7.14.2006

Boob Tube Awards

2006 Emmy nominations were announced last week and I didn't have time to register my disgust/confusion between the extra-long 4th of July weekend and the my trip to eat Pittsburgh.

2006 is the first year for a new type of nomination process -- I wouldn't have known it unless nearly every single television critic decried it last week as useless because their favorite, underrated shows will have to remain favorite and underrated (read: still un-nominated) for another year.

Under the old process, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences picked five nominees per category for all categories. This year, ATAS picked 10 finalists for best comedy and best drama to be reviewed by a "blue-ribbon" panel of judges, which would then decide on the top five shows that should receive nominations. For each acting category, 15 actors/actresses are chosen to be judged by this panel. It sounds like a simple enough solution to allow extra consideration for shows like Scrubs and actresses like Lauren Graham so they can compete with perennial nominees The West Wing, James Gandolfini, etc.

I haven't looked up the definition of "blue-ribbon", but from looking at the list of this year's nominations, I can only deduce the definition to be something like, "People magazine-reading, Everybody Loves Raymond-missing, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'"-thinking retards.

Let's look at some of the categories that many thought would look much different than 2005, either by several *new* names or by several *different* types of shows (and predictions):

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Will Arnett, "Arrested Development" (FOX)
  • Bryan Cranston, "Malcolm in the Middle" (FOX)
  • Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS)
  • Sean Hayes, "Will & Grace" (NBC)
  • Jeremy Piven, "Entourage" (HBO)
I'm a big fan of Bryan Cranston, but how can Cranston, Jon Cryer, and Sean Hayes be better than David Cross, Tony Hale, Michael Cera or Jeffrey Tambor (all from Arrested Development)? How is any one of them better than Kevin Dillon (Entourage)? I don't even watch The Office, but I know that Rainn Wilson deserves to be up there. With both Malcolm in the Middle and Will & Grace off the air next year, I hope this category changes some more. (Jeremy Piven wins)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
  • Cheryl Hines, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
  • Megan Mullally, "Will & Grace" (NBC)
  • Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds" (Showtime)
  • Jaime Pressly, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC)
  • Alfre Woodard, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC)
None of the women here are brilliantly funny. Some of them aren't funny at all (I'm looking at you Cheryl Hines, Megan Mullally and Alfre Woodard). Jessica Walter's (Arrested Development) bile is funnier than this list of women. (Megan Mullally wins, because everyone who votes is incredibly stupid)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
  • Alan Alda, "The West Wing" (NBC)
  • Michael Imperioli, "The Sopranos" (HBO)
  • Gregory Itzin, "24" (FOX)
  • Oliver Platt, "Huff" (Showtime)
  • William Shatner, "Boston Legal" (ABC)
If anything, the last season of the Sopranos was Michael Imperioli's year. Not this one. How can none of the supporting actors from Lost be nominated? Michael Emerson, who played Henry Gale on Lost, should win this category; I doubt he was even considered. (William Shatner wins again, sigh)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
  • Candice Bergen, "Boston Legal" (ABC)
  • Blythe Danner, "Huff" (Showtime)
  • Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
  • Jean Smart, "24" (FOX)
  • Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
Candice Bergen is still alive? This is the weakest category. Why no love for Big Love's Ginnifer Goodwin? Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) had a great final season and nothing to show for it. (Blythe Danner wins)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
  • Steve Carell, "The Office" (NBC)
  • Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
  • Kevin James, "The King of Queens" (CBS)
  • Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" (USA)
  • Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS)
25 years from now, will we be reflecting on how great Charlie Sheen and Kevin James were on their shows? Now that Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond are off the air, this is how it's going to play out? Comedy is dead. (Either Steve Carell or Tony Shalhoub rightfully wins).

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
  • Stockard Channing, "Out of Practice" (CBS)
  • Jane Kaczmarek, "Malcolm in the Middle" (FOX)
  • Lisa Kudrow, "The Comeback" (HBO)
  • Debra Messing, "Will & Grace" (NBC)
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS)
The most baffling category: all but one of these shows is now cancelled, and the other was on the bubble for a while. Out of Practice was effectively cancelled in January after airing 12 episodes, burning off one in late March. I take back what I said about the Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category -- LEAD Actress is the weakest category by far. (Debra Messing wins and Jane Kaczmarek's head explodes)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
  • Peter Krause, "Six Feet Under" (HBO)
  • Denis Leary, "Rescue Me" (FX)
  • Christopher Meloni, "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC)
  • Martin Sheen, "The West Wing" (CBS)
  • Kiefer Sutherland, "24" (FOX)
Though it's hard to do with a role, rather than a premise, actors should push envelopes and take characters in convincing directions. How is it possible for Christopher Meloni to do this when he's on a police procedural? Every time I turned on the West Wing, it was about the damn election -- and Martin Sheen was nowhere to be seen.

