Television critics showered Showtime's CIA drama "Homeland" with love as they unveiled their nominations for their 2012 awards.
The premium-cable thriller, based on an Israeli series, landed four TV Critics Association Awards nominations - the most of any program - including best drama, best new series and new program of the year, as well as an acting nom for star Claire Danes, who plays a pill-popping CIA officer who thinks a war-hero Marine (Damian Lewis) was turned by al-Qaeda while in captivity.
By and large, critics appear not to have thought much of the recently concluded TV season. Across 12 categories, only a handful of freshman series were mentioned: "Homeland," the HBO comedies "Girls" and "Veep," AMC's Ryan Murphy-created "American Horror Story," NBC's musical drama, "Smash," ABC's campy soap opera "Revenge" and Fox's goofy Zooey Deschanel comedy, "New Girl."
Notice the lack of any new CBS shows on that list. CBS finished the season as the country's most popular television network - among actual people of all ages - by a hefty margin. That included the country's most popular new comedy, "2 Broke Girls," and America's most-watched new series of any genre, "Person of Interest."
But critics really hated "2 Broke Girls." In January, at Winter TV Press Tour 2012, they nearly brawled with exec producer Michael Patrick King over gags they found to be racist. Although the critics seemed to like "Person of Interest" a lot better - what with it being a J.J. Abrams show and all - it's noticeably missing from the nominees.
"The Big Bang Theory" is the only CBS series that critics deigned to notice when nominating; the show scored one nom for best comedy series and another for star Jim Parsons. (In the best comedy race, "The Big Bang Theory" faces NBC's "Community" and "Parks and Recreation," FX's "Louie" and ABC's "Modern Family.")
CBS gets the last laugh, however - it owns "Homeland"-network Showtime.
There's also a shocking lack of zombies and vampires on this year's list.
Meanwhile, after several years in which critics tossed a drama-nom bone toward broadcast TV - a "Good Wife" here, a "Friday Night Lights" or "Lost" there - critics only noted cable fare in this year's drama race.
TV critics have long preferred their dramas on cable, where programs are not subject to FCC knuckle-rapping over language, sex and violence. Besides "Homeland," this year's list of best drama nominees includes AMC's "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," FX's "Justified" and HBO's "Game of Thrones."
Yes, ABC's "Revenge" and NBC's "Smash," as mentioned, are both up for TCA awards - just not in the best-drama derby. Instead, critics nominated those two shows for best new program of the year; they will compete with "Homeland," "Girls" and "New Girl."
The broadcast series "Downton Abbey" is also nominated - but not in the drama derby. Instead, the PBS program is up for best miniseries and program of the year. To win the program-of-the-year statuette, "Downton Abbey" will have to climb over "Homeland," "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones" and "Mad Men."