Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hey, TNRLM, what did you think of the 2008 Emmy nominations?

Well, headline, I'm glad you asked. As regular TNRLM readers know, I watch an inordinate amount of television. ("inordinate" means "excessive," so I guess it depends how you define "excessive." Of course, it also means "unrestrained," which I like better, since there's no one restraining what the hell I watch. And besides, what the frak else have I got to do?).

Below is a list of the Emmy noms in the major categories, and my thoughts on them, along with who I would nominate. First, I'll gladly admit a couple of blind spots. Two shows that consistently show up on critics' lists that I don't watch are Friday Night Lights and The Wire. Given my love of great writing, I probably should, but I've just never had an interest. As a rule, I loathe shows with too many kids (unless there's something supernatural involved, like Buffy or Reaper), and for whatever reason, I never got into The Wire when it started airing. Perhaps I might catch it on HBO reruns or DVD or something, since I live so close to the setting now, though from what I know about the storylines, I might be afraid to leave my house. (And that would be different how?). Also, I was all predisposed to love Pushing Daisies, but that kicked off right around the time of my move north, and I was saddled for three months with a barely functioning "DVR" from the douchewits at Comcast, so I missed it.

That said, here we go...

Best Drama
Boston Legal

Mad Men

I can't express enough disbelief, and joy, that Mad Men got nominated. It is without question one of the best dramas on TV, and I'm glad it made the cut. Lost had a very, very stong season, perhaps its best, and deserves a place. Dexter, which I only just recently caught up on, was just as good as the landmark first season, if not better. House was uneven this year, but should still find a place among the top 6 dramas. I didn't watch Damages, and really, I can't understand the ongoing love for Boston Legal. The glaring omission here is Battlestar Galactica, continuing Emmy's snub of sci-fi and supernatural (with the welcome exception of Lost). I think many of the voters just can't get past the name, much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, they typically make a judgment based on one episode, and when you have such serialized storytelling, they just can't grasp the impact and nuance of the show based on such a small sample (though BSG did get a writing nod, among a few other smaller noms). In Treatment was also mesmerizing television, but the format may have been too much for some voters. Personally I loved it and think several of the actors deserve some Emmy love. Big Love had a superb season and deserves a place at the table.

TNRLM's Picks: Mad Men, Lost, House, Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, Big Love

Lead Actor, Drama
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
James Spader, Boston Legal

Spader graciously accepted his award last year, and isn't it time to just let him go off into the sunset with kudos for his portrayal of Alan Shore? I love the noms for Byrne and Hamm, whose new shows were among my choices for the best of the year. Both Hall and Laurie do extraordinary work making flawed characters supremely appealing. Sadly, I gave up on Breaking Bad, but thought what I saw of Cranston was quite good. You could also make a good case for Matthew Fox (Lost), who continues to add depths to the portrayal of a conflicted leader, and whose "off island" escapades were truly heartbreaking. Edward James Olmos is the rock (along with Mary McDonnell) of the best ensemble on TV, and did stellar work as BSG wound down to brutal end of the season. Vincent D'Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) continues to fly under the radar, but had some emotional storylines to go along with his bag of quirk this year. And two stars from the Beeb deserve recognition. John Barrowman adds the right shading to some of the overwrought silliness on Torchwood (though he can be delightfully silly, also), and David Tennant is simply electric as The Doctor.

TNRLM's Picks: Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie, Michael C. Hall, Gabriel Byrne, Edward James Olmos, David Tennant (Doctor Who)

Lead Actress, Drama
Glenn Close, Damages
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

A solid category. I didn't watch Damages nor Brothers & Sisters, but I have no problems with Hunter and Sedgwick, though The Closer is really the much stronger show (that also has a superb ensemble). With enough slots, I would give a nomination to all three of the wives on Big Love (Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin and Jeanne Tripplehorn) who invest us all so deeply in such an unusual and uncomfortable situation. And how can you not recognize Mary McDonnell here? Shame, Emmy, shame.

