Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Emmy Awards

The Emmy Awards were announced last week. I wanted to comment on them then, but kept getting interrupted. The complete list can be found here, but below are some of the traditional and my thoughts. I'll openly admit that I don't have HBO or Showtime, but I still think I can comment knowledgeably.

One of the things that I've found interesting has been comments like this one and this one, that Desperate Housewives shouldn't have been nominated in the "comedy" categories. While I will admit that Housewives is a black comedy, how is there is debate over its inclusion in the "comedy" categories, while the inclusion of Monk is never questioned. To me, Monk is another in a long line of "detective with an impairment" shows so popular in the seventies, like Longstreet (blind), Cannon (fat), Barnaby Jones (old), or Columbo (disheveled). Unless Monk's OCD brought on by the murder of his wife is inherently comic fodder, Monk is a drama, though not melodramatic. Hoever, except for maybe 24, no drama is strictly a straight drama any more; even the new Battlestar Galactica, unrelenting serious, allowed itself a slightly lighter episode last season; the comedic bits in Monk are just what an audience expects to see in a drama these days. If Monk which deals with murder and mental disability in every episode is a comedy, then I think there is no reason that the black comedy taking place at Wisteria Lane allows that show to be nominated in the comedy categories. Maybe the division into "comedy" and "drama" needs to be removed and the categories reordered into "Outstanding Series (Sixty Minutes or Longer)" and "Outstanding Series (Thirty Minutes or Less)."

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
Desperate Housewives • Pilot • ABC
Directed by Charles McDougall

Entourage • Pilot • HBO
Directed by David Frankel

Everybody Loves Raymond • Finale • CBS
Directed by Gary Halvorson

Monk • Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine • USA

Directed by Randy Zisk

Will & Grace • It’s A Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World • NBC

Directed by James Burrows

The first question should be "Where are any nominations for any director of Scrubs?" The next should be "If Desperate Housewives is a comedy, why isn't Gilmore Girls in the same category. Looking at the list. James Burrows is out as is David Frankel; Burrows has enough Emmys on his shelf for classic shows like Taxi and The Mary Tyer Moore Show and Entourage's buzz hasn't made it to the voters level yet, so that eliminates Frankel. Gary Halverson could win if this becomes a farewell to Raymond event, but for all the acclaim that sho has received, it never felt like an All in the Family or a M*A*S*H, that is the kind of show the Academy would thank for being on television in the first place. That leaves the two non-comedies and I think the Emmy may go to Randy Zisk just because of the controversy over the Housewives nomination placement.

Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation • Grave Danger • CBS
Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Deadwood • Complications • HBO
Directed by Gregg Fienberg

Grey’s Anatomy • A Hard Days Night • ABC
Directed by Peter Horton

Huff • Crazy, Nuts And All Messed Up • Showtime
Directed by Scott Winant

Lost • Pilot (Part 1 & Part 2) • ABC
Directed by J.J. Abrams

Rescue Me • Pilot • FX
Directed by Peter Tolan

The West Wing • 2162 Votes • NBC
Directed by Alex Graves

And here I thought nominations are limited to five per category. The first question to ask is "Why wasn't Joss Whedon ever nominated in this category?" Anyway, any West Wing nominations are like voting for Nader, so forget him. People could vote for Peter Horton to see how much he changed since Thirtysomething, but not enough for a win. "Huff" may remind too many people of past indiscretions, so any nominations for that show are pointless. Tarantino is Tarantino, but that doesn't mean his name earns him an award unless he is nominated for a television show he created and produced. Peter Tolan is out, too. The pilot for Lost did a great job of setting up the series; if you think about it, those two episodes made the show what it is for if people weren't pulled in by the set up, they sure weren't going to return for the rest of the series. On the other hand, people love Deadwood, even if its language wouldn't play in an AMC theatre, let alone on network television. Give it to the director of Deadwood, since Lost is going to win the bigger prize for Outstanding Drama.

Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
77th Annual Academy Awards • ABC
Directed by Louis J. Horvitz

Da Ali G Show • Rekognize • HBO
Directed by James Bobin

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • #9010 • Comedy Central
Directed by Chuck O’Neil

The Games Of The XXVIII Olympiad - Opening Ceremony• NBC
Directed by Bucky Gunts

Late Show With David Letterman • #2269 • CBS
Directed by Jerry Foley

There really needs to be a reorganization of the Emmy catagories. I don't think that when they were drawn up, the drafters wanted the Olympics to be thought of as a variety show. Since this generation's Smothers Brothers or Carol Burnett don't have shows, give the Emmy to the Academy Awards.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Arrested Development • Sad Sack • FOX
Written by Barbie Adler

Arrested Development • Sword Of Destiny • FOX
Written by Brad Copeland

Arrested Development • The Righteous Brothers • FOX
Written by Mitchell Hurwitz, Jim Valley

Desperate Housewives • Pilot • ABC
Written by Marc Cherry

Everybody Loves Raymond • Finale • CBS
Written by Philip Rosenthal, et al.

