Sunday night marks the biggest night in TV when the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards - the 64th telecast of its kind - airs on ABC, hosted by late-night mainstay Jimmy Kimmel in his Emmy hosting debut. How will he fare - and, furthermore, which of the most nominated series will win the big awards? Tune in Sunday at 7 PM on ABC to see, but, first, let's size up the competition in the hottest races of the night - while putting a special focus on the most theatrically-attuned of the nominees (and, in some cases, winners) whenever possible - and take a look at clips from the shows most likely to win.
I Put A Spell On You
Leading the pack with the most nominations is a neck-and-neck tie between the nubile, nasty werewolf of a newcomer, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, and four-time Emmy-winning Best Series - the adman's best friend - hearty, arty and shrewd MAD MEN. Pitting two of the most unique and provocative TV series currently on the air up against each other in the main Best Drama Series category possibly would raise the stakes of the awards show itself even higher, yet given the anthology nature of the Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk FX horror-show, both the creators and Emmy committee saw fit for it to reside in the Best Miniseries or Movie category instead - yet MAD MAN has some of its own fierce competitors, namely the hit Brit short-season series DOWNTON ABBEY, which received 16 nominations for the richly created world conjured up by Julian Fellowes on the prim, proper and all-too-addicting period soap opera that just entered S3 in the UK. Will Matthew Weiner win his fifth consecutive award for Best Drama once again or will MAD MEN be bested instead by the freshly-minted Golden Globe-winning Best Drama, Showtime's HOMELAND? Surely, the politically-themed series addresses issues and broaches current topics in an artful and arresting manner (pun intended), making it a dark horse if Weiner and the rest of Sterling/Draper/Price and company fall out of favor - that is if love-dovey DOWNTON doesn't swoop in. To be perfectly honest, it seems unlikely that Weiner would not win for the simply pristine fifth season of what is arguably one of the finest dramatic series in TV history - MAD MEN seems poised to win the night once again. Then again, BREAKING BAD is in its final season, so there's that - plus, we can never underestimate the power of HBO, who received the most of any other network for the umpteenth year (81 this time) and who is represented in the Best Drama category by both GAME OF THRONES and BOARDWALK EMPIRE.
The Best Miniseries/Movie category is much more difficult to predict, with the ghostly intrigue and gothic, gruesome shenanigans of AMERICAN HORROR STORY battling it out with the Nicole Kidman/Clive Owen HBO film HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN, as well as GAME CHANGE - both of which were highly recognized. Then, too, there is the History Channel's unprecedented multi-part dramatic depiction of HATFIELDS & MCCOYS, which received 16 nominations to H&G's 15, as well as BBC America's lauded LUTHER starring Idris Elba. Elba could very well take the Best Actor/Miniseries Or Movie category if this weekend's InDepth InterView participant Woody Harrelson somehow doesn't take top honors for his unforgettable turn in HBO's GAME CHANGE. There's always Benedict Cumberbatch as everyone's favorite sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, as well - a likely dark horse, with his current career explosion giving him some eleventh hour traction. The Best Actor/Drama category is also quite tight, with Jon Hamm a good bet to take home the prize for his tremendous work on this season's MAD MEN - though Steve Buscemi was similarly impactful with his work on BOARDWALK EMPIRE, as well. Bryan Cranston is an Emmy favorite, so he could be the surprise victory - this category is more up in the air than nearly any other. Best Actress/Drama is certainly seeming to be more clear-cut - chances are it will be Claire Danes. Glenn Close may get recognized once again for her peerless performance of one of the most memorable figures currently on TV, Patty Hewes, on the under-seen thriller series DAMAGES, but if anyone gets a sentimental vote it looks like it would be Kathy Bates for the cancelled legal series HARRY'S LAW. Best Actress/Miniseries Or Movie is all about the two Hollywood megastars - Kidman versus Moore; with both playing real-life figures (Sarah Palin and Martha Gellhorn, respectively) - though there is no question whatsoever in my mind that Connie Britton as the ROSEMARY'S BABY-esque mother-in-peril in AMERICAN HORROR STORY would win my vote, hands/claws down.
The comedy categories are not quite as easy to assess as the Drama Department, but Best Actress/Comedy may very well go to Emmy favorite Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her new HBO series VEEP, though there could be an upset if Lena Dunham fails to win in other categories for her cult hit hipster HBO comedy GIRLS. Best Actor/Comedy seems preordained to go to Louis C.K. for his edgy, button-pushing FX series LOUIE, though one can never count out Jon Cryer for TWO AND A HALF MEN and Jim Parsons for THE BIG BANG THEORY given the Emmys and their past penchants for each.
So, too, does the Best Comedy category look wrapped up in a bow for MODERN FAMILY, who beat 30 ROCK's 13 overall nominations by one, but, really, anything could happen come Sunday. GIRLS seems to be the dark horse at this point, but the Emmys have proven before they will go out on a limb for a new series that shows copious promise. We will see. Also, Betty White for OFF THEIR ROCKERS and THE AMAZING RACE seem to be the safe choices for the reality slots of the scorecard, as does THE DAILY SHOW WITH Jon Stewart for Outstanding Variety/Comedy/Music Series. In supporting categories, I think it looks quite likely that we will be hearing the names Jessica Lange, Ed Harris, Peter Dinklage, Christina Hendricks, Ed O'Neill and Kristin Wiig.
The 2011-2012 TV season certainly cast a spell on us all so let us hope the magic continues to entrance us well into next year and beyond - TV right now is about the best entertainment gets!
The Best Of The Best
Now, let's take a look at some highlights from the series that are in the running for TV's night of nights with the top ten most likely to be recognized shows at the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY
HATFIELDS & MCCOYS
HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN
So, what was your favorite drama and comedy this year? What performances can you not erase from your memory? What miniseries or movie did you see that would surely sweep the Oscars were it able to compete? There are certainly more than a few candidates that satisfy those pertinent queries covered in our quite comprehensive discussion today. Yes, indeed, TV in 2012 is the best that the entertainment sphere has to offer and the talent on display is only rivaled by the Great White Way - and, with more and more revolutionary new shows on the air every year the excitement and interest will only continue to build and grow. How wonderful that we may celebrate the best of the best while paying tribute to all of the sensational series, miniseries and movies, as well as the countless creators, cast and crew members that make magic right in our living rooms each and every week! Let's hope 2013 is even better!