The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. once again went for a mix of critical darlings and pop culture standouts in its TV nominations, with stronger emphasis on popular shows this year. The freshman series that landed first best series noms were the praised HBO drama Boardwalk Empire and Showtime comedy The Big C as well as AMC’s hugely popular zombie drama The Walking Dead. Speaking of popular, Fox’s red-hot Glee was the most nominated program for a second straight year with 5 noms. And CBS hit The Big Bang Theory broke into the best comedy series field, the first multi-camera comedy to do so in 6 years. FX’s highly rated edgy biker drama Sons of Anarchy landed its first mainstream award nomination, a best drama actress nom for Katey Sagal. And two popcorn series, USA’s Covert Affairs and CBS’ Hawaii Five-O, landed surprise nominations, best actress for Piper Perabo and best supporting actor for Scott Caan.

CBS’ The Big Bang Theory scored its first 2 Golden Globe nominations, best comedy series and best lead actor in a comedy series for Emmy winner Jim Parsons. How significant was the best series nom? The last time a multi-camera comedy landed one was Will & Grace 6 years ago. HFPA traditionally overlooks traditional sitcoms for edgier single-camera fare. That especially applies to CBS’ popularmulti-camera comedies . Everybody Loves Raymond, which won 2 best comedy series Emmys among a truckload of other awards, was never nominated for a Golden Globe in the best comedy series category and only landed 2 Globe noms and no wins for star Ray Romano for its entire run. Returning in the best series field, which was expanded to 6 slots this year, are last year’s winner Glee, current Emmy winner Modern Family and previous Globe and Emmy winner 30 Rock. Out are The Office and Entourage, in are Big Bang and 2 Showtime series, Nurse Jackie and The Big C. Showtime nabbed the most series nominations of any network, broadcast or cable, 8. HBO had the most nominations overall, 12. The comedy series acting categories remained virtually unchanged from last year with only one tweak on each side: Laura Linney of the Big C subbing for Courteney Cox, and Parsons taking over for David Duchovny. Returning nominees include Toni Collette of United States of Tara, Edie Falco of Nurse Jackie, Tina Fey of 30 Rock, Lea Michele of Glee, Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock, Steve Carell of The Office, Thomas Jane of Hung and Matthew Morrison of Glee. No love again for NBC’s Parks & Recreation and Community or HBO’s Bored to Death and Eastbound & Down, none of which scored a nom.

In the best drama series field, The Walking Dead slid into what has become a reserved spot for a genre series that had gone to HBO’s True Blood in the past 2 years. There were significant changes in the best drama series category, with only two shows, 3-time winner Mad Men and Dexter, returning from last year, joined by Boardwalk Empire, Walking Dead, and The Good Wife, which followed its best drama series Emmy nomination in the summer with a first best series Golden Globes nom. For a third consecutive year, there was only one broadcast drama in the top category. Perennial favorite House, who held the spot for the past 2 years, is out after 3 consecutive best series nominations but star Hugh Laurie nabbed his sixth straight lead actor nom (He won in 2006 and 2007). It’s hard to believe that, with his 3 straight Emmy Awards, Bryan Cranston just landed his first Golden Globe nomination for his role on Breaking Bad. But the AMC series was snubbed in the best drama field for a third consecutive year. Laurie and Cranston were joined by last year nominees Jon Hamm and winner Michael C. Hall as well as Boardwalk Empire‘s Steve Buscemi. The ladies of Mad Men are taking turns in the best drama actress category. After January Jones was nominated for the past 2 years, this time, it’s Elisabeth Moss who scored a nom, competing against Sagal, returning nominees and past winners Juliana Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick as well as Perabo. The nom for Perabo is certainly a surprise as it comes at the expense of such contenders as Glenn Close or Connie Britton but HFPA likes flashy crowd pleasing star vehicles for its acting choices, nominating The Mentalist‘s Simon Baker last year.

The hodgepodge categories of supporting actor and actress in a series, mini-series or TV movie are becoming essentially series categories. Last year, out of 10 nominees in fields, only one was for a movie, Janet McTeer for Into the Storm, with 2 series performers winning: Chloe Sevigny for Big Love and John Lithgow for Dexter. Similarly, this year there was one long-form nominee each in the supporting actor and actress fields, Hope Davis for HBO’s The Special Relationship and David Strathairn for another HBO movie, Temple Grandin. The rest were all series actors. The supporting categories provided the biggest turnover this year, with only one returning nominee, Glee’s Emmy winner Jane Lynch. She is joined on the actress category by Davis, Kelly MacDonald of Boardwalk Empire, Julia Stiles of Dexter and Sofia Vergara of Modern Family. On the male side, Strathairn is joined by Caan, Chris Colfer of Glee, Chris Noth of The Good Wife and Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family.

Interesting setup in the longform field. While HBO’s The Pacific, Temple Grandin and You Don’t Know Jack had been tipped to repeat their dominant performance from the Emmys, a quirk in the eligibility rules is pitting a formidable opponent against them. Olivier Assayas’ feature  trilogy Carlos, which has been winning best foreign film critics awards, is being nominated in the long-form TV categories via its acquisition by the Sundance Channel. The biopic of Carlos the Jackal landed 2 noms, including best mini-series or movie where it will compete against The Pacific, Temple Grandin, You Don’t Know Jack and Starz’s Pillars of the Earth. Meanwhile, the lead actress in a TV movie or miniseries category provided the most amusing juxtaposition, with Jennifer Love Hewitt (The Client List) competing against Judy Dench (Return to Cranford).