Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Rob Licuria (AwardsHeaven) agree that "Mad Men" will win best drama series at the Emmy Awards for the third year in a row. If this series set in the 1960s prevails, it would equal the achievement of "The Defenders," which owned this award for three years from 1962. The Brit hit "Upstairs Downstairs" won three times in the 1970s (1974, 1975, 1977) while "Hill Street Blues" collared this award a record four consecutive times beginning in 1981. "The West Wing" matched that streak starting in 2000. And "L.A. Law" received a winning verdict four times (1987, 1989-1991) over its eight seasons.
BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: The only truly dead candidate in this race is "True Blood", which has no other major nominations and very little support to win such a big award. While "Breaking Bad" certainly has passionate supporters and has an outside shot at winning, I just don't think it can possibly get around the even bigger support for its other four competitors.
Now that takes us to some very serious discussions about four shows that could easily win for drama series, depending on which voters make up this panel and what they are seeking. If they want a traditional legal drama with great acting, writing and lots of polish, they will vote for "The Good Wife." If they are looking for possibly the best fantasy/character-driven drama of the past decade, plus one that probably had the highest degree of difficulty in finishing off six seasons of expectations, they might give another Emmy to "Lost." If they want to reward one of the most buzzed shows of the season, complete with two powerhouse performances by John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall, the voters will go for "Dexter."
Because there are three major contenders waiting in the wings, my Emmy history book (in my head) indicates that there are just too many options to unseat a two-time winner like "Mad Men." While some of us found the third season a little slow at times, the best episodes (which were all submitted to the judges), were some of the finest hours of this past television season. Generally, a show has to take a big dip in quality OR have just one alternative for voters to rally around in order to unseat a great champ like "Mad Men." I think Matt Weiner and company win their third in a row and should be congratulated for another wonderful season.
ROB'S COMMENTARY: Having now watched all of the episodes submitted by the six series in contention, three things are quite clear to me. Firstly, "True Blood" will not win this category and the producers should be happy with the nomination and invite to the party. Secondly, the producers, networks and studios behind the episode submission choices for "Dexter," "Lost" and "Breaking Bad" were very smart and did in fact pick the best of what they had to offer. All three shows will be competitive and could easily sneak over the line for the win depending on the combination of episodes that each voter viewed during the voting period.
Dexter had what I consider to be its best season so far, and voters who receive its season finale in their reel will be hard-pressed not to be tempted to vote for it. "Lost" is a TV icon that finally finished its run amid an earthquake of hype. Some didn’t love the finale as much as they would have liked, but I can’t find anyone who doesn’t recognize how audacious and ambitious it was, much like the show as a whole. My suspicion, however, is that some of the episodes might alienate viewers who aren’t very familiar with the show’s plotlines. "Breaking Bad" was in my opinion the most satisfying drama series on the air last season. Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, Giancarlo Esposito, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt and Bob Odenkirk ripped it up like no other cast did, and the show went to places that I never thought it would. Just mesmerizing. It is certainly a dark horse. Maybe too dark, though?
However, my third main conclusion after watching these episodes is that we have a race on our hands between the impeccably written and designed prestige cable drama "Mad Men" and the dynamic, traditional and very popular new network drama "The Good Wife." What the CBS drama was able to do was present a show with a self-contained procedural/legal element that perfectly intertwined more serial elements focusing on the personal lives of these characters. The writing is sharp, the performances are excellent, and the show has rightly taken off as network TV’s best drama series. On the other hand, it is no secret that the academy is in love with "Mad Men," and deservedly so, as the third season proved once again that there is nothing else like this gem on TV, with its impeccable design and cinematography, poetic writing, and layered nuanced performances, it is not merely a drama series but more a work of art that I think will continue to be honored until its final season.
Top photo: Matthew Weiner and "Mad Men" cast at 2008 Emmy Awards. Credit: ATAS
Bottom photo: Matthew Weiner and "Mad Men" cast at 2009 Emmy Awards. Credit: ATAS