Emmy voters favor fresh, complex drama series

Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:36pm EDT
 
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By Randee Dawn

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The Emmy for drama series is the final award of the night for a reason.

With all due respect to comedy, it truly is the kingmaker of the television industry -- just ask the folks at AMC, whose network will never be the same thanks to its back-to-back wins for "Mad Men."

But the shows that get nominated reveal a different theme each year.

This time, it's clear: A show should be young and complicated if it wants a berth in the top six. The eldest in this year's drama series lineup, "Lost," is also the only show that won't be back next year, and it's hardly old at six seasons. Not one of the other nominated drama series ("Men," "Breaking Bad," "Dexter," "True Blood" and "The Good Wife") has more than four seasons under its belt.

"After a show gets into its third or fourth year, it runs the risk of being yesterday's news," says Tim Brooks, former network executive and co-author (with Earle Marsh) of "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present." "Even if a show maintains its (quality), the chances of winning become more remote each year. Emmy moves on to the next new thing."

With two wins in the past two years, "Mad Men" has everything going for it. The last time any series had consecutive wins was "The West Wing's" four-year blowout from 2000-03, though "The Sopranos" did have two nonconsecutive wins in 2004 and 2007.

What's more, the AMC drama is beginning to field more actor nominations and its retro-Zeitgeist appeal with viewers continues to be strong. It also has the bonus of airing its new season during the judging period, which allows voters to parse the resonance of Season 3 (which they are judging) while Season 4 unspools.

"I have no idea if that gives us an advantage," says "Mad Men" creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner. "Sometimes I think we're at a disadvantage."   Continued...