Television’s Best Are Honored by TV Critics at TCA Awards

From l, Bryan Cranston and RJ Mitte of “Breaking Bad.”

“Who praises what the critics say?” That’s a line from my favorite little poem. At the TCA Awards given out by the Television Critics Association (of which I’m a proud member), it was clear that Bryan Cranston certainly praises what the critics say, especially since he hosted the annual event that honors the best in broadcasting.

The star of AMC’s powerful drama Breaking Bad has won Emmys and TCA awards in the recent years for his riveting performance. But critics have been praising him since his hilarious work on Malcolm in the Middle. SoCranston felt very comfortable in a room full of about 200 TV writers from across theU.S. andCanada, and often kidded them. “You can always tell the professional critics from the amateurs. The professionals have command of the language and can find so many different ways to say ‘this show sucks,’” he joked, adding, “Tonight, for a change, it’s so nice to seeHollywood actors being praised and pampered.”

The brilliant dramatic actor, who shows his dark side on Breaking Bad, really showcased his knack for sharp comedy and ease at hosting the TCA Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. And if the Emmys are looking down the road for the perfect host for the future, there would be none better than Cranston, who balances the right amount of celebrity irreverence with his disarming boyish charm (not unlike Johnny Carson’s style). Plus Cranston’s a big screen star. He was the Mayor in Rock of Ages, has a major role in Total Recall, and then stars opposite Ben Affleck in Argo this fall. It wasn’t Bryan who was bragging about all of this, his wonderful wife-actress Robin Dearden was beaming as she told me all the news at the TCA reception.

Back to the TV awards, Cranstonwas delighted that Breaking Bad, now entering its final season, was honored as the Outstanding Achievement in Drama. “It seems that over the five years the incredible growth of Breaking Bad has been astonishing for us. This little, tiny show about a guy who decides to cook meth. Over at Sony they said this is the worst idea for a television show, ever. Go ahead and make it.”

Audiences have seenCranston’s hard-luck chemistry teacher character Walter White go from “Mr. Chips to Scarface,” explained the show’s creator Vince Gilligan. He accepted the award with the cast surrounding him on stage,Cranston, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brant, Jonathan Banks, and the sensational RJ Mitte, plus co-executive producer Melissa Bernstein and Mark Johnson.

Some other dark shows also won TCA awards, Showtime’s drama Homeland, and FX comedy Louie. For Individual Achievement in Drama, Claire Danes won for her performance in Homeland. She plays an obsessive bipolar CIA operative who is out to prove that a POW is not who he claims to be. Danes’ costar Damian Lewis joined her on stage with the rest of the cast when Homeland won for Outstanding New Program. She said, “Thank you Damien. Loving you hurts so good.”

Individual Achievement in Comedy went to Louis C.K. for Louie on FX, which also won for Comedy Series. Louis taped his acceptance because he was back East planning to pick up his daughter at anAdirondack summer camp the next morning. “So I’m inAlbany and you’re inHollywood,” C.K. said in his usual gloomy style.

The Career Achievement Award went to David Letterman, who also taped his thanks, in a snarky kind of way. The Heritage Award went to Cheers; Reality Program was Fox TV’s So You Think You Can Dance; and winning in the News and Information category was CBS’ 60 Minutes, on the air for an incredible 44 years.

Other big winners were ABC Family’s Switched at Birth for Achievement in Youth Programming; the Program of the Year went to HBO’s Game of Thrones; and the critics loved Masterpiece Theatre’s Downton Abbey on PBS, which was acknowledged for Outstanding Achievement in Movies and Miniseries.

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