Friday, July 28, 2006

American Dreamz 2?

I can't decide which is the funnier thing about this photo: The goofy grin on President Bush's face or the fact that the AP felt the need to caption it, "President Bush, center, poses with 9 of the top 10 American Idol finalists..."

American Idiot, center

America, this is what happens when you (and by you, I mean we) elect a pop star who looks like he's 60; people could conceivably confuse him with George Bush. Thank you, AP, for clarifying.

Previously, on The Dish: Two If By Sea 2?, Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs, Maybe, But Still No Heart and Soul, BUSH DECLARES WAR ON POP CULTURE!

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Miami: MIA

Isn't making a movie of Miami Vice and setting less than half of it in the city of Miami a little like making a movie of The Dukes of Hazzard and setting a quarter of it in the big city of Atlanta?

Oh, right....

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Coldplay Hates New York Skyscrapers

First King Kong, now World Trade Center. Is there any movie that can't be made more appealing to teenage girls by putting "Fix You" in the TV spots?

You can see the King Kong spot here and the World Trade Center spot by clicking here, then clicking "Enter Site," then "Video," then move your cursor over "Select Video," then click on "TV Spot Four."

Previously, on The Dish: Olive Stone, A New Approach

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Suri, Wrong Number

Last July, I snapped a photo of this sign outside the Church of Scientology's Pacific Area Command Base located at the corner of Sunset and L. Ron Hubbard Way (yes, Rest of the World, not only does Los Angeles celebrate "Crash Day", but we name our streets after L. Ron Hubbard -- please don't judge us):

In need of another kind of audit

After some minor Photoshopping (to remove the "2"), I submitted the picture for TVgasm's countdown to Big Brother 6.

A year later, I was walking by the same sign, however the LED display looked slightly different (no Photoshopping here):

Four million "un-read" roam the Earth!

As you can see, it no longer says: "GET IT, READ IT 25 MILLION HAVE." It now says: "GET IT, READ IT 21 MILLION HAVE" (the "IT" in question is Dianetics). So what happened to the other four million who had got it and read it as of July 1, 2005?

Even if all four million took a cruise on the Freewinds and never returned, they still would have gotten it and read it, no? According to this official news release from the Church of Scientology dated April 27, 2006, Dianetics "has sold well over 21 million copies," so I don't know where that 25 million figure came from in 2005.

Something's fishy -- uh, fishier -- at the Church of Scientology.

And here's what the message looks like, in context:

Previously, on The Dish: It all Begins to make sense now..., Battlefield Earth to Tom

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Homicide: Life on Repeat

At first, I was thrilled to see Andre Braugher would be getting a six-episode arc on ER next season (the perfect length to still qualify for a Guest Actor in a Drama Emmy). But then I read on:
Braugher ("Homicide: Life on the Street") will appear in a six-episode arc as a carpenter who arrives in the emergency room with a simple cough. But he suffers a stroke while waiting to be seen, and his life eventually falls apart as a result of his paralysis.
Uh, hasn't he already done that storyline? As always, he was amazing, but I'd rather see him show us something new. However, any Braugher is better than no Braugher at all (unless it's in Poseidon), so this is still enough to get me to tune into ER again.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

You, Somebody and Dupree*

Academy Award nominee Owen Wilson. Academy Award nominee Kate Hudson... Academy Award winner Michael Douglas.

Check out this passive aggressive burn in Reuters' analysis of the weekend box office:
Exit polling indicated women made up 58 percent of the audience, a tribute to the appeal of both Wilson and co-star Kate Hudson. Matt Dillon also stars.
Guess that Oscar nomination for playing a finger-raping, over-the-top, ultimately "redeemed" racist did nothing to boost Dillon's appeal with women.

*Having not subjected myself to the film, I don't know whether Matt Dillon played "You" or "Me," but I'll assume his character didn't get top billing over Kate Hudson's.

Previously, on The Dish: mE!ow

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Novak Caned

One more thing that bothers me about Daily Show studio audiences: They often applaud and howl at the easier puns in the graphics while ignoring the truly inspired ones.

To wit, from Thursday night's story about Bob Novak talking to Fox News' Brit Hume and Sean Hannity, this visual barely got one person to quasi chuckle-cough:

Yes, one blogger came up with it first, but it's still pretty clever

While this more obvious (albeit humorous) pun garnered nine seconds of sustained laughter, applause and whistling:

They only changed one letter (and made a plural noun singular)!

