The Television Critics Association announced yesterday that "despite much Hollywood hand-wringing over the state of the sitcom," the Fox comedy "Arrested Development" has walked away with the most TCA Awards nominations of any program this year, with a total of five.
Actually, the hand-wringing in Hollywood is about the fact that viewers, rather than critics, don't seem to be taking to sitcoms these days. But why rain on the TCA's parade?
Anyway, the group showered "Arrested Development" -- watched by an average of 6.2 million viewers to rank 122nd out of 204 programs on the six broadcast networks this past season -- with nominations: program of the year, new program of the year and best comedy of the year, with cast members Jason Bateman and Jeffrey Tambor up for individual achievement in comedy.
And speaking of the great divide that separates critics and viewers, the TCA continued to snub the reality-TV genre, passing out only one nomination, to NBC's "The Apprentice," for program of the year. (To its credit, the TCA last summer named "American Idol" program of the year, but it was hard not to after the way it took over the pop culture consciousness.) The TCA has no category for individual achievement in reality and chose not to nominate the Donald for individual achievement in a drama -- or in a comedy, for that matter.
Trump's "The Apprentice" will duke it out for program of the year with "Arrested Development," HBO's two-parter "Angels in America," Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and HBO's "The Sopranos." Quite an eclectic bunch.
TV critics adore HBO, bestowing on the pay-cabler a list-topping 14 nomina . . . zzzzzz . . . oh, sorry, I must have dozed off during the "no kidding; tell me something I don't already know" portion of the critics' announcement.
But hey, here's something interesting: ABC got only one nomination and it's not for a sitcom, or a drama, or a reality series; it's to "Nightline," for outstanding achievement in news and information.
"Nightline" faces "The Daily Show," CBS's "60 Minutes," PBS's "Frontline" and NBC's "Meet the Press."
In addition to nominations for program of the year and news and information program of the year, "The Daily Show" is up for best comedy. That "Daily Show" -- it's like a Renaissance man.
Joining it in the running for best comedy are "Arrested Development," HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Sex and the City," and BBC America's "The Office."
Though we don't participate in the TCA Awards voting, we're rooting for "The Office" on this one because it may be the last chance the Brit-produced series has to pick up more U.S. trophies.
Thanks to the latest goofiness of the television academy, "The Office" is not eligible for a Primetime Emmy Award in any of the series competitions this year. According to trade paper the Hollywood Reporter, because the producers entered the first episode of the show's second season in the International Emmy Awards competition, it cannot be included in the episode count for Primetime Emmy Award consideration. This means "The Office" has only five eligible episodes but the TV academy says six episodes are needed for a show to qualify as a series.
An academy suit is quoted by the Hollywood Reporter as saying, "The last thing the academy wants is for the press, or the world, to think that once again we have some dumb Emmy rule keeping a great show like 'The Office' from getting in."
The TCA has no such silly rules and "The Office" is up for best comedy. Creator-star Ricky Gervais is nominated for individual achievement in comedy, along with Larry David of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" and Tambor and Bateman of "Arrested Development."
("The Office" already has been feted in the States with a Peabody Award, and it was a surprise winner at the last Golden Globe derby when it beat out "Sex and the City," "Will & Grace," critics' darling "Arrested Development" and "Monk" for best comedy. Gervais also won the trophy for best sitcom actor.)
Next year maybe we'll ask readers to guess which drama series they think critics will nominate for best drama series. Would you have guessed HBO's "The Sopranos," "Deadwood" and "The Wire," FX's "The Shield" and Fox's "24" this year?
Notice the lack of "The O.C." That Fox prime-time soap is, however, up for outstanding new program of the year, along with "Deadwood," Fox's canceled "Wonderfalls," CBS's "Joan of Arcadia" and, of course, "Arrested Development."
The list of contenders for drama series work is nearly as tedious, including Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, Kiefer Sutherla . . . zzzz . . . oops, there I go again.
CBS didn't do much better than ABC at TCA Awards nomination time. The eye network landed three nominations, including "Joan of Arcadia." The other two are to "60 Minutes," both for news and information and the Heritage Award. The latter, the TCA says, recognizes a long-standing program with a lasting cultural or social impact. We call it the You're Canceled So This Is Our Last Chance to Salute You Award. Of course "60 Minutes" isn't going away, but creator Don Hewitt is stepping down as executive producer.
Also nominated in this category are NBC's "Friends" and "Frasier" and, because they needed two more shows to round out the list, PBS's "Frontline" and NBC's "Saturday Night Live." Or, maybe critics know something about these two shows we don't.