Housewives does stick out compared to the other shows with a "truer" comedy-for-television format. Raymond's finale was nice, but not Emmy worthy, unless the Academy wants to give the writing staff a "thank you" award. I'd say Arrested Development wins, but I can't tell you which unless/until I get my screener DVD,

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
House • Three Stories • FOX
Written by David Shore

Lost • Pilot • ABC
Written by J.J. Abrams, et al.

Lost • Walkabout • ABC
Written by David Fury

Rescue Me • Pilot • FX
Written by Peter Tolan, Denis Leary

The Wire • Middle Ground • HBO
Written by George Pelecanos, et al.

The first question to ask is "Why wasn't David Fury, along with Joss Whedon, nominated for writing Buffy or Angel back in the day?" Let's say Fury gets his award for the episode of Lost where we first learn about John Locke and how he ended up on the ill-fated Oceanic Airlines flight 815.

Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
Da Ali G Show • HBO
Written by Sacha Baron Cohen, et al.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Comedy Central
Written by David Javerbaum, et al.

Late Night With Conan O’Brien • NBC
Written by Mike Sweeney, et al.

Late Show With David Letterman • CBS
Written by Eric Stangel,, et al.

Real Time With Bill Maher • HBO
Written by Billy Martin, et al.

The safe bet is The Daily Show, but in this non-election year don't write off Letterman and Late Night.

Outstanding Main Title Theme Music
Desperate Housewives • ABC
Main Title Theme by Danny Elfman

Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends • Cartoon Network
Main Title Theme & Music by James L. Venable

Huff • Showtime
Main Title Theme by W.G. “Snuffy” Walden

Justice League Unlimited • Cartoon Network
Main Title Theme by Michael McCuistion

Stargate Atlantis • SCI FI
Main Title Theme & Music by Joel Goldsmith

The really don't write themes like they used for many reasons. To run a theme with opening credits takes away from a show's original content, but before that someone at one of the networks felt that to have opening credits gave a signal to viewers to change the channel. That was the season when credits were started to run with the show opening. I like a good theme myself and there have been a lot from The Dick Van Dyke Show to Maverick to The Wild, Wild West to Room 222 to St. Elsewhere and Greatest American Hero. My heart would pick Justice League because it is the Justice League, but the Emmy will probably go to Danny Elfman for Housewives,

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Arrested Development • FOX
Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth

Everybody Loves Raymond • CBS
Ray Romano as Ray Barone

Monk • USA
Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk

Scrubs • NBC
Zach Braff as John “J.D.” Dorian

Will & Grace • NBC
Eric McCormack as Will Truman

Kelsey Grammar won this last year, probably as a "thank you" for his decades as Fraiser Crane; I don't think Ray Romano is in the same league. Eric McCormack is a place filler and Zach Braff is there because Grammar isn't. Braff could win, but it'll probably be Tony Shalhoub.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Boston Legal • ABC
James Spader as Alan Shore

Deadwood • HBO
Ian McShane as Al Swearengen

House • FOX
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House

Huff • Showtime
Hank Azaria as Dr. Craig “Huff” Huffstodt

24 • FOX
Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer

Freaking James Spader won this last year because he deserved it; the character he played was an amoral person with a decent heart and Spader nailed it. You just never knew which way his character was going to go. This year, however, Spader's Alan Shore was suffering from typical David Kelley and the character was becoming a caricature of a naughty fraternity boy. That, and ABC setting Legal aside for Grey's Anatomy, probably mean there'll be no Emmy for Spader this year. Kiefer Sutherland really only has one emotion as Jack Bauer, intensity, and Kiefer does it well, but that hasn't been enough in years past and it won't be this year, either. Hank Azaria has a better chance at winning an Emmy for his work as Moe. Hugh Laurie's role is the kind that does win awards, and with House becoming a huge hit, more people are seeing the his work. However, I think it is going to be Ian McShane. Deadwood be too profane and violent a Western for ordinary voters as a whole, but that doesn't mean that the work of an individual won't be recognized.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Desperate Housewives • ABC
Marcia Cross as Bree Van De Camp

Desperate Housewives • ABC
Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer

Desperate Housewives • ABC
Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo

