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TV critics honor 'Handmaid's Tale,' 'This Is Us' and 'Big Little Lies'

This is what I'm thinking:

Six weeks before the 2017 Emmy Awards arrive, the Television Critics Association Sunday gave out its annual awards at ceremonies in Beverly Hills, Calif. during its semi-annual press tour.

I am one of the more than 200 TCA members from the United States and Canada, though I probably don't watch as much TV as many of them. Or at least I admit to the dirty little secret that there is no way any critic can watch all the programs on broadcast television, cable or being streamed these days.

The TCA Awards have different categories and the Emmys typically ignore some of the TCA nominees and winners in much the same way the Oscars may ignore the Golden Globes.

For instance, in 2016 the TCA Awards in drama and comedy went to "The Americans" and "Black-ish." The Emmys in those categories went to "Game of Thrones" and "Veep."

The TCAs also can be very predictable in that they generally award programs for being different and not necessary popular.

That's why it isn't surprising that Hulu's dark miniseries, "The Handmaid's Tale," won for best achievement in drama and program of the year. It was much more loved by critics than regular viewers, many of whom told me it was too dark to keep watching.

It was more surprising that the extremely popular NBC series "This Is Us" won as new program of the year since broadcast network series rarely get much love these days from critics.

The "This Is Us" win as new program of the year when "Handmaid's Tale" was named program of the year shows the TCAs can be a little confusing. "Handmaid's" was nominated in the new program category and lost. Go figure. Nobody ever said critics are consistent.

ABC's rookie comedy "Speechless" also won a TCA Award in the category of outstanding achievement in youth "for its unique family dynamic and strong, heartfelt story lines."

But most of the awards went to cable and streaming programs.

FX's "Atlanta" won for outstanding achievement in comedy, with star and creator Donald Glover winning for individual achievement in comedy

Actress Carrie Coon scored a TCA first – winning for individual achievement in drama for roles in two different programs – FX's "Fargo" and HBO's "The Leftovers."

HBO’s suburban murder mystery "Big Little Lies," which featured an A-list feature film cast led by Reese Witherspoon, won for outstanding achievement in movies, miniseries, and specials.

A&E’s investigative true-life series "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" won for outstanding achievement in reality programming.

ESPN’s five-part documentary, "O.J.: Made in America," added to its numerous laurels for outstanding achievement in news and information.

NBC's "Seinfeld," which ran for nine seasons and still airs successfully in syndication, earned the Heritage Award.

Documentarian Ken Burns was presented with the career achievement award a month before his next PBS series, "The Vietnam" War," premieres, adding to a resume that includes "The Central Park Five," "The War," "Jazz,'' "Baseball" and "The Civil War." Here's a safe prediction: "The Vietnam War" will win a TCA award in 2018.

The "Sharknado" series is never going to win any awards, even though it has been popular with viewers and gotten a lot of press. The latest edition, "Sharknado 5," wasn't exactly must-see in Western New York. The Syfy channel movie had a 1.5 live rating  Sunday, though I'm sure many more viewers will catch it in reruns. The midnight Sunday rerun had a 0.7 rating. The series has had a steady decline in WNY. "Sharknado 2" had a 4.4 live rating, "Skarknado 3" a 3.6 live rating and "Sharknado 4" a 3.0 live rating. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to kill it.

Channel 7's owner, the E.W. Scripps Co., has acquired the company, Katz,  that provides the programming for three of its digital sub-channels.

Three of the Katz networks  - Grit, Escape and Laff - are carried on Channel 7's digital channels. The fourth, Bounce, the first and only African-American-focused broadcast network on television, is carried by one on one of WNLO-TV's (Channel 4) digital channels.

Grit  features westerns and action movies, Escape investigative and mystery stories and Laff carries sitcoms and movies.


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