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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - General cynicism about the medium seems to be a job qualification for being a television critic. But this year there has been a sea change of sorts. Contacted for The Hollywood Reporter's annual Emmy survey, they were less critical, heaping praise on a wide swatch of contenders. Here are wish lists in the major categories.
Maureen Ryan (Chicago Tribune): "'Lost' (ABC) hasn't been perfect, but it has been an incredible ride, and the show should be recognized for that ride. It may not always get it right, but it's always trying. 'Sons of Anarchy' (FX), for some reason, is not on awards radars, and it should be. It is a jaw-droppingly excellent show, and has kept me on the edge of my seat while it fires on all cylinders."
Neal Justin (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune): "It would be nice to see (HBO's) 'Treme' on the list, but it may be too complex for Emmy -- though that won't stop them from honoring the ever-confusing 'Lost.' 'Mad Men' (AMC) will also make for strong contention, but will 'Damages' (FX) make the cut? Don't bet on it."
Tom Gliatto (People magazine): "In what medium would 'The Good Wife' (CBS) not be nominated? If televisions were toasters, I guess. The first season was an exemplary piece of both craftsmanship and design. Also, 'Breaking Bad' (AMC) is a weekly exercise in excruciating discomfort, and 'Dexter's' (Showtime) 12-week season played as taut and unforgiving as a Jim Thompson novel."
Matthew Gilbert (The Boston Globe): "'The Good Wife' has been surprisingly good for a legal procedural. The cases of the week are strikingly timely and engaging, and the ongoing story lines are expertly managed. 'Treme' may be too graceful and tragic and humane for Emmy voters. I hope not."
John Griffiths (US Weekly): "I'm a sucker for tales about the pendulum of good and evil, and while it's my belief that the 'Lost' writers overestimated the show's -- and their own -- genius, they deserve endless good vibes for shooting for the moon in a medium that normally shoots for Irvine."
Ryan: "I think the nomination for 'Glee' (Fox) is inevitable. And that's fine, but my hope is all of this attention doesn't go to the show's head for Season 2. 'Glee' has a hard time being dependably good, and it could stunt-cast itself to death."
Griffiths: "Every episode, '30 Rock' (NBC) leaves me with one indelible scene or line that makes me laugh out loud days later. Kenneth the page shows up as a muppet in HDTV! Jack rushes to his love as 'Grey's Anatomy'-like emo music soars -- and it turns out to be a weird guy with a boombox. On and on. And as crazy as the characters are, the writers obviously care about them. That's key."
Gliatto: "'Modern Family' (ABC) is a family sitcom that reinvigorates the formula with incredibly sophisticated writing and a perfectly balanced ensemble. 'Glee' has music, energy, camp, a certain amount of heart, Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison's hair. 'Parks and Recreation's' second season showed a sitcom that had really found its sensibility: gentle, unrestrained, silly. Someone show it some love."
Glenn Garvin (The Miami Herald): "Once you list Julianna Margulies ('The Good Wife') in this category, there's no use wasting your breath speculating about who gets the rest of the spots. She seems like a dead-solid lock -- a great actress playing an enormously sympathetic character in a popular show. They ought to just FedEx her the Emmy now."
Ryan: "Katey Sagal ('Sons of Anarchy') kicked ass this season. She had one of the most difficult story lines for a lead actress I've seen -- her character was raped and she has to keep the rape secret. If you think she's just a funny lady from 'Married ... With Children,' you have not read the memo."
Justin: "There's a wild-card slot here I would love to see go to Lauren Graham (NBC's 'Parenthood'), but if Emmy never gave her a nod for her work in 'Gilmore Girls,' it's unlikely they'll do it for 'Parenthood.' A more likely candidate is Lisa Edelstein, who got more exposure this season on 'House' (Fox)."
Ryan: "Amy Poehler (NBC's 'Parks and Recreation') has completely reinvented her character. They've really turned that show around. A year ago I would have said this show is not working at all, but she's immensely entertaining now."
Garvin: "How about some support for the female lead of a sitcom everybody loves for its male nerds? Without Kaley Cuoco's (CBS' 'The Big Bang Theory') sweetly sexy presence, the show wouldn't be funny, just sad. Special anti-nomination rant: Why do Emmy voters love Mary-Louise Parker's indolent, amoral character in 'Weeds' (Showtime) so much? I'd like to slap one of those lattes down her throat."
Justin: "It's too bad Ed O'Neill ('Modern Family') didn't throw his hat in the lead actor race; he would have been a shoo-in, if only to see the guy who created Al Bundy give an acceptance speech. This should be a showdown between Alec Baldwin ('30 Rock') and Jim Parsons ('The Big Bang Theory'). This could be the year for 'Big Bang' and Parsons."
Gilbert: "Jason Schwartzman (HBO's 'Bored to Death') was able to maximize his guarded deadpan in the first season of 'Bored.' He has great comic timing, positioning his punchlines on the downbeat."
Griffiths: "Thomas Jane (HBO's 'Hung') shouldn't be overlooked for his hilariously deflated, if wildly endowed, dude. And can Stephen Colbert barge in here, please? This season more than ever he's proved himself to be a grand master of satire. Anyone who can pull off a debate with their split-screen selves on a regular basis deserves at least one nod."
Gilbert: "I really want to see Ray Romano (TNT's 'Men of a Certain Age') on this list. His performance was one of the best surprises of the season. He was tragic, endearing, self-loathing, comical and filled with suppressed rage. He helped the show expand TV's definition of masculinity. I'd also like to see Wendell Pierce here -- he is the heart and soul of 'Treme,' forlorn but surviving."
Garvin: "The startling evolution of Michael C. Hall's character in 'Dexter' (Showtime) last season -- learning the downside of his nascent human emotion, that caring about something means also having something to lose -- gives him a serious shot."
Griffiths: "Bryan Cranston and Michael C. Hall are givens; they continue to make their wildly unsavory characters somehow root-worthy -- no small feat. But I'd really like to see some Emmy love for unsung leads like Josh Holloway ('Lost'). The irritated stomp of a swagger he's given Sawyer -- he really created a bittersweet hero in the Humphrey Bogart/Robert Mitchum vein, a universal Everyman."
Gliatto: "He won before in the supporting category, but Terry O'Quinn's Locke became so central to the entire mythos of 'Lost' this year that he deserves to be bumped up. (Editor's note: He was again submitted in supporting.) Timothy Olyphant's clever, droll performance (on FX's 'Justified') had just enough juice to give it a light sizzle -- a model of what an actor should be doing when he lands this playful sort of vehicle."