Everybody Loves Raymond • CBS
Patricia Heaton as Debra Barone

Malcolm In The Middle • FOX
Jane Kaczmarek as Lois

Jane Kaczmarek is probably kicking herself. Well, she would if her artifical hips would let her, but that's beside the point. At one time, she was on the funniest new show on television; now FOX has relegated it to the 6:00 P.M. (Central) Sunday death slot. Her chance for an Emmy has come and gone. Let's see if Terri Hatcher is still as humble as she was at the Golden Globes and pick her to win.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Dramatic Series
Alias • ABC
Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit • NBC
Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson

Medium • NBC
Patricia Arquette as Allison Dubois

The Shield • FX
Glenn Close as Capt. Monica Rawling

Six Feet Under • HBO
Frances Conroy as Ruth Fisher

Man, people hate Six Feet Under this year, so forget about Frances Conroy. Jennifer Garner is never going to win for Alias nor, I think, will Mariska Hargitay. Television loves slumming movie stars, but I think Patricia Arquette will be a surprise winner.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Arrested Development • FOX
Jeffrey Tambor as George Bluth Sr.

Entourage • HBO
Jeremy Piven as Ari Jacobs

Everybody Loves Raymond • CBS
Peter Boyle as Frank Barone

Everybody Loves Raymond • CBS
Brad Garrett as Robert Barone

Will & Grace • NBC
Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland

Just give the damn thing to Peter Boyle. He's the only one on the Raymond not to win an Emmy for the show and, besides, Frank Barone wears "stretchy" pants.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Boston Legal • ABC
William Shatner as Denny Crane

Huff • Showtime
Oliver Platt as Russell Tupper

Lost • ABC
Naveen Andrews as Sayid

Lost • ABC
Terry O’Quinn as John Locke

The West Wing • NBC
Alan Alda as Senator Arnold Vinick

Last year he won it for a lifetime of memorable parts, now it's time for Shatner to win it because he really can act when he wants to.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Arrested Development • FOX
Jessica Walter as Lucille Bluth

Everybody Loves Raymond • CBS
Doris Roberts as Marie Barone

Two And A Half Men • CBS
Holland Taylor as Evelyn Harper

Two And A Half Men • CBS
Conchata Ferrell as Berta

Will & Grace • NBC
Megan Mullally as Karen Walker

Jessica Walter, Doris Roberts, Holland Taylor, and Megan Mullally have their Emmys. In my world, I'd give it to Conchata Ferrell just for being in Hot l Baltimore all those years ago. However, it'll be Walter for going balls to the wall with a character far removed from her "Amy Prentiss" character that earned her her first Emmy thirty years ago.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Grey’s Anatomy • ABC
Sandra Oh as Cristina

Huff • Showtime
Blythe Danner as Izzy Huffstodt

Judging Amy • CBS
Tyne Daly as Maxine Gray

The Shield • FX
CCH Pounder as Det. Claudette Wyms

The West Wing • NBC
Stockard Channing as Abigail Bartlet

Man, a lot of people were nominated for Huff considering no one ever talks or writes about the show. This is actually a pretty tough category. Sandra Oh could win for being the new kid, but Stockard Channing has been ignored for years. Let her win be the last hurrah of the Bartlet Administration.

Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart, Host

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno • NBC
Jay Leno, Host

58th Annual Tony Awards (2004) • CBS
Hugh Jackman, Host

Tracey Ullman Live & Exposed • HBO
Tracey Ullman, Performer

Whoopi Back To Broadway - The 20th Anniversary • HBO
Whoopi Goldberg, Performer

I have to admit, Leno can knock 'em dead with a song. In my opinon, to nominate him and Stewart in this category is contrary to its purpose. I'd give it to Hugh Jackman, who really did perform as well as host, but wouldn't be surprised it Tracey Ullman wan.

Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)
Family Guy • North By North Quahog • FOX

Samurai Jack • Episode XLIX • Cartoon Network

The Simpsons • Future Drama • FOX

South Park • Best Friends Forever

SpongeBob SquarePants • Fear Of A Krabby Patty/Shell Of A Man • Nickelodeon

You know, this is like asking do you like snow on Christmas Eve night or Christmas morning. I'd choose Homer and friends because The Simpsons can't win enough Emmys, however, if Family Guy won it would truly vindicate its return despite FOX mishandling the show the first time and negative commentary by others. All that said, watch Spongebob walk away with it.

Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming One Hour or More)
Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real • Animal Planet

Star Wars Clone Wars Vol. 2 (Chapters 21-25) • Cartoon Network

Nothing grates me more than cable networks that don't program to their name. SCI FI, for instance, pushing horror shows or Animal Planet straying into fantasy and delivering a fantasy show about dragons. That Dragons wasn't on SCI FI just shows me how much network executives just don't understand thier brands. Anyway, the Emmy will go the Clone Wars. (I realize that Clone Wars shoulod in theory be on SCI FI, but because it was animated, I'll let it pass.)

Outstanding Comedy Series
Arrested Development • FOX

Desperate Housewives • ABC

Everybody Loves Raymond • CBS

Scrubs • NBC

Will & Grace • NBC

Arrested Development won last year over Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I don't think it can beat the Wives.

Outstanding Drama Series
Deadwood • HBO

Lost • ABC

Six Feet Under • HBO

24 • FOX

The West Wing • NBC

This really is a battle between Lost and Deadwood; 24 is a damn tense show, but the politics underlying it probably rubs the more liberal voters the wrong way. Wing is a pity nomination and Six Feet Under is an anamoly. At this point, you should ask yourself why Buffy was never nominated, yet those two shows were. Deadwood just doesn't appeal to a wide audience, no matter how good a show it is. ABC goes two for two with a win for Lost.

Outstanding Miniseries
Elvis • CBS

Empire Falls • HBO

The 4400

The Lost Prince (Masterpiece Theatre) • PBS

Elvis, despite good ratings, never seemed to catch fire nor did the next two. British class wins again.

Outstanding Made for Television Movie
Lackawanna Blues • HBO

The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers

The Office Special

Warm Springs • HBO

The Wool Cap • TNT

My knee jerk response was to declare Lackawanna the winner, then I thought about and win for The Office is a possiblity. The Academy has never had a chance to nominate the original series and to choose the special would be a way to give an award to Ricky Gervais for his work.

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
Da Ali G Show • HBO

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Comedy Central

Late Night With Conan O’Brien • NBC

Late Show With David Letterman • CBS

Real Time With Bill Maher • HBO

When in doubt, vote for Dave.

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special
77th Annual Academy Awards • ABC

Dave Chappelle: For What It’s Worth • Showtime

Everybody Loves Raymond - The Last Laugh • CBS

The Games Of The XXVIII Olympiad - Opening Ceremony• NBC

58th Annual Tony Awards (2004) • CBS

When this award was created, people like Frank Sinatra, Carol Burnett & Julie Andrews, and Fred Astaire were giving television audiences honest "spectaculars." I just don't think Raymond clip show counts. However, though it kills me to do so, I say that the opening ceremony of the Olympics will win.

Outstanding Nonfiction Special
Beyond The Da Vinci Code • The History Channel

Cary Grant: A Class Apart • TCM

Inside The Actors Studio: 10th Anniversary Special •

Live From New York: The First Five Years Of Saturday Night Live • NBC

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson • PBS

Remember what I said about clip shows? The same goes for non-fiction shows, too. I love historical documentaries and one of my favorite times for television is the winter when PBS runs The American Experience, a show that should have been nominated for best non-fiction series. Unforgivable Blackness ran as an episode of that series; why that makes the episode a "special," I don't understand, but it will win in this category.

Outstanding Nonfiction Series
Biography • A&E

Broadway: The American Musical • PBS

Cold Case Files • A&E

Dinner For Five • IFC

Inside The Actors Studio • Bravo

Let me get this straight: A single episode of an antholgy documentary series is a "special," but a mini-series on the American Musical is a series. O.k. Broadway will win and it should, as it presented an informative history of the musical and did not rely only on old Tony broadcasts. As Harlan Ellison wrote, there are only five wholly American art forms: the musical comedy, the detective novel, the banjo, jazz, and the comic book; as such, they can never be explored enough because you see the growth of the nation in the groth of the art form. (Well, maybe not the banjo, no matter what George Seigel and Steve Martin would have us believe.) However, if Dinner For Five won, that would be great. As someone wrote in Entertainment Weekly, Dinner For Five is the kind of dinner party you always wanted to give, but never had interesting enough friends. As a personal aside, I'd just like to state "Damn you, again, Time Warner of Milwaukee for moving IFC up a tier. I'm not made of money. Damn you!! I want to watch Dinner For Five again!"

Outstanding Reality Program
Antiques Roadshow • PBS

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition • ABC

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! • Showtime

Project Greenlight • Bravo

Queer Eye For The Straight Guy • Bravo

Crying, deserving families given new homes trumps everything else.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race • CBS

American Idol • FOX

The Apprentice • NBC

Project Runway • Bravo

Survivor • CBS

I watch none of these, but I know The Amazing Race is the only show nominated that matters.

We'll see how I did come Sept. 18 on CBS.