BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Seeing “Homeland” lose out on an Emmy best-drama nomination after two consecutive nods was painful, series co-creator Alex Gansa said.

So was criticism directed at the spy drama’s third season, he told a meeting Friday of TV critics, including some of those detractors.

“It’s hard for us to view what we’ve done objectively. … I don’t know how you can look at the last six or seven shows we did on television last season and say it’s not among the best on television,” Gansa said.

“The criticism hurt. The lack of an Emmy nomination hurt,” he said, “but we’re going to come back strong.”

Reporters provided scant consolation as they pressed Gansa and fellow producers about last year’s plot twists, including whether the character of Brody (Damian Lewis), originally intended for a single season, overstayed his welcome with another two.

Producers wanted to focus on next season, even as they were careful in doling out details. It’s being taped in South Africa, which is standing in for Pakistan for both security and production reasons.

CIA intelligence officer Carrie Mathison, played by series star Claire Danes, is back in the field and with her bipolar disorder successfully under treatment. She’s trying to recruit a new character played by Suraj Sharma of “Life of Pi.”

Carrie’s former CIA boss, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), is doing independent contracting and gets embroiled in an “intelligence complication,” the producers said.

How the show will deal with the death earlier this year of James Rebhorn, 65, who played Carrie’s dad and caregiver for her baby, was not disclosed.

The show’s focus remains “the private and public costs of keeping America safe,” Gansa said, and what it demands of those in intelligence who are “left to pick up the pieces” post-war after U.S. troops withdraw.

The decision to focus on Pakistan in a world of hot spots came after talks with current and former State Department and CIA insiders, executive producer Alexander Cary said.

How do they view the show?

“Mostly we’re told we don’t get the letter always perfect, but we get the spirit right,” Gansa said.

“Homeland” wasn’t shut out of the nominations for the Aug. 25 Emmys with, among others, acting nods for Danes and Patinkin.

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Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org or at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .