Friday, August 27, 2010

Danny's EMMY Preview: aka: "Does Anyone Really Care About the Emmys?"

Man, it's been a long week. After a fun weekend, things kicked into overdrive at work, and I ended up having a couple of consecutive days where I was really burning the candle at both ends. Part of that was due to a presentation skills class that I was enrolled in through work. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I went over to the Universal lot for two all-day sessions that dealt with the ins and outs of giving a great presentation in front of a big group of people. It was definitely an interesting change of pace from the usual workday, and I do think it was a valuable experience, forcing us to think more about how we appear when speaking in front of others. But, it was also super-exhausting. Just sitting in a classroom environment all day, with the added pressure of giving multiple presentations in front of others (during which we were evaluated and videotaped as well), was really draining. Plus, given that there's been lots of craziness at work, I ended up actually going back into the office for a few hours each night *after* finishing up the day's training session. Suffice it to say, for the last 48 hours I've basically been in countdown-to-the-weekend mode.


- I always say it, but the Emmys as they currently exist are not worth analyzing to any huge degree. Quite simply, they nominees rarely, if ever, truly represent the best TV series in their categories. The Oscars, at least, tend to seek out films that are eclectic, outside-the-mainstream, and independently-produced. The Oscars of course have certain biases, but, at the least, there is a certain sense of legitimacy. With the Emmys, you get the sense that the awards are voted on by casual TV fans who watch whatever is buzzworthy or popular but little else. You also get the sense that series are looked at in terms of overall run as opposed to by a particular season. Does this past season of LOST really deserve to win for Best Drama? Probably not ... but it could win if only to recognize the series as a whole. Sometimes, the omissions are just mind-boggling. How does John Noble get no love for his tour-de-force performance on FRINGE? Where is a single nomination for the year's best new drama, JUSTIFIED? What about one of the funniest comedies I've ever seen, EASTBOUND & DOWN? How about COMMUNITY, which was likely the best Thursday night comedy this year? It's just hard to care about these awards and to consider them legitimate. Sure, there are plenty of deserving nominees in the overall pool, and some of those deserving actors and series will end up walking away with awards. But enough of the nominees are shrug-worthy enough to dilute the whole thing.

On the other hand, I feel like the actual Emmy broadcast could be entertaining this year. I like Jimmy Fallon as host, and I'll be curious to see if they do anything fun with, say, Conan O'Brien. I'm sure there will be a lot of jokes at the expense of Lost's baffling finale, and if there's some sort of bizarro, American Idol duet with Steven Tyler and J-Lo ... well, that could be a can't-miss trainwreck.

- Still, okay, I guess it doesn't hurt to take a look at the nominees. I'm not going to even predict who will win - it seems pointless. I'll just give my own take on who I'd like to see come out on top ...
*NOTE: when I first wrote up this piece, I was somehow oblivious to the fact that a bunch of smaller awards had ALREADY been handed out, including guest-actor trophies and the like. So, I've gone back and updated my list with some additional thoughts on alread-announced winners. Just look for the items marked with a *.

BEST DRAMA: This one is tough. Lost should have won this for Season 4. For Season 6? Not so much. I haven't watched Dexter or Breaking Bad. I want to. Both sound like they had amazing seasons this past year, and my gut tells me that both are highly deserving of this award. That said, True Blood is an interesting choice. It's not conventionally "good," but in it's own way, it's a pretty amazing show - just super campy and over-the-top. It's one of the most addicting, most expertly-serialized scripted shows I've ever seen though. I wouldn't be upset if it won.

BEST COMEDY: This past week, I finished Season 7 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and there's no doubt in my mind it deserves this award. 30 Rock and The Office both had pretty good but uneven seasons. Glee is unique and fun but only sort-of a comedy. Plus it's still finding its groove. Modern Family might have been my pick in other circumstances (and Community should have been nominated), but ... Curb had moments of sheer brilliance this past season - it was classic. This one is, ultimately, a no-brainer.

LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA: Again, this one is tough because my gut tells me that Bryan Cranston and Michael C. Hall are the most deserving, but I haven't seen their shows. I know, I know - I need to asap. So this one is basically a toss-up for me. Matthew Fox was always strong on Lost, but he also was the central figure in many of the series' most annoying and aggravating moments, especially this season. If anyone from Lost deserves an Emmy, it's Henry Ian Cusick, who of course ... isn't even nominated. Also ... Timothy Olyphant, anyone? Raylen was robbed.

LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA: Another toss-up. I don't watch any of the shows on which the nominated actresses star. I've seen a little of Friday Night Lights though, and Connie Britton seems incredibly strong on it, so she's my pick.

LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY: What can I say, it's the year of Curb. Larry David was brilliant as always on Season 7. Yes, he's playing himself, but he's so hilarious that I don't care. Matthew Morrison is the straight man on Glee - he doesn't really do comedy. I don't like him being nominated here (and holy lord, does Danny McBride deserve a spot -- and next year, if Louie CK isn't nominated, it will be a crime). I love Alec Baldwin and Steve Carell, but neither of their characters had their best or most memorable storylines this past year (Carell more so than Baldwin - I wouldn't mind if Alec won, actually). But come on, this one has got to go to Mr. David.

LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY: This is another tough one. Lea Michele is a huge breakout star and the heart and soul of Glee, but again, I kind of object to it being implied that she's the funniest woman on TV by being in this category. Tina Fey is always great. But, this, maybe, should be the year of Amy Poehler. I am torn - I actually think Parks & Rec got funnier when it toned down Amy's character and made her less of a focus. That said, she was still the main character of a show that was probably one of the two or three funniest this past TV season. Toss-up between the two SNL alums, but Amy might be my pick.

SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY: This one is dominated by Modern Family, and deservedly so (sort of - where is anyone from Community or Curb or Parks?). But yeah, MF's cast is superb, and the best among them is Ty Burrell, who is the show's breakout star and who's responsible for a majority of its best gags. I think Ty Burrell basically has to win this one - he owned it on Modern Family this year.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY: Jane Lynch. Jane Lynch. Jane Lynch. One of the funniest people on the planet. Hilarious on Glee. Just give her the Emmy now.

SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA: This set of nominees is pretty annoying, I have to say. Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson are both incredible actors ... but both of their characters peaked in earlier seasons of Lost. I wouldn't be upset if either of them won, but again, where is Henry Ian Cusick, brotha?! John Noble from Fringe?! Walter Goggins from Justified?! No offense to Andre Brauer, but, WTF.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA: No real opinion on this one. I know the women of Mad Men are a talented bunch, but that's yet another show that I haven't had a chance to dive into as of yet.

*GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY: A ton of talented people in this category. I might have to go with Neil Patrick Harris on Glee though, as he really was hilarious in his guest spot, and it proved to be one of the most memorable episodes of the series to date. Also loved Fred Willard on Modern Family, but I've gotta go with NPH.
*And so did Emmy voters - NPH won the award this past week.

*GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA: Gregory Itzin was a lot of fun on 24's final season, and hey, 24 is one of my all-time favorite shows, so he's probably my sentimental favorite. There are, again though, so many actors that come to mind from Justified and Fringe - two shows that were totally passed over. I mean, Peter Weller on Fringe - hello! He kicked ass!
*John Lithgow ended up winning though, and hey, congrats to him. He's the man (seriously, who doesn't like John Lithgow?)

*GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY: See, I do support Glee. Kristin Chenoweth was awesome on the show, and if saying that makes me less of a man, then dammit all, call me Shirley. Because, surely, the former co-star of Pushing Daisies deserves some Emmy love. And hey, I like Betty White (I have a soul), but, I don't know, enough already - you know?
*Oh, I know, but not Emmy voters. Ms. White's name on the ballot likely produced an automated reaction of "check!" among Emmy voters who choose to vote like automatons. Look, he episode of SNL was great though (at least as compared to other recent episodes of SNL), so congrats to Ms. White. Maybe next year, she'll get a nomination for her upcoming work on, dare I say it, Community?!

*GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA: No real opinion. I've really liked Elizabeth Mitchell on Lost in the past, but wasn't last season really her swan song? So yeah ... whatever on this one.
*Ann Margaret won for Law & Order: SVU. Cool, goooo NBC.

VARIETY, MUSIC, OR COMEDY SERIES: The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien. Seriously. This needs to win. Those final few weeks were *classic* TV, that will be talked about and written about for years to come. I know, Stewart and Colbert always win, and yes, they always do a great job. But Conan was the man this year. He put on great television in the midst of controversy, and produced some of the most memorable episodes of late-night TV ever aired. Team Coco, baby!

ANIMATED PROGRAM: Um ... what? These are the choices? No love for the last-ever season of King of the Hill (not sure if it was eligible, but still ...)? All I know is, next year had better be all about the returned Futurama.
*And the winner was ... some Disney show I never heard of. Well, at least it wasn't Family Guy ...

WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES: Hmm, again ... no Community or Parks really makes this category feel lacking. I will say, I think there were some brilliantly-written moments of The Office this year that make it worthy of a win. Same goes for 30 Rock - the show still had some hugely hilarious scripted moments that kept it in the top-tier of TV comedy.

WRITING FOR A DRAMA: Okay ... I don't know. Mad Men, maybe - again, haven't watched, but I know by reputation that it's among the best-written shows on TV. Lost - aside from a couple of episodes, there was a lot of weaksauce writing this season. Justified has such good dialogue, and Fringe as well ... those are very conspicuous by their absence.

*VISUAL EFFECTS FOR A SERIES: Fringe is seriously not nominated? Really? Fine, I support Caprica by default.
*Apparently "CSI" won this. How ... not exciting?

*SOUND EDITING FOR A SERIES: Wait, Fringe IS nominated in this category! Sweet delicious strawberry death! Fringe should, MUST win here, baby.
*Oh, but wait, it didn't win. Only appropriate. Fringe, you are too good for the Emmys.

WRITING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC, OR COMEDY PROGRAM: Once again, Team Conan. Conan's got a crack team of amazing writers (they even had their own special on TBS), and they deserve to be recognized for the many amazing sketches and bits that we got on The Tonight Show with Conan.

*MAIN TITLE THEME MUSIC: Justified - whoo! - it's nominated! Awesome theme song, always sets the tone perfectly for the show. How does this category even work though? Are only new shows nominated? If so then how are Parks & Rec and Warehouse 13 nominated. Is it shows that have never been nominated before? Regardless, a win for Justified would be highly justified.
*And yet ... NURSE JACKIE WON?! Apparently no Emmy voters watch Justified, and therefore, they can suck it.

*MUSIC COMPOSITION: Okay, here's one where there's no doubt in my mind, LOST deserves to win. Lost had the best scored music of any show of the last several years, and despite other faults, the music in Season 6 was among the series' best. I mean, come on, that scene in the finale with Jack and Not-Locke squaring off on that rocky cliff? With that badass music? I can hum the various Lost themes right now, they are that good.
*Hmm, apparently 24 won this, which is cool - 24 always did have great music.

And there you have it, my EMMY thoughts. What do YOU think? Are you excited for the Emmys? Underwhelmed by the nominees? Still bitter that Lauren Graham was never nominated for Gilmore Girls?

Some other quick TV thoughts:

- LOUIE continues to be brilliant. One of the best comedies in recent years.

- PLANET EARTH on blu-ray, just watching it now for the first time -- holy wow.

- CURB season 7 - I loved the ending - so brilliant. Not the best season of the show overall, but still, so many moments of genius throughout.
- FUTURAMA has been having a really good season. Again, praised be jeebus that this show is back on the air.

Annnnnd ... there you have it. Time for the weekend - enjoy!

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