Garnering five times as many votes as the closest runner-up, Discovery Channel’s 11-part nature documentary "Planet Earth" dominated the non-series category in the semiannual Critics Poll.
The high-definition travelogue was named best special, movie or miniseries due to its lavish visuals and dedication to finding never-seen-before wildlife shots.
"‘Planet Earth’ was just awe-inspiring," wrote Christine Champagne, Gaywatch. "Nature filmmaking at its most brilliant."
Matt Roush, TV Guide, said "Earth" made HDTV a "must-have for millions."
"Even after years of watching nature programming, this one showed us lots we felt we’d never seen before," he added.
Longtime best non-series contender "Prime Suspect," on PBS, tied for second place with HBO’s "Longford." Charlie McCollum of the San Jose Mercury News described "Longford" as a "beautifully done mind game involving a well-meaning politician and a convicted murderer, anchored by a great performance by Jim Broadbent."
Normally HBO projects sweep the best non-series nods, but this time an HBO project—the historical Native American epic "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"—topped the list as worst special, movie or miniseries.
"Why are shows about Indians so portentous and boring?" asked Luaine Lee, McClatchy-Tribune News Service. "Though [HBO’s] motives are right, their shows are downright soporific."
The next eight programs on the worst list essentially tied for second place; they ranged from the coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s death to Fox’s "American Idol" special "Idol Gives Back" to syndicated "Dr. Phil" specials.