Friday, July 20, 2007

The Alterna-Emmys

Boy, I'm watching less and less TV. Or, just less and less quality TV. Either that, or the Emmys are doing a better jobs of nomination (no, that can't be it). Putting together my list of the alterna-Emmys was actually pretty difficult. The rules are, of course, that I can only nominate shows/actors that weren't actually nominated and are realistic options. For example, as much as I'd love to toss Trailer Park Boys in here, I don't even think it's eligible for the Emmys.

Desperate Housewives
My Name Is Earl
The Simpsons

I'm baffled at the lack of love shown to My Name Is Earl. Jaime Pressly looks like she'll become a nominated staple for the length of the show's run (as well she should), but the show itself is absolutely one of the best five comedies on TV. Do the producers of the Simpsons just not bother submitting the show for Best Comedy, and are merely content with dominating the Animated category? I can't help but think that if Simpsons actually got nominated, it could gather momentum and win as sort of a lifetime achievement award. It would be sort of like how Star Trek: Next Generation got nominated for best drama in its final season in a respect vote --- it had no chance of winning due to the sci-fi bias, but hell, everyone in Hollywood has worked on the Simpsons at one time or another. Surely it could muster a number of votes. Any of these shows could've gotten the last nominated spot over Two And A Half Men, which was just...inexplicable.

Jason Lee, My Name Is Earl

See the earlier comments about MNIE. Lee's two years worth of snubs is hard to figure out. He's turned himself into a real underdog. In a related story, Underdog is released on August 3.

Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
Teri Hatcher, Desperate Housewives

I'm slotting Desperate Housewives in this category just because it keeps being nominated as a comedy in spite of the fact that it has far more dramatic elements to it. DH and Boston Legal could easily just be switched in the comedy/drama categories. It's also tough in DH's case because of the four leads, Cross and Huffman are better at drama, and Hatcher and Longoria are better at comedy. Huffman is the only one that has gotten consistent nomination love, while Marcia Cross (who arguably does a better job with an arguably more complex character) has been forgotten. I can understand Hatcher's exclusion if the rumours of her being a grade-A nightmare on the set are true.

John Krasinski, The Office
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
John C. McGinley, Scrubs
Kyle McLachlan, Desperate Housewives
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Ethan Suplee, My Name Is Earl

Nominations in this category are like slots on the Supreme Court. Once you're established in the category, you generally remain for years until your show goes off the air. For example, when Raymond went off the air, Peter Boyle and Brad Garrett's slots were suddenly up for grabs, which made room for Will Arnett and Bryan Cranston last year. Both of their shows, ironically, were then cancelled, along with Will & Grace, which put to end to Sean Hayes' reign in the category. The result is a lot of well-deserved new blood (Neil Patrick Harris, Rainn Wilson, Kevin Dillon) being recognized, but there are still loads of good actors who have yet to break into the category. Just look at those six names I suggested -- that could've been the nominated list proper, and I don't think anyone would've been too outraged unless you're a big Entourage fan. I love the 30 Rock actors so much I want to take them behind the middle school and get them pregnant. Kyle McLachlan's performance was so good that the producers of the show were forced to alter their storyline in order to keep him on the show and to somewhat excuse his character's shady behaviour. Suplee, Krasinski and McGinley are all uniformly hilarious and a million times better than friggin' Jon Cryer. Seriously, am I just missing something about Two And A Half Men? It has no critical buzz, no industry buzz, and yet it has racked up the noms in the last two years.

Sarah Chalke, Scrubs
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives

Due to Hollywod scuttlebutt, Jane Krakowski's inclusion in 30 Rock came about due to the fact that NBC didn't think Rachel Dratch (who was originally slated to play the role) was telegenic enough. I'd be more upset about this if a) it wasn't true and b) if Krakowski wasn't perfect as the air-headed star of the TGS With Tracy Jordan. Frankly, I don't think Dratch is enough of an actress to play a regular character --- she's better suited to her oddball cameos.

Veronica Mars

Well, you knew this was coming. Lost didn't even get fucking NOMINATED? Seriously Emmys, what the hell. It was neglected in favour of Boston Legal (a comedy), Grey's Anatomy (which is a glorified soap opera), Heroes (which I haven't even seen but I'm already hating by proxy of it sounding like a second-rate rehash of 20-year-old X-Men comics), House ("Oh look, here's a mysterious illness! Can you figure it out, Dr. House?" "Snarky comment." "Wait, but you can't do that, that might kill the patient! And it isn't ethical!" "Snarky comment." "Wow, the patient is safe. Nice work, Dr. House!") and the Sopranos. It's pretty clear Sopranos will win in its last season, but man, toss Lost a frickin' bone.

Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars

On the bright side, she's still gorgeous. Bell can join Lucy Lawless, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Lauren Graham in the "actress in critically acclaimed show that was never ever nominated" Hall of Fame.

Matthew Perry, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Amidst the wreckage that was Studio 60's late, lamented run on network television, the one consistent on the show was Matt Perry's outstanding performance. It was 99-percent free of Chandler mannerisms and it isn't too much to say that without Perry as an anchor, the show wouldn't have gotten as much leeway as it did. Every time Perry was on the screen, you could see the potential that laid within Studio 60 that never quite came to the forefront.

