By Andrew Rabin
Earlier in the week, we debuted our nominees for this week’s Hall of Fame. Today, Rabin’s back with a brand-new statistical calculation to assist your decision-making in this tough race.
After spending a lot of time developing AIRS, the founders here at This Was TV threw me a curveball last month when the Hall of Fame left television series for theme songs. So I did what any good batter does when faced with a pitch he does not expect- I let it go by. And that seemed to be a good call, since most of you seemed to think the picks were out of the strike zone.
Did I kill that metaphor yet?
But actors are much easier to quantify. There’s more data- awards, rankings, etc.. And so, I present you with ACTOR. It may also be stylized as AIRS: ACTOR. Or if someone else comes up with a similar formula and also names it ACTOR, it can be stylized as aACTOR, like FanGraph’s fWAR and Baseball-Reference’s bWAR. The “a” can be for either AIRS or Andrew. It’s up to you. Or up to Nate Silver, since in a universe where someone else has created a similar formula, Nate Silver is probably in charge.
Anyway, ACTOR. Or, more explicitly: Awards, Career, Televised, Origin, and Ranked. Here’s a quick breakdown:
I should note first, however, that the vast majority of my data comes from Wikipedia and IMDB, two sources which might not be the most reliable in the world. But since I don’t have the time, resources, or ability to watch every episode of television ever along with every award ceremony ever, it is what it is. If you see a mistake, feel free to let me know. I mean, I know you guys are shy in the comments about these Hall of Fame nominations, but I’m giving you explicit permission here.
In this category, the awards considered are those won for the nominated performance.
The Awards Points are the sum of the following:
-Emmy (or national major television award for non-American tv shows, all henceforth coming under the Emmy category so I don’t need to write this every time) wins x 5
-Emmy losing nominations x 2.5
-Individual SAG wins x 4
-Individual SAG losing nominations x 2
-Cast SAG wins x 2
-Cast SAG losing nominations x 1
-Golden Globe wins x 2
-Golden Globe losing nominations x 1
-TCA Award wins x 1
-TCA Award losing nominations x 0.5
Here’s a sampling (click to enlarge)
This category looks at what the actor did following this role. Since the Hall of Fame nomination is about the actual role, this is weighed lower. However, the impact that the role had on the actor’s career, and popular culture, is directly related to the significance of the role. All awards are for the actor’s acting career only.
The Career Points are the sum of the following:
-Emmy wins x 2
-Emmy losing nominations x 1
-Oscar wins x 3
-Oscar losing nominations x 1.5
-Golden Globe wins x 1.5
-Golden Globe losing nominations x 0.75
-1 point if the actor has a Hollywood Walk of Fame star for television
-0.5 point if the actor has a Hollywood Walk of Fame star for other work
-2.5 points for either a Kennedy Center Honors or a Knighthood
One other note on this category: Because of the continuing nature of this category, rankings can change with some frequency. It is possible by the time you’re reading this that James Spader was nominated for an Oscar or Mandy Patinkin won a Golden Globe.
Here’s a sampling:
Did people see this role? How many people, and for how long? This category looks at how much this performance was actually seen by an audience.
The Televised Points are the sum of the following:
-#1 Seasons x 5
-Top 5 Seasons x 3
-Top 10 Seasons x 1
-Number of Episodes x 0.05
-Number of Cameo Appearances on Episodes of Other Shows x 0.025
-Feature Films x 1
-Television Films x 0.5
Here’s a sampling:
This category looks at whether or not the actor’s nominated performance created a character that outlived said performance. These were only performances that followed the considered performance.
The Origin Points are the sum of the following:
-Episodes of TV series featuring other actors in the role x 0.025
-Feature Films featuring other actors in the role x 0.5
-Television Films featuring other actors in the role x 0.25
-Appearances in other media (video games, comic books, etc.) x 0.5
Here’s a sampling:
This category considers whether the character or the show the character was on was included in one of a handful of pre-existing Best Series and Best Character lists.
The Ranked Points are the sum of the following:
-1 point if the series was on Time’s 100 show list.
-1 point if the series was on TVGuide’s 50 show list.
-1 point if the character was on EW’s top 100 characters from 1990-2010 list.
-2.5 points if the character was on Empire Forum’s top 100 TV characters list.
-2.5 points if the character was on TVGuide’s 50 TV characters list.
-2 points if the actor was on TVGuide’s 50 TV stars list.
Here’s a sampling:
Finally, the sum of the five points is taken, and multiplied by the same decade factor that I’ve introduced in past months.
So how do this month’s seven nominees rate? Let’s first look at how they compare to each other.
And now let’s break it down one by one, with each nominee’s closest comparables, one with a higher ACTOR score, and one with a lower.
James Garner, Jim Rockford, The Rockford Files
James Garner’s points are impressively spread out. He cleaned up in awards, both for this role and for his career that followed, and the character is regarded as an all-time classic. A clear yes vote for the Hall.
George Clooney, Douglas Ross, ER
There’s George Clooney, right in between two of the most legendary television characters of all time. And surprisingly, not that many of Clooney’s points are from his Oscar-heavy post-ER career. Dr. Ross was a big awards draw, and was on ER while it was a mega-hit series. Another yes.
Martin Sheen, Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing
Sheen comes close to another member of an acting family with a popular and Emmy-worthy 2000s network drama. You want to know what’s crazy? Despite The West Wing’s massive Emmy haul which, unlike Mad Men, included several acting wins, Sheen never won despite six nominations in seven seasons. Still a Hall of Famer.
Jack Webb, Joe Friday, Dragnet
This is just a bizarre freak occurrence. Probably when I run the numbers on a larger set of actors, somebody will sneak in between 13 and 14. But yes, that is the same Robert Young with his two roles at both 12 and 14, with Webb sandwiched in between. Being in the top 25 marks an elite performance, and is going to make you a Hall of Famer, and Webb’s strong numbers across the board do not make him an exception.
Jerry Orbach, Lennie Briscoe, Law & Order
Orbach closes the top 25, and his detective sandwiches between two eponymous detectives. Unfortunately, Orbach’s untimely passing prevented him from an even longer tenure in a TV franchise that still exists today. Even with his character’s existence cut short, it’s another yes vote.
Tom Baker, Fourth Doctor, Doctor Who
I don’t think the formula gives Baker, or any of the Doctors credit. I admit that I don’t know how to deal with this series. Are the Doctors all one character, or separate entities to themselves? Should each one get origin points for every subsequent Doctor, or their immediate successor, or should the first Doctor get all of the origin credit? Unfortunately for Baker, as those around him are likely to continue gaining supporting actor award nominations, he will likely lose ground. Given the importance of the character in television history and the overall view of Baker’s Doctor in the franchise’s history, I would rate him as yet another yes vote.
Ian McShane, Al Swearengen, Deadwood
And finally McShane is the low man on the ballot. It is pretty clear that if Deadwood ever actually got those wrap-up movies, McShane would move up a few slots. Still, McShane does not rank particularly well even against recent HBO-mates, with James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano ranking 5th overall, and Peter Krause and Michael C. Hall’s Fisher Brothers ranking 34th and 42nd respectively. And even with McShane’s fairly significant awards recognition, he rates only eight spots ahead of the award ignored The Wire’s Dominic West. This one is a no.
So of the seven nominees, Garner, Clooney, Sheen, Webb, and Orbach are clear Hall of Famers, Baker is a solid pick, and McShane is not Hall worthy, based on the numbers. How will you vote?