At the Television Critics Association's 27th annual TCA Awards, television's best programs were honored. It was a big treat to see "Friday Night Lights" take a final bow after a five-year run, receiving this year's Program of the Year award from the TCA. The DirecTV/NBC drama, which filmed in Texas, always had a small but loyal following, and this year it is also nominated for a bunch of Emmy Awards. When producer-writer Jason Katims took the stage at the Beverly Hilton to accept, he acknowledged the Texas high school football-themed series has been a favorite of the critics since its debut, and it was their support that kept the show on the air.
Nick Offerman from NBC's "Parks and Recreation" emceed the awards, and also tied with Ty Burrell from "Modern Family" for an Individual Achievement in Comedy honor. ABC's "Modern Family" co-creator/producer Steve Levitan was on hand to accept the TCA's Comedy Series award.
Jon Hamm picke up an award for Individual Achievement in Drama for his role in "Mad Men," which was also honored as best dramatic series. "Mad Men's" creator/producer Matthew Weiner accepted and joked that it was "hard to continue as a creative person when you lose the enemy," referring to all the critical praise he has received.
The brilliantly updated "Sherlock," written by Steven Moffat for the BBC and PBS' Masterpiece Theatre won Outstanding Achievement in Movies/Miniseries. Producer Beryl Vertue said they are hard at work on the next installments of the Masterpiece films.
Oprah Winfrey taped a message to thank the critics for her Career Achievement award. The "Dick Van Dyke Show" was acknowledged with the TCA's Heritage Award, accepted by the classic comedy's creator-producer-writer and occasional star Carl Reiner. "Sesame Street" won the Youth Programming award, with Roscoe Orman accepting and paying tribute to the amazing man who started it all, Jim Henson. HBO's "Game of Thrones" won for Best New Program. And the TCA's first reality series award went to "The Amazing Race," created by Bertram van Muster and Elise Doganieri, who are always Emmy's darlings in the category.
The National Geographic Channel's "Restrepo" won for News & Information. The intense documentary about a combat unit in Afghanistan was co-directed by Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington who died while covering the rebellion in Libya. It was a reminder that TV is much more than mindless entertainment. I've been a member of the TCAs for about 25 years now, and it is always great to see excellence in programming honored.