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July 23, 2007 | Comments ()


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Steaming as It Ever Was

The Emmy Nominations / The TV Whore
July 23, 2006

TV Reviews | July 23, 2007 | Comments ()


Of course this year’s Emmy nominations are full of egregious errors. We all know that the award shows are more about advertisement, self-aggrandizement and popularity than any sort of true recognition of the most deserving talent. The Emmys are just as broken as the Grammys and the Oscars and whatever else. We know it, we get it. But does that mean we still aren’t allowed to bitch and moan about these broken systems?

Of course not.

Before turning to some of the individual categories, there is some overarching bitching to be had. First, the single most nominations (17) went to the HBO movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. I dunno if any or many of y’all saw it, but I did, and I’m here to tell you … shhh, don’t let the Emmy nominating people know … it was a rather big disappointment. Boring, not well written and not really all that well acted. Decent costumes and cinematography, sure, but not much else going for it. So of course it gets the most nods. Meanwhile, it should come as no surprise that the last run of “The Sopranos” got the most nods (15) for any series, considering how much the Emmy folks love nostalgia and grand good-byes. To be fair, I do think that some of its nominations are well deserved, although it didn’t even get the nomination it most deserved (I know many of you disagree, but David Chase deserves a directing nod for that finale, damn it!). But overall, while I enjoyed this last run, I don’t think it compared to the seasons of several better shows. In fact, let’s see how some of the truly best shows of last season (including two shows which I would say are in the top five of best shows ever) fared with the nominations:

“Veronica Mars.” Nothing. Sure, this season was probably the weakest of the three. But it was still better than most of the crap on the air and much of the crap that did garner nominations. At a minimum, there were surely some standout episodes from a writing perspective that deserved some Emmy recognition, not to mention my lovely Ms. Bell who was, as she’s been throughout the show’s run, spectacular. She’s always coming through with the perfect mix of anger, snark, caring and pain — acting her ass off. But why would the Emmies want to recognize that?

“Battlestar Galactica.” The show did get some nods for directing and writing, which is nice, and it got the obligatory-for-a-Sci-Fi show sound editing and special effects nominations. But not a sniff of any of the big categories, and I think this is particularly a travesty for Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh), who’s just been knocking it out of the park from Day One.

“Dexter.” Our lovable serial killer of serial killers did get a well-deserved nod for its main title design and theme music, but where the hell is the love for Michael C. Hall, who makes this show so much fun? This snub is particularly infuriating when you see who actually got nominated for lead acting in a drama, something we’ll get to in a bit.

“Friday Night Lights.” My beloved “FNL” got a little love in the nominations list but, just as it was a travesty to ignore Hall’s work in “Dexter,” it’s a double travesty here to ignore both Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.

“Rome.” Since “Rome” was a historical drama, of course it got the obligatory costumes, hairstyling and makeup nominations, along with a few other nods as well. But what about writing and acting? On the writing side, they managed to condense about 14 years of Roman history into ten episodes, in a rather brilliant way. Every episode was amazingly well written, and if the show had been bumped for, say, the two shows I’m about to mention, that’d be one thing. But it wasn’t, and I just don’t get it. Meanwhile, while Ray Stevenson (Titus Pullo) and Kevin McKidd (Lucius Vorenus) would’ve been worthy acting nominees, James Purefoy (Marc Antony) was really a must-nominee. His performance was one of the single best television performances of the year, considering the range of ups and downs his character suffered over the course of the season. So naturally he was snubbed.

“Deadwood.” Speaking of snubbed … ah, “Deadwood,” we hardly knew ye. Again, it got the costume, makeup and hair nods, along with a few others. But not a single acting nod, not even for that magnificent cocksucker, Ian McShane! And no writing nominations either, which boggles my mind as the second biggest travesty of the entire nomination list.

