Sunday, August 27, 2006

Can't Spell "Emmy" without ME!

Wow, coming three weeks early, the Emmys really snuck up on me this year. I still feel pretty clueless when it comes to predicting these awards, but I won't let that stop me from putting in my two cents:

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series:
Will Win: Marc Buckland, My Name Is Earl, "Pilot"
Should Win: Marc Buckland, My Name Is Earl, "Pilot"
Potential Upset: Robert B. Weide, Curb Your Enthusiasm, "The Christ Nail"

Pilots do very well in the writing and directing categories. On top of that, Buckland did an excellent job of establishing Earl's unique tone and visual style, while guiding all the actors to narrowly walk the line between eccentric and cartoonish. He barely edged out the very deserving Michael Patrick King for my Should Win pick (though I'm still rooting for any recognition of The Comeback). I wouldn't count out Robert B. Weide, though. Curb Your Enthusiasm has been nominated in this category nine times in its last four seasons, with Weide winning once in 2003. Since the show is inelligible for writing honors, this is where the Academy likes to reward it. Curb is also the only Outstanding Comedy Series represented here. And depending on when voting took place, "The Christ Nail" may have provided a nice bit of Mel-mocking.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series:
Will Win: Alan Ball, Six Feet Under, "Everyone's Waiting"
Should Win: Alan Ball, Six Feet Under, "Everyone's Waiting"
Potential Upset: Jack Bender, Lost, "Live Together, Die Alone"

With seven nominees this year, this is one tough category to call (in the Will Win slot; Should Win's not even close). I feel pretty confident ruling out 24, though even that's not a sure thing. Big Love has the pilot thing going for it, but that's about it. The reigning champ, Lost, could get a consolation prize here after being snubbed in the Outstanding Drama Series category. Then there are the two dynasties with their very different track records. The Sopranos has lost all ten of its previous directing nominations (despite winning four Outstanding Writing awards in its first five seasons)... this year could make them 0 and 12. On the other hand, in the five previous years in which The West Wing was nominated, it won three. Mimi Leder has a gripping episode in "Election Day," though she could be hurt by it being Part 1 of a two-parter. Ultimately, I'm committing the cardinal sin of predicting the show I think deserves to win. But "Everyone's Waiting" was one of the most talked about (and praised) episodes of television this season and it seems that everyone who sees its emotionally-charged climax needs a box of Kleenex. This may also be the best place to honor a dearly departed Emmy favorite.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Will Win: Steve Carell, The Office
Should Win: Jason Bateman, Arrested Development Jason Lee, My Name Is Earl Zach Braff, Scrubs Steve Carell, The Office
Potential Upset: Tony Shalhoub, Monk

Winning in this category this year is a bit like winning in a boycotted Olympics, what with three of the best performances not nominated. That being said, it will be quite a shock if anyone other than Carell picks up a Dundie Emmy. Then again, Shalhoub has a much showier episode submitted (and it's twice as long).

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Will Win: Denis Leary, Rescue Me
Should Win: Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Potential Upset: Martin Sheen, The West Wing

Winning in this category this year is a bit like winning in a boycotted Olympics, what with Hugh Laurie not nominated. That being said, I think Leary may win thanks to an emotionally-packed and sympathetic episode submission. I haven't watched much Law & Order: SVU, but from what I hear, Christopher Meloni may pull a huge upset thanks to his one showboat episode. Then again, never bet against the Emmys' love for The West Wing. It's Martin Sheen's final chance to win, and this time, James Gandolfini can't take it away from him.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Will Win: Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle
Should Win: Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Potential Upset: Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback

This is another tough one to call. It's a very tight three-way race between Kaczmarek, Kudrow and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, though I've learned to never bet against my arch-nemesis, Stockard Channing. I'm putting Louis-Dreyfus in third position only because she'll have another chance next year. Kudrow is incredible in The Comeback and an Emmy fave (for years, she was the only Friend nominated and she was the first to win), but The Comeback rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Kaczmarek has been nominated every year that Malcolm's been on, even when the show lost its buzz, and yet she's never won (unlike the other four nominees in this category, who've all won at least once). She finally has an episode this year that shows the softer side of Lois (though I wonder if she would've been better off submitting the series finale). The one thing that Kudrow and Louis-Dreyfus have over her is that they're the stars of their show (and in pretty much every scene) while Kaczmarek is part of an ensemble. Still...

