The Edgar Nominations just came out… and LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT got four out of the five "Best Teleplay" nods.  It’s astonishing to me that the judges could do that when there are so many great mystery shows out there…  THE WIRE, THE SHIELD, THE SOPRANOS, LAW AND ORDER SVU, CSI, WITHOUT A TRACE, NYPD BLUE, NCIS, THE PRACTICE, 24  and COLD CASE to name just a fewWe are enjoying a bounty of crimes shows on TV today… but you wouldn’t know that looking at the narrow nominations. Instead of celebrating the wonderful diversity and quality of  crime shows on TV today, we nominate L&O:CI four times.

It’s no mystery why it happened: the committee didn’t reach out beyond what was sent to them. Rene Balcer, the executive producer of L&O:CI, inundates the committee with cassettes of every single episode. No other show, or producer, is as diligent about submitting work as he is. He makes it easy for them.

I’m not saying L&O:CI isn’t deserving of nomination ( it certainly is) or that Rene was wrong to submit as many episodes as he could (I would, too!)  but giving the show four out of the five slots? That’s just wrong. Did the committee members actually watch any television this year?

When I’ve served on the best movie committee, we didn’t wait for the films to be officially submitted…we went out and watched every mystery/crime movie that was released on our own.  We took some initiative (otherwise the only nominees would have been the two producers who sent us their movies). Clearly the committee this year didn’t take the initiative… and it’s a shame. The Edgars, at least in TV, are less relevant because of it.

By the way, here’s a list of the shows that submitted episodes/screeners to the committee…you’ll notice more than half of the 55 submissions came from L&O:CI (16) and L&O:SVU (14).


  1. To quote:
    “Rene Balcer, the executive producer of L&O:CI, inundates the committee with cassettes of every single episode. No other show, or producer, is as diligent about submitting work as he is.”
    Well, Lee, to quote you again, “That’s just wrong.” By your own count, CI submitted only 16 out of 23 episodes produced. And it seems Neal Baer is just as diligent (and apparently less successful).
    CSI submitted four, but the committee decided they preferred the 4 CI’s and the one Monk better. Same with Wild Card. Oh, yes, and same with the two you and Bill submitted. Better luck next year.
    Transparent sour grapes, Lee.

  2. No sour grapes at all, Nick. If you re-read my post, you’ll see that I said I don’t blame Rene for submitting as many episodes as he could (or Neal Baer) and that I would have done the same thing… I also said L&O:CI is certainly deserving of Edgar recognition. It’s a terrific show.
    But in a year that included THE WIRE, COLD CASE, WITHOUT A TRACE, THE SHIELD and dozens of other first-rate cop shows, I think it was a mistake for the committee to nominate L&O:CI for four of the five slots. It makes the organization look myopic and out-of-touch.
    Do I think MISSING or our MONK should have been nominated instead of L&O:CI? Hell no. There were many mystery & detective shows on TV this season that were far superior to anything I wrote.
    Would I have nominated episodes of THE PRACTICE or THE WIRE instead? You bet.

  3. It does strike one as rather silly that 4 of the 5 slots would all go to one show. What it suggests is that L&O is the only well-written crime show on television. But surely we know that isn’t true.
    What happened, it seems, is the committee got lazy, selecting their picks from those shows that sent screeners to them, rather than seeking out the best written shows. (For example, I believe The Wire didn’t submit; therefore it didn’t get nominated.)
    That’s a shame.

  4. What the list of nominees suggests is that the committee thought, of the 55 episodes submitted from ten different shows (including L&O:SVU, The Practice, NYPD Blue, CSI, The Sopranos), the 4 CIs and the one Monk were the best of the bunch. That’s all it suggests. For all anyone knows, maybe the committee members did see The Wire and The Shield, etc. on TV and didn’t think they deserved nominations. Or the producers of those shows didn’t think enough of the MWA to submit episodes. You have to assume David Simon of The Wire knows what the drill is, he’s submitted episodes in the past from his other shows.
    Practically every other award (Emmys, Humanitas, WGA, Peabody, etc.) works the same way — you have to submit your work to get nominated.
    There’s nothing weird or underhanded about the committee’s choices. It has nothing to do with how many epoisodes of CI were submitted. CI probably submitted just as many episodes in years past, and got only a couple of nominations for their efforts. As for this year — Did you guys actually see the nominated episodes? They just might deserve being nominated, they just might be better mysteries. Whining about it does seem like poor sportmanship.
    And Lee, you did misspeak when you said Balcer submits every episode of his series.

  5. I have no personal stake in the winners, so I can’t imagine why I’d be whining about it. Let’s face it, the winner of the TV Edgar is a rather insigniciant point.
    Knowing a bit about how these nominating committees work, though, I think you’re putting too much faith in their choices.
    Were 4 episodes of one show the best written crime shows on televsion? Seems a hard case to make.
    But, hey, they pleased one viewer (you)… does that mean other people can’t disagree?


Leave a Comment