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Have 'Mad Men' and Jon Hamm picked the best Emmy episode entries?

May 7, 2008 |  4:21 pm

UPDATE (5/8/2008) - AMC has now decided to submit "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" as "Mad Men's" episode entry in the race for best drama series.

(ORIGINAL REPORT: 5/7) - Getting nominated for an Emmy hangs on a crucial decision: picking just the right sample episode of a TV series to be evaluated by judges. Earlier this year AMC leaned toward entering the pilot episode of "Mad Men" in the race for best series, which is the usual, smart decision of most new shows. Pilots not only tend to set up the story nicely for new viewers, but they also usually have enough dramatic oomph to get them to come back and see more. And "Mad Men's" pilot, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," does a superb job of hooking viewers. Read full episode description HERE.

However, AMC is now leaning toward switching its Emmy entry to the season finale: "The Wheel." (Full episode description HERE.) It's a bit risky. Chances are many Emmy judges have never seen "Mad Men" and they won't be familiar with the back stories of some plot twists. Also, the first half of "The Wheel" is, to be honest, dull compared with the first half of "Smoke." What if judges' minds and interests wander early on? Will they hang on till "Wheel" goes full circle and arrives at its big payoff?


If so, judges are in for a heck of a ride. The climax of "The Wheel" is a doozy -- delivering one of those fierce, emotional wallops that hits you hard and leaves a sting.

Hotsy-totsy advertising exec Don Draper (Jon Hamm) suddenly lets his cavalier, uppity guard down while presenting a pitch to a client. He's advising Kodak on what to call its new slide projector that holds pix in a circular container. Earlier in the episode we see what a shameless alley cat Draper is, cheating on his wife without remorse, but as he gives a slide show to Kodak and shows old, happy photos of him with his once-pregnant wife, he tears up. The new name he wants to give this product "takes us to a place where we ache to go," he says, his voice cracking. "It's not called 'the wheel.' It's called 'the carousel.' It lets us travel the way a child travels, around and around and back home again -- to a place where we know we are loved."

After the meeting, Draper dashes home to be with his family, but he finds the house empty. They already left to have Thanksgiving dinner with his wife's family without him.

Maybe "The Wheel" is a better episode for Hamm to submit for best actor? Or is "Smoke" best for that too? Which episode is best for which Emmy race? At this point AMC plans to submit "The Wheel" in both races.