Will Snakes on a Plane references never get old?

Previously, on The Dish: Pun in the Oven, Green Screed

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Street Fighter II

Mayor Cory Booker, star of the truly excellent Oscar-nominated documentary Street Fight, is apparently also an action hero:
Mayor Booker and his guards left Newark’s City Hall around 12:30 p.m. yesterday for a meeting and stumbled upon what appeared to be a confrontation across the street: a police officer and a man in a standoff on Broad Street. The officer held a gun and the man wielded a pair of scissors...

When a nearby police officer went to help him, the man tried to stab the officer with the scissors, but missed, Mr. Booker said. The officer drew his gun as the suspect was running away.

Mr. Booker, 37, who played tight end on Stanford University’s football team, said, “I took off my jacket and gave chase.”

...When Mr. Booker reached the group, he began shouting at the robber: “Not in our city anymore! These days are over!”
And that's not all! He's got gang leaders plotting to assasinate him! Quick, somebody get Vin Diesel to play him in the movie:

Mayor Cory Booker is fast and furious

For those of you who haven't seen Street Fight, there aren't many options. It barely got a pre-Oscar theatrical release last February (five days on just two screens), it's not available on Netflix or Amazon and PBS' POV - which originally broadcast it last July - has no future airings scheduled. With the exception of the occasional festival screening, it looks like the only way to see this riveting film is to plunk down $14.95 (plus shipping & handling) to order a DVD from director Marshall Curry's official website. Which, if you split it with a friend, is cheaper than a night out at the movies.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Olive Stone

I was surprised to see that World Trade Center is rated PG-13 ("for intense and emotional content, some disturbing images and language"). First, because September 11 seems like R-rated subject matter to me. And second, it's the first non-documentary feature Oliver Stone has directed since his 1974 debut Seizure to receive anything other than an R.

Previously, on The Dish: PG Or Not PG?

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Two If By Sea 2?

Yahoo! News always choses the perfect photo to accompany their stories. So should we infer that this photo (and its caption: "A lighthouse is pounded by waves swollen by typhoon Bliss") is some sort of commentary on Rescue Me's recent controversial rape scene?

I'll leave the photo captioning to the experts

Previously, on The Dish: Acquiring Nemo, Black People Steal, White People Win

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Top Fifteen Best Movies Based on TV Series Ever

1. Charlie’s Angels
2. Wayne’s World
3. The Muppet Movie
4. The Fugitive
5. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
6. Strangers With Candy
7. A Very Brady Sequel
8. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
9. The Addams Family
10. George of the Jungle
11. Batman (1966)
12. Beavis and Butthead Do America
13. DuckTales: The Movie – Treasure of the Lost Lamp
14. Mission: Impossible
15. Traffic
15 ½. Office Space

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Friday, July 07, 2006

New Rules

Memo to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences: Never again. Never again.

Well, the new voting procedures certainly shook things up, giving critics of the Emmys exactly what we’ve asked for – a changing of the guard. Unfortunately, the replacements are, for the most part… well, I’ll get to that in “The Bad.” But first (to quote Julie Chen)…

The Good

The voters on the comedy panel apparently were under the impression that “comedy” meant comedy. Many of the “shocking” omissions in the three categories voted on by panels (Best Series, Best Actor and Best Actress) are shows that are heavier on drama than laughs: Desperate Housewives, Weeds, Entourage. In the acting categories, where actors submitted one episode, I have a feeling that snubbed actors like Zach Braff, Eric McCormack, Marcia Cross, Lauren Graham, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria and Mary-Louise Parker may have bowed to conventional awards wisdom – that drama gets more respect than comedy – and sent in episodes highlighting their more dramatic sides. While many of those omissions fall under “The Bad,” I do like that comedies that are at least trying to be funny are being recognized.

Which of course leads me to the third best news of the morning: Desperate Housewives snubbed. Big time. I thought maybe there’d be some backlash against this weak season (which in my opinion was no worse than the first), but never in my wildest dreams did I expect anything like this. No Best Comedy Series, no Writing, no Directing and most shocking of all, not a single Best Actress in a Comedy nod. Wow. The only “above the line” nom they got was for one-season-and-out Alfre Woodard, who was great with what she had to work with… which wasn’t much.

