursor: The twentysomething camaraderie of “Friends,” but with the three women concentrated into one kooky charmer.
Why it might: Fueled by the star power of Zooey Deschanel’s winning lead perf and a blessedly raunch-less approach to dating humor, the show has been the breakout sitcom hit of the fall. Then again, by going for oblong laughs rather than sporty guffaws, it runs the risk of not igniting all tastes.
If not the big one: Deschanel is this year’s It Girl, fighting the constraints of one-liner sitcom convention with refreshingly off-kilter scene-stealing and a charismatic inner light.
An upbeat opinion: Matt Roush, TV Guide: “Everything about ‘New Girl,’ from her goofy co-stars to the distinctively quirky writing, is irresistible.”

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GOLDEN GLOBES RACE
Tops in tubthumps?
Best Picture: Drama | Best Picture: Comedy or Musical | Television | Animation

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