It’s a crime that Bob Odenkirk hasn’t yet won an Emmy for playing slimy lawyer Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman on AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” A spinoff of Emmy fave “Breaking Bad,” Odenkirk has been nominated twice in a row as Best Drama Actor for the fan-favorite character, but he was bested by Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) in 2015 and Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) last year. In Odenkirk’s favor is the fact that the Emmys have found many lawyers guilty of giving great performances over the past six decades.
Beginning with “Perry Mason” star Raymond Burr, who prevailed in both 1959 and 1961, Best Drama Actor has been dominated by many stars whose courtroom antics led to awards triumphs. E. G. Marshall (“The Defenders”) won back-to-back trophies 1962 and 1963 as Lawrence Preston, half of a father/son legal team. Carl Betz (“Judd, for the Defense”) played another lawyer to trade in his gavel for an Emmy in 1969, followed by Ron Leibman (“Kaz”) in 1979 for his role as an ex-con who became a criminal defense attorney.
The most successful lawyer in the Best Drama Actor Emmy category is James Spader‘s Alan Shore. His ethically challenged character won for “The Practice” in 2004 before joining spinoff series “Boston Legal” and prevailing twice more in 2005 and 2007. The Spader scenario is especially relevant to Odenkirk’s Emmy narrative as both men take on the roles of lawyers who are willing to buck the system and both were spun off into their own shows. See 30 Emmy winners from David E. Kelley programs.
Currently airing its third season to critical acclaim, the fifth episode of “Better Call Saul,” titled “Chicanery,” features many stand-out scenes between Odenkirk’s Jimmy and his brother Chuck, portrayed by Michael McKean. The brothers’ sibling rivalry rears its ugly head in court as Chuck goes after Jimmy for breaking into his home and damaging evidence, while Jimmy accuses him of playing up his condition of radiation hypersensitivity. “Chicanery” would be an ace submission for both of them, should the actors earn Emmy bids this year.
Prior to his back-to-back “Better Call Saul” nominations, Odenkirk was a two-time Emmy champ on the comedy side, sharing in wins for Best Variety Writing for “Saturday Night Live” (1989) and “The Ben Stiller Show” (1993). However, a victory this year for the AMC drama would be Odenkirk’s first acting triumph. Another lawyer on Emmy’s docket is reigning Golden Globe champ Billy Bob Thornton, who plays disgraced attorney Billy McBride on Amazon’s “Goliath.”
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