With the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards behind us, the new television season has officially begun, and it’s already one of the stranger ones on record. Case in point, all of the media buzz and viewer interest seems to be gravitating not toward any new series or stars, but instead to a trio of long-running returning shows. Due to various reasons — boredom, movie success, a very public meltdown — the lead actors of “CSI,” “The Office” and “Two and Half Men” all called it quits and thus had to be replaced. But will any of the high-profile new actors receive any awards attention in 2012?
Ted Danson replaced low-key Laurence Fishburne on perennial crime procedural “CSI,” a move that received little attention due to the swiftness of the changeover. Over on “The Office,” James Spader was chosen to take over for Steve Carell in an exhaustive search that bled over into the show’s storyline at the end of last season. The messiest transition came for “Two and a Half Men,” when Ashton Kutcher stepped in to fill the void of fired actor Charlie Sheen.
All three shows premiered this week with the new men in tow to mixed results. While nine-year old “Men” received its highest ratings ever (27.7 million) thanks to all the hype, 12-year old “CSI” was down two million from last season — a drop that could also be attributed to the show moving timeslots. Meanwhile, eight-year old “The Office” was off by 11% from last year’s premiere, with an audience of 7.6 million.
For much of his career, two-time Emmy winner Danson (“Cheers”) was known for his comedy work. All of that changed in 2007 when he was cast in the dark legal serial “Damages” as the main villain Arthur Frobisher. That juicy role propelled Danson to three Emmy nominations (one for Supporting Actor and two for Guest Actor).
Spader is the most successful of all of these replacement when it comes to Emmy awards. He’s already been rewarded with three Drama Actor trophies (2004, 2005, 2007) for playing lawyer Alan Shore, a character that ironically was created as a replacement for Dylan McDermott‘s departing role on “The Practice.” Spader’s character was such a success that creator David E. Kelley spun him off on his own series “Boston Legal.” Should the new “Office” fail without Carell, one wonders if this unique strategy might be put into effect again with Spader.
Thanks to “Two and a Half Men,” TV star-turned-movie star-turned-social media mogul Kutcher has now returned to the place that started his career: a television sitcom. While Kutcher was never an Emmy contender for “That ’70s Show,” he has reaped several bids at the Razzie Awards. His dishonors include Worst Actor for “Cheaper by the Dozen” (2004) and “Killers” (2011), and Worst Screen Couple for “Just Married” (2004), “My Boss’s Daughter” (2004) and “What Happens in Vegas” (2009).
Which of this trio is most likely to attract the attention of Emmy for his new TV role? Vote below!