Among the TV highlights this week is "The Sopranos" episode "Walk Like a Man," which Michael Imperioli plans to submit to Emmy judges in the race for best supporting actor in a drama series. Also, there are numerous replays of last Sunday's episode "Chasing It," which will decide the Emmy fate of James Gandolfini, a three-time past winner who was not nominated last year.
Only a few weeks remain till the end of Emmy eligibility on May 31. Since the networks tend to save up their best for last, much of this week's programming may end up before Emmy judges as samples of various series' best work. But not all TV networks are as open with specific episode info as HBO, so Emmy-watchers must try to catch important first airings on their own.
Here are some TV highlights this week that may factor into the Primetime Emmy race:
"How I Met Your Mother" (CBS), the Gotham-sitcom successor to "Friends," sends Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) to Hollywood, where he meets his idol--Bob Barker, host of "The Price is Right"--in the appropriately titled episode "Showdown." With the Emmy award-winning game show legend retiring this June, look for more tributes on CBS in the weeks to come.
Wanda Sykes returns to "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS) just in time to head out of town with Christine (Emmy-winner Julia Louis Dreyfus) and company for a camping trip rife with all of the usual comic trappings. While the sharp-tongued comedian won an Emmy in 1999 for co-writing "The Chris Rock Show," she has never been nominated for performing but, as a modern-day "Rhoda," she could finally break through on the acting side.
CBS should be second-guessing the decision to end "The King of Queens" after nine seasons as it scores the highest ratings in three years for the 9:30 p.m. time slot. This week Kevin James (who got his first nod last year) and Leah Remini (surprisingly never nominated), show why they will be missed as they spar over a move to Manhattan.
Part of the ratings success of "King" can be attributed to the failure of "24" (Fox) to build on its Emmy win as best drama series last year. Some TV critics believe that the show is now on the wrong track as Jack Bauer (Emmy-winner Kiefer Sutherland) puts his personal feelings first and risks a showdown between China and Russia. While the return last week of time-slot competitor "Heroes" (NBC) was not a ratings smash, this freshman series continues to impress with innovative storylines like Monday's time-traveling episode that sends Hiro and Ando five years into the future.
And the con is on when "The Riches" (FX) family pulls a fast one to raise much-needed cash. Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard -- as gypsies masquerading as affluent folk always in danger of being exposed as frauds -- could see Emmy nods in their future.
With last week's elimination of Heather Mills from "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC), this guilty pleasure becomes less of a must-see, especially with the results show airing opposite ratings power "House" (Fox). This week, Emmy nominee Hugh Laurie and his team struggle to cure one boy so that he can help save his brother in an episode even more tension-filled than usual.
While "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC) runs another of its ripped-from-the-headlines episodes notable only for guest Tate Donovan as the roving Romeo astronaut, "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC) redeems the franchise as Benson (Emmy-winner Mariska Hargitay) chooses between professional and personal loyalties when her brother is suspected of rape. As a bonus, Emmy-winner Kim Delaney reprises her guest role as a by-the-book police captain.
Good acting from an ensemble that has gone unrecognized at the Emmys--"The Shield" (FX)--competes with the seriocomic "Boston Legal" (ABC), which this week features three-time Emmy nominee Gail O'Grady ("NYPD Blue") as an old flame of James Spader who lights a fire under William Shatner.
"America's Next Top Model" (CW) sends the final five Down Under while host Tyra Banks hopes to come out on top as the third season of the series tries to break into the reality competition category. Third time proved the charm for the model-turned-talk-show-host who got her first nod from the Daytime Emmys this year.
Documentary series "American Masters" (PBS), winner of 11 Emmys, kicks off its 20th season with Emmy-winner Bette Midler narrating an affectionate tribute to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun that includes interviews with music legends Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton. After last week's special "Idol Gives Back," this week "American Idol" (Fox) takes away someone's chance of becoming such an icon.