The second best news: Lisa Kudrow nominated for Best Actress. I was worried voters unfamiliar with the show might be turned off by its cringe factor, but they came through with a much deserved nomination for Kudrow. Take that, HBO!

The very best news, and perhaps an even bigger shocker than the Desperate Housewives shutout: Will Arnett. Best Supporting Actor nominee. I had to read that three times to make sure it was true.

South Park once again submitted a great episode in “Trapped in the Closet” (though I would’ve gone with the two-part “Cartoon Wars”).

Alan Ball nominated for Writing and Directing the beautiful series finale of Six Feet Under.

Sean Callery’s music for 24 was noticeably more dynamic this season and I’m glad the Emmy voters recognized that.

Turns out Thief was a miniseries. At least Andre Braugher racks up another real Emmy nomination.

Arrested Development goes three-for-three with Best Comedy Series nominations, Scrubs repeats from last year and The Office makes its debut. The three best comedies on television, all nominated.

The West Wing goes seven-for-seven with Best Drama Series nominations and 24 goes five-for-five.

All five Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series nominees and Outstanding Writing for Variety, Music or Comedy Program nominees (which are the same in both categories: The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Late Show with David Letterman and Real Time with Bill Maher).

My Name is Earl and Lost may not have scored Best Series nominations, but they both scored Writing and Directing honors. Arrested Development and The Office each scored Writing nominations.

I’m also excited for: Steve Carell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jane Kaczmarek, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Frances Conroy, Bryan Cranston, Gregory Itzin, Alan Alda, Jaime Pressly, Elizabeth Perkins, Chandra Wilson, Jean Smart, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, The Amazing Race, Project Runway and Survivor.

Stockard Channing wasn’t nominated for her cameosupporting role on The West Wing.

The Bad

In Outstanding Music and Lyrics, Robert Smigel’s catchy “Christmastime for the Jews” from Saturday Night Live was unjustifiably snubbed.

Kevin James? Really? I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of King of Queens, but Kevin James? This is the flaw in the new voting rules. Under the old system we had Jason Bateman and Zach Braff. Under the new one, Kevin James. And I figured Jason Lee was a lock this year.

Again, I don’t watch Law & Order: SVU, but Christopher Meloni? Is he that good? And though I’ve always liked Peter Krause and Martin Sheen, they’ve had more to do in other seasons. Denis Leary’s fine, but not even in the same league as Hugh Laurie (or James Gandolfini, for that matter). Laurie’s omission is pretty shocking, though I must admit I had my doubts when Tom o’Neil reported that Laurie had submitted “No Reason.” He gets to stretch a lot in that episode, but the whole it-was-all-a-hallucination season finale was quite polarizing and may have turned off voters. I know it turned me off.

I know I said she didn’t belong in the Lead Actress category, but how could you watch Edie Falco’s work in “Join the Club” and not give her an award? At least she has a couple of statues at home, but what about Jennifer Garner? Now she’ll never take home an Emmy for one of the great roles in television history.

I was worried the one episode only system would hurt Lost and that’s exactly what happened. It probably wouldn’t have hurt last year, if they’d submitted the pilot, but by now the show is so convoluted that it’s impossible to just arrive in the middle and immediately recognize its brilliance. What a shame. The new rules can’t be blamed for keeping Lost’s fantastic ensemble out of the Supporting categories. That’s probably more a matter of them all canceling each other out.

Come Emmy time, I can’t always remember which guest actors were worthy of notice, but this year there were a few. And they were shut out. On Grey’s Anatomy, I found Monica Keena’s turn as a patient connected to a stranger by a pole more impressive than Christina Ricci’s nominated performance. And Gina Torres was phenomenal on The Shield. I almost forgot one of my favorite guest spots of the season: Michael Cera on Veronica Mars. On the Comedy side, it would’ve been nice to have seen some of the My Name is Earl guest stars like Kathryn Joosten, Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi. And my love for Carol Burnett trumps my loathing for Desperate Housewives.

There are better shows than House and Grey’s Anatomy (how Six Feet Under couldn’t top both with “Everyone’s Waiting” is beyond me), but there are also worse.

After a promising start, this was really a lackluster season of The Sopranos. Still, with only one episode to go on, its awkward pacing, storylines that go nowhere and anticlimax couldn’t work against it.

And The What The !@#$ Were They Thinking?

Is there any connection between Three Days in September and Two Days in October, both nominated for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking? Or is that just some weird coincidence?

