Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Television Tuesday: Emmy Awards Roundup

The Emmy awards were last night. Did you notice? I did, even though I didn't get to actually see most of the telecast as Verizon Fios decided that NBC would be the one channel my DVR would NOT receive last night, but only between the hours of 8 and 11pm. What recorded on my DVR instead was three hours of blue screen. Every. Other. Channel. Worked. Just not the one showing the biggest television awards in the world. So off to the Internet I go – except NBC decided not to have a streaming broadcast, no doubt to appease advertisers. I spent a good 20 minutes searching for a streaming broadcast and found one site that would let me view it, but only after I filled out a survey for car insurance including all of my information, or downloaded a game to my computer and that was not going to happen. I wound up listening to it instead, woefully believing that I could watch it all later on my DVR. Boy, was I wrong. Still, I figured NBC would have clips up on its website this morning, but alas, only of the acceptance speeches and the Community promos for Infiniti (which were funny because that cast is very funny, but come on already!). Basically, it was an epic fail night for Fios and NBC as far as my household was concerned.

Ergo, rather than my typical blow-by-blow post mortem, I'm forced to comment in brief (Ha! Brief. Right.) bursts of flawed and slightly delayed opinion.

Overall, I was very pleased with the winners, particularly as there was a marked shift in who was winning. Finally, the Academy has decided to wake up and see that awarding the same old people for the same old roles isn't the right way to run an award system that is supposed to recognize the best in performances of the year, not the most familiar and/or comfortable. How is it that Jon Cryer has won multiple Emmy Awards for Two and a Half Men? It boggles the mind. After too many years of this sort of award behavior I was dangerously close to eschewing the awards altogether. Now, I can't wait to see what happens next year.

Jane Lynch looked fierce and while favored to win the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy award last night for her work on Glee, she didn't deserve it any less for that. Sue Sylvester may be broad comedy, but Lynch makes it very funny and, amazingly, finds a heart within the character when it looks like that particular organ is missing. I love it when actors who have be toiling away in the business for decades, always being the "hey it's that guy/girl" whether in theatre, television, or film, suddenly get the right role at the right time that finally brings the recognition they so rightly deserve. I'm looking at you Michael Emerson and Terry Quinn (sorry about the loss last night guys.)

I don't watch Breaking Bad, I'm not big on any show with a large focus on drug trade, but Brian Cranston is another actor who's been around forever (even before Malcolm in the Middle). The first time I watched Cranston was the inaugural season of the soap Loving. Remember that one? Yeah, didn't think so. This is his third Emmy for Best Lead Actor in a Drama and okay. I was routing for Coach to win, aka Kyle Chandler, but even I knew his nomination for the strong, subtle, complex, funny, and riveting work he's done on Friday Night Lights was all the recognition he was likely to get last night. And if Jon Hamm isn't going to get the statuette for his phenomenal work on Mad Men, than I'm fine with Cranston getting it – again. I would like to see Hamm take it next year, and with Cranston out of the running since Breaking Bad's season won't debut in time for qualification, maybe we'll finally see the man who could sell snow to Eskimos finally get his due. Except, wait, next year is the last season for Friday Night Lights. Screw Hamm – GO COACH!

Juliana Margulies was the recognized shoo-in for the Best Actress in a Drama award – and didn't get it. Kyra Sedgwick finally got the award she should have had three years ago for her work as Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. I watch and enjoy The Closer and think Kyra should have won this award years ago when the role was fresh and the show's procedural structure not so formulaic. But I'm glad to finally see her get what turns out to be her first Emmy award because she's terrific, both as Brenda Leigh and in numerable other roles over the years. She's probably the only woman on the list that I can live with winning instead of Connie Britton. Like Chandler, Mrs. Coach was only ever going to get the recognition of a nomination at these awards, but, again, like Chandler, it comes after four years of shut outs for, hands down, the best female performance out there in television today. (Though Katay Sagal gave her more than a run for her money this year on Sons of Anarchy but she was, shamefully, not nominated.) I'm hoping that the nomination repeats next year and the game-changing shift in the types of winners last night paves the way for her and Chandler to bring it home as the fantastic Friday Night Lights comes to an end next year.

I love Modern Family and am absolutely thrilled it won Best Comedy last night. I think it emblematic of the great talent in the series that the main cast all submitted themselves for supporting actor nominations, not one of them taking the position of lead actor/actress for the show. It is very much an ensemble show and I don't think it would work without any one of those parts. To see Eric Stonestreet win for Best Supporting Actor was fantastic – I actually fist pumped from the kitchen (listening to the broadcast via Internet) when I heard his name announced. And then he gave such a beautiful, heart-warming acceptance speech, even my cynical heart was touched. He is often (but not only) the heart of the show and to "see" him continue that offset was charming. He is also often the most laughing out loud funny cast member (though Ty Burrell gives him a run for his money) and one only has to watch the Fizbo episode to see why. There was always the danger that the multiple nominations for the Modern Family men would split the vote for some other nominee. I'm so glad it didn't.

