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Emmys 2014: Crime, comedy and overdue attention

True Detective (tv program)Modern Family (tv program)Veep (tv program)Patricia HeatonThe Middle (tv program)ABCEden Sher
'Modern Family' has won the comedy series Emmy four years running. Make it five?
Crime drama throw down. More deserving of Emmy love: 'Fargo' or 'True Detective'?
Have enough voters watched #OrphanBlack for Tatiana Maslany to land an Emmy nomination?

Emmy nominations are around the corner (July 10), so we've gathered The Envelope's Buzzmeter panelists — USA Today's Robert Bianco, TV Guide's Matt Roush, The A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff, the Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara and Glenn Whipp and, when the focus is on predictions, Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil — to discuss this year's most intriguing races. 

In the first part of our conversation, we debated the television academy's loosey-goosey categories, stumped for our favorite newcomers and implored voters to break habits. Now, we move to comedy, crime and overdue nominations.

“Modern Family” has now won the comedy series Emmy four years running. Make it five? Or is it time to salute a new show?

McNamara: "Orange is the New Black" should win best comedy this year; it's one of the most exciting new shows to premiere in this, our overly referenced golden age. There's nothing like it, there's never been anything like it, and it's fabulous.

Bianco: Five would be fine: “Modern Family” is a terrific television series that was as good this year as it was in every other year it won the Emmy. But four is probably enough — not because “Modern Family” has fallen back but because other shows have caught up.

VanDerWerff: It was long past time to reward a different show two years ago, to say nothing of this year. It would be very hard for there to be a nomination lineup this year where literally any other choice wasn't somehow a better one, and that includes marginal shows (to my mind) like "Big Bang Theory."

O'Neil: Looks like "Modern Family" will romp to five in a row, tying the "Frasier" record. It has enormous snob appeal. It's politically correct and seems to say something urgent about our modern times. Furthermore, it just had another standout season. There's a chance it might get bumped by "Veep," "Orange Is the New Black" or "Louie," but I wouldn't bet the ranch on that.

Whipp: I think even the makers of "Modern Family" sense it's a little crazy for their show to win year after year, when there are so many comedies that are equally deserving. I don't think "Louie" or "Veep" has the support to knock it off, but "Orange Is the New Black" might. It'd be a great choice.

Crime drama throw down. More deserving of an abundance of Emmy love: “Fargo” or “True Detective”?

Roush: "Fargo." While "True Detective" scored as a beautifully filmed and intense character study, its narrative was muddled, the writing was often self-consciously and pretentiously artsy (as opposed to truly artful), while "Fargo" had it all: wonderful cinematography, well-defined characters (Billy Bob Thornton's psychopath, Martin Freeman's mouse-turned-murderer and, most especially, Allison Tolman's grounded, stubbornly smart and sweet deputy) and an unpredictable, truly entertaining story that sustained suspense and surprise to the end. And it actually delivered a satisfying (and rare for FX) happy ending.

VanDerWerff: "Fargo." I liked "True Detective" but never connected with it as viscerally as I did "Fargo," which had me obsessed for its 10-week run.

Bianco: “Fargo,” easily. “True Detective” got off to a blistering, brilliant start, but by the fifth hour, it seemed to run out of plot and drive. “Fargo” was incredibly satisfying from start to finish. In this race, the tortoise wins hand down.

McNamara: Easy, so easy: "Fargo." The performances of "True Detective" were truly spectacular, especially since they had to work in two time frames and against a script that was often over-wrought and unnecessarily confusing. "Fargo" had uniformly great performances (welcome, welcome, Allison Tolman!) and sharp, highly imaginative writing.

Whipp: Aw, jeez, am I the only one thinking straight on this? I really liked "Fargo" (though making Gus, not Molly, the hero in the final episode felt like a betrayal to the story), but "True Detective" existed in its own psychosphere. Defining its own genre (the metaphysical murder mystery), the series was brutal, beautiful, creepy and thought-provoking, using the passage of time to reveal truths that were unsettling. No show has come close to matching its quality this year.

Finally: What series or actor you’d most like to see finally win a nomination?

McNamara: Tatiana Maslany, or honest to God, there is no point in giving out awards.

Bianco: Forget “finally” and go with “once again,” as in once again seeing “The Good Wife” in the drama mix, where it so richly belongs.

O'Neil: Can Tatiana Maslany PLEASE get a nomination — finally?

VanDerWerff: I am hoping "The Americans" sees a huge haul this year. It was by far the best show I saw on TV in the first half of 2014. I'd also love to see some love for "Hannibal," but I'm aware the academy may find that to be not to its taste (ha ha).

Roush: Seems a lost cause, but ABC's "The Middle," arguably the most authentic look at struggling middle-class family life since "Roseanne," is the genre's perennial also-ran, forever living in the shadow of "Modern Family." Patricia Heaton as TV's most hilariously harried mom, Eden Sher as the indefatigable poor Sue, and the others are an unsung ensemble who deserve attention.

Whipp: I've heard good things about this Tatiana Maslany ...

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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True Detective (tv program)Modern Family (tv program)Veep (tv program)Patricia HeatonThe Middle (tv program)ABCEden Sher
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