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Will Win: Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Should Win: Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under
Potential Upset: Allison Janney, The West Wing

I know I sound like a broken record, but this is another difficult race to call. Especially since I've never seen The Closer or Commander in Chief and haven't watched Law & Order: SVU in years. I think any of these five women could win. I'll give Sedgwick the edge just because her show had buzz and that buzz was all about her. Mariska Hargitay is said to have an Emmy-baiting episode like her co-star, Conroy is well-admired (the only Six Feet Under cast member to be nominated for each of its seasons) and was more sympathetic in the final episode and Geena Davis is a movie star. Then there's Janney, who has won before for episodes that showcased her skills much less. Like I said, any of them can win.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Will Win: Bryan Cranston, Malcolm in the Middle
Should Win: Will Arnett, Arrested Development
Potential Upset: Jeremy Piven, Entourage

I see it as a two-way race between Cranston and Piven and I'm going way out on a limb to call it for Cranston. It's his final season, he's done consistently stellar work and his is by far the most likable character in this bunch (way more than Piven's). Yes, Piven has all the buzz, but my gut says to go with Cranston. I'll be absolutely thrilled if either he or Arnett wins.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Will Win: Alan Alda, The West Wing
Should Win: Gregory Itzin, 24
Potential Upset: Gregory Itzin, 24

It's a toss-up between Alda and Itzin, but I'll give the edge to the Emmy veteran whose presidential candidate was far more likable than Itzin's more-buzzed about president.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
Will Win: Jamie Pressly, My Name Is Earl
Should Win: Jamie Pressly, My Name Is Earl
Potential Upset: Megan Mullally, Will & Grace

I don't know how anybody but Pressly could win, but then again, I don't know how Cheryl Hines and Alfre Woodard got nominated (nothing against them, they just didn't have much to do this year on their respective shows). Elizabeth Perkins could sneak in there for her biting performance, though it may be too biting. And even if it appears the Academy has finally fallen out of love with Will & Grace, I wouldn't be shocked by a Mullally win.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Will Win: Jean Smart, 24
Should Win: Jean Smart, 24
Potential Upset: Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy

I wouldn't be upset if any of these women won, nor would I be shocked. But while Grey's was the buzz show this year, Oh's buzz came last year. This year, Smart was all the rage (literally), plus she's an Emmy favorite, she helped to make this the best year of 24 yet and she doesn't have a co-star to split her vote (though having voters see more of her episodes can't hurt Oh or Chandra Wilson). Also, without Stockard Channing in here, they've gotta give it to some First Lady.

Outstanding Comedy Series:
Will Win: The Office
Should Win: Arrested Development
Potential Upset: Two and a Half Men

Personally, it was a very tough call between The Office and Arrested Development in the Should Win category. If I were judging them purely based on the episodes and consistency from this season, I'd probably give a slight edge to The Office, but I just can't abandon Arrested Development (even if Fox and Mitchell Hurwitz can). The Office was definitely the hot comedy this year, and with good cause. The main reason I think there could be a Two and a Half Men upset is that I've heard anecdotal evidence that older people don't "get" The Office (and forget about Arrested Development, Scrubs and Curb Your Enthusiasm). Plus, the four single camera shows all have similar sensibilities and appeal, which could cancel each other out, leaving the much more traditional (and admittedly somewhat humorous) Two and a Half Men to anger elitists and TV critics everywhere.

Outstanding Drama Series:
Will Win: Grey's Anatomy
Should Win: 24
Potential Upset: 24

Grey's Anatomy and 24 both had highly buzzed about seasons. Grey's is the show that every woman seems to love while 24 is the show that no man can resist. In a time when many shows lost viewers, these two found more. Where Grey's pulls ahead is that it has sentimentality on its side. 24 suffers because voters only look at two episodes and if they haven't watched all 24, they may not get why this season was so great. Neither House nor The Sopranos has a shot, but never, ever count out The West Wing - especially when it had such a stellar final season, packed with great submission episodes.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program:
Will Win: Project Runway
Should Win: Project Runway
Potential Upset: The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race is the only show to ever win in this category, but this year it has a more fierce foe than any it has ever faced: Its own Family Edition. On top of that, everybody loves Project Runway... even people like me who couldn't care less about fashion. The show has the most creative challenges, the best casting and Tim Gunn. How can it not win?

