Question: Aargh! This anti-Boston Legal drivel that I've been encountering all over the place is really starting to infuriate me. First and foremost, this was not a second straight win in the category for Shatner — he won as guest actor last year, while The Sopranos' Michael Imperioli who got the supporting actor in a drama award. Putting that misconception aside, I feel it is completely unfair to call Spader's win an undeserving one, citing the "era of remarkable drama on network and cable" as a reason and questioning Boston Legal's "rise to the top." You're faulting the actor for what may or may not have been the show's shortcomings, perhaps forgetting that it's a single episode these actors are judged on. While Boston Legal is nowhere near the level of 24 and Deadwood, Spader's courthouse performance on a Texas death-penalty case (which was, from what I gather, his episode submission) is quite possibly the most compelling piece of monologue acting I've seen on TV in quite a long while.
Answer: Consider the other side heard from. The death-penalty episode was indeed the episode that won Spader the Emmy (and this is one of the few categories I predicted correctly, more's the pity). But an equally valid argument could be made for Hugh Laurie's first-rate turn in House's "Detox" episode. The quality of Spader's work probably wouldn't be the issue if we hadn't been so discouraged by the piling on of repeat wins during the Emmys. His and Shatner's wins were part of a trend that's hard to celebrate. I was one of the few who had little problem with Raymond winning the best-comedy trophy for its stellar final season, but when it was announced, I groaned along with everyone else.