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Will Emmys remember 'Breaking Bad' and 'Damages' in 2012?

August 15, 2011 | 11:00 am

Breaking bad damages

Two TV shows previously nominated for drama series -- "Breaking Bad" and "Damages" -- are sitting out this current Emmy race because they didn't air any new episodes during the 2010-11 eligibility period. Both series returned to the airwaves last month for the start of their fourth seasons, but will Emmy voters remember these series come next year?

Recent Emmy history has shown us a precedent for a nominated drama series to take a year off, then return the following year with another series bid. "The Sopranos" succeeded in doing this very thing  -- not just once, but twice. Between 1999 and 2007, the HBO mob series was nominated every year it was eligible, but it actually sat out of the competition in 2002 and 2005 due to extended hiatuses. Over on the comedy side, the same is true for "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which took a few years off for production reasons but always returned to the series race the following year.

Should "Breaking Bad" and "Damages" hope the same fate awaits them? Between the two of them, the former has a better shot at returning to the Emmy party in 2012. "Breaking Bad" was previously nominated in 2009 and 2010, while "Damages" has sat out two years now, having last reaped series bids in 2008 and 2009. "Breaking Bad" also has the support of AMC, which knows how to campaign for Emmys. This is the same network that carried "Mad Men" to the winner's circle three years in a row, and is a strong contender this year to make it four. Conversely, "Damages" is now airing on a brand-new channel (Audience Network, formerly DirecTV's 101 Network) after being dropped by FX following three seasons of disappointing ratings.

When it comes to Emmy wins, "Breaking Bad" again prevails over "Damages." Bryan Cranston picked up three consecutive trophies as cancer patient-turned-drug manufacturer Walter White, and supporting player Aaron Paul triumphed last year as his meth-making partner. With two additional wins by Lynne Willingham for single-camera picture editing, the total number of Emmys for "Breaking Bad" comes to six. So far "Damages" has amassed four victories: two for lead actress Glenn Close, one for supporting actor Zeljko Ivanek and one for drama casting.

In his review of the new season of "Breaking Bad," Matt Roush (TV Guide) called the show "one of cable's darkest masterpieces of mayhem," and he declares that its summer return was "a cause for celebration." Audiences agreed, as the season's first episode attracted 32% more viewers than did the Season 3 premiere. Maureen Ryan (AOL TV) says "Damages" may not be on the same level as "The Sopranos," but "it knows what it's about these days," and it's a great showcase for "some prime, grade-A acting."

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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo, left: "Damages." Credit: Audience Network.

Photo, right: "Breaking Bad." Credit: AMC

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