Update: So Mad Men did in fact win, and 30 Rock got the two-peat. Rock had the best season of the five nominated shows, and it’s always good to have Tina Fey deliver an acceptance speech, but the overall pattern does suggest, again, that the Academy is a little addicted to “cold” shows and characters — shows that maybe err on the side of cleverness.
Things I was glad to see:
1) Reality hosts given their due (yes, they overdid it with the presentation, but the point was a true one: reality hosting is an important job in today’s TV, and people like Jeff Probst are really good at what they do).
2) Actors winning the comedy awards for half-hour comedies. I’m still one of those purists who thinks that hour-long shows should not be nominated in the “comedy” category except in very, very special cases. The way a performance is built and structured in an hour-long show, even a lighthearted one, is just very different from the rules of a half-hour show. Not better or worse, but different.
– Actual transcript of my interior monologue before Best Supporting Actor in a Drama was announced: “Please Not Shatner, Please Not Shatner, Please Not Shatner, Please Not Shatner…” The eventual winner, Zeljko Ivanek, was a good choice, especially since it forces us all to learn how to pronounce his name.
– I would normally grumble about how Neil Patrick Harris was robbed, but I didn’t really expect him to win. But the Jeremy Piven thing is getting out of hand. There is a structural problem with the Emmy acting awards that no one can ever really solve, namely, people are going to be nominated every year for playing the same person in more or less the same way, meaning that it almost seems to demand repeat wins. If the voters thought Piven was the best the last two years, don’t they have kind of a duty to vote for him again, since he’s doing the same thing he did in the two years before, unless someone new comes along who’s clearly better? There’s really no way around this problem unless the actor takes his name out of consideration the way John Larroquette did (after four or five consecutive wins). Piven wouldn’t be my first choice for any of the awards he’s won, but neither would James Spader or Candace Bergen or many other repeat winners, and if you assume that they deserved it the first time, it may not make sense for a voter to go against them next year just because it’s someone else’s “turn.” At least with a show as a whole, you can argue that it got substantially worse or better from season to season; but performances are pretty consistent.
– Hearing Oprah Winfrey imitate Groucho Marx is not a bad thing, just disorienting.
– DIanne Wiest has won everything there is to win, but she’s always good, so it’s hard to argue against it.
– I will not be blogging when the big prize is given out, but I’ll join with the crowd in predicting a win for Mad Men. (If I’m wrong, I will have lost nothing, since bad predictions never hurt a pundit’s career. Ever.) It’s the kind of show that usually gets the Emmy: a show in its first season, one with a great reputation and so-so ratings, with brilliant technical execution but with some problems creating emotional involvement. Arrested Development (which won in its first season) and 30 Rock (ditto) fit into this pattern; shows that, although flawed by being maybe slightly too clever to make us care, are admired greatly by their peers at least for the first year or so. (Not that Mad Men isn’t a brilliant show; it is. But it still has some very real flaws to iron out in terms of really involving the audience as opposed to keeping us at an admiring distance. But if it wins — I said if — the admiring distance may have helped, not hurt, with the voters. Emmy voters really don’t seem that big on emotional involvement, whether with shows or performances.)