Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Drama Series

Nominees are pictured and listed in alphabetical order. Thanks to Tom O’Neil over at Goldderby for providing episode information. Each series submits six episodes in three pairings that are randomly distributed to voters. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses.

Big Love ("Prom Queen" and "On Trial," "Come Ye Saints" and "Fight or Flight," and "Outer Darkness" and "Sacrament")
This is the one show which I haven’t watched at all. I’ve only ever seen the series pilot, and I’m actually quite shocked that it got nominated at all. Prior to this, “Big Love” only earned four nominations in total over the past two years, for directing, casting, main title design, and guest actress. It’s hardly a precedent for a Best Drama Series nomination, and even more surprisingly, the show didn’t receive a single mention besides the top category. The same thing happened with “Scrubs” in 2005, and it didn’t win either. “Big Love” doesn’t stand a chance – there’s just not any other support for the show.

Breaking Bad ("Grilled," "Peekaboo," "Better Call Saul," "4 Days Out," "Phoenix," "ABQ")
Breaking into this category is a big deal for this show, and it’s on fire this year. Reviews have been stellar, and that’s after star Bryan Cranston pulled off an upset for Best Actor for the first season of the show last year. Though episode pairings aren’t available, the chosen installments are pretty spectacular. The last two episodes in particular are extremely powerful, and I think that “Breaking Bad” has a real shot at upsetting the other AMC drama for the top prize. It’s a longshot, but this series has a lot going for it, including frontrunners for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. It made it this far; I think it may be able to go the distance.

Damages ("I Lied, Too" and "Burn It, Shred It, I Don't Care," "Hey! Mr. Pibb" and "London, Of Course", "Look What He Dug Up This Time" and "Trust Me")
Last year, FX’s legal thriller took home two acting awards but failed to edge out the season’s other freshman cable arrival in this category. Since then, the show hasn’t kicked up much buzz, and despite supporting nominations for two of its stars and a directing mention, it can’t possibly beat the juggernaut that is “Mad Men.” Like last year, the bookending episodes of the season have been submitted, but it’s not nearly as compelling as what the first year had to offer. “Damages” will likely be back in this category; maybe it will have a shot in the future.

Dexter ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "Easy As Pie"; "About Last Night" and "Go Your Own Way"; "I Had a Dream" and "Do You Take Dexter Morgan?")
Last year, Showtime’s serial killer series made a surprising entry into this category. Now, it looks like it’s here to stay. While I consider season two to be superior to season three, voters seem to like the latest season as well as guest star Jimmy Smits. I don’t think “Dexter” really has the power to go all the way and win this award, but the selection of submitted episodes is pretty strong, and with seven nominees in the mix and only a small percentage of the vote needed to win, “Dexter” could potentially manage an upset. I’m not very confident in its chances.

House ("Birthmarks" and "Locked In," "Simple Explanation" and "House Divided," "Under My Skin" and "Both Sides Now")
FOX’s medical drama becomes the longest-running nominee in this category with its fourth consecutive nomination. It’s won directing and writing trophies, but never Best Actor or Best Drama Series. It’s now the only procedural-style show in the mix, and while “The Practice” beat “The Sopranos” back in 1998, “House” doesn’t have nearly enough backing behind it to muster a win. The choice of episodes includes some high points, but also loses itself in the casual disposal of Kutner and House’s hallucination of Amber. It’s not going to win this year, or likely any time in the future. If it was going to happen, it would have happened already.

Lost ("The Incident, Part 1 and 2," "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” and "LaFleur," "The Variable" and "Follow the Leader")
ABC’s island mystery is quite an unusual case – a show which took the Emmys by force in its first year and then disappeared until its fourth. Now it’s a completely different show, and while its episode selection may confuse the hell out of voters, it’s also immensely enjoyable to many and quite impressive in the complex crafting involved. It absolutely has enough support to garner a seventh of the vote, so if non-fans aren’t turned off by the time-traveling or distracted by cable intensity, it may win this award just like it did back in 2005. All of the episodes submitted should be equally appealing to fans and frustrating to those unfamiliar with the series.

Mad Men ("Flight 1" and "Three Sundays," "Six Month Leave" and "A Night to Remember," "The Jet Set" and "Meditations in an Emergency")
Last year’s winner in this category is back again, with a staggering number of nominations and even better reviews than it had in its first year. These are all terrific episodes that have been chosen to represent the show, and it could very well lead to a repeat victory for the show. All signs point to “Mad Men” as the frontrunner, and its main competition should be a fervent fan base for “Lost” and AMC’s other drama in its second season, “Breaking Bad.” Basically, “Mad Men” is the show to beat; it’s just a question of whether something will in fact beat it.

Who should win (based on entire season): “Mad Men”
Who should win (based on individual episodes): “Mad Men”
Who will win: I’ll go with Breaking Bad pulling off an even bigger upset than last year, narrowly edging out “Mad Men” and “Lost.”

Next up: Best Comedy Series

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