Emmys inside track: Can ‘Breaking Bad’ win its first bid for Drama Writing?

Despite 12 nominations and three wins from the Writers Guild of America, the first four seasons of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” were snubbed altogether from the Best Drama Writing category at the Primetime Emmys. “Mad Men,” also from AMC, debuted the same year as “Breaking Bad” but fared much better right out of the gate, amassing 12 writing nominations and winning three.

This year, however, “Mad Men” was snubbed and “Breaking Bad” has finally broken through — with dual nominations: “Dead Freight,” by co-executive producer George Mastras, is a high-octane episode centered on a train heist; and “Say My Name,” by co-executive producer Thomas Schnauz, opens with a scenery-chewing speech by Walt “Heisenberg” White (Bryan Cranston) and ends with the death of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). Cranston and Banks earned Emmy nominations for their performances, and both submitted “Say My Name” to judges, though Gold Derby only gives the episode fourth-best odds to win the writing prize.

Dead Freight” is also nominated for Picture Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. It’s tied for first in the aggregate predictions of Gold Derby’s experts, but ranks only third among editors and users. Mastras and Schnauz have four career Emmy nominations apiece, all for their work on “Breaking Bad.”

“Q&A,” from Showtime’s “Homeland,” which prevailed in this category last year for its pilot, is the frontrunner according to our editors and users. In the episode, Claire Danes‘s Carrie Mathison and Rupert Friend‘s Peter Quinn interrogate and ultimately draw out a confession from Damian Lewis‘s Nicholas Brody in long, quiet scenes that resemble a two-person play.  Nominees Danes, Lewis, and Friend all entered “Q&A” for consideration in their respective races for Drama Actress, Drama Actor, and Drama Guest Actor; the episode is also nominated for Drama Directing.

Executive producer Henry Bromell wrote the script; he unexpectedly died this past March, so voters may wish to honor him with a farewell Emmy. This is his first career writing nomination, but he has three bids for Best Drama Series going back to “I’ll Fly Away” in 1993, and won that category last year for “Homeland.”

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” returns to this category following a snub last year and a nomination in 2011 for “Baelor” in its first season. This year’s nominated episode, by executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is “The Rains of Castamere,” which ends with the infamous and much-hyped Red Wedding scene. Another big-budget, serialized epic with sci-fi/fantasy elements and a large ensemble cast – ABC’s “Lost” – received six nominations in this category, usually for event episodes like “Castamere,” but never won, which may not bode well for the Red Wedding’s chances. Benioff and Weiss each have five Emmy nominations, all for “Game of Thrones.”

Ranking last in our predictions is “Downton Abbey,” which was also nominated in 2012 and won a writing Emmy in its first year when it competed in the movie/miniseries races. Academy Award winner Julian Fellowes has been nominated as writer and executive producer all three seasons of “Downton Abbey.” He’s nominated this year for “Episode 3.04,” which features the first major character death on the show – youngest daughter Sybil loses her life during childbirth – and is such a standout that it is also nominated for its directing, costumes, and hairstyling.

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