Who praises what the critics say? Well, the stars of Glee were happy to sing the praises of the members of the Television Critics Association, who just presented a trio of trophies to the FOX series at the 26th Annual TCA Awards, honoring the best shows on TV. The high school musical was the biggest winner of the night, taking the top prize of Program of the Year, as well as Outstanding New Program, and Individual Achievement in Comedy honor for Jane Lynch. Executive producer Ryan Murphy accepted all the honors while surrounded by most of his talented ensemble and producer Ian Brennan.
Glee’s star-teacher Matthew Morrison told me he is bursting with pride because he knows the show has had an impact on school music programs. “It’s not just a show that entertains, or just has a great message,” he said. “In just one season it has really influenced funding for the arts departments across the country.”
ABC’s Modern Family was voted Outstanding Achievement in Comedy, and cast members were on hand, including Rico Rodriguez who was celebrating his 12th birthday that night. Lead by the show’s executive producer Steve Levitan, everybody in the room sang “Happy Birthday” to the talented scene-stealer.
Bryan Cranston, the Emmy-winning star of AMC’s Breaking Bad, was on hand with wife Robin to support his show, along with co-stars Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt. Creator-producer Vince Gilligan accepted with amazement that a show “about a man dying of cancer who cooks crystal meth is on three seasons now.” Cranston somehow makes it work brilliantly.
Breaking Bad tied with ABC’s LOST in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Drama. Showing he also has a flair for comedy, LOST executive producer Damon Lindelof kidded, “I remember when the LOST actors still cared about us,” referring to the nonattendance of his cast at the event. And he got roars from the critical crowd when he read Twitter posts from fans that were unhappy with the show’s finale. The best tweet was “Hey [hygiene product], how about you give me six years of my life back.”
Nick Jr.’s joyful children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba won its second consecutive TCA Award in Youth Programming. Creator-producer Christian Jacobs said he and his team were “excited just to be mentioned alongside so many incredible programs and people.” A highlight for Jacobs was Tom Hanks clowning around with the show’s characters after hanging out with the TV critics.
Hanks was there to accept the Movies/Miniseries Award for HBO’s epic The Pacific, which he helped produce. Always likable and funny, Hanks got serious when he explained, “The Pacific is not about World War II. It’s about today. There are men and women coming back from hell on earth. And they’re going to have to figure out how to pick up their lives and continue on. How do these people do it after they’ve been to places like Peleliu, Guadalcanal, Iraq and Afghanistan? That’s what The Pacific is about.”
In addition to recognizing this year’s finest programs, the TCA gave the Heritage Award to M*A*S*H, which debuted in 1972 and ran for 11 seasons on CBS. Executive producer Gene Reynolds gratefully accepted, and was joined on stage by fellow producer Burt Metcalfe and stars William Christopher (Father Mulcahy) and Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut). Even watching the reruns 30 years after the show said its final goodbye, audiences still find it as fresh, funny, and relevant as it was when it debuted.
The Discovery Channel’s Life series won in the News & Information category. Julianna Margulies, star of CBS’ The Good Wife, sent a video “thank you” for her Individual Achievement in Drama honor. And in absentia, the organization gave actor James Garner a Career Achievement Awards for the influence his work has had on the small screen.
The TCA is made up of 200-plus professional TV writers from the U.S. and Canada, and I’ve been proud to be part of the organization for about 25 years. Our stellar awards night was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel where the current TV press tour is being held. Dax Shepard, star of NBC’s Parenthood, launched the evening with a comedy routine about television, joking that “Dog the Bounty Hunter must have turned down this gig.”