Our TV critic takes a look at this years Emmy nods - Ken Tucker investigates the mysteries, upsets, and defeats of the nominations

By Ken Tucker
July 30, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

By now, you know that the two Tonys — Kushner and Soprano — were kings of the Primetime Emmy nominations, with the playwright’s sweeping Angels in America miniseries snagging 21 nods and the actor’s Sopranos nabbing 20. This year also brought some (rare) surprises and (typical) disappointments. A few more Emmy thoughts to ponder:

Best Nomination Sorry, Brad Garrett, Peter Boyle, Sean Hayes, and wonderful David Hyde Pierce: This is Jeffrey Tambor’s year. ”Arrested Development” deserves to win as best comedy, and the magnificently droll Tambor is by far the most Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Worst Nomination Four — not one, four — for HBO’s ”Tracey Ullman in the Trailer Tales”? Do you know anyone outside of Hollywood or New York City who watched that bit of strenuous self-indulgence?

Biggest Surprise Unusually sharp voters singled out ”Deadwood”’s standout, Robin Weigert. Like most of the show’s performances, her portrayal of dirty-mouthed Calamity Jane got even better as the series proceeded.

Biggest Omissions No Emmy love for the leads of ”The Wire”! ”The O.C.”! ”Nip/Tuck”! ”Gilmore Girls”! And wouldn’t you know it, this was the first season I enjoyed ”The Shield,” and it got shut out!

Sentimental Favorite John Ritter’s nomination for ABC’s ”8 Simple Rules” is doubtlessly Hollywood’s gesture of affection for the late actor. Certainly his final sitcom doesn’t merit inclusion with other nominees. But Ritter’s performance does — he was at once goofier and more understated than he was in ”Three’s Company,” a looser, more confident performer, utterly at ease playing a dad who doesn’t care that his kids think he’s a square.

Emmy Voters Get It ABC may have abruptly canceled Bonnie Hunt’s just-finding-its-footing sitcom ”Life With Bonnie,” but voters noticed and rewarded her persistent pluck (four sitcoms and counting…).

Okay, Maybe They Don’t The Academy also gave Whoopi Goldberg’s atrocious self-titled sitcom a nod for Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series. This sister’s act is tired.

Long Live Adriana Drea de Matteo’s ”Sopranos” nomination puts her on nearly equal footing with her new pal Joey, the also-nominated Matt LeBlanc.

Maybe It’s Time to Stop Shaking Hands With the Audience and Start Telling Fewer, Better Jokes Jay Leno’s ”Tonight Show” was shut out of the best-writing and best-variety-show categories, for which David Letterman’s, Conan O’Brien’s, and Jon Stewart’s were nominated.

Aye, Spy Here’s why I think ”Alias”’ Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber got Emmy nods again, when even show creator J.J. Abrams admits this season wasn’t its best. Voters finally decided that they’d really been ignoring unconventional genre shows like ”Buffy” and ”Angel” for too long, and the ”Alias” stars have other legit credits (Garber comes from the theatah; after ”13 Going on 30” and ”Dare-devil,” Garner is a proven box office draw) that make them more palatable to the Academy. That and the fact the series doesn’t air on the long-ignored WB, which this year earned a paltry two nods.

Gotta Hate David E. Kelley On the one hand, he got Sharon Stone nominated by writing a typically overwrought performance for Miss Basic Instinct In ”The Practice.”

Gotta Love David E. Kelley On the other hand, he gave James Spader and William Shatner chances to do some flamboyantly eloquent weirdness that the Academy has noted with noms.

Gotta Love God I predict that Amber Tamblyn will win for best actress — Emmy voters love to reward wholesome, smart, young newcomers with a showbiz pedigree (she’s the offspring of Russ Tamblyn). And if voters didn’t buy Tony Soprano turning into a huggy bear at the end of this season’s ”Sopranos,” ”Joan of Arcadia” will win best drama, too. I’m not sure why I’m so confirmed in this faith — I think I heard a voice tell me so…