American Idol’s Finale was nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program? Sure, that was two of the most entertaining hours on television all season, but only because it was such a monumental train wreck of astronomical proportions. If aliens showed up and were told that was one of the highest-rated broadcasts of the year, they’d get back in their spaceships and turn around. It was an embarrassment of embarrassments. Two words: Meat Loaf. Three more words: Clay Aiken wannabe. Yes, I loved every second, but I could say the same for From Justin to Kelly and you wouldn’t nominate that for a freaking Oscar, would you?

And it wouldn’t be a “And The What The !@#$ Were They Thinking?” without… Stockard !@#$ing Channing! As the Emmy-nominated Will Arnett would say, “Come on!” I appreciate that she wasn’t nominated for The West Wing, but Out of Practice? I never saw it, but she couldn’t have been better than Lauren Graham, Mary-Louise Parker, Marcia Cross and Tichina Arnold. What does this woman have to do to NOT get nominated? A show on The WBThe CW?

Previously, on The Dish: The Good, The Bad and The Emmy, Anti-Em, Anti-Em

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

If I Picked The Emmy Nominations 2006: Drama

I watch pretty much every comedy series that’s critically acclaimed or beloved by The Emmys (except for Two and a Half Men, which I only watch from time to time). The drama series? Not so much. There are just too many to keep up with. So here are some of the dramas that I don’t watch and thus won’t be handing out fake Emmy nominations to: The 4400, Battlestar Gallactica, C.S.I., C.S.I.: Miami, C.S.I.: NY, The Closer, Commander-in-Chief, E.R., Everwood, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Medium, N.C.I.S., Over There, Rome and Without a Trace. I’m sure they’re all fine shows (except for Rome, which try as I might, I just couldn’t get into), but don’t I watch enough TV? In addition, I only caught a handful of episodes of Boston Legal this season so I don’t feel comfortable putting any of its fine actors in my top fives.

I’m currently making my way through the first season of Huff on DVD. Having not seen any of the episodes eligible for nomination this year, I’m declining to include it in any categories. However, if it maintains similar level of quality in its second season, I would hypothetically list the series, Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt as a Runners-up and (the unfairly overlooked) Paget Brewster and Blythe Danner as top five contenders in Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

Enough disclaimers. On with the awards…

Best Drama Series

24 – Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, after the phenomenal fourth season, it went and got better! This was the most consistently thrilling day of 24 yet and probably the show I looked forward to most every week.

Lost – During this show’s inaugural season, I sometimes wondered if the writers were just ambling along blindly with no endgame in their sights. While those concerns still pop up from time to time, I’m more confident now that there is a plan in place, especially after cool pay-offs like finally seeing the other side of Boone’s radio transmission from the first season. Something else that’s remarkable about this show is how it introduced so many new characters that quickly became favorites (I think I’m the only person in the world who liked Ana-Lucia). The only downside of that is that I began wanting to see less of some of the original castaways. Still, one of the most compelling and entertaining shows on television.

Six Feet Under – The final season started out a little shaky, but boy did it end in perfect style – fitting for a series all about The End. I’m not ashamed to admit that twice this season, Six Feet Under caused a salty liquid to spew forth from my eyes: Throughout pretty much the entire hour of “All Alone” I was a wreck and then during the finale’s beautiful and poetic montage, I just bawled. Both times I was caught off guard by how much I cared about these characters. So few shows end as deftly as this one. For that alone (and for utterly devastating me), it deserves a nod.

Veronica Mars – This slot was a bit of a toss-up and any of the three FX shows below could’ve easily slid in here instead. Don’t get me wrong. I really like Veronica Mars. Heck, I think I even like like Veronica Mars. It’s just that every time I was getting into the overall season-long mysteries of year two, the show would lose momentum – either thanks to the writers’ plotting or the UPN’s start-and-stop scheduling. Still, a highly enjoyable series with clever writing and gifted acting that I found myself looking forward to more and more. I can’t wait to see what they do with Season 3.

The West Wing – Another great series that went out with great style. While the two-shows-in-one format could be frustrating at times (all along I kept wishing the show would do better in the ratings so NBC might do a spin-off and give it two hours each week), it’s hard to complain about a season as thrilling as this one. Of all the series that went off the air this year, The West Wing and Arrested Development are the ones I mourn the most.

