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Does a 'True Blood' win signal an HBO comeback?

Maybe. But unlike the glory days of 'The Sopranos,' this time the cable competition is fierce.

January 12, 2009|SCOTT COLLINS

Yay, "True Blood." HBO's vampire drama was, believe it or not, the only new series from last fall honored at Sunday's Golden Globes.

Of course, a show has to be nominated to win, and on that score, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. pretty much ignored the networks' latest offerings in this strike-impacted season. Not even ABC's "Life on Mars," based on the type of bracing BBC series Globe voters usually adore, could catch a break. So the Globes' ultimate TV choices this time around had a "been there, seen that" quality not typical of an award show that usually helps at least one tyro series start building a case for Emmy love come September.

AMC's "Mad Men" repeated as best drama. "30 Rock" already has its Emmy laurels, so Sunday's Globe for best comedy was superfluous. And the slew of prizes for HBO's costume epic "John Adams" surprised absolutely no one, with the possible exception of the producers of "Recount."

Paquin stars as surprise victor

Anna Paquin's win as the telepath Sookie Stackhouse in "True Blood" therefore stood out. She wasn't a shoo-in (although two of her competitors, Kyra Sedgwick and Mariska Hargitay, have already won Globes for their roles), and the series itself has earned mixed critical reaction and so-so ratings.

(As in so many other ways, cable seems to be topping network TV when it comes to quality of material available for female actors; a network show hasn't taken home the best actress award since Geena Davis did for 2005's "Commander in Chief." )

As for "True Blood," well, it's a long way from "The Sopranos" or even "Six Feet Under." Whether the Globe will provide the finger on the scale at Emmy nomination time this summer remains to be seen, but heading into Season 2, any series can use all the oomph it can get.

For the network, a ray of hope

In fact, after several fairly disappointing years in ratings and prize counts, HBO had plenty to feel relieved about, if not exactly celebrate. Including Gabriel Byrne's win for "In Treatment," this was the first time since its "The Sopranos" annus mirabilis of 1999 that the network took home both top Globes in dramatic series acting.

Does this mean the network is restored to its glory days of earlier in this decade? Not exactly. As the producers and cast of "Mad Men" trooped onstage again to pick up their drama prize, we were reminded that an HBO series hasn't made that trip since "Six Feet Under," way back in 2002.


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