Los Angeles: General cynicism about the medium seems to be a job qualification for being a television critic. But this year there has been a sea change of sorts. Contacted for The Hollywood Reporter`s annual Emmy survey, they were less critical, heaping praise on a wide swatch of contenders. Here are wish lists in the major categories.
Maureen Ryan (Chicago Tribune): "`Lost` (ABC) hasn`t been perfect, but it has been an incredible ride, and the show should be recognized for that ride. It may not always get it right, but it`s always trying. `Sons of Anarchy` (FX), for some reason, is not on awards radars, and it should be. It is a jaw-droppingly excellent show, and has kept me on the edge of my seat while it fires on all cylinders."
Neal Justin (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune): "It would be nice to see (HBO`s) `Treme` on the list, but it may be too complex for Emmy -- though that won`t stop them from honoring the ever-confusing `Lost.` `Mad Men` (AMC) will also make for strong contention, but will `Damages` (FX) make the cut? Don`t bet on it."
Tom Gliatto (People magazine): "In what medium would `The Good Wife` (CBS) not be nominated? If televisions were toasters, I guess. The first season was an exemplary piece of both craftsmanship and design. Also, `Breaking Bad` (AMC) is a weekly exercise in excruciating discomfort, and `Dexter`s` (Showtime) 12-week season played as taut and unforgiving as a Jim Thompson novel."
Matthew Gilbert (The Boston Globe): "`The Good Wife` has been surprisingly good for a legal procedural. The cases of the week are strikingly timely and engaging, and the ongoing story lines are expertly managed. `Treme` may be too graceful and tragic and humane for Emmy voters. I hope not."
John Griffiths (US Weekly): "I`m a sucker for tales about the pendulum of good and evil, and while it`s my belief that the `Lost` writers overestimated the show`s -- and their own -- genius, they deserve endless good vibes for shooting for the moon in a medium that normally shoots for Irvine."
Ryan: "I think the nomination for `Glee` (Fox) is inevitable. And that`s fine, but my hope is all of this attention doesn`t go to the show`s head for Season 2. `Glee` has a hard time being dependably good, and it could stunt-cast itself to death."
Griffiths: "Every episode, `30 Rock` (NBC) leaves me with one indelible scene or line that makes me laugh out loud days later. Kenneth the page shows up as a muppet in HDTV! Jack rushes to his love as `Grey`s Anatomy`-like emo music soars -- and it turns out to be a weird guy with a boombox. On and on. And as crazy as the characters are, the writers obviously care about them. That`s key."
Gliatto: "`Modern Family` (ABC) is a family sitcom that reinvigorates the formula with incredibly sophisticated writing and a perfectly balanced ensemble. `Glee` has music, energy, camp, a certain amount of heart, Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison`s hair. `Parks and Recreation`s` second season showed a sitcom that had really found its sensibility: gentle, unrestrained, silly. Someone show it some love."
Glenn Garvin (The Miami Herald): "Once you list Julianna Margulies (`The Good Wife`) in this category, there`s no use wasting your breath speculating about who gets the rest of the spots. She seems like a dead-solid lock -- a great actress playing an enormously sympathetic character in a popular show. They ought to just FedEx her the Emmy now."
Ryan: "Katey Sagal (`Sons of Anarchy`) kicked ass this season. She had one of the most difficult story lines for a lead actress I`ve seen -- her character was raped and she has to keep the rape secret. If you think she`s just a funny lady from `Married ... With Children,` you have not read the memo."
Justin: "There`s a wild-card slot here I would love to see go to Lauren Graham (NBC`s `Parenthood`), but if Emmy never gave her a nod for her work in `Gilmore Girls,` it`s unlikely they`ll do it for `Parenthood.` A more likely candidate is Lisa Edelstein, who got more exposure this season on `House` (Fox)."
Ryan: "Amy Poehler (NBC`s `Parks and Recreation`) has completely reinvented her character. They`ve really turned that show around. A year ago I would have said this show is not working at all, but she`s immensely entertaining now."
Garvin: "How about some support for the female lead of a sitcom everybody loves for its male nerds? Without Kaley Cuoco`s (CBS` `The Big Bang Theory`) sweetly sexy presence, the show wouldn`t be funny, just sad. Special anti-nomination rant: Why do Emmy voters love Mary-Louise Parker`s indolent, amoral character in `Weeds` (Showtime) so much? I`d like to slap one of those lattes down her throat."
Justin: "It`s too bad Ed O`Neill (`Modern Family`) didn`t throw his hat in the lead actor race; he would have been a shoo-in, if only to see the guy who created Al Bundy give an acceptance speech. This should be a showdown between Alec Baldwin (`30 Rock`) and Jim Parsons (`The Big Bang Theory`). This could be the year for `Big Bang` and Parsons."
Gilbert: "Jason Schwartzman (HBO`s `Bored to Death`) was able to maximize his guarded deadpan in the first season of `Bored.` He has great comic timing, positioning his punchlines on the downbeat."
Griffiths: "Thomas Jane (HBO`s `Hung`) shouldn`t be overlooked for his hilariously deflated, if wildly endowed, dude. And can Stephen Colbert barge in here, please? This season more than ever he`s proved himself to be a grand master of satire. Anyone who can pull off a debate with their split-screen selves on a regular basis deserves at least one nod."
Gilbert: "I really want to see Ray Romano (TNT`s `Men of a Certain Age`) on this list. His performance was one of the best surprises of the season. He was tragic, endearing, self-loathing, comical and filled with suppressed rage. He helped the show expand TV`s definition of masculinity. I`d also like to see Wendell Pierce here -- he is the heart and soul of `Treme,` forlorn but surviving."
Garvin: "The startling evolution of Michael C. Hall`s character in `Dexter` (Showtime) last season -- learning the downside of his nascent human emotion, that caring about something means also having something to lose -- gives him a serious shot."
Griffiths: "Bryan Cranston and Michael C. Hall are givens; they continue to make their wildly unsavory characters somehow root-worthy -- no small feat. But I`d really like to see some Emmy love for unsung leads like Josh Holloway (`Lost`). The irritated stomp of a swagger he`s given Sawyer -- he really created a bittersweet hero in the Humphrey Bogart/Robert Mitchum vein, a universal Everyman."
Gliatto: "He won before in the supporting category, but Terry O`Quinn`s Locke became so central to the entire mythos of `Lost` this year that he deserves to be bumped up. (Editor`s note: He was again submitted in supporting.) Timothy Olyphant`s clever, droll performance (on FX`s `Justified`) had just enough juice to give it a light sizzle -- a model of what an actor should be doing when he lands this playful sort of vehicle."