LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Critics are shocked -- shocked! -- by this year's Emmy nominations.
But for once, their surprise is actually a good thing.
Although a couple of critical darlings were neglected when the lineup was unveiled Thursday, scribes overall hailed the Emmy nominations with two thumbs up.
"I am surprisingly migraine-free," said Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune. "I think this roster is respectable. I'm especially pleased about basic cable being recognized for the quality work it's been doing for years."
"The weird thing right off is that the nominations aren't bad," the Sacramento Bee's Rick Kushman said. "There's lots of surprisingly unstuffy nominations. There's nothing that makes me want to scream -- except they stiffed 'The Wire' again."
Yes, "The Wire." Once again, the critics' beloved gritty HBO drama was snubbed for a nomination.
"I have to wonder if the Emmy voters think 'The Wire' and 'Friday Night Lights' are maybe documentaries," said Matt Roush of TV Guide. "They feel so real maybe the voters don't understand there was actual writing and acting going on."
Other disappointments cited by critics include the nomination of ABC's "Boston Legal" for outstanding drama and HBO's "Entourage" receiving an outstanding comedy nod.
"It's disgraceful that 'Entourage' is still nominated for best comedy," said Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger.
Even so, critics said they were gratified by the nominations for modestly rated rookie cable dramas such as "Damages" and "Mad Men."'
"Damages," FX's legal hour starring Glenn Close, and "Mad Men," AMC's 1960s period piece set in the world of advertising, joined with Showtime's serial-killer saga "Dexter" to become the first shows originating on a cable network other than HBO to be nominated for best drama series.
"It does feel like there's much more fresh blood than usual -- and that's a good thing," said Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"I was shocked that 'Dexter' made the cut," added Roush. "I was sure that show was too 'out there' and twisted for them, but 'Dexter' was brilliant, and so was Michael C. Hall -- and good for the Emmys."
One of the biggest stunners for critics was Bryan Cranston's lead actor nomination for AMC's "Breaking Bad" -- not because they felt the actor did not deserve it, but because they assumed the Academy wouldn't pick up on such a relatively under-the-radar show.
"For sheer shock I'd have to say Bryan Cranston's nomination for 'Breaking Bad' (was the most surprising)," the San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman said. "It's very much deserved but absolutely stunning. That 'Breaking Bad' was on the Emmy voter radar is, in itself, a real eye-opener."
"Nominating 'Mad Men' is cool but expected," Sepinwall said. "Nominating Bryan Cranston is cool, but not expected."
Cranston plays an uptight high school chemistry teacher with terminal cancer who becomes a crystal meth cook as a way to generate quick money. He may be better known to viewers for his recurring role as Whatley the dentist on "Seinfeld" or for playing the dad on "Malcolm in the Middle."