Thursday, September 10, 2015

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of major spoilers for listed episodes.

BETTER CALL SAUL
"Uno," "Mijo," "Five-0," "Bingo," "Pimento," "Marco"

This spinoff/prequel to “Breaking Bad” managed to make it in to this race for its first season, a feat its predecessor didn’t pull off. I’m not a big fan of the first two episodes of the series, which don’t kick it off on the best foot, but the other four episodes – two terrific middle installments and strong final two episodes – are very solid. I can’t imagine this show would win in its first season especially since its inspiring series didn’t win until season four.

DOWNTON ABBEY
"Episode 5.1," "Episode 5.2," "Episode 5.3," "Episode 5.5," "Episode 5.8," "Episode 5.9"

This is the fourth consecutive nomination for the imported PBS period drama. It’s a relatively short season, and so the bulk of it is submitted, including the first three episodes and the two extended closing hours. All of them are perfectly standard installments of this show, but there’s no reason why this series, which ends this upcoming year, will win now when it hasn’t scored big since back in year one when it was considered a miniseries.

GAME OF THRONES
"Kill the Boy," "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken," "The Gift," "Hardhome," "The Dance of Dragons," "Mother's Mercy"

Now here’s a show that’s hot and is just continuing to get even hotter in its fifth season. Interestingly, this show submitted the second half of its season and omitted the four episodes, but considering the fact that it only intensified as it progressed, hours that feature wildlings, white walkers, and walks of shame are definitely what will win voters over. This show has yet to win, and I would not be surprised if this was the year it broke through and won the top prize.

HOMELAND
"From A to B and Back Again," "Redux," "Halfway to a Donut," "There's Something Else Going On," "13 Hours in Islamabad," "Krieg Nicht Lieb"

This Showtime series pulled off an interesting feat – winning for its first season and then being snubbed last year for its subpar third, returning to the race this year for a much improved fourth effort. It’s certainly not as good as the first two, especially as the submitted episodes, which all fall in the middle of the season, come at a point where it’s struggling with being over-the-top and excessive, even for its standards, with its plotlines. I think this one isn’t a serious contender.

HOUSE OF CARDS
"Chapter 27," "Chapter 32," "Chapter 33," "Chapter 37," "Chapter 38," "Chapter 39"

This is the third consecutive nomination for the Netflix series that has yet to win a major Emmy award. This year, the show submitted the decent season premiere, two intense Russia-centric episodes from the middle of the season, and the three final tumultuous hours. With “Breaking Bad” out of the way, maybe this show can finally win, but I’m not sure this season was the home run it needed to be to seal the deal and garner it the top prize.

MAD MEN
"Severance," "The Forecast," "Time and Life," "Lost Horizon," "The Milk and Honey Route," "Person to Person"

This is the eighth consecutive nomination this show has received, which makes it the second most-nominated series ever in this category, behind “Law and Order.” It’s also the most awarded series, winning four times, and so another victory would push it past behind tied with “Hill Street Blues” and “The West Wing” and into record territory. Six of eight episodes were submitted, omitting the season premiere and an intermediate episode and including the series finale. I can’t find an instance of a show winning for its final season aside from last year, “Breaking Bad,” in recent history, so I think this one has a shot but would have had a much better one if it wasn’t mostly shut out for the past few years.

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
"Thirsty Bird," "A Whole Other Hole," "Low Self-Esteem City," "40 OZ. of Furlough," "It Was the Change," "We Have Manners. We're Polite"

This show is a transplant to this category after being recognized as a Best Comedy Series nominee last year. I thought it would be able to bump “Modern Family” there, but it couldn’t, and I think the competition is much stiffer here. Most of the episodes, aside from the scattered season premiere, are strong, dramatic hours that make the show worthy of contention in this genre, but if the show couldn’t trounce its comedic competitors, I don’t see it knocking “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards” out of the race.

What should win (based on entire season): “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men,” or “Orange is the New Black”
What should win (based on individual episodes): “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men,” or “Orange is the New Black”
What will win: I’m not confident in this prediction, but I’m going with Game of Thrones over “House of Cards” and “Mad Men.”

Next up: Best Comedy Series

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