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Category: Breaking Bad

Who'll win the Emmy race for best drama series actor?

Buscemi hamm

Finally, there is suspense in the Emmy race for best actor in a drama series. Three-time champ Bryan Cranston is not in the contest since "Breaking Bad" didn't air new episodes in the eligibility period. The current nominees: Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire"), Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights"), Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Hugh Laurie ("House"), and Timothy Olyphant ("Justified").

Hamm has lost all three times in this category to Cranston, so he has never known defeat to anyone else. Maybe he has been in second place all these years? For this past season of "Mad Men," he had his best showcase ever with the episode "The Suitcase," which was submitted to Emmy judges. In it, his character Don Draper gets drunk with coworker Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) one night while working late and finds out a friend has died in California. It is a surprisingly emotional performance from a character that normally keeps everything bottled up inside.

Most pundits believe that his closest competition is with Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire"), who has already won this year at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. In the season finale "A Return to Normalcy," his character Nucky Thompson, a politician with mobster ties, lets down his guard on election day with Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) when he recounts the tragic deaths of his wife and baby years earlier.

Hall has been nodded three times as Dexter Morgan, a secret, sympathetic serial killer employed by the Miami police on "Dexter." His riveting performance on last year's Emmy submission, the season finale "The Getaway," had tons of action and the surprise ending with his wife murdered in his bathtub. Since Hall couldn't win for that, it's doubtful that his latest episode submission can triumph: "Teenage Wasteland," which doesn't have that kind of energy but does feature a nice story arc depicting his search for a new set of killers while being worried that his stepdaughter is missing.

Olyphant ("Justified") is the only Emmy rookie in this field. In his episode "Reckoning," he portrays U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who searches frantically for a murderer and ultimately drags the suspect out in the woods where he must decide whether he will live or die. It is a very compelling, forceful performance of a lawman distributing his own form of justice, not unlike the performance given by Kiefer Sutherland ("24") when when he won in 2006.

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Emmy's next best drama actor will be a first-time champ

Mad men suitcase

While Emmy voters often like to check off names of previous winners, they can't possibly do that when it comes to the choice of lead drama actor this year. For the first time since 1966, none of the six men competing in that category has an Emmy on his shelf.

Bryan Cranston is the three-time reigning champ for "Breaking Bad," but his show aired no new episodes in the 2010-11 TV season. That means six men finally have their best shot in years to prevail at last. Hugh Laurie ("House") has tried six times in this category. Michael C. Hall ("Dexter") and Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") have made four failed attempts each. Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights") returns for a second try. Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire") and Timothy Olyphant ("Justified") have their first chances in this lead actor contest.

Back in 1966, Bill Cosby won his first of three Emmys for the NBC series "I Spy." He was up against four other Emmyless men: Robert Culp (also "I Spy"), Richard Crenna ("Slattery's People"), David Janssen ("The Fugitive") and David McCallum ("The Man from U.N.C.L.E."). Since then, voters have loved to reward actors over and over with Emmys, including four for Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue"), three each for Peter Falk ("Columbo"), James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos") and James Spader ("The Practice" and "Boston Legal"), and two apiece for Edward Asner ("Lou Grant"), William Daniels ("Magnum, P.I."), and Daniel J. Travanti ("Hill Street Blues).

Also, voters seem to embrace law enforcement officers (including police and detectives) more than any others with 23 of the past 45 winners in those roles. Could that be a good sign this year for Olyphant (who plays a U.S. Marshal) or Hall (who works for the police even though he is also a serial killer)? Other popular professions have been lawyers/politicians (with six wins), criminals (also with six wins), and doctors (with five wins).

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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Jon Hamm, sleeping one off with co-star Elisabeth Moss, is widely expected to win an Emmy this year for "The Suitcase" episode of "Mad Men." Credit: AMC


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

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


AMC sends full season of 'Mad Men' to Emmy voters

AMC has always been the most generous TV network to Emmy voters. Its award campaigners believe strongly in giving TV academy members lots of episodes in order to get them hooked on the cable network's TV series. Last year, AMC not only sent six episodes of "Mad Men" via DVDs, but they streamed seven more online exclusively for voters.

This year, AMC is sending the whole "Mad Men" season via DVDs that just arrived in voters' mailboxes. While "Mad Men" won best drama series for the past three years in a row, it's facing serious competition from "Boardwalk Empire," which won the Golden Globe for best drama series and the Screen Actors Guild Award for best drama ensemble. Both series have the problem of not only needing to remind voters of their greatness, but of their very existence: They aired in late 2010. Clearly, the more aggressive AMC campaign mailer is a response to those challenges.

It also includes another, very curious reminder -– a section headlined "Consider This for 2012: 'Breaking Bad' Returns This Summer.'" The gritty AMC series, which usually gets nominated for best drama series and won lead actor for Bryan Cranston the past three years, isn't eligible now because it didn't air new episodes during the eligibility period.

Here's a breakdown of the episodes included on the DVDs.

INSIDE AMC'S "FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION" EMMY DVD MAILER

"MAD MEN" DISC 1: "401, Public Relations," "402, Christmas Comes But Once a Year," "403, The Good News," "404, The Rejected"
"MAD MEN" DISC 2: "405, The Chrysanthemum," "406, Waldorf Stories," "407, The Suitcase," "408, The Summer Man"
"MAD MEN" DISC 3: "409, The Beautiful Girls," "410, Hands and Knees," "411, Chinese Wall," "412, Blowing Smoke," "413, Tomorrowland"

"THE WALKING DEAD" DISC 1: "101, Days Gone By," "102, Guts," "103, Tell It to the Frogs"
"THE WALKING DEAD" DISC 2: "104, Vatos," "105, Wildfire," "106, TS-19"

"THE KILLING" DISC 1: "100, Pilot," "101, The Cage," "102, El Diablo"
"THE KILLING" DISC 2: "103, A Soundless Echo," "104, Super 8," "105, What You Have Left"

'RUBICON' DISC: "110, In Whom We Trust," "111, A Good Day's Work," "112, Wayward Sons"

Click each image below for expanded view.

Box open
Amc discs

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