Is 'Friday Night Lights' the new 'Barney Miller' at the Emmys?
In your wildest imagination, would you compare "Friday Night Lights" to "Barney Miller"? If it wins as best drama series next month at the Emmy Awards, the programs would certainly have one critical achievement in common: They'll be the only multiple-season TV series ever to win best drama or comedy once, for their final seasons.
Back in 1982, ABC's police-station comedy "Barney Miller" stole the Emmy as best comedy series from three-time champ "Taxi," previous winner "M*A*S*H," "Love, Sidney" and "WKRP in Cincinnati." Previously, "Barney Miller" had lost the top race six consecutive times but then finally got the last laugh as it left the airwaves. There is no other case like it in the history of the Emmys. ("My World and Welcome to It" won best comedy series for its only year on TV, 1970.)
The first three years for "Friday Night Lights" on NBC yielded virtually nothing at the Emmys: five technical nods with a win for casting in 2007. But a big campaign by its new home on DirecTV in 2010 started the ball rolling toward new recognition. For its fifth and final season, the Texas football-themed show brought in major bids for series, acting (Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler) and writing (Jason Katims for the overall finale "Always"). The show also won the program of the year award bestowed by the TV Critics Association this month.
Of course, it will be hard to defeat three-time reigning champ "Mad Men," Golden Globe and SAG ensemble winner "Boardwalk Empire," as well as "Dexter," "Game of Thrones" and "The Good Wife." But if "Friday Night Lights" does it, the cast and crew should give a tip of their helmets to Hal Linden and the boys from New York's 12th Precinct when they accept their award.
— Tom O'Neil
Photos: "Friday Night Lights" (DirecTV, NBC), left, "Barney Miller" (ABC).