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Insider: The (Friday Night) Lights Out at ATAS

Shame, shame, shame on the Primetime Emmy voters who didn’t nominate NBC’s "Friday Night Lights" for best drama.

The Insider knows the process is imperfect and that every year there’s some inexplicable snub that will cause a tempest in the TV world teapot.

But, really, how can members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, a group that is supposed to stand for excellence in television, not nominate "Friday Night Lights" as a series?

TV doesn’t get more excellent.

"Boston Legal" certainly doesn’t, and it was nominated for best drama. The Insider has continued to watch "Legal" faithfully, if less and less gladly, and she is here to tell you that it is uneven to say the least, and an absurd comedy to say the best. The best dramatic (as well as comedic) moments are conjured up in the enviably intimate, almost marital relationship between Denny Crane (William Shatner, nominated for supporting actor) and Alan Shore (James Spader, nominated for lead actor).

"Grey’s Anatomy" was nominated for best drama but probably doesn’t deserve it. The Insider says "probably" because the core ensemble got too slutty and adolescently addled to care about by the end of the 2005-06 season, so she did not watch even one episode this season. And when she didn’t miss it—and none of her TV-friendly friends even mentioned having watched it—The Insider even canceled her "record all episodes" order on her overworked DVR. The display of Isaiah Washington’s unsavory real-life worldview was merely a last extraneous nail in the "Grey’s" coffin.

The best-drama nominations for "Heroes" and "House" are well deserved.

The nominations for "The Sopranos" are not. After presenting faithful viewers with a few memorable last gasps, it ended its run of nearly a decade with a big, smug flip of the middle finger to everyone by creator David Chase.

The Insider is overjoyed that Peter Berg earned a nomination for his dexterous direction of the "Friday Night Lights" pilot, which he masterfully transferred from the big screen to NBC’s lineup, making the impossible task of surpassing himself look easy. And the nomination for casting is more than deserved.

Two nominations.

That’s it for "Friday Night Lights."

Nothing for Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, whose portrayals of coach and wife may be marriage at its best ever on TV. Instead, among the otherwise laudable actor nominees is the self-aggrandizing Denis Leary, who ham, ham, hams it without offering "Rescue Me" viewers even a whiff of wry. And in the actress category we’ve got Kyra Sedgwick, who is very endearing as Brenda, TNT’s Southern-fried lady cop, but who last season, when "The Closer" was still more "Murder, She Wrote" than "murder, she punished," was a comedic caricature.

Nothing for the "Friday Night" writers who every week wove storylines that gave a uniformly wonderful cast of remade-for-TV characters shining moments most TV actors would kill for.

How does this happen?

Can it mean anything but that ATAS folks disdain straight-from-the-heart, straight-to-the-heart drama and prefer more cynical efforts from producers who have forgotten how to entertain even themselves?

Or that NBC’s scheduling (let’s not put it on the night that’s in the title!) and marketing (let’s position it as a high school football saga!!) were just too much of a challenge for TV insiders?

May they all be lucky enough to someday work on a series that is so deserving of so very many honors and then have their peers turn a collective deaf ear and blind eye at Emmy time.

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