Of course, the single biggest travesty is that there was not one single nomination, in any category, for the “The Wire.” It’s as if the show didn’t even exist. A fart in the wind. I can’t even properly rant about this for fear of my head just exploding into a huge cloud of pink mist. I mean, I know I shouldn’t be surprised … but I’m flabbergasted. Particularly when we now turn to look at some of the junk that did get nominated.

For example, look at the list of outstanding drama nominees: “Boston Legal,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Heroes,” “House” and “The Sopranos.” Are you fucking kidding me? I can live with “The Sopranos” being there and maybe even “House.” As much as I loved “Heroes,” it doesn’t compare with any one of the snubbed shows mentioned above, and that goes doubly-so for “Boston Legal” and triply-motherfucking-so for “Grey’s Anatomy.” Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, since “The Sopranos” is surely a slam-dunk to win, but how much better would it have been to see a list like this: “The Wire,” “Deadwood,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Sopranos.”

And then there’s the drama acting. Look at the nominees for lead male: Kiefer Sutherland (“24”), James Spader (“Boston Legal”), Hugh Laurie (“House”), Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”) and James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”). Gandolfini was a given (and one of the nods for “The Sopranos” that I have no problem with), and I won’t get too up in arms over Leary or Laurie. Spader seems a bit rote at this point, but Kiefer … are you fucking kidding me? His shit was so over-the-top stupid this year, and why is he sucking up a space that could’ve instead been given to Michael C. Hall or Eddie Izzard or James Purefoy or Kyle Chandler? It’s fucking bullshit. Things are slightly better when we look at the lead female nominees (of which there are, as with a few other categories, an inexplicable six nominees): Sally Field (“Brothers & Sisters”), Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”), Patricia Arquette (“Medium”), Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”), Minnie Driver (“The Riches”) and Edie Falco (“The Sopranos”). I’m fine with Arquette and Sedgwick, because I hear they’re both very good, I’m also fine with Falco and even OK with Driver. While I love Hargitay, this really wasn’t her strongest year, and I would’ve much rather seen Connie Britton’s name here. And while I actually like some of the acting performances from “Brothers & Sisters” last year, I was not a fan of Fields’ performance at all. And this spot would’ve been much better served with Polly Walker’s (“Rome’s” Atia) name instead. But this is really nothing — just wait ‘til we see the supporting actors and actress lists.

Here are your nominated supporting men: William Shatner (“Boston Legal”), T.R. Knight (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Masi Oka (“Heroes”), Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson (“Lost”) and Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”). The only one here I really have no problem with is Emerson, as I do think he’s been fascinating to watch on “Lost.” O’Quinn was just average this season, as were Imperioli and Knight. In fact, this is the category I would’ve rather have seen some love tossed the way of “Brothers & Sisters,” as I think Rob Lowe (Senator McCallister) and Matthew Rhys (Kevin Walker) gave some pretty solid performances. Meanwhile, Shatner’s schtick is just old at this point, no? And as for Masi Oka? Look, his Hiro character is fun. But would you consider that one of the best performances of the year? Really? When you’ve got Ian McShane and every other male on “Deadwood” sitting on the curb along with all the guys on “The Wire” and “BSG’s” Michael Hogan? This is just a sham. And that goes doubly so for the supporting female nods: Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers & Sisters”), Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson and Katherine Heigl (“Grey’s Anatomy”), and Aida Turturro and Lorraine Bracco (“The Sopranos”). Are you fucking kidding me? Bracco has been phoning it in for years, Oh has been a one-note pony on “Grey’s,” and I can’t remember a damn thing about Heigl’s performance from the whole season. Turturro, Wilson and Griffiths I can live with. But those other spots would be much better served going to “Deadwood” gals Robin Weigert (Calamity Jane) and Paula Malcomson (Trixie), and “Battlestar Galactica’s” Mary McDonnell (President Roslin).

