When people predict the Emmy Awards, they predict the big awards: the ones with names we recognize, the ones that we’ll see on TV, and the ones that we’ll remember when the show is over. However, there are dozens of Emmy Awards given out each year, and when the nominees are announced Emmy fantatics like me will be poring over the epic list looking not just for the usual suspects but rather some of the trends that emerge elsewhere.
And it’s really a question of trends more than individual categories – I can’t possibly predict a category like Best Direction in a Comedy Series, but I can tell you who is likely to be kicking around and what kind of shows will perform well in the category. It’s one last bit of Emmy coverage before we head into tomorrow, where I’ll have live coverage of the nominations themselves followed by the full list of nominees and full analysis of how things went down. In the meantime, let’s discuss the “Other” awards, ranging from writing to directing, guest acting to individual performance, and everything in between.
Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
Trend: The category is usually used to represent the best in episodic television along with the year’s standout pilots. It’s considered one of the best categories, mainly because of said high quality.
Changes: Unlike last year, there’s no show that is going to dominate with a large number of episodes in the tradition of The Sopranos – only Mad Men has a chance at that.
Watch for: Lost’s “The Constant” seems like a lock unless something goes hideously wrong (Even last year, with the show snubbed, they won a nomination for “Through the Looking Glass,” while the Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Damages pilots might represent new series on the list.
Repeat Offenders: Ronald D. Moore was a surprise nominee for Battlestar Galactica last year, so he could be back. Meanwhile, since three Sopranos episodes made the cut last year, there’s room for some returns – David Simon is likely back in the race for the finale of The Wire, for example.
Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
Trend: A huge, expansive category representing quality drama pilots and standout segments of established series.
Changes: We don’t know if we’ll see yet another seven nomination kudos list, but if we do it means more of the same from the Academy.
Watch for: In terms of the year’s pilots, it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll see cinematic Damages and intoxicating Mad Men on this list (Alan Taylor, who directed the Mad Men pilot, won for The Sopranos last year). As far as other series go, expect Lost’s Jack Bender to pop up again.
Repeat Offenders: Battlestar Galactica could see another nomination here, but Heroes and Friday Night Lights are likely both going to miss the cut. There could be other series, however, that would be more than willing to step in and fill the gap (The Wire and Dexter, in particular).
Outstanding Guest Acting in a Drama Series
Trends: We’ve got the Actor Top 10, but Actress remains a mystery, but it’s the usual: few if any performers are under 50, and the chances of a relevant win seem unlikely.
Changes: Not much, although as usual there’s a lot of turnover considering the expanse of the categories.
Watch for: Although the actors remain stalwart, there’s room for some younger actresses – Amy Ryan is competing here for The Wire, and then you have two House women. Anne Dudek deserves recognition for her amazing work as Amber on the series, while Mira Sorvino feels a safe bet for her turn in “Frozen.” On the male side, Robert O’Toole’s hammy turn on Mad Men and Keith Carradine’s steely FBI man on Dexter seem likely nominees.
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Trend: A large number of episodes from televisions most successful sitcoms combined with the usual love for showy pilots.
Changes: Considering that 30 Rock and The Office dominated last year, this will be more of the same – the two shows remain stalwarts in this category although there’s room for a bit more new blood.
Watch for: Pushing Daisies is the category’s biggest lock, a fantatic pilot script from Bryan Fuller that really drove the pilot’s success, and there’s an outside chance of a show like Californication breaking into the race. However, I’m be happier to see them follow drama’s lead and represent less Emmy-driven series like How I Met Your Mother.
Repeat Offenders: In terms of 30 Rock and The Office, expect episodes to include “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Cooter,” “Greenzo” for the former while the latter should see “Goodbye, Toby” as its main contender.
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series
Trend: Single-Camera comedies with either gimmicks or popularity break into this category, along with a pilot or two.
Changes: Don’t expect to see Scrubs back considering it doesn’t have a big musical episode to submit, but otherwise the rest of the candidates from last year (Office, Entourage, Betty, 30 Rock) seem like contenders.
Watch for: Again, Pushing Daisies is the frontrunner here with Barry Sonnenfeld’s expansive and wondrous work on the pilot episode. Elsewhere, this will be a real test of Betty’s staying power in the face of shows like Weeds.
Repeat Offenders: Curb Your Enthusiasm is totally different in tone, with its improvisation and all, than anything else on the list, so expect it to find a spot here in this category (And since it kind of represents both writing/directing in one for the show).
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Trend: Usually, it’s a selection of Extras “As themselves” nominees combined with guest stars on otherwise spurned shows like Monk and My Name is Earl.
Changes: But that all changes, with Extras out of commission, right? Wrong, probably – Monk still expects strong representation, although 30 Rock has all of the buzz at the end of with its strong stable of performances.
Watch for: Of the 30 Rock contenders, Will Arnett and Matthew Broderick feel like locks, but watch for fan favourite Dean Winters and David Schwimmer as well. Meanwhile, Victor Garber is a potential nominee for a rather lame little Ugly Betty role, and I don’t mind – he never won for Alias, give the man an Emmy.
Repeat Offenders: Alfred Molina could be Monk’s contender on the evening, while Beau Bridges should be back for his turn as Earl and Randy’s father on My Name is Earl.
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Trend: From last year, it’s a lot of seasoned performers and a few flashy names doing showy work on series that either aren’t straight comedies or leave plenty of room for drama.
Changes: But this is all about to change with the domination of 30 Rock and the backlash against Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty seen in other categories.
Watch for: The 30 Rock trio of Edie Falco, Carrie Fisher and last year’s winner Elaine Stritch seems unstoppable, although I’d argue Fisher is the weak link. Elsewhere, I’ll be downright angry if the Academy ignores the amazing work of Amy Ryan on the Office finale.
Repeat Offenders: Still, there’s no counting out the various Desperate Housewives mothers and someone like Annie Potts, who has a hammy turn on Ugly Betty (Which logged two nominees in this category last year).
Outstanding Variety Series/Performance
Trend: The best of Late Night for the former, with the best of elderly concert performers in the latter.
Changes: Not much, although this year’s likely concert nominee is much younger – Justin Timberlake looks like the spoiler.
Watch for: Tracey Ullman has a showy cable series in play, and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert remain contenders alongside Bill Maher and David Letterman.
Repeat Offenders: And while everyone is talking about Heath Ledger, George Carlin is likely to grab his own posthumous Emmy nomination for both his special and his performance – he’s been nominated before, and the respect for the man should get him represented here.
- When it comes to art design, art direction, special effects, and all other similar awards, Pushing Daisies is expect to rack up an enormous set of nominations that will look great in press releases.
- Outstanding Music and Lyrics, won last year by “Dick in a Box,” could see a repeat comedy winner with either of the Jimmy Kimmel/Sarah Silverman/Damon/Affleck saga songs, although expect fantastic Flight of the Conchords to rack up the most nominations in the category for the original material written for the series.
- As far as Music Composition in a Series goes, any TV watcher who gives a damn should be frustrated if Michael Giacchino (Lost) and Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica) aren’t on the final list – their work this year has been superlative, and the TV community hopefully is taking notice.
- Speaking of BSG, expect it to pop up in the Visual Effects category again, especially for some of the continued amazing work seen in the Fourth Season (Even if, unfortunately, the amazing work in “The Hub” aired after the nomination period, the early season space battles will be more than enough).
- I’m ignoring Miniseries/TV Movie here mainly because I just have no idea, but expect representation from HBO’s John Adams – for me personally, I really enjoyed Recount, and am rooting for Laura Dern and Kevin Spacey.