Runners-up: Alias, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, The Shield

And the Second Tier: Big Love, Grey’s Anatomy, House, Prison Break, The Sopranos

Best Actress in a Drama

Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars – Whip-smart comedy. Heart-wrenching drama. Is there nothing this girl can’t do?

Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under – For the first four seasons, I usually found Conroy to be grating and one-note. But during the final run, something changed – either in me or in her. She was softer, more human (how many actresses have I said that about so far?). Suddenly, I really liked Ruth. Conroy had some fantastic moments to play and she more than rose to the occasion, demonstrating great range.

Edie Falco, The Sopranos – If I Picked The Emmy Category Submissions, I would send Falco to the Supporting Actress bracket. Overall, Carmela really hasn’t had much to do over the past two seasons. Granted, she’s not in Lorraine Bracco territory yet, but that whole spec house business? Feh! However, since this is the official category to nominate her in, this is where I nominate her. And she must be nominated, if only (and really, only) for the episodes when Tony was in the hospital. Falco stripped Carmela down, physically and emotionally, and just blew me away. I only wish she could’ve been given more to do throughout the season.

Jennifer Garner, Alias – Her series may have had more ups and downs than a game of Chutes and Ladders, but Garner was always the cat’s pajamas and the bee’s knees. Watching the series’ final stretch, when it returned to the exciting cliffhangers and mythology of its first season, really made me long for what could’ve been if it had stayed true to that for all five seasons. But back to Garner… She’s super.

Jeanne Tripplehorn, Big Love – She’s the heart and glue of the Henrickson family and the show. Tripplehorn’s performance makes it all seem almost… normal.

Runners-up: Kim Raver (24), Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)

And the Second Tier: Allison Janney (The West Wing), Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love)

Best Actor in a Drama

Andre Braugher, Thief – Not sure if this counts as a series or a mini-series, but Braugher could act in an infomercial and I’d give him a fake Emmy. Hell, he could appear on Desperate Housewives and I’d give him a fake Emmy.

James Gandolfini, The Sopranos – In between heavy breathing, he did some wonderful acting… as usual.

Hugh Laurie, House – If it weren’t for his performance, there’d be no reason to watch this show. I can’t think of any other series on the air I could say that about. He’s just that good.

Julian McMahon, Nip/Tuck – This wasn’t the lurid soap’s best season and I don’t know if it was residual antipathy from The Fantastic Four or the somewhat weaker than usual writing, but I wasn’t quite as enamored with McMahon’s performance as I’ve been in the past. That being said, he’s still pretty fantas— awesome.

Kiefer Sutherland, 24 - Jack Bauer could strangle you with a cordless phone. Jack Bauer sleeps with a pillow under his gun. Jack Bauer’s calendar goes from March 31st to April 2nd, no one fools Jack Bauer. Jack Bauer once won a game of Connect 4 in 3 moves. If Jack Bauer's gun jams, it's because he wanted to beat you with it. There are no such thing as lesbians, just women who never met Jack Bauer. Superman wears Jack Bauer pajamas. Upon hearing that he was played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer killed Sutherland… Jack Bauer gets played by no man.

Runners-up: Michael Chiklis (The Shield), Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy), Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under), James Spader (Boston Legal), Dylan Walsh (Nip/Tuck)

And the Second Tier: Denis Leary (Rescue Me), Bill Paxton (Big Love), Martin Sheen (The West Wing)

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

Yunjin Kim, Lost – She didn’t have as many great moments this season as she did last season, but when Sun thought she’d lost Jin… Kim was excellent.

Mary Lynn Rajskub, 24 – She brings a small dose of humor to the otherwise deadly serious 24 without ever seeming out of place. This season, we got to see new sides of Chloe in her relationships with skeevy men and her friendship with Edgar.

Jean Smart, 24 – A most welcome addition to the 24 family. But I still miss Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Mae Whitman, Thief – Again, not sure if this is a mini-series or not, but who cares? Whitman proved she could be much more than EggAnn in this very challenging role. She’s definitely a young actress to watch.

Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy – At first she seemed destined to be a one-note character, but Wilson has shown great depth and range. Motherhood definitely agrees with her performance.

