"Mad Men's" top victory last year was historic. Never before in Emmy history had a basic cable show won best series, either drama or comedy. Was it a fluke? Or are TV academy voters still crazy about "Mad Men" now? Our Emmy gurus/ forum moderators Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Robert "Rob L" Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net) believe it will prevail easily and explain why below. Also read their expanded, insightful views on these categories; best comedy series, lead comedy actor, lead comedy actress, supporting comedy actor, supporting comedy actress, guest comedy actor, guest comedy actress, comedy writing, comedy directing, best lead drama actor, lead drama actress, lead actor in movie/mini and lead actress in a movie/mini. See Boomer, Rob and I battle over which shows may win best comedy series in our video slugfest here. See a chart of predix by top journalists here. Read more predix in our forums.
BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: This category really doesn't need a ton of discussion. I think "Mad Men" is so far out in front that nothing can possibly catch it. The show completely dominated the writing category and has a very good shot at winning directing as well.
Personally, I thought "Lost" and "Mad Men" were virtually tied in terms of quality this past season (and degree of difficulty in their complex structures). However, that very hard-to-follow structure of "Lost" makes it almost impossible for non-regular viewers to even know what is happening. Having won this category before, it certainly has a slim chance at a win.
AMC also has a very devoted following for "Breaking Bad," so a win by that show is not out of the question. I think the lack of a directing or writing nomination might signify less respect within the academy.
Of the other nominees, "House," "Damages" and "Dexter" were all in the running for this prize last year, but I don't believe they are strong contenders for an actual win. The producers, cast and crew of "Big Love" should be very proud of this slot, because it is their only Emmy nomination this year.
BEST DRAMA SERIES: ROB'S PREDIX
(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1. "Mad Men"
2. "Breaking Bad"
3. "Big Love"
ROB'S COMMENTARY: "Mad Men" is going to win this category. It seems to be an almost certainty. There really is nothing else like this show on TV, and, with the most Emmy nominations and the near-reverence that critics, fans and industry appear to have for the show, it looks unstoppable.
"Breaking Bad" was a revelation in its second season. After winning many fans and supporters in its truncated first season, it really broke through this time around with some audacious storytelling, brilliant writing, and a magic cast, anchored by probably two of the best performances of the season in Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Although it doesn't set the Neilsen ratings on fire, it does have a passionate core of critics and fans that will at least bring it to the forefront of the minds of those voters that may not be so willing to anoint "Mad Men" as the winner.
Surprisingly, "Big Love" chose six excellent episodes to submit in this category. I would challenge any voter watching an episode like "Come, Ye Saints" to not want to vote one for "Big Love." It too has a passionate fan base and appears to be well-respected in the industry. I don't think it really matters that it has a single nomination this year. The fact that it made this list to begin with means that there is enough support for it, and if this category ends up being closer than we all assumed, it may not need much of a majority to get it over the line. The same thing can be said for all of the series in this race, but I wouldn't be counting "Big Love" out, and I certainly wouldn't put it past voters to throw this curveball at us.
Although I am a big fan of "Lost" and "Damages," I just don't feel that a possible upset win by either show is a real possibility. "Lost" is loved by fans and critics and obviously respected by the industry at large. But I think its convoluted and confusing back-and-forth-through-time fantasy plot doesn't do it any favors. Given that next year is its final season, maybe voters might also want to wait until then to really consider it. "Damages" was a complete surprise in its first season, giving us a taught, thrilling and perfectly executed story that voters lapped up. However, even a huge fan like me was a little let down by its second season, which lost a bit of its spark and threw too much confusion at viewers, culminating in a less-than-satisfying conclusion. It is still one of the best hours on TV, but I am not sure that voters will feel the need to award it, and might do so elsewhere (in lead actress, for instance).
Rounding out the category are "Dexter," which I don't think stands much of a chance here, and "House," which also lacks any real buzz for an upset win. "Dexter" was not as good last season as it has been in its previous two seasons and, for me at least, it lacks that certain spark and excitement that it would need to give it an edge in this category. Similarly for "House," I think it is lucky to have been nominated this year, with so many other excellent series left out in the cold; and probably was included because it is a very popular network show, and still has some of the best writing and acting on TV. But an upset win over "Mad Men"? Probably not.