If I Picked the Emmy Nominations, Vol. 2
Best Comedy Series:
This is where things get complicated for me. I watch a lot of comedies (and dramedies that submit to The Emmys in the Comedy category) and I think there are (or were) a lot of very good ones on the air. So narrowing it down is tough, especially with so many sentimental favorites up for their last awards. But I’ll try.
Arrested Development – it took me a little while to accept the brilliance of this show, but now I’m a major fan; the stories are tightly constructed, the dialogue absurdly intelligent and the acting top-notch; unfortunately it requires some long-term attention and a particular sense of humor, which is probably why it’s languishing in the ratings – hopefully the buzz will translate into a nomination (remember what a freshman win did for the equally bottom-dwelling Cheers), but I’m not holding my breath; it’ll have to make due with Writing and Directing (and maybe Lead Actor) noms
Frasier – speaking of Cheers… I’ve already written a lot about this season of Frasier; it’s the most tenuous of my five nominees in this category and I could easily swap it out for one of my runners-up; but nostalgia plays some part, as does a sense of a fitting closure for the most Emmy-winning series in history and I’d like to reward them for stepping up their game to send Frasier off in the style it deserved (which is why Frasier’s here and not Friends) – I think this is one of the biggest question marks this year at The Emmys: Can Frasier stage a final comeback?
Gilmore Girls – this is another sort of conflicted inclusion; the first eight episodes of this season ranged from disappointing by the sterling standards of the Girls to downright bad – I like to think of them as a Bobby Ewing-esque dream on the part of the writers – but starting with “Ted Koppel’s Big Night Out,” the show was back to top form, which is very top indeed (and unlike 24, they maintained this mid-season rally until the end); but the real reason I couldn’t deny them a slot was the unfathomably superb season finale “Raincoats and Recipes” – on paper there’s nothing outstanding, or even out of the ordinary about this episode, but everyone I’ve talked to or read about it agrees that it is one of the best single episodes of any television show in recent memory – sadly, it aired on The WB, so it doesn’t really count in Emmy’s eyes
Scrubs – how this show has managed to go unnoticed by Emmy voters the last two years is beyond me, and while I didn’t think this season was as strong as the first two (too much focus on J.D.’s obsession with Elliot without treating the object of his affection as more than an object), it’s still one of the best, if not the best, half-hour sit-com on the air; the show manages to mix comedy and drama effortlessly without undercutting either; the stories, themes, dialogue, characters are all brilliantly crafted by the writers, and the actors and directors always rise to their level; for evidence of why the show deserves an Emmy this season, just watch NBC’s mini-marathon on Thursday, July 22 (especially the best episode of the third season: “My Screw Up”) – but if it hasn’t come to their attention yet, I don’t know why it would now
Sex and the City – this is kind of a guilty pleasure for me, because, well, I’m a man, and apparently men aren’t supposed to like this series – but what’s not to like? Beautiful women desperate to bed men, giving the men at home an insight into what women talk about when we’re not around and what they want from us when we are – plus, the writing is usually excellent and the episodes are so light and airy that I’ve been known to watch six in one night when catching up on DVD; this season (or seasons) was a good one, if a little heavy on the drama; though I was disappointed by the final two episodes, they weren’t bad, they just weren’t right for this show – it’s probably the closest comedy series to a lock for a nomination this year (as long as voters remember it since it ended so many months ago)
Friends – this is where nostalgia can mess with your mind – I mean, how can I not nominate one of my favorite sit-coms ever in this, it’s final at bat? Unfortunately, the last few seasons have ranged from uneven to pretty bad (at least by Friends’ standards), and while this season was more uneven than bad, it pales in comparison to the show’s heydays; I wrote a lot about my feelings for the final season before, and after weighing it against Frasier’s final season, I just couldn’t justify putting it in the top five – though I doubt Emmy voters will have any trouble doing so
Ed – another series that wanted to benefit from my nostalgia for better seasons; in any of its first three years (particularly the first and third) I easily would have put it on my short list, but after the beautiful conclusion to the third season (the last half of which contained several of the best episodes of any TV show in recent years), the abbreviated final season was something of a disappointing mess, proving once and for all that most will-they-or-won’t-they couples should stay apart (with the exception of Ross & Rachel); I do miss this show, though, and hopefully it’ll come out on DVD soon, or at least be rebroadcast somewhere so I can see those brilliant third season episodes again – yeah, it’s not gonna happen
Malcolm in the Middle – I don’t know why this show has fallen so far in the buzz index since its second season (when it was nominated for a Best Comedy Series Emmy and won its second straight Writing and Directing awards); yeah, it’s had some ups and downs in quality, but no more than any other top series; sure, the Francis stuff is often an albatross around the series’ neck; however, I think that this year was more than solid as the boys continue to come into their own as characters and as actors; I guess it’s not in my top five because I just aren’t as excited by it as by some of those other shows – sadly, its days at the Best Series table are most likely done for, despite being better than many of the repeat invitees
Who I don’t want to be nominated:
The Bernie Mac Show
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Everybody Loves Raymond
Will & Grace
All of these series have been nominated (or won) in major categories before, but they’ve all been coasting (some for several years). This season, they’ve all had painful episodes that were difficult for me to suffer through (some more than others). They’ve all lost a sense of who their characters are, and more importantly, why we (and The Emmys) fell in love with the shows in the first place. Bernie Mac just isn’t funny anymore, and aside from Mac himself, nobody on the show is an engaging presence. Curb Your Enthusiasm had a truly awful season (and one exceptional episode does not salvage a season), in my opinion, and I’m surprised I haven’t read about how horrible it was anywhere. The season-long arcs were stretched too thin, and wore out their welcome by the second or third episode. Larry, while always a curmudgeon, used to at least have the audience on his side because they could agree with his rants and unsavory behavior in principle – but now, he’s just an obnoxious bastard for the sake of being an obnoxious bastard. And don’t get me started on the hour-long season finale (or as I like to call it, The Producers: Abridged and Unfunny). The last two seasons of Raymond have devolved into self-parody and everyone, from the writers to the actors, is phoning it in. Probably the biggest blunder has been turning the series into Everybody Loves Robert, or Prelude to a Spin-Off. It's also abandoned the simplicity of the early seasons in favor of increasing absurdity (this show didn't "Jump the Shark," it "Ate the Fly"). I already discussed Monk at length, and even though the season that’s eligible for consideration is considerably better than this current one, it’s still not good enough to make the top five. And finally Will & Grace. Or, as it was known this year: Will. Everyone in the world agrees that this season just went from bad to worse and then worser. I think the writers (and maybe the actors) got tired of the criticisms that: sure the show is funny, but it’s all jokes and no character or story development. So now they’ve been trying too hard (ever since the end of the fourth season) to make the show more like a Friends, but the problem is, the foundation they’re building on can’t handle it. There’s nothing wrong with being a show that’s all jokes, but there is something wrong about a sit-com that’s not funny and has absolutely no respect for its characters or its audience. So how much you wanna bet it still makes the cut this year?
My No-Guts-No-Glory Prediction in this category: No matter how lame I thought it was, I don’t see last year’s victor getting dumped, so Raymond still gonna get some love. Sex and the City is a shoe-in (pun accidentally intended). Friends should be there one last time. So the question is, did anybody in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences notice how colossally bad favorites Curb and Will were this season? If I have to go out on a limb, I say Curb makes it in thanks to screeners of “The Carpool Lane” and Larry David-worship, but that Frasier will manage to rightfully reclaim its spot from Will (though technically, Curb is the show that stole Frasier’s perennial position in the Best Comedy Series club back in 2002). Then again, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
To be continued…