TNRLM's Picks: Mary McDonnell, Kyra Sedgwick, Holly Hunter, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jeanne Tripplehorn

Supporting Actor, Drama
Ted Danson, Damages
Michael Emerson, Lost
Zeljko Ivanek, Damages
William Shatner, Boston Legal
John Slattery, Mad Men

Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Michael Emerson pwns your ass. Slattery was a weaselly silver fox, with a great role to play. God knows I love The Shat, but enough with the Boston Legal adulation. How would you classify Reaper? Comedy or Drama? Hard to say, but I'll put Ray Wise in here for the can't miss role of the year. Has the devil ever been this much fun? I hate to keep banging the BSG drum here, but both James Callis and Michael Hogan do such fantastic work that they have to be recognized. What about Henry Ian Cusick? Desmond wasn't on this season of Lost an extraordinary amount, but his work in "The Constant" deserves a little gold statue. And don't forget about Robert Sean Leonard on House, or Blair Underwood and Josh Charles from In Treatment. With a tough category like this, I doubt Bruce Campbell would get a nod for Burn Notice, but I certainly welcome him on my screen every Thursday.

TNRLM's Picks: James Callis, Michael Hogan, Ray Wise, Henry Ian Cusick, Michael Emerson, John Slattery

Supporting Actress, Drama
Candice Bergen, Boston Legal
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers & Sisters
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment

Of these, I would only wholeheartedly agree with Wiest, who was wonderful as Paul's complicated fellow shrink. Also on the same show, Michell Forbes (awesome last year as Admiral Cain on BSG's "Razor") was fantastic as Paul's wife. Was Anne Dudek in House enough to qualify here? Cutthroat Bitch was one of my favorite characters all of last year. (if we can't consider her supporting, then I would happily substitue Yunjin Kim from Lost). Jennifer Carpenter from Dexter was adorable as the sister of the moonlighting serial killer, who was recovering from the trauma of almost being killed last season by the Ice Truck Killer, finding her confidence on the force and experiencing a little May - September romance with Keith Carradine's FBI agent. Christina Hendricks was brassy, sexy office queen bee Joan on Mad Men, and should get recognized also. But no one gave a more revelatory, unexpected and brilliant performance this year than Mia Wasikowska as the damaged gymnast on In Treatment.

TNRLM's Picks: Mia Wasikowska, Dianne Wiest, Anne Dudek, Jennifer Carpenter, Michelle Forbes, Christina Hendricks

Best Comedy
30 Rock
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Office
Two and a Half Men

Hey, I like Entourage as much as the next guy, but last season was a flop just like Medellin. 30 Rock and The Office are no brainers. Do we still classify Desperate Housewives as a comedy? If so, I thought it rebounded from an awful prior season to have a very strong one. The best new comedy on TV was Big Bang Theory, that poked fun at the geeks, while still showing them a lot of love, a tough balancing act that was artfully, and most important, hilariously, handled. No love for How I Met Your Mother? Another shame, especially since they had to resort to stunt casting Britney Freaking Spears just to get some eyeballs on this wonderful comedy. Pickings are slim for sitcoms, but I also really enjoyed Samantha Who.

TNRLM's Picks: The Office, 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Samantha Who?

Lead Actor, Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men

Tony Shaloub is approaching Gandolfini and Spader territory, getting nominated year after year, and not allowing a little fresh blood into the contest. Though the quality of Monk has slipped over the years, the quality of Shaloub's committed performance hasn't, but time for something new, eh? Can't comment on the quality of Pace on Daisies, but I loved him on the late, lamented Wonderfalls. Carrell and Baldwin are no-brainers, and they should go ahead and start etching Baldwin's name on the trophy. But tragically overlooked in the nominations was Big Bang's Jim Parsons, a stupendously funny bundle of arrogance, neuroses and perfectionism. Can we classify Chuck as a comedy? I have a hard time with shows like Reaper and Chuck, as they could go either way. To split the difference, I'll call Chuck a comedy so we can slot the delightful Zachary Levi in here. James Roday and Dule Hill from Psych could also merit consideration.

