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EW.com makes its Golden Globe TV picks

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Alias, Jennifer Garner
Alias: Bob D'Amico

EW.com makes its Golden Globe TV picks

The Golden Globe voters (members of the foreign press) may not be TV insiders, like those who vote for the Emmys, but it seems that they’re watching a lot more television. With the Emmys, you get nominations for well-worn shows and actors — like ”ER” and ”NYPD Blue”’s Dennis Franz — even if they haven’t had a hallmark season. But Globes’ voters take a more careful look at how the year is actually going… not that they’re not immune to the occasional misstep. That said, here are my picks for who should win this year’s major Golden Globes categories.

BEST DRAMA SERIES
Let’s start with the incumbent: ”The West Wing,” which not only won last year, but also took the Emmy. Yes, it’s a fine show, but I’ve eliminated it for one major offense: the episode where CJ (Allison Janney) endlessly pondered the song ”I’m Too Sexy” as if it was the first time she’d heard it, never acknowledging the song was nearly 10 years old. ”The West Wing” is popular because it depicts a fantasy, idealist White House we wish existed. Yet the biggest complaint people have about real government is that it’s not in touch with the people. And what could be a bigger sign of cluelessness than a major aide walking around thinking that the kids of today are still bopping to Right Said Fred?

As for the rest of the category, three of the slots are deservedly devoted to excellent first-year shows: ”Six Feet Under,” ”Alias,” and ”24.” Of the three, ”Alias” is my favorite, since it is the most pulsing, deeply plotted, surprisingly evolving, and seriously addictive show on the air. But as good as it is, it can’t topple ”The Sopranos.” Complain all you want about this season’s untied plot threads, ”The Sopranos” still transcended any limitations you ever thought TV had.

BEST MUSICAL OR COMEDY SERIES
First of all, isn’t it safe by now to take the word ”musical” out of this category? We can all assume that the variety show isn’t coming back anytime soon, no matter what Wayne Brady would have us believe. But nitpicking aside, this is one of the Globe’s more old-fashioned categories. ”Frasier”? ”Ally McBeal”? These are both shows that, when I flick by, I find myself saying, ”Oh, those are still on?” (And in the case of ”Ally,” I then say, ”Perhaps Fox hates me.”) Yes, ”Frasier” still has its witty moments, but, unlike ”Cheers” at this point in its run, I feel like I’ve seen every storyline and heard every prissy joke before.

These two slots could easily have gone to ”Malcolm in the Middle” and ”Everybody Loves Raymond,” a hilarious show that was completely shut out of all categories. (Why do the foreign press hate this show so? It’s like the Euro of sitcoms.) That’s not to say an old-timer shouldn’t win: I’d like to see ”Friends” take this trophy. After a lackluster past season, this year the show has been invigorated, and the writing and acting has matched up to any of its best years.

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
First things first: ”The Guardian”’s Simon Baker? What, they outspent the ”Citizen Baines” lobby? Other than that, though, the choices are contemporary and spot-on. To nit-pick, Keifer Sutherland’s a bit one-note in ”24” (would it kill him to smile?), and rewarding Martin Sheen could only end up encouraging his character to be MORE of a know-it-all, and I’ve had enough lecturing for one year, thank you.

Watching ”Six Feet Under”’s Peter Krause evolve from a flake to the sturdy partner (with wacko girlfriend Rachel Griffiths) was a treat, but that wasn’t quite enough: It would be a crime for anyone but James Gandolfini to win for his emotionally tortured mob boss in ”The Sopranos.”

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
All right, my ”all hail ‘The Sopranos’!” rant ends here. Lorraine Bracco was singled out here for her rape episode, which was certainly an accomplished performance. But she was a minor presence for the rest of the season, and it seemed like more of a supporting role. I’d have said Edie Falco deserved it, but she wasn’t even nominated, so what’s a poor predictor to do?

So instead, my winner is newcomer Jennifer Garner for ”Alias.” For an action star, she’s even better out of battle mode; she’s wonderfully versatile in her emotional scenes with her cold father, partner, and friends.

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY SERIES
First, let’s have a moment of silence for the grave injustice that is Ray Romano’s absence. Amen. And, though Patrick Warburton of ”The Tick” and Jay Baruchel of ”Undeclared” deserved to be nominated, I’ll concede that’s an unrealistic demand since virtually no one is watching their shows. (A big mistake.) But they are better choices than nominee Charlie Sheen, who is lucky enough to have gotten a sitcom role in the first place: He shouldn’t be greedy and expect to be rewarded for it. Sometimes he feels like a comedy vacuum, in that his lines are reasonably funny, but there’s something so oddly dark about him that it just gives you the creeps and renders punchlines null.

Kelsey Grammer’s best work is behind him, and ”Ed”’s Tom Cavanagh tries so unrelentingly to be charming that you want to hit him with a shovel. Eric McCormack does yeoman’s work on ”Will & Grace” (and won an Emmy for it), but ultimately you’ve got to give it to the charming Frankie Muniz, who captures the exasperation and sulkiness of the teen years without being annoying, a feat most teenagers can’t master.

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY SERIES
At this point, I can reduce my regular gripes to shorthand: No ”Raymond” Patricia Heaton? Why Calista Flockhart? Now we can move on. ”Spin City”’s Heather Locklear is as free of natural comic talent as Charlie Sheen. As the original cast has departed and been replaced with non-sitcom-friendly actors, the show has become like the bottle of vodka in a parent’s liquor cabinet that the kids keep drinking and replacing with water. At first the parents don’t notice, because it’s only slightly watered down; only when it’s 99 percent water do they say, ”Hey, this isn’t booze!” Replace ”vodka” with ”comedy” and you have ”Spin City.”

As for the rest of the category, I’d rule out Sarah Jessica Parker simply because her storylines tend to be more dramatic than comedic on ”Sex and the City.” I love ”Malcolm in the Middle”’s Jane Kaczmarek, but her part has become increasingly one-note… or one-scream. She is a fine talent, but not necessarily enough to beat my pick: ”Will & Grace”’s Debra Messing, who has been funny at a wide variety of decibels, and tends to be underappreciated in the shadow of the more flamboyant Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally.

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