Sunday, July 11, 2004

If I Picked The Emmy Nominations, Vol. 1

I love awards shows. All awards shows. Big and small. Legit and… Golden Globes. But The Emmys? There’s nothing I can add about them that hasn’t been said before: they reward the same tired shows and people year in and year out, whether they deserve it or not… yada, yada, yada. But there’s always a few surprises come nomination time, which gives me just enough to get excited about. But the real reason to devote any of my mind’s time to the whole event is that any celebration of the brilliance that is television is a good thing.

So instead of focusing on predicting whom I think will be nominated (it’s tough when I don’t have access to screener tapes which often are good indicators of which performers have standout episodes), I’m going to take this opportunity to celebrate the shows and people that brought me joy through my little 27 inch box of heaven this year.

A tricky thing I have to consider when making my nominations is one that I’m sure influences real-live Emmy voters (and is partly to blame for the monotony and undeservedness of so many nominees each year): Do I let the quality of previous years influence my decisions, or do I limit the scope of my analysis to this year and this year only (which would seem to be what The Emmys should be all about). On the other end of the spectrum, do I look at the forest of the whole season or the trees of individual standout episodes? Many good series this year had uneven seasons – do I take the good and take the bad into consideration? Again, this is something that shapes the real Emmy nominating, as many busy industry people only look at the few episodes on the screeners and not the whole season. In regards to both of the questions I’ve raised, I don’t have a blanket policy (other than don’t dangle him over a balcony), but I’ll try to make reference to my thought process when it applies to a given nominee.

One last caveat before I get into my nominees: Even though I watch more TV than any non-shut-in should, I can’t/won’t watch everything. I watch one ABC show. Two to Five on CBS. One on UPN. Three on The WB. And there’s a lot of Emmy-friendly dramas that I’ve never even seen a whole episode of (CSI, CSI: Miami, Without a Trace, Joan of Arcadia, Judging Amy, The Guardian… pretty much anything on CBS). And I stopped watching E.R., NYPD Blue, The Practice and the Law & Orders with any regularity years ago. Oh, and I'm not gonna watch anything on Lifetime. So, as with any of my opinions, take them with an especially tiny grain of salt. And now, my nominees for Best Drama (in alphabetical order)!

Angel – there were a few so-so episodes this year, but there were also an inordinate amount of excellent ones (“Lineage,” “Smile Time,” “Origin” and “Not Fade Away” to name but the most superb); even though (and perhaps because) the producers didn’t know until very late in the game that this would be their final season, they managed to conclude the series more satisfactorily than just about any I can think of (and much better than Buffy’s finale, in my mind); plus, it is the final season of a show ignored by Emmy throughout its run – still, it’s a show on The WB about a vampire so it’s not gonna happen

Nip/Tuck – yes, I know that just a week or so ago I said it wasn’t some great gritty drama, but who said a show has to be to be worthy of an Emmy?; the show was consistent at what it set out to do throughout its first season, which is no easy feat to accomplish; thoroughly engrossing and entertaining – isn’t that reason enough to nominate it? – I’d say that based on its critical acclaim and Golden Globe nomination, the show has a small shot at making the real final five, but since The Shield has yet to make the cut, I don’t see the much raunchier Nip/Tuck leapfrogging in

The O.C. – not sure if it says more about me or the state of dramas that two of my five picks in this category are semi-guilty pleasures – but they are great pleasures none-the-less; there’s a reason this show has skyrocketed to such immense popularity amongst such a wide range of people in such a short time (and it’s not the chemistry of Mischa Barton and Benjamin McKenzie, I’ll tell you that): it’s a very cleverly written show (that maybe works better as a comedy than as a drama, but hey, that’s how they’re campaigning) with a couple of great characters – while I’ll bet there are a bunch of Emmy voters that secretly love it, they’ll be too ashamed to actually vote for it - but I’m not!

The Shield – I thought the first season was over-praised and over-the-top (both in writing and acting), but in the second and (especially) third seasons, the show has definitely gelled into an intense, compelling – dare I say intensely compelling? – series, with equally strong arcs and standalone episodes – I’ve been converted, but have Emmy voters? I think they might have a real chance at a nom this year

The Sopranos – like many, I wasn’t too keen on the fourth season and after the first two episodes of this season, I was worried it was already spiraling into the same direction; but then things picked up and they kept getting better (even if the penultimate episode felt more climactic than the actual climax); sure, many of our favorite characters took long leaves of absence – this season was, more than any other, definitely Tony’s, everyone else was just visiting – but when they were there, they were great as usual – I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think this show might actually have a chance at being nominated, too


A tribute to how few dramas I watch, I’ve only got one runner-up, and it’s the show everyone else is rooting for to be stood up Thursday morning: The West Wing. Not as good as it used to be? Okay. It lost a lot of its patented sparkle when Aaron Sorkin left. There were a lot of plot lines that led nowhere and a lot of characters with nothing to do. And my biggest problem with The West Wing in the last few seasons has been that in reflecting real-life politics, it’s been too focused on terrorism and not enough on domestic issues. Still, even mediocre West Wing is pretty damn good TV. I won’t mind at all if the four-time undefeated champ gets another nod this year (I need to do some research to see how many times in recent Emmy history a show has won best series one year, and not even been nominated the next – correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the last time was in 2000 when the reigning Best Comedy Series Ally McBeal went un-nominated).

Who I don’t want to be nominated:

Aside from the shows I don’t watch (primarily CSI, which I’ve tried to watch several times, but I just can’t seem to make it through more than five minutes without flipping – I’m rarely so out of touch with most of America), the only shows that seem like likely possibilities that I don’t want to hear announced Thursday morning are Deadwood and 24. I watched two episodes of the critically-beloved Deadwood and thought it easily deserved the award for Most Aptly-Named Series, but little else. For all I know, it could’ve gotten much better, but I wasn’t going to waste any more of my life finding out. As for 24, I was very excited when the series was first nominated. It deserved it. But this past season was just way too uneven to merit inclusion. Just when it started to get good again, around the middle of the season, things turned around and it limped towards the final few hours – and there were far too many plot-lines that went nowhere for it to be considered among the best of the year.

My No-Guts-No-Glory Prediction in this category: Without A Trace and The Shield break through. 24 is out. I'm too much of a wimp to call Deadwood stealing either CSI or (less likely) West Wing's spot.

Stay tuned for more…


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