Runners-up: Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), Diane Farr (Rescue Me), Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under), Janel Moloney (The West Wing), CCH Pounder (The Shield), Callie Thorne (Rescue Me)

And the Second Tier: Candice Bergen (Boston Legal), Melinda Clarke (The O.C.), Michelle Rodriguez (Lost), Amanda Seyfried (Big Love), Cynthia Watros (Lost), Grace Zabriskie (Big Love)

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Lost – Mr. Eko just came and stole the whole show. Pretty incredible.

Gregory Itzin, 24 – The president you love to hate. As opposed to the one you just hate.

Louis Lombardi, 24 – Of all the many characters whose clocks have run out, Edgar’s death was the first to hit me on a really emotional level. Oh, Edgar!

John Scurti, Rescue Me – In the second season, he really emerged as a three-dimensional character. Still funny (unlike most of the Rescue Me characters who just think they’re funny), but Scurti’s Lou also showed pathos and heart, becoming a standout in the cast.

Bradley Whitford, The West Wing – He probably should’ve swapped with Martin Sheen this season and taken the Lead Actor slot, seeing as how he was the lead this year. Getting Josh out of the White House and into a relationship with Donna gave Whitford a chance to really invigorate his performance.

Runners-up: Alan Alda (The West Wing), Michael Emerson (Lost), Jorge Garcia (Lost), Josh Holloway (Lost), Stacy Keach (Prison Break), James Morrison (24), Terry O’Quinn (Lost), Richard Schiff (The West Wing), Jimmy Smits (The West Wing), John Spencer (The West Wing)

And the Second Tier: Victor Garber (Alias), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy), William Shatner (Boston Legal), Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), Forest Whitaker (The Shield)

Previously, on The Dish: If I Picked The Emmy Nominations 2006: Comedy

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

If I Picked The Emmy Nominations 2006: Comedy

I’m generally an agreeable guy, but whenever someone says that there’s nothing good on TV, I want to punch them in the face. Aside from being a horribly pretentious, cliché and uninformed thing to say, it’s simply not true. Never has this been more apparent than when I started compiling my “If I Picked the Emmy Nominations” nominations. Also never more apparent: My complete and utter lack of life. I watch way too much TV. But that’s only because there’s so much great stuff on TV.

We’ll see if the Emmys’ new voting procedures reflects this or not. I think they could either result in many fresh, deserving shows being recognized or they could keep serialized shows like 24, Lost and Arrested Development from landing nominations. One glaring problem (as evidenced by the rumored semi-finalist list Tom O’Neil has compiled over at The Envelope): The Best Series categories should be winnowed down to 15 slots (instead of 10) while the Acting categories should get narrowed to 10 slots (instead of 15). There are plenty of great shows still absent from the shortlist while the Acting categories seem heavily padded with deadweight (Kevin James? Kevin Connelly? Adrian Grenier? Omar Gooding? Leah Remini? Jenna Elfman? Reba McEntire? Stockard Channing?!?!). That's probably because the best shows are ensemble pieces. If they start doing these preliminary rounds for Supporting Actors, then they'll need at least 15 slots.

Here at The Pop Culture Petri Dish, voting procedures are the same as they’ve been the last two years (as are the disclaimers). So, without further ado, If I Picked the Emmy Nominations…

Ever since Friends, Frasier and Sex and the City went off the air, critics and audiences have been bemoaning the death of television comedy. A year ago, I might’ve been inclined to agree with them. I could barely scrape together five nominees for Best Comedy. What a difference a year makes. I had no less than a dozen shows seriously contending for nominations as Best Comedy. I would feel comfortable putting any one of those 12 in the top five. In addition, there were nine other series in the next tier – not my favorites, but all quality shows. Several of them are freshman series that have potential (like The Office did) to really grow in their sophomore seasons.

Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise – Television comedy is alive and well (even if three of my top five comedies are dead).

Best Comedy Series

Arrested Development – Of its two and a half seasons, this half season was the show’s “weakest.” However, Arrested Development’s “weakest” episodes are better than just about anything else on television. What else is there to say about this show? This series’ brilliance will be sorely missed.

The Comeback – I think a large part of my love for this show came about because nobody else was showing it any love. I don’t think I read a single positive review until it was wrapping up its first (and ultimately only) season and was on the verge of cancellation. Then, from out of nowhere, the critics who had dumped on it when it first premiered started lavishing praise. But it was too late. The show itself – Horribly uncomfortable and yet utterly compelling and hilarious; a very clever (more clever than it had to be) send-up of such easy targets as reality TV, sit-coms and Hollywood egos.

The Office – I never bought into the cult of the original BBC version of The Office. I watched every episode, but I never saw in it what so many others did. I liked the style and the performances, but found the humor overly dry and redundant (no pun intended). Even with only 12 episodes total, it felt like they ran out of story. When the American version premiered last mid-season, I liked it better than the original but wasn’t blown away. Then, like most people, I found the second season to be an exponential leap forward. The development of the supporting-supporting cast, the Jim & Pam romance and the overall tone of the show was astounding. I quickly fell in love with this show and its characters. With Arrested Development gone, this has become my favorite comedy currently on TV.

Scrubs – This show has been great for five seasons now. Quality has fluctuated a tad throughout, but it’s never dipped far, which is pretty remarkable considering that “quirky” series like this usually have a short shelf life (see Ally McBeal). It also features one of the most criminally-ignored ensembles on television.

Stella – What an odd, wonderful surprise this show was last summer. It featured an absurd type of humor unlike anything else out there. What it lacked in character development and story it more than made up for in sheer comic lunacy. I don’t know why Comedy Central isn’t bringing it back, but at least they’re putting a DVD out later this year.

Runners-up: Gilmore Girls, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Malcolm in the Middle, My Name is Earl, Reno 911!, Sons & Daughters, Weeds

And the Second Tier: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Everybody Hates Chris, Free Ride, How I Met Your Mother, The Loop, Love Monkey, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Will & Grace

Best Actress in a Comedy

Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives – Always my favorite Housewife, Cross stood head and shoulders above her co-stars this season and really shined. I won’t let the fact that she should be nominated as Best Actress in a Drama work against her.

Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls – It was hard not putting Gilmore Girls in my Best Comedy Series top five, but this season was just a little too uneven compared to the series that made it through. However, no matter what’s going on with the show, Graham is always in top form. If anything good comes out of the Emmys’ new voting, it’d be Graham squeezing past some of those Housewives.

Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle – In the past I’ve found her performance to be shrill, one-note and overrated. Yet in the last two seasons, Kaczmarek (along with the writers) have given Lois more dimensions and shading and dialed back her shrillness. What clenched this fake nomination for her was the touching, pitch-perfect backyard speech she gave in the show’s finale. One of the great moments on television this season.

Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback – The most amazing thing about this performance is that Kudrow made you forget Phoebe Buffay. Her Valerie Cherish was nothing like the character she portrayed on Friends for ten years. Also incredible was how Kudrow played Valerie like a dual role – the performer who’s always “on” and the woman who forgets or doesn’t realize that the camera is on. Yet both characters were equally sad and funny and 100% believable. I would’ve loved to have seen what Kudrow would’ve done with a second season in Valerie’s heels.

Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds – This spot was a toss-up between Mary-Louise Parker and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but ultimately the extra dimensions Parker had to play gave her the slight edge. She played the comedy and the drama of her character with equal dexterity.

Runners-up: Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris), Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Debra Messing (Will & Grace)

And The Second Tier: Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives), Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives), Gillian Vigman (Sons & Daughters)

Best Actor in a Comedy

Jason Bateman, Arrested Development – He deserves a thousand Emmys for his work the last two and a half seasons. It can’t be easy being the relatively grounded center of the insane Bluth family. But he’s no straight man; Michael Bluth can be quite self-absorbed himself and Bateman’s bone-dry delivery cracks me up. I think I’ll miss him most of all.

Zach Braff, Scrubs – A part of me has wanted to hate him ever since he became a rock star auteur with Garden State (that’s just how I am), but damned if he doesn’t make it impossible with his consistently excellent work on Scrubs. He also deserves a Best Director nomination for the wonderful Wizard of Oz-obsessed episode of Scrubs.

Steve Carell, The Office – A perfect boob.

Jason Lee, My Name is Earl – What a fun and instantly iconic character Lee (and Greg Garcia) created. Though he could’ve easily become a thin caricature or redneck stereotype, Earl is neither, thanks in large part to Lee. I’ve never been a huge fan of his before – often I found him obnoxious – but with Earl, Lee brought something missing from most of his big screen performances: Heart.

Josh Radnor, How I Met Your Mother – If The Envelope’s list is to be believed, Radnor didn’t even make the cut of 15, which just seems wrong. In a cast full of more recognizable faces, this newcomer still managed to own the show. He’s sincere and incredibly likable, which shouldn’t translate to funny, but he’s that too. The perfect lead for a romantic comedy like How I Met Your Mother.

