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Riled-up rookies could shake up Emmy drama race

Several new series have potential to unseat nomination mainstays

Several new dramas have potential to unseat Emmy nomination mainstays:

“Blue Bloods”
CBS
Strengths: Tom Selleck. New York. Lingering scenes where this “Law & Order”-like family comes together and tangentially discusses crime over green beans and pot roast.
Weaknesses: Creative differences between showrunners and CBS make the show appear uncertain of its identity: Is it purely a procedural or a character-driven drama?
Best days ahead or behind? As a quality show that fits well into CBS’ stable of hourlong crimefighting, this Selleck vehicle should drive on for some time.

“Boardwalk Empire”
HBO
Strengths: Arguably television’s most gorgeous show, with every episode meticulously constructed and shot. The writing, acting and cinematography are nothing less than cinematic, which is, of course, what we would expect from a Martin Scorsese project.
Weaknesses: Like many critically acclaimed series, “Boardwalk Empire” takes time to tell its stories, and those stories are complex. Viewers need to be smart, curious and tuned-in to appreciate this show.
Best days ahead or behind? Definitely ahead. Season one of “Boardwalk Empire” was just the beginning of what this series has to offer. – — Paige Albiniak

“The Borgias”
Showtime
Strengths: When you can boast Jeremy Irons in the lead, there are few places you can’t go with script and character. The bawdy world of political and sexual maneuvering is fascinating no matter what the century.
Weaknesses: Never a good thing when the scenery and costumes have more flair and color than the characters.
Best days ahead or behind? The series had a fast start out of the gate as a showy soap, but may have peaked early.

“Game of Thrones”
HBO
Strengths: Complicated, compelling characters played by clever actors. Peter Dinklage has never been better. Themes of power struggles and dark forces gathering make for a riveting epic saga.
Weaknesses: Fantasy doesn’t appeal to a wide audience. With so many characters, plots and subplots, you need a cheat sheet to keep up.
Best days ahead or behind? Weighted down with complex histories, the storytelling gets easier as the exposition — the series’ main flaw — is no longer needed.

“The Killing”
AMC
Strengths: Mireille Enos captivates in a lead role seldom allowed for women: A dedicated rumpled detective who isn’t playing off her sexuality. Densely plotted, always revealing deeper layers in this absorbing concoction.
Weaknesses: You can’t dip your toe into this tale and get the full experience. Moves at a pace much slower than some can tolerate.
Best days ahead or behind? As well-received as the season-long Rosie Larsen mystery has been, the idea of the next big case definitely intrigues.

“Shameless”
Showtime
Strengths: Surprisingly gritty performance from Emmy Rossum, previously known for her film work and songbird turns in “Phantom of the Opera” and “Songcatcher.” William H. Macy’s performance is also strong, but we’ve come to expect that from him.
Weaknesses: All the squalor and rawness gets exhausting after a while, especially considering how young some of the kids are. The Gallagher home isn’t a place anyone wants to hang out.
Best days ahead or behind? Ahead. We were only just getting to know the Gallaghers in season one.

“Terriers”
FX
Strengths: The artful plotting showcased a wonderful rapport between leads Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James, set against a San Diego backdrop that felt gritty but fresh.
Weaknesses: Not that the pilot was anything to complain about, but it does seem that the series made its best qualities immediately clear — to fatal effect.
Best days ahead or behind? Regrettably, the most “Terriers” can look forward to is being seeded in competition for the best one-season series of the decade.

“The Walking Dead”
AMC
Strengths: Creator Frank Darabont proved there’s plenty of life left in the zombie genre, transforming what could have been just a freak show into an edge-of-your saddle Western.
Weaknesses: Dramatic loopholes the size of hubcaps and no major stars — yet. Unlike vampires, no one wants to make out with walking corpses.
Best days ahead or behind? Ahead. The departure of much of the writing staff could kill the series’ mojo, but with only six episodes under their belts, we’re betting Darabont and company are just getting started.

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: DRAMA
New roles rock hit shows | Will people never tire of cop shows? | Fantasies aim to change Emmy realities | Swan song for these Emmy hopefuls | Sorting out the best of TV dramas | Riled-up rookies could shake up Emmy drama race | High stakes for top Emmy drama contenders

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