On "Lost" (ABC), Locke (Terry O'Quinn) is found after being MIA for the last couple of episodes. He takes center stage as he directs Sawyer (Josh Holloway) to bring the curtain down on their mutual nemesis (Emmy-winner Michael Emerson).
NBC supersizes its lineup tonight kicking off the fun with "My Name is Earl" (NBC) and an episode in "Smell-o-Vision" (a la John Waters and '70s cult classic "Polyester").
No word on what the scents will be, but there is a sense that the second season of this laffer could get a nod for comedy series. Last year's best comedy series, "The Office" (NBC), has Emmy nominee Steve Carrell mishandling the women of the workforce, while Keri Russell concludes her guest spot on the underappreciated "Scrubs" (NBC) as yet another girl who gets away from lovable loser JD (Zach Braff).
The evening ends with a truly special episode of "ER" (NBC) with Maura Tierney--never nominated for lead actress even though she carries this show--as the almost-runaway bride and Goran Visnjic as her hunk of a groom. Wedding bells also ring on "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC) in a two-hour episode that serves as the backdoor pilot for next season's "Private Practice."
Addison (Kate Walsh) takes a trip down the coast to sunny Santa Monica while her colleagues back in Seattle cope with the usual jitters from bride-to-be Cristina (two-time Emmy nominee Sandra Oh). And on a much darker note, Billy Campbell (of the late, great "Once and Again") reprises his role on "Shark" (CBS) as a murderer with a killer smile in the season finale of the freshman hit.
"Close to Home" (CBS) has the conclusion of a two-parter with Eric Stoltz as a cop who could be bad while Jonathan Silverman, real life fiancé of show star Jennifer Finnigan (a three-time Daytime Emmy winner), plays a politico who could be good--or is that the other way around?
The original "Law & Order" (NBC), past winner of best drama series, is a ratings loser these days and is in risk of being canceled after 17 seasons. Tonight, the show ventures into "SVU" territory as the detectives search for a child killer.
"Saturday Night Live" (NBC) manages to find enough funny moments from one of the weakest seasons in memory to fill a 90-minute clip show.
Tune in Sunday for a primetime special that shows how it should be done--a salute to the best of the '90s, featuring Emmy-winner Dana Carvey, nominees Phil Hartman, Mike Myers and Molly Shannon, and unsung heroines Ana Gasteyer and Cheri Oteri.
Watch this episode of "The Sopranos," titled "Walk Like a Man," specifically for the performance of Michael Imperioli. He plans to submit this episode to Emmy judges if he lands in the top 10 after a popular vote of TV academy members, which seems likely. In other words, if Imperioli wins an Emmy this year as best supporting actor in a drama series, it'll be for this episode.
On the penultimate episode of "The Amazing Race" (CBS), the final three begin their race to the finish line in this surprisingly exciting all-star edition of the four-time Emmy champ.
Three of the "Desperate Housewives" (ABC) are even more so when Susan (Teri Hatcher) loses her way in the woods, Lynette (Felicity Huffman) loses her head over another man and Gaby (Eva Longoria) loses her freedom.
Competing for Emmy glory in the supporting actor (drama) category could be Sam Neill for his stellar work as an advisor to Henry VIII on "The Tudors" (Showtime). While Orson Welles chewed scenery as the conniving cardinal in the Oscar-winning film "A Man for All Seasons," Neill deftly underplays the part. This week he is increasingly vulnerable, as the king is determined to get his divorce no matter the cost to friend or foe.
"Beau Brummell," tonight's installment of "Masterpiece Theatre" (PBS), showcases two men usually seen on Sunday in much different roles. James Purefoy (Marc Antony on HBO's "Rome") plays the original dandy, while Welshman Matthew Rhys (so believable as Californian Kevin Walker on ABC's "Brothers & Sisters") is in fine form as a fop.
While Rhys does not figure largely in this episode of "Brothers & Sisters," Emmy winners Sally Field and Patricia Wettig do, as they face off yet again, this time over another man in both of their lives.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times