TNRLM's Picks: Alec Baldwin, Steve Carrell, Jim Parsons, Zachary Levi, John Krasinski

Lead Actress, Comedy
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

I'm fine with Applegate, Parker and Fey. If we call Desperate Housewives a comedy, then Dana Delany deserves some credit for bringing that show back to life. It's hard to pick between the two ladies on HIMYM, but I'll go with Alyson Hannigan in a close call.

TNRLM's Picks: Christina Applegate, Mary Louise-Parker, Tina Fey, Dana Delany, Alyson Hannigan

Supporting Actor, Comedy
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office

Harris is an obvious choice (and winner). And BTW, I'm still blown away by Dr. Horrible. Wilson is also very good as the sycophantic and unstable Dwight. I would add Justin Kirk from Weeds, Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock, and if we're calling Chuck a comedy, the deadpan and dangerous Adam Baldwin.

TNRLM's Picks: Rainn Wilson, Neil Patrick Harris, Justin Kirk, Jack McBrayer, Adam Baldwin

Supporting Actress, Comedy
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Jean Smart, Samantha Who?
Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty

Sadly, I can't comment firsthand on the Daisies gals. It's nice to see Poehler recognized for her work on the otherwise usually unwatchable SNL. No Jenna Fischer here? Why not? Smart is good in anything she does (remember her nutty first lady on 24?), and if I can fudge a bit and put Hannigan on lead actress from HIMYM, and Cobie Smulders as supporting, I will. Maggie Lawson was also delightful on Psych, as was Traylor Howard on Monk.

TNRLM's Picks: Jean Smart, Jenna Fischer, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders (and probably someone from Daisies, but I can't vouch for it personally, though I'm sure they are deserving).

Best Reality Competition
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef

Sigh. Except for blogging about Idol, I think "reality" is a blight on the face of humanity. Don't care.

Reality Host
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Howie Mandel, Deal or No Deal
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol


Well, TNRLMers, agree or disagree? Who did we leave out?


  1. Instead of watching the Mad Men marathon this afternoon, might I interest you in the Spaced 6-episode mini-marathon on BBC America starting at 3? It'll be well worth your time, I promise!

  2. Though I haven't watched it, I've heard nothing but great things about Spaced, and that's an excellent suggestion. I'll go set the TiVo next time I get up for another pot of java. (Besides, I've already watched all the Mad Men eps, and just got the DVDs on Wednesday -- see nifty packaging and lighter in an earlier post! I was gonna dive into some of the extras on that, but those will be around for a while).

    Are there significant continuity issues with watching this mini-marathon? Will I "get" it (other than the usual English dialogue that flies over my head occasionally)?

  3. Since those wacky Brit seasons are only 6 episodes long - there's not a ton missing. Three shown from each season - & it was just released here in the States & well worth the purchase.

    The DVDs have an "Homage O'meter" giving the random movie/tv show reference.

    From what I read, you will absolutely get it - in fact, I think you'll appreciate it.

  4. Jen, I'm two episodes into the Spaced marathon, and I'm eternally grateful for the recommendation. I was a big fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (and very pleased with Pegg getting cast as Scotty), and this is like an undiscovered treasure. VERY funny thus far. In fact, I think I will venture over to Amazon and purchase the new special edition DVDs. Thanks!

  5. Run Fatboy Run was also very good - It's Simon w/out Nick and Edgar Wright (his writing partner), however, it has the added benefit of Dylan Moran (another suggestion for you - Black Books - a curmudgeonly book shop owner who smokes too much, drinks too much and redefines misanthropic). Not as great as Shaun or Hot Fuzz, but worth a look.