The Primetime Emmy nominations are in, and have no fear, I'm here to sort it all out for you. When we get closer to the awards themselves, I'll offer my usual take on "should win, will win," but for now, we'll just consider the efficacy of the nominations themselves, okay?
And a disclaimer. While I watch an inordinate amount of television, I do have a major blind spot this year. Despite almost universal acclaim from critics, and recommendations from close friends and other respected couch spuds, I've never seen Friday Night Lights. I'm not exactly sure why. I thought the book was a brilliant dissection of high school football in a small town, and I enjoyed Peter Berg's movie. I think it has to do with my low tolerance for kids on my TV. Generally, I eschew anything with kids. There have been exceptions, of course, as I watched the first few episodes of Gilmore Girls and got hooked on the snappy pop culture patter and Lauren Graham's amazing performance. I watched Veronica Mars and loved the noir-trappings and labyrinth plots, infused with topical references. (And how can you not adore a show with frequent Big Lebowski homages?) But for the most part, if the kids are front and center, it won't find a way onto my Tivo. So I won't disparage any FNL picks (or cries of omission) since I really can't comment first hand on them.
Also, THANKS to the Emmys for putting the nominees in a downloadable MS Word document. How cool is that?
Okay, here we go:
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Ricky Gervais as Andy Millman
Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk
Steve Carell as Michael Scott
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy
Two And A Half Men
Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper
Not a bad list, but hasn't the Charlie Sheen thing been done to death? And Tony Shaloub is brilliant as Monk, but perhaps it's time for some new blood? Hands down the best comedy I saw all year was Andy Barker, PI. So how about some love for Andy Richter? James Roday took a potentially abrasive character in Shawn Spencer (Psyche) and made him oddly endearing (along with fine support from Dule Hill) and regularly amusing. While How I Met Your Mother has a fine ensemble cast, Neil Patrick Harris consistently bring the funny as Barney.
TNRLM's Picks: Carell, Baldwin, Roday, Harris, Richter
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
James Spader as
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House
Denis Leary as Tommy Gavin
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer
You simply cannot argue with the brilliance of Hugh Laurie, who despite a talented cast, carries House each and every week. 24 had the worst season in its history, and despite some heavy lifting from Kiefer, the show just shouldn't be recognized this year. Speaking of carrying a show, Michael C. Hall took another complex, morally ambiguous character (like Tony Soprano) and made for riveting television. Ian McShane's Al Swearingen on Deadwood was a complicated, profane and Shakespearean anti-hero that made Deadwood watching every single week.
TNRLM's Picks: Laurie, Gandolfini, Leary, Hall, McShane
Honorable Mention: David Tennant, Doctor Who. Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica. James Woods, Shark.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo
The New Adventures Of Old Christine
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine Campbell
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon
Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin
Another year, yet another snub for Lauren Graham in Gilmore Girls. That's simply unconscionable. How does this keep happening? Nobody gave a more nuanced, deeply felt and entertaining performance this year. For 7 seasons, Graham has rattled off rapid fire, Dorothy Parker dialogue and handled every comedy and emotional beat with unparalleled skill, even when saddled with some ridiculous plot twists the last couple of years. This is a crime against humanity.
TNRLM's Picks: Graham, Parker, Fey, Huffman, Jenna Fischer, The Office
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Brothers & Sisters
Sally Field as Nora Walker
Kyra Sedgwick as Dep. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson
Patricia Arquette as Allison Dubois
Minnie Driver as Dahlia Malloy
Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano
No doubt Sedgwick and Falco belong here. But some of the best work done this year in the category happened in two little watched, "cult" shows: Battlestar Galactica and Veronica Mars. Not having Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin in the nominations is a prime example of all the flaws in the process. On the same show, Katee Sackhoff's Kara Thrace took viewers on a riveting journey of war, love, death, abuse, duty, heartbreak and badassery all the way to the "other side." And back. Kristen Bell shined as the title character in Veronica Mars and certainly needs to be here.
TNRLM's Picks: Sedgwick, McDonnell, Falco,
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama
Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold
How I Met Your Mother
Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson
Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute
Two And A Half Men
Jon Cryer as Alan Harper
There's a fine line to straddle between what makes "lead" and "supporting." Harris is supporting? Cryer is supporting? Since I already put Harris in "lead," I'll forgo his nomination here (though he's definitely deserving of being mentioned in one of them). I totally agree with Dillon, Piven and Rainn Wilson's demented Dwight Schrute. However, I'd also add John Krasinski (Jim Halpert) from The Office who game the "Pam and Jim" story depth, while never losing the mischievous antagonism in his relationships with Dwight and Michael. And nobody made me laugh more in a supporting role this year than Harve Presnell, as cantankerous detective Lew Staziak in Andy Barker, PI.