Candice Bergen, Boston Legal
Yunjin Kim, Lost
Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost

For those of you unfamiliar with Emmy voting procedures, how it works is that each actor submits an episode to be considered for nomination. This isn't the ideal way of nominating people (any actor can have one standout episode and mail it in the rest of the season), but given that voters can't be expected to watch entire seasons of several dozen different shows, it's the best method the Emmys have available to them. Elizabeth Mitchell's submitted episode was One Of Us, and I cannot fathom how anyone --- even someone who's never seen Lost before --- could watch that episode and not think she deserved a nomination. The same with Yunjin Kim, who was outstanding in either of her two feature episodes this season on Lost. Surely a couple of the Grey's brigade could've been omitted. Does Chandra Wilson do anything besides make a couple of snarky comments per episode?

Powers Boothe, 24
Henry Ian Cusick, Lost
Josh Holloway, Lost
Steven Weber, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Aside from Perry, Steven Weber was the highlight of Studio 60. Hindsight is 20-20, but what Aaron Sorkin should've done is focus the show at the network, which would've given him more of an avenue to explore the politics and social issues he holds so dear. Weber's storyline about facing off against the FCC was way more interesting than the somewhat predictable antics of the sketch show. Powers Boothe was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise brutal season of 24. Holloway and Cusick were both fantastic, and it took some temptation to not throw in nearly the entire Lost male cast. Lost got some love with nominations for Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson, and in a perfect world, one of them would win. I think the upcoming Sopranos sweep will give it to Michael Imperioli, or (if the universe really hates me) T.R. Knight will win in some sort of bullshit P.C. apology for Isaiah Washington.

So, early predictions on the actual awards. Sopranos wins best drama, best actor (Gandolfini), best actress (Falco) and supporting actor (Imperioli) as a going-away present. At least once during the Emmy ceremony is there a joke black screen as Steve Perry's music starts playing. Sandra Oh wins best dramatic actress, as well as the award for ugly actress that most people think is pretty for some reason. The Office repeats as best comedy, and Steve Carell picks up the best actor award. Best supporting actress is between Jenna Fischer or Vanessa Williams, supporting actor is a Piven repeat and best actress will almost certainly go to America Ferrera. I also predict an Emmy for Justin Timberlake's legendary "Dick in a Box," which was nominated in the outstanding music and lyrics category. Hopefully Tony Bennett wins the individual performance in a variety series or special, for no other reason than to give Stephen Colbert another year of material after the Barry Manilow win last year. Simpsons wins the animated award again after South Park's Warcraft episode goes over the heads of the older Emmy voters. One of David Chase's episodes wins the dramatic writing award, and I think Tina Fey's episode of 30 Rock wins the comic writing award. That was a particularly tough one to call, but that episode (Tracy Does Conan) featured the debuts of both the Rural Juror and the debut of Dr. Spaceman. That's a hell of a double play.


Chad Nevett said...

Mostly agree with your choices. The shows I think that got glossed over are How I Met Your Mother and The King of Queens. Neil Patrick Harris got the much-deserved nod, but a few of the others on the show deserved it--and it DEFINITELY should have got the best series nom, mostly because it's funny as hell.

As for The King of Queens, Kevin James finally got a nomination for best actor last year, so I'm kind of surprised to not see him on the list again. Maybe the fact that it was only a half-season for the end of the show hurt it, but it was a damn good sitcom--far more subversive than people think.

And I agree about Two and a Half Men. It gets good ratings and isn't BAD. It's just that anytime I've seen an episode, it has maybe a funny moment or two at most. It's a mediocre show that lots of people watch because it's tame enough to work on a broad audience.

Good call on John C. McGinley, too. How has he NOT been nominated for best supporting actor? I can understand the cast of Scrubs not getting much recognition in general, because it's very much an ensemble show without any real stand-out performances--except for McGinley.

Why don't the Emmy's have a category for best ensemble casts? That seems like an obvious category--and different from best show. Huh.

Emmett Macfarlane said...

Dude, give Heroes a chance. Seriously. I had the same doubts at first, but the plotline is cool. And if you like lots of characters, multiple storylines, and a willingness to kill off regulars, a la Lost - then Heroes is worth a look.

Hal Incandenza said...

First, as much as I respect Chad (whom, I'm fairly certain, I've never met) for throwing HIMYM into the mix (as it totally SHOULD have been nominated for best series), I have to say: The King of Queens? The fuck?? That show is completely horrible/borderline unwatchable.

Other comments: The Lost snub is unforgivable, especially since the episode the show submitted for screening (Through the Looking Glass) was the best two hours on TV by a MILE. (Seriously, it's not close at all).

For the most part, I agree with your nominees, with the exception of the following:

1. Anything DH-related. Seriously, give up. It's over. The best thing Mark Cherry has done in the past two years was his eight second cameo in the AD episode where George Michael and Ann protest the show.

