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SAG Awards include team honors

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Awards season is here, and next up in the run to the Oscars are the Screen Actors Guild Awards at 8 p.m. Sunday on TBS and TNT.

The SAG Awards are much younger and not nearly as well known to the general public as their counterparts, like the Golden Globes, Oscars or Emmys. They're also shorter, with no red carpet coverage (that's on E! at 6 p.m., if you're interested) and only a two-hour runtime.

In that time, 14 awards are given, focusing exclusively on acting. One is the Lifetime Achievement Award, which this year goes to Dick Van Dyke. Included in the other 13 are three that I really appreciate the show for having: ensemble awards.

There's one each for film, TV drama and TV comedy ensemble. There also are film and television stunt ensemble awards, but those are given out during the pre-show webcast.

When it comes to TV, ensembles are so important to so many shows. Even though some actors will still be singled out for individual awards Sunday, it's really good to see whole casts get recognized, especially since, were it not for the strong players surrounding them, some of the individual nominees wouldn't shine as brightly.

A perfect example of the importance of the ensemble is "Modern Family." In a show like that, where the action is very evenly split between all the families, how would you pick a lead actor to nominate?

In the Emmys, the show solved this by nominating no one in that capacity. Instead, all of its adult actors competed in the supporting categories with the men accounting for four of six nods in their category and the ladies taking two of the six spots in theirs. (Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen won.)

This led to a lot of indignation from fans and even those in the entertainment industry. While all the actors are indeed talented, it was disappointing that so many actors from other shows were overlooked because of the force of "Family."

The show has won SAG's past two ensemble awards and seems like a safe bet to take the honor again this year, although three of its fellow nominees -- "30 Rock," "Glee" and "The Office" -- all have one win under their belts. "Nurse Jackie" and "The Big Bang Theory" are winless.

I would have loved to see "Parks and Recreation" get a nod, since that crew ranks with "Happy Endings" as my favorite ensembles on TV. There's not a weak link in the bunch. "The Office" and "30 Rock" will leave some vacancies in the category next year, though, so here's hoping for better luck for the Pawnee pals then.

An ensemble nod for them would give some recognition to the outstanding Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson), as well, since the SAG Awards don't have supporting awards for television. I kind of wish they did, since they do for film, but with TV categories divided into comedy and drama, that would add four more awards, which would tack on at least another half hour to the show.

Really, though, since when have time limits ever been strictly enforced during an awards show?

•••

Scripted series premiere: "The Americans," 10 p.m. Wednesday, FX (KGB spies go undercover in Cold War-era D.C.)

Other series premieres: "Southie Rules," 10 p.m. Tuesday, A&E (a multi-generational family in South Boston); "Nikki & Sara Live," 11 p.m. Tuesday, MTV (comedy talk show).

Season premieres: "Project Runway," 9 p.m. Thursday, Lifetime (casting special at 8); "Police Women of Dallas," 10 p.m. Friday, OWN; "My Big Redneck Vacation," 9 p.m. Saturday, CMT; "Dallas," 9 p.m. Monday, TNT; "Auction Hunters," 9 p.m. Wednesday, Spike.

Returning: "Glee," 9 p.m. Thursday, Fox; "Beauty and the Beast," 9 p.m. Thursday, CW; "Vegas," 10 p.m. Tuesday, CBS.

Extra episodes: "Happy Endings" picks up extra airings at 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays in place of the essentially canceled "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23" (which has eight remaining episodes that ABC has not said whether it will air). The same goes for Fox's "Raising Hope" at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, replacing the freshly axed "Ben and Kate (which Fox said will air its last six episodes at some point.)

Series finale: "Last Resort," 8 p.m. Thursday, ABC.

Season finale: "Moonshiners," 10 p.m. Wednesday, Discovery.

Specials: "The Makeover," 9 p.m. Sunday, ABC (politics-set "Pygmalion" story with gender roles reversed); "Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited," 9 p.m. Sunday, BBC America (first of several specials; focus is on first Doctor); "Out of Sight: How Blind Kids See the World," 8 p.m. Monday, Nick (Nick News special); "Fashion Police: The 2013 SAG Awards," 9 p.m. Monday, E!; "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials," 8 p.m. Wednesday, CBS.

W.Va. alert: "Finding Bigfoot" searches for the elusive creature, 10 p.m. Sunday, Animal Planet; Hatfield and McCoy artifacts are the focus of "Diggers," 10 p.m. Tuesday, National Geographic.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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