I haven't laughed out loud at a sit com since Friends ended. Jim Parsons changed all that. I didn't watch The Big Bang Theory from the beginning, but tuned in this year after all the great buzz for it caught my attention. Plus, I realized I wasn't watching any sit coms and I missed laughing at things that weren't meant to be ironic. And I love it. Jim Parsons is absolutely hysterical – the LOTR Ring episode is a personal favorite – and while the show does sometimes detour into The Sheldon Show too much, I can't really regret that. In general, the show is very, very good, but Parsons elevates it to unbelievably funny. He couldn't do this without the excellent cast that surrounds him and while it can't be easy being the straight man, Johnny Galecki does a wonderful job at it. Parsons winning the Emmy last night is yet another example of the Academy finally getting it right.

Less so on the Best Actress in a Comedy front. Look, Edie Falco is a great actress, I know this even with only seeing two episodes (if that) of The Sopranos and three of Nurse Jackie. Her intensity on the screen is – well – intense. But, as Falco herself said when accepting the award, she's not funny and Nurse Jackie isn't a comedy. But the Academy loves her and they're going to award her every chance they get. And they did.

Like I said, I don't watch Breaking Bad, so I really can't comment on Aaron Paul's win for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama except to say that I hear his work this past year has been award worthy. Likewise with The Good Wife. I'm a big Margulies and Noth fan, and that was enough to get me to the show's premier, but I'm tired of doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs, and could not bear for another series in courtrooms and law offices however good the writing and however stellar the talent. I will, however, say that I'm excited to see Archie Panjabi take the award home for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama as what little I saw of her work was electric.

I love Mad Men. It's smart, it's clever (and you know how I love the clever), it's funny, it gorgeous to look at, it's heartbreaking and, sometimes, horrifying. It's brilliant. I watch it and think about how this was the era when my parents were young parents. This is the culture in which they were becoming adults. I watch it and think of the advertising that I'm involved in at my day job and how so much of the terminology and focus hasn't really changed since in the last 40+ years. I hear the names of companies still running the major advertising accounts of the day and think of the longevity of cutthroat business. I think of the subtle and overt ways women were harassed in the work place and pushed towards trading careers for hearth and home and how brave and fierce those women were to forge a different path for those of us who were to come. The show fascinates me and the writing, the acting, the set design, the production are the best thing on television today. It raises the bar for other shows out there. It never panders to the audience – I probably only get about 70% per episode of all of what's going on and that's likely too generous a percent. And that just makes me love it more. In a culture that elevates the ridiculous cast of Jersey Shore to iconic positions, a show that challenges audiences to much, much more needs to be on everyone's television sets. Of course, it's the Best Drama of the year. It should be the best drama of the year for every year that it's on the air.

I found Jimmy Fallon to be a capable host – what little I was able to see of him. It's a thankless job, and there are few who can nail it. I had to see the Glee inspired opening number on youtube this morning, but I thought it was very funny. Just watching Jon Hamm back it up to Betty White made the whole thing a ten for me. Yeah, it was basically a big promo for Glee, but I'm OK with that since anything that champions musical education in schools gets my vote. Also, I love Glee.

As far as fashion goes, again, I missed a large part of the broadcast thanks to Fios and NBC not having their acts together. I did see the Red Carpet broadcast – that had no problem coming through much like commercials. I really liked Tina Fey's hieroglyphic dress, thought Jane Lynch looked incredible (see above) and so, so happy, likewise Lea Michele who was also topped by that fantastic choker necklace, Jewel had way too many furbelows on her pink princess gown, Anna Paquin looked like she should top some ziggurat or an Aztec sacrificial pile with that bolero short jacket, and Lauren Graham, who I love, looked silly. But no one seemed terribly outlandish. Except one.

What the hell was January Jones thinking? First, her hair looked like she'd just rolled out of bed. Second, that peacock train may be top of the line for Cirque du Soleil, but only molts in the California heat wave. Third – just what? I loved the color, but it was so, so wrong for her. She's a cool blond, and that doesn't translate well to peacock couture. It does put you on the cover of almost every magazine this week even if it is on the worst dress list which is probably exactly what she was aiming for. In the Red Carpet interview I saw, she was also slightly off, polite, but really reserved and somewhat distant, which makes me wonder if there was something else going on there or if she's really simply very shy. Neither of which explains the dress.

All in all a great night for television – what I saw of it. There are a lot of good shows coming down the pike this year. I actually plan to cut back some of my viewing because much too much of my time is getting eaten up by television, but there are still one or two that may make the Krum cut. And if the Emmy Awards for 2011 are anything like the 2010 awards, I'll be sure to tune back in for them too.

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