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Emmy nominations 2014: 'True Detective' scores big

Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey in HBO's

(Credit: HBO / Jim Bridges)

"True Detective," HBO's first-year anthology series that was expected to make a showing at the 66th prime-time Emmy nominations announcement Thursday morning, made a showing -- and then some. The series scored a nod for best drama, catapulting it instantly into a rarefied orbit with multiple nominees "Breaking Bad," Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards" and "Mad Men" -- each of which also received a best drama nod.

In addition, both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson -- the series' leads -- scored best actor nominations. That was a bit of a surprise, in that only McConaughey was considered an absolute lock. McConaughey is, by the way, almost certainly the favorite to win going into the August ceremony.

Meanwhile in terms of sheer numbers, FX's "Fargo" and "Game of Thrones" ended up in the winner's circle. "Fargo" got a total of eighteen nominations. "GoT" got nineteen.  

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The list of comedy award nominees was virtually a mirror of last year's list, with one notable exception: HBO freshman "Silicon Valley" also made the cut. Yes, indeed, it was a very, very good morning for HBO -- much less so for Showtime which got shut out for "Masters of Sex," but which did score one very big hit: Lizzy Caplan in the best actress category.

Meanwhile, "Modern Family" -- nominated of course -- now has a chance to win five best statues in a row. Here's your list... and do check back for more analysis, and head here for the snub list.

Drama series:

"Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards," "Mad Men," "True Detective"

What it means: That the strong remain strong. This list was absolutely predicted by everyone on the planet with a Twitter account and love of good-to-great TV. Certainly "TD" will have a few detractors -- HBO managed to get it into the prestigious drama category as opposed to the much less prestigious miniseries one. "TD" deserves to be here but "Fargo" fans would argue that it does as well. "Fargo" did well this morning - both Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton got nods - but it was still relegated to the mini cat. Will "TD" upset "Bad," which is looking to repeat? I kind of doubt that -- in Emmys, advantage usually, but not always, lies with the incumbent. But, of course, we shall see.   

Comedy series: "Big Bang Theory," "Louie, "Modern Family," "Orange is the New Black," "Silicon Valley," "Veep"

What it means: "Orange is the New Black" is a comedy? Did voters happen to see a different version from the one I saw? "Orange" is not a comedy, but it is a drama, although Netflix -- now a powerhouse in this industry -- managed to convince voters and the Emmy management apparatchiks otherwise. "Bang" certainly has the advantage here. 

Lead actor in a drama: Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels, Jon Hamm, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey

What it means: Clearly it means just one thing -- will Jon Hamm finally win for crying out loud? I mean enough already. 

Lead actress in a drama:

Lizzy Caplan, "Masters of Sex"; Claire Danes, "Homeland"; Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"; Julianna Marguiles, "The Good Wife"; Kerry Washington, "Scandal"; Robin Wright, "House of Cards​"

What it means: As always, the lead actress is the most hotly contended category is all of Emmydom; this extremely strong list still managed to leave out other quality candidates, yet no one can really argue with what's here. Caplan's inclusion is not a surprise but given the tough competition, a real achievement nonetheless. My hunch is that this race will come down to Wright and Margulies. 

Lead actor in a miniseries or movie:

Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Martin Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Billy Bob Thornton

Lead actor in a comedy:

Louie CK, "Louie"; Don Cheadle, "House of Lies";  Ricky Gervais, "Derek";  Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"; William H. Macy, "Shameless"; Jim Parsons, "Big Bang Theory"

What it means: Gervais is the huge upset here. I certainly didn't see this coming. But again, Parsons remains the fave.  

Lead actress in a comedy:

Lena Dunham, "Girls"; Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"; Melissa McCarthy, "Mike and Molly"; Amy Poehler, "Parks and Rec"; Taylor Schilling, "Orange is the New Black"

What it means: Without knowing just yet which episodes were submitted, it's hard to know how this will shake out. But I very much like Dunham's chances here. Nevertheless, this is Louis-Dreyfus's to lose -- which she pretty much has not yet. She's won the last two lead actress awards, and has to be absolute favorite to win again. Under normal circumstances, I would complain bitterly about the Emmys' utter predictability -- except that she is excellent and so is her show. No crime at all if she does win again. But still, Dunham is your dark horse.  

Lead actress in mini/movie: Helena Bonham Carter, "Burton and Taylor"; Minnie Driver, "Return to Zero"; Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, both "American Horror Story"; Cicely Tyson, "Trip to Bountiful"; Kristen Wiig, "The Spoils of Babylon"

'Game of Thrones' fourth season finale, 'The Children,' recap: Valar morghulis

Charles Dance in season 4 of "Game of

(Credit: HBO / Macall B. Polay)

With the rip-roaring fourth season of "Game of Thrones" now history, best to begin at the end of last night's finale, "The Children":

"Valar morghulis," Arya says to the initially reluctant captain, and with this High Valeryian phrase secures passage to Braavos - the "free city" on the edge of Essos, the vast unknown land across the seas where Arya's story moves next season.

