Emmy voters embrace dark, tormented TV characters

Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:36am EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Tony Soprano is no longer around to hug but Emmy voters this year managed to embrace plenty of anti-heroes and twisted, flawed characters -- from a serial-killing sleuth to a methamphetamine making teacher.

It would be hard to imagine a darker, more motley collection of misfits than the characters played with convincing aplomb by the six Emmy nominees for best lead actor in a drama series, four of them on cable television.

Perhaps the most glaring is Michael C. Hall, nominated for his role as a charming forensics investigator by day with a penchant for murdering his suspects after hours on the Showtime series "Dexter."

Hall earned a nod in 2002 for portraying the gay son who runs his family's funeral business on HBO's now-departed "Six Feet Under." But many critics moaned when he was passed over last year for his chillingly nuanced role as Dexter Morgan.

This year, Emmy voters wasted no time in recognizing the work of Bryan Cranston in AMC's "Breaking Bad" as a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher who turns to cooking crystal meth for quick cash.

Cranston was formerly best known as the goofy dad on the long-running Fox family comedy "Malcolm in the Middle."

AMC scored a second best actor nomination on Thursday for Jon Hamm, who stars in "Mad Men" as a chain-smoking advertising executive whose leading-man persona conceals a dark past.

"These were nice surprises," said TV Guide critic Matt Roush. "Here you have these anti-heroes with just so much more complexity to their characters than the usual leading man. So they had great material, and it's just refreshing that the Emmys acknowledge that."   Continued...

<p>Actor Michael C. Hall (L) is shown in a scene from his Showtime network drama series "Dexter" in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters June 17, 2008. Hall, nominated Thursday for best lead actor in a drama series for the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, is one of six nominees who play anti-heroes, morally corrupt or emotionally damaged characters. REUTERS/Peter Iovino/Showtime Network/Handout</p>