TV Surveillance Dream Emmy Ballot: Writing for a Drama Series

This week I’ll be pretending that I have an Emmy vote and discussing my picks for all the major categories. Once it gets closer to the time that nominees are actually announced, I’ll do an official “picks” column. Today: Writing for a Drama Series!

Two things before we get going: First, I’m only choosing performers or writers that are actually on the ballots, so these choices are all real possibilities. Second, in the writing categories, I’ve decided to give each series an opportunity at only one slot, so these categories won’t be dominated by one writer or team like the real nominations will be. I think that’s so disappointing and uninteresting as a viewer and fan of the awards. Thus, I won’t be doing it.

Much like the comedy category, the drama writing category is packed and full of multiple possible nominees from all of the medium’s great programs. I took the same approach with these nominations as I did with the comedy ones in the sense that it’s important to be cognizant of the idea that performances, direction and editing can elevate a script, but the words still matter. And in drama, there’s less of a worry that the performers are ad-libbing their own material into the story, so I feel like the words matter even more.

Here we go.

Lost, “The End” (written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse)

This nomination is a shoe-in, as Darlton have been nominated for a writing award ever season but the fourth and this being the final season and all, yeah, it’s a shoe-in. In my opinion, it’s warranted. No matter my issues with the season as a whole or how certain elements played out or were resolved, “The End” is a beautiful script with a number of emotionally charged moments and dialogues that should be appealing to Emmy voters. Let’s hope, anyway.

Breaking Bad, “Fly” (written by Sam Catlin & Moira Walley-Beckett)

The much-talked about bottle episode leans heavily on its two performances, but at the same time, the script itself. Whereas many Breaking Bad scripts/episodes involve a lot of plotting with the occasional set piece, “Fly” includes just two men in a room talking about the mistakes they’ve made and mentally preparing for the tough choices ahead. There’s a number of wonderful monologues in there from both Walt and Jesse and if the series is going to get a nom here — and it should — this must be the episode to do it.

House, “Broken” (written by Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner, David Foster & David Shore)

House has actually walked away with a win in this category previously — for “Three Stories” in 2005, which Shore penned — and as a two-hour event that feels more like a feature film, this seems like another obvious choice. It also shows that despite all the staff’s issues throughout season six, this group of folks can really write a damn good story when necessary.

Mad Men, “The Gypsy and the Hobo” (written by Marti Noxon & Cathryn Humphris and Matthew Weiner)

It will be interesting to see which Mad Men episodes get the nods when the real nominees come out, but I’d imagine that the race will come down between this episode and “Shut the Door. Have a Seat.” I like this one better from a writing perspective because of the intense conversation between Don and Betty that caps off the episode. There’s a lot of plotting involved with “Shut the Door.,” and the Emmy voters might be entranced by its caper-like quality, but I remember thinking that this was one hell of a written episode of television.

Justified, “Fire in the Hole” (written by Graham Yost)

This might be an interesting and surprise choice to some and it probably doesn’t have a chance to be nominated, if only for the sheer of Breaking Bad and Mad Men episodes to deal with. Moreover, my quick research involving Wikipedia and my own brain tells me that the Emmys don’t tend to vote teleplays onto the ballot. However, I think Graham Yost did a wonderful job adapting the Elmore story into a script. He was able to converge the dialogue into the story without it seeming too hokey and the script covers a lot of ground in little over an hour. I love Justified the more I talk about it and this script is probably the furthest from the realm of possibility. But hey, it’s MY dream Emmy ballot.

Tomorrow: Performance categories begin!

Past days of the Dream Ballot

Writing for a Comedy Series


10 responses to “TV Surveillance Dream Emmy Ballot: Writing for a Drama Series”

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