More importantly, where the FUCK is Hugh Laurie? Down below you see that House is nominated for Best Drama, yet Gregory House is of no consequence? Laurie IS that show. Also missing is Michael Chiklis (The Shield) - he should be an automatic. (Martin Sheen wins due to nostalgia, Kiefer Sutherland tackles him on the way to the stage and begins a pretty bloody interrogation)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
  • Frances Conroy, "Six Feet Under" (HBO)
  • Geena Davis, "Commander In Chief" (ABC)
  • Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC)
  • Allison Janney, "The West Wing" (NBC)
  • Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" (TNT)
This category is actually OK, except what I said about Chris Meloni also goes for Mariska Hargitay. Believe it or not, Edie Falco (and James Gandolfini in consideration for Best Actor) had a sub par year on The Sopranos and should not be on that list. (Geena Davis unexpectedly wins, Kiefer Sutherland tackles her on the way to the stage and begins a pretty bloody interrogation)

Outstanding Comedy Series
  • "Arrested Development" (FOX)
  • "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
  • "The Office" (NBC)
  • "Scrubs" (NBC)
  • "Two and a Half Men" (CBS)
Again, a decent selection, if you remove Two and a Half Men. Throw in Entourage and you have one of the strongest Outstanding Comedy Series categories of all time. FYI: My Name is Earl is not a funny show. Not by a long shot. (The Office wins)

Outstanding Drama Series
  • "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
  • "House" (FOX)
  • "The Sopranos" (HBO)
  • "24" (FOX)
  • "The West Wing" (NBC)
The new rules helped ATAS this 2/5's right. Grey's Anatomy lost me when they had that "Code Black" episode after the Superbowl. House is simply a procedural in a hospital -- is it possible to trade in a nomination for Outstanding Drama for a nomination for Best Actor in a Drama? The West Wing has lost all relevancy in post-9/11 culture.

The Sopranos and 24 are watercooler shows -- and for good reasons -- however these past 12 episodes of the Sopranos were sub par, possibly the worst of all its seasons. It felt like most characters were just going through the motions. Maybe David Chase used this season as a setup for some really great, final episodes. Either way, The Sopranos shouldn't win -- meaning 24 is the only deserving show.

More importantly why are Rome and Six Feet Under Missing? Did the "blue ribbon panel" convene beforehand and say, "We need to be nice to the other networks -- only one HBO show per major category."? They picked the wrong show for most categories (except Jeremy Piven) -- Rome might have been the most complete single season of any program ever produced. It was certainly one of the most expensive and ostentatious seasons ever produced -- and it gets next-to-nothing. Six Feet Under had its best season as its final season. If you did not get even a little emotional after the final episode, you have a black hole filled with dead babies inside you instead of a soul.

For everyone who is crying about Lost not being there: it was a weak season with little coherency. Just because more questions were answered than last season doesn't make this season better. Lost might be the most enjoyable show on TV, but that doesn't make it the best. When I saw that The Shield was pretty much non-existent in the eyes of ATAS, it felt as if a grenade blew up in my lap. (West Wing wins, television critics around the world commit mass suicide).

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I feel as if I just expunged a dark little ball of hate from deep inside me -- hey, it's a slow summer, and I love TV. I work with the material I'm given, that's all. If you're interested in forming your own opinion about the nominees, click here to view the actual "submitted for your consideration" material that was given to members of ATAS.

Here's a wild idea: The first Emmy Award for "Best Dramatic Show" was given to Pulitzer Prize Playhouse in 1951 -- there were four nominated shows. In 1960, the field for "Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama" grew to five nominated shows with Playhouse 90 winning. Now, with six broadcast networks (soon to be five) and dozens of cable networks with hundreds of hours of original programming, isn't it time to expand the fields once again?

As long as we don't see King of Queens nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series along with Two and a Half Men, I'm sticking with that idea.

3 Comments:

Blogger Coolhand complained...

I think you're partially right. I think the "West Wing" and "Will & Grace" will clean house. Not because they were particularly spectacular, but because their long-run is coming to an end. More of a "Career" award than anything else.

I've also been living without HBO for years now, so I'm not quite sure what's up with Entourage or Rome... but I'll take your word for it.

7/17/2006 3:15 PM
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Blogger Elliott complained...

Great post. It's really odd how HBO's nominations suddenly dropped off in the 'major' categories. Rome was consistently outstanding, yet no love for any of their fantastic British actors (Ciarin Hinds or Polly Walker certainly deserved nominations). No significant nominations for Extras besides writing (and those ridiculous, superfluous 'Guest Actor' awards). Kevin James or Charlie Sheen over Ricky Gervais? Give me a break. I have to disagree with you on Falco -- I thought she was amazing.

Oh, and the Academy needs to get their heads out of their asses and consider Battlestar Galactica for some major awards sometime. It's only been selected as one of the best dramas on television by quite a few major publications.

7/20/2006 10:02 PM
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Blogger Carl complained...

I totally agree that Rome should have been recognized more. Several of the actors were deserving of nominations.

I wasn't too impressed my Extras. It seemed like every week was another guest "superstar" skewering themself. I thought maybe I didn't like it because it wasn't "Office" enough, but there were plenty of akward moments and ironies, so I'm not sure why it didn't hit right with me. I've even yet to see the season finale.

I felt like the Sopranos came on VERY strong in the first few episodes. I was ready to call it the greatest season ever, but it just puttered out at the end with the whole Gay Vito story acting pretty much as a red herring. It seemed to me that the actor/character performances followed the energy of the season, so they were strong at the beginning, but not very noteworthy at the end.

I've only seen the BSG mini-series, but I can tell that if a season of shows were of similar quality to the mini, then it;s better than many programs on TV today. ATAS has never been too kind to science fiction -- too bad they can't start now.

7/21/2006 10:30 AM
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