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series:
Will Win: Greg Garcia, My Name Is Earl, "Pilot"
Should Win: Chuck Tatham, Jim Vallely, Richard Day and Mitchell Hurwitz, Arrested Development, "Development Arrested"
Potential Upset: Michael Schur, The Office, "Christmas Party"

When in doubt, I go with the pilot. And I'm in a lot of doubt. Arrested Development has won in this category the past two years and could easily win again for tying up the show in style despite short notice and an uncertain future (though for those who didn't follow the series religiously, it could be quite baffling). "Christmas Party" was a great episode and demonstrated The Office's snappy writing. But when in doubt, I go with the pilot.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series:
Will Win: Shonda Rhimes, Grey's Anatomy, "It's the End of the World" & "(As We Know It)"
Should Win: Alan Ball, Six Feet Under, "Everyone's Waiting"
Potential Upset: Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, Lost, "The 23rd Psalm"

Another category where anybody can win. As I indicated above, The Sopranos has only lost (to another show, anyway) in this category once. However, I'd say "Members Only" is the weakest of this batch - only its final minute was really compelling. Personally, I'd have gone with "Join the Club." As with the Outstanding Directing category, Lost could get a consolation prize here as the Eko-centric "The 23rd Psalm" was truly one of the best episodes of the season. Then there's the Six Feet Under finale, which I've praised enough already (but not really). Finally, there are the two Grey's Anatomy episodes (actually, three if you count both parts of Rhimes' entry). In the Writing categories, I believe having multiple entries actually bodes well, rather than splitting votes. My personal preference between the two would be "Into You Like a Train," but Rhimes' post-Super Bowl two-parter was the real attention-grabber.

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
Will Win: Late Night With Conan O'Brien
Should Win: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Potential Upset: The Late Show with David Letterman

If voters base their votes on their overall favorite, it's between The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (with the slight edge given to The Daily Show). However, if they're basing it purely (or mostly) on the episode submitted, I'm going out on another limb to predict a the first ever win for Conan. The episode where he went to Finland was one of the funniest, most entertaining hours of television all season - late night or primetime. Letterman runs a very close second with his classy, charming and of course funny "Super Bowl of Love" featuring Oprah Winfrey. It's another four-way race, but I'm tentatively betting on the Emmy host.

Previously, on The Dish: New Rules, If I Picked The Emmy Nominations 2006: Drama, If I Picked The Emmy Nominations 2006: Comedy, Flipping Coins and Throwing Darts

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Um, Sorry...

Talk about bad timing. It appears that here in L.A. on KCAL 9 (and in other cities where South Park is syndicated twice daily), tonight's second installment of South Park is scheduled to be "Butters' Very Own Episode."

Really, out of 139 episodes, what are the odds?

For those of you who don't recall (or watch South Park), that's the episode where Trey Parker and Matt Stone essentially call out Gary Condit, O.J. Simpson and, uh, the Ramseys as murderers.

When I first saw it, it seemed like a pretty funny and righteous way to stick it to some people we assumed had gotten away with murder.

Now we know better.

This is one of the few times where I'm in favor of pulling an episode from TV out of sensitivity. In fact, I'm not sure how I feel about it ever being broadcast again in its current incarnation. Haven't the names of John and Patsy Ramsey been tarnished enough?

That being said, uh, here are two clips from the episode I found on YouTube. The relevant parts arrive at the 5:05 and 6:50 marks in the first clip, and around the 2:35 mark in the second clip (WARNING: THESE SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED BY ANYBODY):

May JonBenet and Patsy Ramsey rest in peace.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Houston, I Have A Problem...

Howdy Houstonians,

How y'all doing? I'm really sorry about that headline up there. I'm sure you're very sick of variations on that line, but I couldn't resist.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing is that apparently my post about Vince Vaughn's phallic thumb was mentioned on a morning radio show there (The Rod Ryan Show) on Monday, sending thousands of new readers to this site. If any of y'all know where I can find a recording of that mention, or can at least summarize what was said, I would be much obliged.

Thank you and bless your souls,
The Pop Culture Petri Dish

A scene from Steve Oedekerk's upcoming Thumbmation film, Brokethumb Mountain?

Previously, on The Dish: No Castration Without Representation, Two Thumbs Close-Up

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