Before a TV series can be among the five nominees for Emmy's best drama, it must first make the top 10 runoff after a popular vote is conducted of the TV academy's 14,000 members. That balloting starts this week and ends June 20. Next, judges evaluate a sample episode of the 10 finalists. Their scores are combined on a 50-50 basis with results of the original popular vote, thus determining the five nominees that will be unveiled on July 17.
I've asked this jury of esteemed Emmy gurus to join me in predicting the top 10 finalists for best drama series: Mike Ausiello (now with Entertainment Weekly, formerly with TV Guide), Marc Berman (MediaWeek), Ray Richmond (Hollywood Reporter) and our two resident Emmy gurus Robert "Rob L" Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net) and Chris "Boomer" Beachum.
Here's a rundown of all of the top series in contention, which I handicapped recently in The Envelope's Emmy print section in the L.A. Times, CLICK HERE.
Below, the "logic" behind my predictions. Let's start with last year's top 10 finalists. Because Emmy's popular voting usually looks like a TV repeat, we should expect most to return.
Three aren't on the air anymore ("The Sopranos," "Rome") or aren't eligible this voting period ("24"). At least one of the others has lost most of its buzz and heat ("Heroes"). I fear that the same is true — admittedly, to a lesser degree — for "Friday Night Lights" despite continued huzzahs from TV critics and the show's low viewership. Some of my fellow gurus are picking it to return, and they may be right, but I'm taking a flier on a few newbies to the top 10.
Bottom line: expect the other 5 shows to return: "Boston Legal," "Dexter," "Grey's Anatomy," "House M.D." and "Lost."
"The Tudors" probably came close to getting in last year. Emmy voters, like Oscar voters, are usually suckers for British royalty stuff. This year "The Tudors" has gotten even better ("fantastic" is the word I'd use) and it recently unspooled at the tail end of the Emmy voting period. Smart skedding.
I was shocked "Brothers & Sisters" didn't make it last year. Especially since it's an acting-heavy drama for boomers (the average age demographic of Emmy voters). Following Sally Field's notorious win as best drama dame last year (you can't possibly have forgotten how the Emmycast censored her anti-war rant), the show will probably, finally, be a finalist.
Just to make sure that TV academy voters didn't forget "Damages" after it debuted last summer and wrapped up in early fall, FX network sent campaign DVDs to TV academy voters twice— once in September and again last month. That means they'll remember it now while inevitably recalling all of the critical acclaim it received upon its debut.
"Mad Men" will make the cut, of course. It's the hottest new cable series. It's probably the front-runner to win.
So what will the 10th entry be? So far, I haven't cited a single HBO drama and at least one must be a finalist, right? Heck, the pay channel's had at least one nominee in this race for the past nine years. How could it miss making the top 10 altogether?
"Big Love" could certainly make it, especially considering that HBO's ho-hum "Rome" made last year's list. But "Big Love" has lost a bit of its cache and has a really big Ick Factor considering that creepy, real polygamy case going on in Texas. (Or maybe that actually helps, do you think?
Sure, there's "The Wire" as an HBO Emmy alternative, but it didn't make the finalist list over the last two years. Why should we think "The Wire" could finally prevail now that the series has ended? Usually, off air means out of Emmy voters' minds.
I'm going to go with "In Treatment" in my 10th slot because I can't imagine HBO getting shut out of this rundown completely. Yes, TV ratings were very low and, frankly, I thought the series (what I watched of it) was a snooze. But I also think that it has a high Cool Quotient and I believe that its focus — therapy — is of infinite fascination to the self-absorbed wackos of Hollyweird.
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