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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Blogger Debra said...

I simply cannot believe that Battlestar Gallactica was completely shut out. Truly the best show on tv that nobody is watching...

July 07, 2006 7:18 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Not only was BSG (my pick for best show of 2005 -- by far) shut out, so was Rome, Big Love, and the PBS doc Country Boys.

July 11, 2006 4:42 PM  

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