THE GOLD

Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - GLENN WHIPP

A look at what may fill the big­ger plate for drama.

Wal­ter White’s gone (but not for­got­ten), and “True De­tec­tive” took the Emmy year off, ap­par­ently to give Colin Far­rell time to grow one magnificent mus­tache. That gives vot­ers two open­ings for new dra­mas, in ad­di­tion to the ex­tra slot the tele­vi­sion academy added this year when it ex­panded the se­ries cat­e­gories to seven nom­i­nees. What will be re­warded? An early look at what is al­ways a hotly con­tested Emmy cat­e­gory: “Em­pire” “Mad Men” “Bet­ter Call Saul” “House of Cards” “Game of Thrones” “Or­ange Is the New Black” “Down­ton Abbey”

Prime con­tenders: “The Af­fair,” “The Good Wife,” “The Amer­i­cans,” “Home­land”

Bub­bling un­der: “Masters of Sex,” “Out­lander,” “Blood­line,” “Board­walk Em­pire,” “Scan­dal,” “The Knick,” “News­room,” “Man­hat­tan,” “Jus­ti­fied”

For your con­sid­er­a­tion: “The Amer­i­cans” de­liv­ered another sea­son of soul-search­ing moral com­plex­ity, this time hom­ing in on the Jen­nings’ re­la­tion­ship with their teen daugh­ter, Paige, and her grow­ing aware­ness that some­thing’s not quite right in the house­hold. Ini­tially, the con­flict cen­tered on philo­soph­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween the par­ents, which were sur­pris­ingly re­lat­able given that most peo­ple aren’t for­eign spies tasked with the oc­ca­sional on-the-job mur­der and the pos­si­ble forced re­cruit­ment of their chil­dren into the busi­ness.

This be­ing “The Amer­i­cans,” the fo­cus soon be­came the col­lat­eral dam­age brought about by the re­lent­less pur­suit of ide­ol­ogy. The dark, sober-minded show has never been easy to em­brace, re­flected in its rat­ings and, so far, its lack of Emmy votes. But it be­longs among the nom­i­nees.

Anal­y­sis: With the broad­ened cat­e­gory and the open­ings cre­ated by the ab­sence of “Break­ing Bad” and “True De­tec­tive,” it would be sur­pris­ing if Emmy vot­ers didn’t re­turn the rest of last year’s nom­i­nated class — “Mad Men,” “House of Cards,” “Game of Thrones” and “Down­ton Abbey” — to the fold. It takes a lot for Tele­vi­sion Academy mem­bers to re­scind in­vi­ta­tions to the party. So even though “Down­ton” de­liv­ered a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son that had fans hurl­ing scones or crum­pets (or what­ever it is they take with their tea while watch­ing this show), you can prob­a­bly count on another nom­i­na­tion. I know, I know. Try to ra­tion your ex­cite­ment.

That still leaves three open­ings, one of which will likely be filled by Net­flix’s “Or­ange Is the New Black,” which, free from its first-sea­son fo­cus on Tay­lor Schilling’s wide-eyed new­bie, ex­panded its am­bi­tion, al­low­ing tele­vi­sion’s best act­ing en­sem­ble to im­press us in new and of­ten as­ton­ish­ing ways. Net­flix pe­ti­tioned the academy to place “Or­ange” as a com­edy, but it re­ally be­longs here.

The two re­main­ing slots will pit the best of this year’s fresh­man class — “Em­pire,” “Bet­ter Call Saul,” “The Af­fair,” “Blood­line,” “The Knick” — against past nom­i­nees like “The Good Wife” and “Home­land,” se­ries that have re­mained rel­e­vant well into their runs but that might find them­selves squeezed out by the strength of these new shows. “Saul” im­me­di­ately es­tab­lished it­self as a wor­thy suc­ces­sor to “Break­ing Bad,” dis­play­ing all the vis­ual and nar­ra­tive in­ven­tive­ness and great act­ing you’d ex­pect from this team.

And although some dis­miss “Em­pire” as too soapy to earn a nom­i­na­tion, it’s hard to be­lieve vot­ers won’t salute this rat­ings pow­er­house for, at the very least, its au­da­cious the­atri­cal­ity. “Em­pire’s” first sea­son was event tele­vi­sion in the best pos­si­ble sense, and, faced with the op­tion of go­ing big or go­ing home, I’d guess the Tele­vi­sion Academy will em­brace the show’s wildly en­ter­tain­ing brand of crazy. If God can’t kill Lu­cious, who’s to think vot­ers can deny the show the cred it’s due?

glenn.whipp@la­times.com

Justina Mintz AMC

“OR­ANGE IS THE NEW BLACK” com­petes as a drama, not as a com­edy.

Ur­sula Coy­ote AMC

“MAD MEN’S” swan song is likely to get it an Emmy nom­i­na­tion call-back.

Ali Gold­stein Netf l i x

“BET­TER CALL SAUL”: It’s a wor­thy suc­ces­sor to “Break­ing Bad.”

Chuck Hodes Fox

“GAME OF THRONES”: Ex­pect a rerun of last year’s nod for drama.

HBO

“HOUSE OF CARDS”: It’ll be a sur­prise if no salute is forth­com­ing.

David Gies­brecht Netf l i x

“DOWN­TON ABBEY” will likely re­turn to the Emmy nom­i­nee fold.

Chuck Hodes Fox

“EM­PIRE”: Will Emmy be singing the praises of the rat­ings pow­er­house?

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