Ray Richmond is an AwardsLine contributor.
A pair of long-running NBC comedies — 30 Rock and The Office — will be attempting a rare feat this year: They’ll be trying to win a top series Emmy in their final season. Both have tasted victory in the Outstanding Comedy Series race before, The Office taking the prize in 2006 and Rock in 2007, ’08 and ’09. But winning as a last hurrah is a whole other ballgame, though it’s happened four times before: The Mary Tyler Moore Show snared the comedy series prize in 1977, Barney Miller took it in 1982, Everybody Loves Raymond carted off the comedy trophy in 2005, and The Sopranos earned the top drama series statuette in 2007. Many other long-running series have tried to generate Emmy love in their last year. A few, like Seinfeld, have even been favored. (Seinfeld lost in its final season in 1998 to Frasier, which earned its record fifth statuette in a row.) But most series fail to cart off the gold amid the perception that their best days are behind them, whether accurate or not. As one Emmy-winning producer says: “By the time a show is in its final season, it’s no longer considered fresh or cool, and voters much prefer to reward the hot new thing. It’s just human nature.”
Related: EMMYS: Comedy Series Overview
Given this assessment, 30 Rock executive producer Robert Carlock — himself a three-time Emmy winner — admits to having no expectation of winning this year. “But I know what I need to do to make it happen,” he adds. “Every time I won, my son made me carry his C-3PO figurine with me. Every time we lost, I forgot to bring it. So I think I’ll take it again this year.”
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