2. Matthew Perry. Meh. I guess he did a good job--although I'm having a tough time divorcing his acting ability from the fact that his character was an unbearably smug fuck. Also: that show--which I rode down all the way to the bottom of the ocean--never failed to make me want to punch a hole in my television. Here's a thought, Aaron: bring back Sports Night. You do remember when you use to write believable, compassionate, interesting characters instead of cardboard cutouts serving as mouthpieces for you to rant about...whatever the hell it is you were ranting about all those weeks? You don't? Oh.

3. A better choice: Matthew Fox. Not quite sure how you or the Emmy committee left him off.

4. A still better choice: Michael C. Hall from Dexter. THE best performance in what was--arguably--the best show of the year. You probably haven't seen it, but I strongly recommend renting or buying the first season on TV. Riveting, often hilarious, and just incredibly well-written.

5. Weber probably should have been nominated (the one good thing--ok, more like: one of the many, many, many good things--about S60's cancellation is that we avoided the inevitable S2 arc where Jack Rudolph passes out during a wrap party and has to enter rehab...) but I feel more strongly about Cusick, who I think is wonderful, and probably should have won on the final 7 minutes of 'Flashes Before Your Eyes' alone.) Also: how about a bit of love for Jason Doering on VM? He was stellar, yet never gets enough respect.

In closing: I hate the Emmys. Every year I tell myself I'm not going to get bummed out when the nominations come out and, well, you know the rest...

RT Murphy said...

Kyle you should watch more TV.

Hal Incandenza said...

At this point, I'm shamelessly trying to break the single post comment record (even if I have to post ten times myself), so that I can be name-checked in next summer's greatest hits column.

A couple of additional points:

1. While it may sound like I'm a viral marketer for HIMYM (ah, but would a viral markerter admit to being a viral marketer? I think not!), I would love to see--although this will never happen--Jason Segel (Marshall) get a supporting actor nomination. He was great on Freaks and Geeks, fall down funny on Undeclared, and very loveable on HIMYM (and it's not just because he's a law student--honest).

2. This NY Post link ( interviews NPH after he received his nomination. Upon discovering that he submitted his legen--wait for it--dary turn on The Price is Right, I now believe it is his award to lose (though I'd love to know what episode Rainn Wilson submitted. If it's "The Coup," it's going to be a close race.)

3. Inadvertently, the NY Post link has made me hate the Emmys even more than I already do. Why, you ask? See below:

NPH: We went through and the other one was when Barney revealed his apartment for the first time, but the nomination specifics dictate that you have to edit together every scene that you're in in the show. They have to be edited together and that's presented to this committee. So we did that with a few shows and sort of looked at the run of scenes in a row. That's a different dynamic because our show is an ensemble show, so it's like the funny scenes take place in between other funny scenes, so when they're all smashed together it's a different vibe. We just thought that "Showdown" worked well, Bob Barker's got some buzz right now and I had a ball improving with him.

So...NOT only do committee members NOT watch full seasons (or even multiple episodes) of a show, they can't even be fucking bothered to fucking watch the FULL 22 minutes that hopefuls submit? They need (what amounts to) the Coles Notes version of a sitcom?? As you would say: good grief. That's completely inexcusable. I now think the entire process is screwed up beyond repair and that the system should be blown up and replaced with something else. Right now, the leader in the clubhouse is: me and you getting drunk (ok, ME getting drunk, you silently judging me), locking ourselves in a fully equipped apartment for a weekend, and coming up with the nominees.

Question Mark said...

What makes you think I'll be silently judging?

I would've thrown in Jason Dohring's name had the character not been replaced by a brooding emo kid all season. The only Logan-esque moment of the whole year was when he got himself purposely arrested just so he could share a cell with (and beat the hell out of) the Hearst rapists.

It's odd that Cusick was nominated last year in the 'best guest actor' category (which usually is dominated by big-name stars), but was snubbed this year for his season-long role on Lost. He got robbed last year, too. His performance in Live Together, Die Alone instantly made Desmond the first or second most interesting character on the show.

Desperate Housewives is NOT over! I won't allow it! This season's mystery was rolling along great until it has to be fast-forwarded by Marcia Cross' real-life pregnancy.

Chad Nevett said...

Kyle, I once thought the same about The King of Queens, but then I just watched it with the right eye. You've got to watch it as a commentary on the modern world and how we're all selfish assholes who only use others until we have no use for them. Every episode is about the struggle between societal conventions and what the characters actually want to do. Is it right to hire a dog-walker to hang out with your elderly father-in-law? Who cares! Get's the old bastard out of the house, fuck society!

Although, couldn't agree more about Jason Segal.

Hal Incandenza said...

Chad: but didn't Seinfeld already do this (commenting on the shallowness of modern existence) and do it roughly 100 times better?

That said, I do loves me my Jerry Stiller. How Frank and Estelle didn't get a spin-off, looking back, I'll never know...

Chad Nevett said...

King of Queens is able to examine certain aspects those shows can't. Especially the dynamics of married life, which Seinfeld touched on a couple of times in various ways.

I'm not saying KoQ would make my top ten sitcoms of all-time list, but it wasn't that bad either.

Hal Incandenza said...

-Gatorade mix
-Fruit Loops
-frozen pizza
-feta cheese