Lest we think all the snubs rest squarely on the drama side, worry thee not. There were plenty of snubs to go ‘round on the comedy side too. In the outstanding comedy category, here are your nominees: “30 Rock,” “Entourage,” “The Office,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Ugly Betty.” I have no problem with “30 Rock” and “The Office,” as they’re the two best comedies on network TV. While I enjoyed “Ugly Betty,” it belongs here like a hole in the head. And while I like the “Entourage,” it’s not as good as some of the snubs. For example, where the hell are “Weeds,” “Extras,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or even “How I Met Your Mother”? Oh that’s right, there was no room because the lowest-common-denominator and inexplicably popular “Two and a Half Men” needed a fucking nomination.

I may hate “Two and a Half Men” more than any other show currently on television.

As for the lead actors, my only issue with Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”) is whether he should be nominated as a lead or supporting nominee. But I have no problem with him getting nominated, and hope to hell he wins. I also have zero complaints with co-nominees Steve Carell (“The Office”) or Ricky Gervais (“Extras”). And actually, I have no problems with the last two nominations going to Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) and Charlie Sheen (“Two and a Half Men”). Well, except that I have every problem with them! Once again I must ask: Are you fucking kidding me?!? How’s about Jason Lee (“My Name Is Earl”) or … uhm … hmmm, most of the other comedies I love don’t really have lead male performances that I think are that great, so I guess we just better move on (and while I still like “Scrubs,” I don’t think Zach Braff deserves a nomination, as his performance is becoming increasingly annoying). Things do fare slightly better on the lead actress side. I have no problem with Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) getting a nod, I guess, but only because (a) I love me some Filliam H. Muffman, and (b) she was the only Housewife to get a nod. And I’m fine with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”) and America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”), as long as we ignore the fact that dramedies like “Housewives” and “Betty” really should have their own category. But Tina Fey (“30 Rock”)? Look, I love that show. Love it. And she’s perfectly serviceable on it. But is anyone really making a claim that she’s a good actress, let alone a great one? … But I’ll let this slide because the last nod went to Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds”). (*swoon*)

For the supporting actor and actress lists, the only complaints I really have are again with the nominations for “Two and a Half Men,” this time for Jon Cryer and Conchata Ferrell. What the fuck is the fascination with this drek of a show? But I have no real problem with the other guys or gals: Kevin Dillon and Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”), Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”), Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer (“The Office”), Jamie Pressly (“My Name Is Earl”), Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty”) and Elizabeth Perkins (“Weeds”). But it sure would’ve been nice to see some “Scrubs” love for John C. McGinley (Dr. Cox), Donald Faison (Turk) and Sarah Chalk (Elliot). Of course, I’m a fool for thinking such things.

Meanwhile, there are a few reality/non-fiction categories worth taking a quick peek at. “Penn & Teller: Bullshit!” got a much-deserved nomination for outstanding reality program, as did “Top Chef” (huzzah!) for outstanding reality-competition program. But my big complaint here is with the nonfiction series category, where “This American Life” got painfully snubbed (although it at least got a writing nomination). Meanwhile, let’s look at the outstanding individual performance in a variety/musical program. Letterman is there, as always, as is Jon Stewart. Colbert got himself some love, as did Ellen (for the Academy Awards). And then there’s Tony Fucking Bennet. Did you see this guy perform last year (on the nominated “Tony Bennett: An American Classic” or anything else he performed on)? He’s like the walking fucking dead. If he steals this award from Colbert, I might hurl myself out a window.

Of course, the most fitting thing about all of this is that one of the nominees for outstanding music and lyrics is a tune from the “Scrubs” musical episodes (that episode actually got two nods in this category): “Everything Comes Down to Poo.” Perfectly sums up this whole bloody ordeal and, in fact, they should open up the September 16 telecast with a performance of this tune, just to remind all the viewers what lies below the surface of this, and every, awards show.


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Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television editor. If “Two and a Half Men” actually wins any award this year, he’d appreciate it if one of you would do him a solid and call 911 for him, as he’ll surely have a coronary.


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