TNRLM's Picks: Dillon, Piven, Wilson, Presnell, Krasinski
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
William Shatner as Denny Crane
T.R. Knight as George
Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura
Michael Emerson as Ben
Terry O’Quinn as John Locke
Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti
This is probably the deepest category on the docket. Lost rebounded from a dismal first "pod" of episodes to crank out one classic after another leading up to one of the best season finales ever. In addition to the stellar work by Emerson and O'Quinn, Josh Holloway was also fantastic as Sawyer came to grips with his past (and couldn't use nicknames). However, I'm going to go a completely different way here with all the nominations. Although Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was a brilliant failure, plagued by inconsistent writing and ridiculous storylines, Steven Weber was always engaging and fascinating to watch as Jack Rudolph. BSG again gets no love, but Michael Hogan (Saul Motherfucking Tigh) and James Callis (Gaius Baltar) both lit up the screen with complicated, raw, top shelf performances. Enrico Colantoni was the dad we all wished we had on Veronica Mars, equal parts mentor and best friend. While
TNRLM's Picks: Weber, Colantoni, Hogan, Callis, Coleman
Honorable Mention: Imperioli, O'Quinn,
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
My Name Is Earl
Jaime Pressly as Joy Turner
Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly
Two And A Half Men
Two And A Half Men
Conchata Ferrell as Berta
Vanessa Williams as Wilhelmina Slater
Elizabeth Perkins as Celia Hodes
Six? Why are the six here? And again, there's the confusion over "lead" and "supporting." Fischer and Pressly are supporting? For my sake, I'll leave Fischer in lead, and acknowledge Pressly as supporting. But what about the gals from How I Met Your Mother? Alyson Hannigan (Lily Aldrin) was smart, funny and adorable. And Cobie Smulders (Robin Scherbatsky) belongs here for the "Robin Sparkles" episode alone. If Fischer could be considered lead, then I'd add Melora Hardin into supporting for her turn as Jan Levinson on The Office.
TNRLM's Picks: Hannigan, Pressly, Perkins, Hardin, Smulders
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Brothers & Sisters
Rachel Griffiths as Sarah Whedon
Katherine Heigl as Isobel “Izzie” Stevens
Chandra Wilson as Dr. Bailey
Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang
Aida Turturro as Janice Soprano
Six? Again? And overload on the increasingly annoying Grey's characters? I love Bracco as Melfi, but did she really have that much to do this year other than get annoyed at Tony for ripping a page out of the magazines in her lobby? Of those listed, I appreciated Turturro, as much as a I loathe the character of Janice, but I much prefer Elizabeth Mitchell's conniving, heartbreaking Juliet. I'd add Trivia Helfer, sexy, vulnerable and menacing as Number Six on BSG and Robin Weigert's filthy, amusing and outlandish Calamity Jane on Deadwood. There's the "lead" and "supporting" dilemma again when it comes to Big Love. What do you call the three "sister-wives," who are the heart of the show? All three – Jeanne Tripplehorn (Barb), Chloe Sevigny (Nicki) and Ginnifer Goodwin (Margene) – deliver stellar performances in difficult roles, and it's hard to leave any of them out. However, if forced to choose, I'll go with Tripplehorn and Sevigny who had more to work with in year one of the show (Goodwin has shone with more to do in year two, but that's a case for next year, I suppose).
TNRLM's Picks: Helfer, Weigert, Mitchell, Sevigny, Tripplehorn
Outstanding Comedy Series
Two And A Half Men
There's truly a dearth of comedies on television right now.
TNRLM's Picks: Entourage, 30 Rock, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, My Name is Earl
Outstanding Drama Series
Okay, why not six nominees here? I've long espoused Battlestar Galactica as The. Best. Show. On. Television. And that opinion hasn't changed. It's a shame that it gets so little mainstream attention because of the silly name (Buffy suffered the same fate) and genre trappings. I should note, however, that in looking through the entire list of noms, BSG was recognized in "minor" categories like direction, special effects and writing, so that's a start. Still, Emmy, suck on the
TNRLM's Picks: The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica, Deadwood, Dexter, Lost
Honorable Mention: House, The Closer, Veronica Mars, Rescue Me, Big Love