Runners-up: Fred Goss (Sons & Daughters), Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!)

And The Second Tier: Tom Cavanagh (Love Monkey), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), Tony Shalhoub (Monk)

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Kelly Bishop, Gilmore Girls – Every year, Bishop makes Emily Gilmore a little more human and real. She did some of her finest work ever on that airplane in "The Prodigal Daughter Returns."

Jenna Fischer, The Office – If I could be stranded on an island with one TV character this year, it would be Pam. But that’s not why Fischer deserves an Emmy. Her Pam is such a complete and real person and her comedy comes from that place. Plus, I’m in love with her.

Jamie Pressly, My Name is Earl – Such a fun, unique character. Anytime she’s onscreen, she injects the scene with a new, crazed energy.

Judy Reyes, Scrubs – It feels wrong not to put Sarah Chalke here too, but it seems like every year Elliott has less and less to do on the show. Reyes, meanwhile, had some great stuff to play this season with Carla getting pregnant and as always she was fantastic.

Jessica Walter, Arrested Development – It’s impossible to imagine Walter as anything other than Lucille, so when I see her in interviews as herself, it’s always quite jarring. She just makes it look so effortless. I think I’ll miss her most of all.

Runners-up: Sarah Chalke (Scrubs), Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development), Kerri Kenney-Silver (Reno 911!), Christa Miller Lawrence (Scrubs), Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development)

And The Second Tier: Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), Alison Quinn (Sons & Daughters), Nicollette Sheridan (Desperate Housewives), Alfre Woodard (Desperate Housewives)

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Will Arnett, Arrested Development – So smarmy. So wonderful. I think I’ll miss him most of all.

Michael Cera, Arrested Development – Every season it becomes clearer what a comic genius this boy is. His timing and delivery are just insane. One of the millions of reasons why Arrested Development’s cancellation is so tragic is that we won’t get to see Cera continue to grow and shine. I think I’ll miss him most of all.

Tony Hale, Arrested Development – So loveable yet so deranged. I think I’ll miss him most of all.

John Krasinski, The Office – I’m so jealous that he got to kiss Pam, but if it couldn’t be me, I’m glad it was Jim. Krasinski can generate laughs with nothing but a sly look to the camera. Like Josh Radnor, he’s funny and sincere and likable and the perfect lead for a romantic comedy… who happens to be a supporting player in the crazy mundane world of The Office.

John C. McGinley, Scrubs – Isn’t it time the real Emmys noticed him? His performances in "My Lunch" and "My Fallen Idol" (the latter, with barely any dialogue), where Dr. Cox lost his groove, were among his best ever. Which is really saying something.

Runners-up: Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle), David Cross (Arrested Development), Donald Faison (Scrubs), Neil Flynn (Scrubs), Jeremy Piven (Entourage), Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Rainn Wilson (The Office)

And The Second Tier: Richard Burgi (Desperate Housewives), Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Sean Hayes (Will & Grace), Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls)

Stay tuned for the Drama nominees…

Previously, on The Dish: If I Picked The Emmy Nominations 2005, If I Picked The Emmy Nominations, Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bloom Man Duo

Why is it that when I look at this photo of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom...

...all I see is this?

The only thing missing is the Dead Man's Dust.

Previously, on The Dish: Beating Crowe, Blue Man Duo, Elizabethtown Not Fond 'a Jane and Vice Versa

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

PG Or Not PG?

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt doesn't like the allegations that Facing the Giants, "a Christian-themed movie about a football coach's faith in God," was allegedly "rated PG instead of G due to religious content."
"This incident raises the disquieting possibility that the MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and violence."
Now, his use of the word "more" in that sentence suggests that if Christian themes are warranting PG ratings, then gratuitous sex and violence are slipping by in G-rated movies.

Really? Innuendo and cartoon violence, maybe, but gratuitous? How about some examples Rep. Blunt?

And while you're at it, where's the outrage over An Inconvenient Truth's PG branding? The only thing offensive about that film is that it's scary as hell. It's rated PG for "mild thematic elements" while Facing the Giants is rated the same for "some thematic elements." In either case, does a G versus a PG make any difference at all? Doesn't the House Energy and Commerce Committee have better things to spend its, uh, energy on?

Previously, on The Dish: Bigger, Longer and Cut?

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