Welcome to For Your Consideration, HuffPost Entertainment's breakdown of all things Emmy. Between now and Sept. 22, executive arts and entertainment editor Michael Hogan and entertainment editor Christopher Rosen will chat about awards season and which shows will make the most noise at this year's Emmy Awards.
Hogan: Hey Chris, hear that sound? No, it's not Saul Berenson reciting the Kaddish, Sally Draper weeping for the loss of her innocence or Tywin Lannister congratulating himself on summarily dispatching his enemies. Rather, it's the buzz of anticipation surrounding this year's primetime Emmy nominations, which will be announced tomorrow morning.
You and I have spent a lot of time talking about the Oscars and the Golden Globes, with an emphasis on the movie categories, but this is our maiden voyage into the wild and wonderful world of TV. I'll say this much up front: keeping up with TV is time-consuming. You can watch all the Oscar nominees for Best Picture in the time it takes you to get through one season of "Scandal." But there are a few story lines that even a casual fan should find interesting.
Can "Homeland" dominate again? Last year, Showtime's domestic espionage drama won big, taking home four awards, including those for best drama, best actor in a drama (Damian Lewis) and best actress in a drama (Claire Danes). As the official HuffPost recapper of this show, my gut tells me things will be different this year. What had, in its first season, been a serious drama that occasionally made demands on viewer credulity morphed into a classed-up "24," complete with casual torture (remember the hand-stabbing incident?) and cornball encounters with terrorists. Danes is liable to win again, if only due to inertia, but the handicappers over at Gold Derby see Bryan Cranston swooping back in to take the acting award. And wouldn't it be nice if "Game of Thrones" managed a palace coup in the Outstanding Drama category? P.S. If Mandy Patinkin gets snubbed again, I'll be the guy hiking an unmarked road across the border to Canada.
Will Netflix crash the party? Picture a world where Kevin Spacey doesn't get nominated for his portrayal of ruthless Congressional arm-twister Frances Underwood on "House of Cards." Do you want to live in that world, Chris? Because I sure don't. And even if "Arrested Development" fell short of impossibly high expectations, it still seems right that Jessica Walter, Will Arnett and Jeffrey Tambor should all be in the mix for supporting nods. Moreover, both "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" are expected to land nominations in their respective Outstanding Series categories. If these two shows have a solid morning, it will be a mini-revolution. And if they don't, it will be a travesty.
Can "The Americans," "The Newsroom" and/or "Scandal" break in? If "House of Cards" were to slip, FX's "The Americans" is well-positioned to break in and claim the sixth slot behind "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," "Homeland" and "Mad Men." Meanwhile, "The Newsroom" and "Scandal" could make big debuts in the acting categories thanks to signature performances by Jeff Daniels and Kerry Washington, respectively.
Those are the things that jump out at me, anyway. What are you seeing in that 42-inch crystal ball of yours?
Rosen: We've really stepped in it now, haven't we? To me, the Emmys are akin to the BCS: it's this weird, wild event where anything goes, and the field is ever-changing. Lest we forget, Kyle Chandler won an Emmy award, which is basically like fan-fiction writ-large. (That would have been like Quvenzhane Wallis winning Best Actress; still spelling her name right on the first try since Feb. 2013.)
One thing that I've noticed from watching the Emmys year after year, however, is that the the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences don't seem to respond all that well to change. It's why "Modern Family" has won Best Comedy Series three years in a row, and why "Homeland" defeating "Mad Men" at last year's ceremony was such a shocker.
Unfortunately for Team "Homeland," the second season was a pretty big goof (remember when Brody was Facetiming with Abu Nazir?), and there are a lot of Best Drama Series contenders: "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards," "The Americans," "The Good Wife," "Parenthood," "Scandal," "House of Cards," and my early pick to win: "Downton Abbey." (Season 3 haters to the left.)
The scrum for Best Drama Series, though, is nothing compared to Best Comedy Series. There's the aforementioned "Modern Family," and then tons of hip shows ("Girls," "Veep," "New Girl," "The Mindy Project," "Louie") and old veterans ("The Big Bang Theory," "Parks and Recreation," "30 Rock," "The Office," "Arrested Development"). It's enough to make a comedy nerd's head explode. Based on that run of quality, it seems the lackluster "Arrested Development" season will get edged out. The questions I have are whether the final seasons of "The Office" and "30 Rock" are honored and whether fan favorite "Parks and Recreation" can sneak onto the short list as well. (Free calzones for all Emmy voters if that happens!*)
Beyond that, you have to wonder whether this is finally Jon Hamm's turn to win an Emmy award. He'll have to beat Bryan Cranston, Damian "Pursed Lips" Lewis, and probably Kevin Spacey and Jeff Daniels for the award (plus maybe even Michael C. Hall or Steve Buscemi or Kevin Bacon), but it's definitely his time, right? In the age of television monsters, Don Draper is the kaiju with the most.
* Offer not real or valid.
Hogan: Gee, Chris, thanks for reminding me about Brody's Facetime party with Abu Nazir. Now I'm angry all over again at how this show that once seemed to have something to say about the world we live in descended into a preposterous suspense franchise. (Please note: I will definitely keep watching. You know I can't quit you, Carrie!)
As for Jon Hamm, my pal Brett Martin made an interesting point in the GQ cover profile of Bryan Cranston that posted online yesterday. He points out that Cranston is a very physical actor, almost clown-like in the classical sense, and that "Breaking Bad" is a very visual show -- one where you can have five pages of script without a line of dialogue.
This has made Breaking Bad the perfect complement to its hyperverbal network-mate Mad Men; it also might explain why Breaking Badhas never been nominated for a writing Emmy--and, for that matter, why Cranston has thrice beaten out Jon Hamm for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.
If Brett's right, then I'm not sure Hamm is going to beat out Cranston in a year when Don Draper has been about as likable as that grumpy old man who used to chase you and your friends off the lawn. If anyone is going to edge Cranston, I'd say it will be Kevin Spacey. The TV academies still love them some movie stars, even if the rest of the world doesn't care about them anymore.
Speaking of which, have you seen the lineup of contenders for best actor in a movie/miniseries? Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Kenneth Branagh. Remember when Glenn Close was the only movie star who deigned to appear on the boob tube?
Rosen: Yeah, yeah, the actors are all great, but we come to television for the actresses. Or at least I do. After all, it's the one medium that actually seems to cater to female performers. (We struggled to find five Best Actress nominees at the Oscars this year. Remember Naomi Watts for "The Impossible"? No one else does either.) I can think of at least a dozen worthy contenders at the Emmys from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to Melissa McCarthy and Lena Dunham to Claire Danes and Elisabeth Moss. No joke: you could make the argument that Best Actress in a Comedy Series could be 10 deep. OK, the possibilities are not endless, but it's still a pretty close ball game.
All of which is to say: Let's reconvene after the nominations and see what the Emmy voters got right and wrong. Until then, I've got my cable box locked on CBS, since a little bird told me that you'll be providing post-nominations commentary on Thursday morning. Hope you've got a lot to say about "The Bible"!