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Trophy Show Dares to Fete CBS Sitcom

TV critics dared name CBS's geeky "Big Bang Theory" best comedy series of the year, and its star Jim Parsons the best thespian in a comedy, at their annual trophy dispensing ceremony.

This is big news because CBS usually gets shafted at trophy shows - Golden Globes, Primetime Emmys, etc. Viewers like CBS shows; industry pundits and navel gazers - not so much.

AMC's "Mad Men" (Courtesy of AMC)

Accepting the best-comedy trophy, "Big Bang" creator and exec producer Chuck Lorre noted his contentious relationship with the members of the TV Critics Association and said he wanted to speak from his heart -- only his heart was killed 20 years ago on "Roseanne," the ABC comedy series from which he was famously fired.

AMC's period piece "Mad Men" was named the year's best drama for a second year in a row, but Bryan Cranston of AMC's "Breaking Bad" was named best thespian in a drama series. The TV Critics Association does not have separate categories for best actor and best actress. This usually translates to no actresses being recognized by the TCA at awards time.Anyway, SyFy (formerly Sci Fi) drama "Battlestar Gallactica" was named Program of the Year, whatever that means - apparently not best drama of the year, or best comedy for that matter.

And HBO's vampire drama "True Blood" was named the year's best new program.

HBO's film "Grey Gardens," which starred Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as the reclusive aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, scored the win for best movie/miniseries/special. And the critics thought HBO's "The Alzheimer's Project" was the year's best news and information program.

"HBO Leads with Three Awards," the TV Critics Association said in the lead of its news release announcing the winners, missing its own point. HBO bagging the most wins at a trophy show is not news. HBO not having the leading tally at a trophy show -- that would be news. And perennial trophy-show wallflower CBS coming finishing just one win behind chronic trophy-show pack leader HBO is very big news. Particularly when it means TV critics gave both of its available comedy nods to a non-"30 Rock" series - big news.

E! late night talk show host Chelsea Handler was this year's good sport who kicked off the TV critics' trophy ceremony. During her opening bit, she said NBC late night talker Jimmy Fallon should be up there on stage, not her -- like she meant it to sting.

TV critics think Nickelodeon's "Yo Gabba Gabba" is the year's best kids show. NBC's "ER" received the group's so-called Heritage Award, which recognizes "a long-standing program that has had a lasting cultural or social impact," while Betty White got the group's career achievement award.

*While TV critics took a year off from adoring NBC's Tina Fey/Alec Baldwin-starring "30 Rock," Alan Alda had mad love for the show. Alan Alda came to Summer TV Press Tour 2009 the same day as the critics awards clambake, to promote PBS's "The Human Spark."

"The Human Spark" looks at research into what characteristics makes humans different from, say, chimps; "spite" seemed to be at the top of the list. But, during the Q&A session for "Human Spark," one TV critic wondered how Alda decided what non-PBS gigs to accept these days, which led to talk about his having guest-starred on "30 Rock":

"I loved working with the people on '30 Rock.' They reminded me of the gang who put 'M*A*S*H' together," he said. "M*A*S*H," of course, was the thinly-veiled anti-war drama series that aired back in the days when you could do that sort of thing on broadcast television. Alda starred and it made him a household name.

"They are very sharp," Alda said of the "30 Rock" gang. "They have an unusual take on things so that their humor comes out in a different way. They are doing something that I don't see anybody else doing with comedy on television and I loved the chance to be part of it."

By Lisa de Moraes  |  August 2, 2009; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  Summer TV Press Tour 2009  
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