It seems impossible to believe that just a few short years ago the Television Academy — or Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, as it was known then — was considering banishing the movie and miniseries category to the less-prestigious Creative Arts Emmy show, or perhaps even selling it to HBO as its own special, making it the bastard child of the primetime event. At the time, the four traditional broadcast networks were almost completely out of the TV movie business, and miniseries had seen brighter days, to be sure. But something changed when History’s Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible, among others, became cable hits, piqueing interest in the miniseries format again. We’re now in the midst of a mini explosion, which has led the TV Academy to again split movies and minis into their own separate program categories. For writing, directing and acting nominations, the two formats remain combined, but it is a significant development and promises to give minis renewed vigor and life thanks to the added Emmy recognition. Still, looking at the nominees this year for miniseries, as well as those for TV movies, the broadcast networks were correct in thinking longform wasn’t right for them. Other than a nomination for PBS’ Sherlock: His Last Vow in the movie category, movies and minis remain strictly a playground for cable networks.
There’s also controversy over what the definition of a miniseries should be. Returning shows such as American Horror Story and Luther seem to show up in the category every year, and this go-around a former drama series, Treme, suddenly is trying to pass itself off as a mini. Nevertheless, you can expect the broadcast nets to start taking it all a lot more seriously with the renewed interest Emmy is showing in these categories. Here’s the way this year’s competition likely will go down. (more…)