When it comes to animated shows at the Emmys, “The Simpsons” stands above all others. In addition to its 10 wins for Best Animated Program, the show has received 23 total nominations in that category as well as 74 nominations and 27 wins overall.
This year they look to capture their 11th Emmy in the category with their annual Halloween special, “Treehouse of Horror XXIII.” This installment featured a black hole swallowing the citizens of Springfield, a parody of the film “Paranormal Activity,” and Bart traveling through time and creating a different future for him and Homer.
“Simpsons” Halloween specials are no stranger to the Emmys. Earlier this summer, character animator Paul Wee won a juried Emmy for Individual Achievement in Animation for this episode. Prior to that, past editions of the Halloween special have received 12 nominations, including a bid in this category in 1996. But history does not bode well for “The Simpsons”; those Halloween episodes lost all 12 nominations. In addition to losing this category to “Pinky and the Brain” in 1996, “Treehouse of Horror” has lost nine bids for Music Composition and two for Sound Mixing.
The program faces strong competition this year from a variety of animation styles for very different target audiences.
“South Park” returns to the race with its 12th nomination. The show, which has won the category four times since its premiere in 1998, has submitted one of their best reviewed episodes of last season, “Raising the Bar.” In the episode, Cartman starts making the town accommodate his new mobility scooter and begins a rivalry with reality star Honey Boo Boo. As several other characters wonder how the bar for entertainment has sunk so low, director James Cameron (who even gets his own theme song) seeks to remedy this by finding the bar in the deep ocean and literally raising it himself. The episode’s musings on pop culture and the downward spiral of what is considered entertainment may prove too much for notoriously snobby Emmy voters to resist.
“Bob’s Burgers” is back with their second consecutive nomination. The cult favorite has submitted “O.T.: The Outside Toilet.” In an homage to “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” one of Bob’s children, Gene, struggles with his place in the world and befriends a talking toilet (voiced by Jon Hamm) that fell off a truck. The episode was a fan favorite during the show’s critically acclaimed third season, and its endearing story of an offbeat kid finding an unlikely friend may be right up the alley of Emmy voters.
After winning the short-format animation Emmy last year, “Regular Show” contends in the full-length Animated Program category for the first time. Its episode, “The Christmas Special,” is twice the running time of a normal episode, which allows it to compete in this category. When Santa is injured in a friend’s garage, he tasks Mordecai and Rigby to destroy a box coveted by an evil rogue elf. The show is popular both commercially and critically, and it has already won an Emmy from the animation branch, so that support could carry over into this category.
Rounding out the nominees is “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” with its one-hour episode “Enter the Dragon.” Po and his gang unleash a dragon from the underworld named Ke-Pa, who is invincible. Po must then redeem himself by stopping the dragon from taking over China. The show has several things in common with last year’s winner, “The Penguins of Madagascar”: it’s a computer-animated show, it’s based on a high-grossing film franchise from DreamWorks, and the episode submitted is an hour long. This could put “Kung Fu Panda” on top in this race.