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Does 'Better Call Saul' stand a chance at the Emmys?

"Better Call Saul" is in the running in

"Better Call Saul" is in the running in four Primetime Emmy categories. Credit: AMC

Could "Better Call Saul" win a best drama Emmy at this Sunday's 67th annual awards ceremony?

Really, could it?

Just imagine the shock, the gobsmacked audience, the inability of commentators -- any of 'em -- to explain what just happened if the words "and the winner is 'Better Call Saul' " are uttered just before 11 p.m. Sunday?

Why, I doubt most people in the viewing audience even know who "Saul" is, or that there's a show on TV which suggests that he'd better be called.

But what if ... ?

This week, I've been looking at a few key Emmy races, and what some Emmy rule changes could mean for those. And of all the interesting questions that loom on the eve of the 67th annual awards, this is certainly one of them: a freshman drama that no one expected to get nominated in the first place actually scores the Emmys upset of the night. Imagine!

The question's valid because the 67th annual Emmys promise to be just a little different from the same old same old, and the very presence of "Saul" Sunday night is the best piece of evidence to indicate that Emmy change is for real.

Among many rule changes this year, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences decided to allow one more show per category, from six nominees to seven, for both drama and comedy. The thinking is that television is so vast and sprawling that a mere six doesn't even begin to reflect the bounty. The thinking was also that with just six, voters would be left to choose among the same ol' six.

And sure enough, without "Saul" in the mix, the other six look familiar indeed. "Orange Is the New Black," which scored comedy nods the first two seasons, placed itself into drama contention this year -- perhaps figuring it had a better shot against shows which weren't named "Modern Family." Other drama nominees are "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards, "Mad Men" and "Homeland."

They've each been down this road before ...

But freshman "Saul" hasn't. Could "Saul" win? The 20,000-plus Emmy members who cast electronic ballots this year saw these episodes: "Uno," "Mijo," "Five-0," "Bingo," "Pimento" and "Marco."

I've seen most of these, but for the purposes of this post, let's discuss just one: "Bingo." "Bingo" to me was the perfect "Saul" episode -- clarifying style, intent, meaning, philosophy and character.

It wasn't just superb, but an episode that could stand with the best episodes of "Breaking Bad." It reveals all -- Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) as hero, good guy, tormented soul. This is the episode in which Jimmy -- to help Kim (Rhea Seehorn) -- blackmails the crooked Kettlemans into accepting the plea deal she had worked out for them.

By doing so, Jimmy has a dilemma: Before they can accept the plea deal, he has to return the $30,000 retainer they gave him because it's dirty money. That was seed money for his new firm and new office.

By the end of the episode, Jimmy -- destitute once again -- is seen crumbled on the floor of the office he will never have, with the wide, blue, cold sky as backdrop. It was a magnificent moment. I can envision voters after seeing this episode, their finger ready to push the button next to "Saul" on their electronic ballot ...

Will they? Or will enough of them? What's also different this year is the voting process. Instead of a "blue ribbon panel" composed of a few dozen members who ultimately determine which should win, the Academy this year opened up voting to all 20,000 Emmy members.

The upshot of this change: Results Sunday night could be dramatically unexpected. My hunch is that the drama winner will be "Game of Thrones." "Thrones" deserves to win, of course.

But what a nice surprise if a beautiful little show called "Better Call Saul" pulls off an upset instead.

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