'Modern Family,' 'The Pacific,' 'Glee': One critic's TCA Awards picks

tca-award-nominees.jpgThe first round of balloting for the 2010 Television Critics Association Awards ended Wednesday (June 2). The group's members -- myself included -- picked nominees for best comedy and drama, best new show, individual comedy and drama awards and more.

Below are my picks, and why I chose what I chose. We were only allowed to make two choices in each category, although there will be five nominees when all the ballots are counted. So I've also included a couple other choices for each category that I either hope or expect to be nominated.

Program of the year: "The Pacific" and "Modern Family"

"The Pacific" was just a magnificent achievement all around -- viscerally thrilling and unexpectedly moving in telling the story of the Pacific theater of World War II. And in a year that brought forth a mini-renaissance in network comedy, "Modern Family" was excellent from the start and stayed that way.

Others: "Glee" should be in the mix too -- critics loved it almost as much as the most ardent Gleeks -- and I'd expect the final season of "Lost" to go in as well.

Outstanding drama series: "Lost" and "Mad Men"

It was at times maddening (did we really need "Across the Sea" just two weeks before the finale?), but the final season of "Lost" was, for me, ultimately really satisfying. And the third season of "Mad Men" was, as usual, brilliant -- though I'd be mildly surprised if it wins again.

Others: "Breaking Bad" and "Sons of Anarchy" have numerous fans in the critical community, and so does "The Good Wife." But there's a ton of good drama on TV right now, and this field is wide open.

Outstanding comedy series: "Modern Family" and "Parks and Recreation"

"Parks and Rec" made a huge leap forward in its second season and is currently one of the two or three funniest shows on TV. "Modern Family" is another.

Others: In an excellent year for comedy, usual suspects "30 Rock" and "The Office" could be shut out for the first time in a while. Likely contenders are "Glee," "The Big Bang Theory," "Community" and either one of Showtime's pair of "United States of Tara" and "Nurse Jackie" to round out the field.

Individual achievement in drama: January Jones ("Mad Men") and Katey Sagal ("Sons of Anarchy")

The 2009-10 season featured a host of great female performances, but the work of these two actresses has stuck with me for months now.

Others: Julianna Margulies is a likely nominee for "The Good Wife." Terry O'Quinn and/or Michael Emerson could get nods for "Lost," and past winner Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" could be challenged by his co-star Aaron Paul.

Individual achievement in comedy: Jane Lynch ("Glee") and Danny Pudi ("Community")

They're two of the breakout stars of this season -- and they both managed to humanize characters who could have easily become one-note joke delivery systems.

Others: In a perfect world, this field would also include Rico Rodriguez of "Modern Family," the funniest kid in primetime right now, and any of the dudes from "Cougar Town." But Rico's "Modern Family" cousin-by-marriage Ty Burrell is probably a safer bet, along with last year's winner, Jim Parsons.

Outstanding new series: "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town"

Simply: They're the two new shows I most looked forward to watching each week.

Others: "Glee" is a no-brainer here, along with "The Good Wife." I'm probably in the minority on "Cougar Town," in which case I'd like to see FX's "Justified" and HBO's "Treme" get spots.

Outstanding movie, miniseries or special: "The Pacific" and "Temple Grandin"

See above for "The Pacific." "Temple Grandin" is one of the better one-off films HBO has done in recent years.

Outstanding news and information: "30 for 30" and "Life"

ESPN's documentary series has been funny, touching, heartbreaking and really, really good all the way around. Discovery's "Life" was absolutely gorgeous to watch.

Others: This is a kind of nebulously defined category, and there's been support for everything from "Anderson Cooper 360" to "Real Time with Bill Maher." If I had a third line on my ballot, I would have filled it with "Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates Jr.," a thoroughly engaging genealogy series on PBS.

Outstanding kids' program: "WordGirl"

I don't have kids and therefore don't watch a ton of children's TV, hence the solo nomination.

Career achievement: Dick Wolf and Barbara Walters

Walters is a pioneering journalist, and you can see one of Wolf's "Law & Order" shows seemingly every minute of the day.

Heritage award: "Saturday Night Live" and "Law & Order"

The Heritage award is meant to honor long-running shows that have had an impact on pop culture at large, so both fit the bill. I nominate "SNL" every year -- I hope it sticks one of these years -- but this would also be a nice way for critics to send "L&O" off into the sunset.

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