He responds:...

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'Game of Thrones' recap, 'The Watchers on the Wall:' What's love got to do with it?

Kit Harington plays Jon Snow in "Game of

(Credit: HBO)

So Sunday night's "Game of Thrones" ("The Watchers on the Wall") was about love: Love of honor, of duty, love of tradition, love of the very wall itself. And most of all love of love: Sam of Gilly, Jon of Ygritte.

Love? In "Game of Thrones"? Yes, love, and that's what made Neil Marshall's direction of this penultimate episode so satisfying and so powerful. The table -- so to speak -- was set...

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HBO: 'Game of Thrones' has surpassed 'The Sopranos'

A deal between Amazon Prime and HBO will

(Credit: HBO)

"Game of Thrones" has officially become HBO's most popular series of all time, according to a source that should know: HBO. The network just announced, saying "Game" has an average gross audience of 18.4 million, which surpassed "The Sopranos," which set its high-water mark in 2002, at 18.2 million. An apples to oranges comparison, you say? Well...maybe. Millions certainly watch on HBO GO, and via DVR. "GO," of course, did not exist in the Jurassic age of TV, circa 2002. 

 Nevertheless, a remarkable stat. Here's the full announcement: 

With two episodes remaining in the fourth season of GAME OF THRONES, the show has now become the most popular series in HBO’s history. Episodes of the show, which debut Sunday nights (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), have an average gross audience of 18.4 million viewers, surpassing the previous record set by the 2002 season of “The Sopranos,” which had an average gross audience of 18.2 million viewers per episode. Season three of GAME OF THRONES had an average gross audience of 14.4 million viewers per episode. The next episode of GAME OF THRONES debuts Sunday, June 8, followed by the season finale Sunday, June 15. Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin, GAME OF THRONES is an epic story of treachery and nobility set on the continent of Westeros, where summers and winters can last years, and only the lust for power is eternal. The Emmy®- and Golden Globe-winning series was recently renewed for a fifth and sixth season.

'Game of Thrones': 'The Mountain and the Viper' recap -- Who exactly is Orson Lannister?

Actor Peter Dinklage stars in "The Game of

(Credit: AP)

Say, what are we all to make of cousin Orson Lannister, lord of the beetles, distant relative to Tyrion Lannister, dispatched by a mule? "Game of Thrones" fans know of whom I speak: He was subject of a three-minute long monologue in Sunday night's eighth episode, "The Mountain and the Viper," and millions of viewers have been puzzling over him ever since.

Or at least one viewer has.


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'Game of Thrones' recap: Night's King makes his entrance

Charles Dance in season 4 of "Game of

(Credit: HBO / Macall B. Polay)

Of the pleasures denied, or at least postponed, in "Game of Thrones" is a deeper exploration of the Others, or White Walkers, those mythological half-dead, half-alive creatures of the land of perpetual winter who emerge ever so briefly from the windblown snow, like white shadows, then disappear again before anyone can think much about them or focus on them.

They inhabit the magical edges of...

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'Game of Thrones' gets a 5th, 6th season pick-up from HBO

"Game of Thrones" - which may be the hottest show on television although in my humble opinion is indisputably the best one - just got a pickup from HBO for two more seasons, the fifth and sixth, according to a statement:

“GAME OF THRONES is a phenomenon like no other,” noted [HBO programming chief, Michael] Lombardo. “David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with their talented collaborators, continue to surpass themselves, and we look forward to more of their dazzling storytelling.”

  "GoT" - the fourth season of which just launched - was seen by 6.6 million viewers Sunday, the biggest number for HBO since "The Sopranos'" wrap (11.7 million.) I suspect most notable here is the fact that Sunday's opener was 52 percent higher than the third season opener.  

'Game of Thrones:' The four trailers

A scene from HBO's "Game of Thrones."

(Credit: HBO)

HBO has released a new season four trailer for "Game of Thrones," arriving April 6, which means...we have four trailers! Not to restate the obvious, but this is a full generous look at the much-anticipated new season, and therefore an opportunity to explore. Here are the four, in order, beginning with the first, and newest last. See if you can glean the fates and fortunes of our heroes and anti-heroes; and dragons too: 


'Game of Thrones' to end (maybe) in 2017

Sean Bean portrays Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark in

(Credit: AP)

"Game of Thrones," a TV classic even midway through its run, will likely end at seven seasons, the showrunners told Vanity Fair in the April cover story. That would mean -- maybe -- a 2017 wrap.

Unless ... HBO plays what now seems to be a favored game of splitting final seasons in two, all the better to stretch them out (my dear...).

At least that's been AMC's modus ... it's not exactly an HBO one.

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David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, series showrunners, told Vanity Fair contributing writer Jim Windolf that they also now know from master of the "GoT" universe, George R. R. Martin, how the saga ends. Martin says the same thing to Jim.

Here are key quotes provided by Vanity Fair:

“It doesn’t just keep on going because it can,” Weiss says. “I think the desire to milk more out of it is what would eventually kill it, if we gave in to that.”

“Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with him [Martin] and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up and where exactly that would be. If you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we just sat down with him and literally went through every character.” Martin tells Windolf, “I can give them the broad strokes of what I intend to write, but the details aren’t there yet. I’m hopeful that I can not let them catch up with me.”

By the way, seven often is a magic number for series because that's often the length of contracts that key actors sign. It's effectively a security blanket for both network and show, kinowing that the headliners are attached if the series is a success. Of course, many shows bite the dust long before they ever reach seven -- and "GoT" isn't necessarily a book or TV series predicated on the health and longevity of key protagonists, is it? Will Peter Dinklage -- Tyrion Lannister -- be here for the long haul? If King George deems that he be, sure. (And remember that death is not always forever in Westeros.)

It should also be noted here that these are just words -- HBO and showrunners could also decide to opt for an eighth season if they reasonably feel like there's more story to tell and strrretching it one more year wouldn't be a travesty to either fans or Martin's opus (Martin is an executive producer, by the way.)

So theoretically, "GoT" could even end in 2018 (or '19!).

No reason, in other words, to begin planning your finale viewing parties right now.

'Game of Thrones,' season four: Just the facts

A scene from HBO's "Game of Thrones."

(Credit: HBO)

"Game of Thrones" arrives April 6. That much we know. But what we do not know are details: key storylines, episode titles, throughlines. HBO has gone some of the way toward sating our thirst and offering some information, too, with the following. From the network, to you:

Encouraged by the Red Wedding slaughter in the Riverlands that wiped out many of their Stark nemeses, the Lannisters’ hold on the Iron Throne remains intact…but can they survive their own egos, as well as new and ongoing threats from the south, north and east? While an unbowed Stannis Baratheon continues to rebuild his army in Dragonstone, a more immediate danger comes from the south, as Oberyn Martell, the Lannister-loathing “Red Viper of Dorne,” arrives at King’s Landing to attend Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell, and perhaps act on an ulterior agenda. In the north, a depleted Night’s Watch seems overmatched against the inexorable Wall advances of Mance Rayder’s army of wildlings, which in turn is being trailed by an even more formidable foe: the undead White Walkers. As if that weren’t enough, Daenerys Targaryen, accompanied by her menacing trio of dragons and army of Unsullied, is poised to liberate Meereen, the largest city in Slaver’s Bay, which could ultimately provide her with enough ships to sail to Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne.

Episode #31: “Two Swords” Debut: SUNDAY, APRIL 6 (9-10 p.m. ET/PT) Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) welcomes a guest to King’s Landing. At Castle Black, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) finds himself unwelcome. Dany (Emilia Clarke) is pointed to Meereen, the mother of all slave cities. Arya (Maisie Williams) runs into an old friend. Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss; directed by D. B. Weiss.

Episode #32: “The Lion and the Rose” Debut: SUNDAY, APRIL 13 (9-10 p.m.) Tyrion lends Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) a hand. Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Margaery (Natalie Dormer) host a breakfast. At Dragonstone, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) loses patience with Davos (Liam Cunningham). Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) finds a purpose for his pet. North of the Wall, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) sees where they must go. Written by George R.R. Martin; directed by Alex Graves.

Episode #33: “Breaker of Chains” Debut: SUNDAY, APRIL 20 (9-10 p.m.) Tyrion ponders his options. Tywin (Charles Dance) extends an olive branch. Sam (John Bradley) realizes Castle Black isn’t safe, and Jon proposes a bold plan. The Hound (Rory McCann) teaches Arya the way things are. Dany chooses her champion. Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss; directed by Alex Graves.

Episode #34: “Oathkeeper” Debut: SUNDAY, APRIL 27 (9-10 p.m.) Dany balances justice and mercy. Jaime tasks Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) with his honor. Jon secures volunteers while Bran, Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Meera (Ellie Kendrick) and Hodor (Kristian Nairn) stumble on shelter. Written by Bryan Cogman; directed by Michelle MacLaren.

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