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'Family Guy,' '30 Rock,' 'Pushing Daisies' and 'Two and a Half Men' are hits at Sunday's Emmy panels, says secret judge No. 1

June 29, 2008 |  8:04 pm

"Is it possible for HBO not to have a show nominated for best drama and comedy series?" asks our secret Emmy judge No. 1 after attending one of Sunday's panels that screens sample episodes submitted by the Top 10 semifinalists for best comedy series. "It almost seems likely. To the people that will argue that HBO has to pick up at least one nomination in the series categories, I say to them: Know that voters are most likely not making sure that they have one HBO show in their top five."


Since 1992 HBO has had at least one show in either category. "The Larry Sanders Show" launched its lucky streak in 1993, remaining in the comedy lineup till 1998. The next year "The Sopranos" dawned on the drama side, then many other HBO programs followed in both genres: "Sex and the City," "Deadwood," "Six Feet Under," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Entourage." "Curb" and "Entourage" are eligible to be back this year, but judge No. 1 says that's not a gimme.

"OK, to narrow the top 10 into 5 is tricky, not as clear cut as the dramas," he says. (See his analysis of the drama-series contest HERE.) Compare this report to two others by our secret judges: click HERE and HERE.

"We can start by eliminating 3 shows: 'Weeds,' 'Ugly Betty' and 'Flight of the Conchords.'

"Right now I feel like the comedy series nominees will be 'Family Guy,' 'The Office,' 'Pushing Daisies,' '30 Rock' and 'Two and a Half Men.' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is on the bubble if 'Family Guy' stumbles for some reason.

" 'Weeds' just doesn't seem to do it for people. If they couldn't get nominated for the pilot then there really isn't a hope of the show making the top 5. I personally love this series and they picked my favorite episode from last season. Unfortunately voters' reaction was lukewarm and therefore it is safe to say that 'Weeds' misses again. Mary-Louise and Elizabeth are hopefully looking at adding nominations to their tally.

" 'Ugly Betty' seems to have gotten stale quite quickly. Think 'Desperate Housewives' Season 2. I don't think the backlash to 'Betty' will be as severe as the Housewives had it during their sophomore season but I think its hope for a comedy-series nomination is close to zero. A smart move for the show would have been using an episode with more Vanessa and less America. Hopefully, Miss Williams will be able to pick up her Emmy this year.

"If 'Friday Night Lights' holds the title for Honor To Make Top 10 Dramas, the show that holds the comedy title would be 'Flight of the Conchords.' I personally enjoy the show and the response was a lot more optimistic than I had expected it to be, but we have to be honest in knowing that it doesn't have much of a prayer.

" 'Pushing Daisies' was by far my favorite episode of the day. Obviously, it isn't the most laugh-out-loud comedy of the bunch, but it really was in a class of its own. Something as special and moving and so immaculately well produced will definitely get nominated. I don't think it will score in the top 3 of the panel voting because so many voters judge by how 'funny' the shows are, but I think the popular vote secures its spot for a nom. All four leads should also be nominated, especially Pace, Friel and McBride.

"Last year's winner ['30 Rock'] submitted wisely once again and it's a no-brainer that the show will land in the nomination circle. The episode was right up the voters' alley. I personally have loved the show since Day 1, and judging by the response it's still in good standing with members. Say what you will about Jane Krakowski but she should have a nomination.

"If I've got to pick the nominations for this category, would I include 'The Office'? No. I was a huge fan of this show, but there came a time when I just had to let it go. It was too much the same. I always felt like it was just going in circles. Most of the laughs come from Steve Carell, but I think he is just as funny on Leno, Conan or 'Unscripted with Anne Hathaway.' I know many people are still on the wagon with this show and for that I am confident in predicting it to land another nomination. The episode submission was fine and had a fairly enthusiastic response from the crowd.

"Name a show that can have many, many decent episodes and then submit one of their better ones and have it go over like a smash for the panel. The show you would be naming is 'Two and a Half Men.' I believe it has done it again. I was sooooo sure that the show wasn't going to be a contender for the top 5 this year. (Note to people who aren't considering this show for their final 5: Reconsider.) Don't underestimate the appeal of this show. It definitely ties for first or places a close second for the show that received the best voter laugh reaction.

" 'Family Guy' was a SMASH!!! It has a very strong shot at the nomination. It was the most laughed at, next to 'Two and a Half Men.' The only thing that would stop the show from scoring at the top of the lists would be a bias over the fact that it is animated. They made the top 10 popular vote and there were so many fans of the show on the panel that I think it could definitely happen. Has anyone considered this show actually winning the Emmy for comedy series? I had to put things into perspective when I voted for this show. I have laughed really hard at episodes of 'The Simpons' and 'King of the Hill.' There is a category for them to compete exclusively and that would be the only thing that hurts it.


" 'Entourage' played just as well as it did last year, although last year it managed the nomination. The response to 'Conchords' was more encouraging. Remember, though, that the last time 'Entourage' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' were in the top 10 together, only 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' got nominated. 'Entourage' is a show that in general needs the popular vote in order to have a prayer at cracking the five for a second year in a row. I just feel like with the show being off the air for so long and not even a new season on the air or being promoted around town puts them in an unfortunate place.

" 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' got a better audience response than the few chuckles throughout 'Entourage.' This show has been very well liked in the past and depending on how it scored on the popular vote could manage another nomination. I feel wrong not predicting it, but I feel more wrong not predicting the others. I am a major 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' person, but I did feel like the episode submission could have been a bit stronger. Another show where there may just be too much of the same and not special enough to score on the higher end.

"My votes from best to worst:
"Pushing Daisies"
"30 Rock"
"Curb Your Enthusiasm"
"The Office"
"Flight of the Conchords"
"Family Guy"
"Two and a Half Men"
"Ugly Betty"

"P.S. — Just to clear things up for people on the message boards — a number 10 vote is actually considered the best. 1 = worst. The fact that the guy saw 'Boston Legal' at the number 8 position means that the voter had it in their top 3 and 'The Wire' at number 1 would mean that it was the last place vote. "

(Photos: Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC)