Emmys: Feast or Famine

And you thought Justice was blind?

And you thought Justice was blind?

Trust me, I’m long past letting my blood boil over award show nominations, let alone winners. Whether it’s Al Pacino in Scent of A Woman, or handing over the Best Actor Emmy to possibly the worst lead performance on television for what – three times in four years? – I realize that my tastes do not coincide with the powers that be (especially #2). If they did, the only reality television would be the nightly news.

But since I have to wallow through Rock of Love and According To Jim and Project Runway and Jon and Kate plus Her Bodyguard and His Weekend Affair just to select a channel from the cable menu, I figured I’d let whatever bubble of bile I was able to generate subside and then pick out the biggest miss from the major categories.

Not that there weren’t some astute choices among the nominees Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad, for example – but it seemed like either feast of famine. I love 30 Rock; I think it’s a brilliantly written show and the ensemble cast is excellent. But twenty-two Emmy nominations? And not one single nomination for The Shield?

I’ve been watching television since I was a child, a longer time than I want to admit. And I can tell you without hesitation that Walton Goggins delivered one of the most searing performances I have ever seen – ever – on The Shield as doomed Detective Shane Vendrell. As great as he was for the first five seasons of the show, he raised the bar in the sixth as a man racked by guilt and pain. Then – amazingly – he raised it again for the final season as we watched him slowly disintegrate and implode before our eyes. It was a harrowing, frightening portayal that burned into your head week by week, yet addictively impossible to turn away from.

Hell, the entire cast was superb, led by Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackey (another oversight, and more deserving than Gandolfini in the Sopranos’ last season); several like  CCH Pounder and Jay Karnes got chances to shine and did. Bad enough that the actors got screwed over, but overlooking the writing? That might have been a more egregious omission. And I’m equally floored that not one actor from Friday Night Lights was named – are they that good at their job that you don’t think they’re acting?

Ah, crap…I feel the bile coming back.

Here are the nominations for the major categories, along with one I’d swap out in a heartbeat. (I’ll get to my picks for “will win” and “should win” prior to the actual awards.) You’ll probably recognize a lot of the names, since an Emmy nomination is like winning a Gold Glove in baseball; odds are you keep chugging along unless you really blow it.

Drama Series: “Big Love,” HBO; “Breaking Bad,” AMC; “Damages,” FX Networks; “Dexter,” Showtime; “House,” Fox; “Lost,” ABC; “Mad Men,” AMC. // Out: House. (no, that’s not a pun). Getting silly in its old age. At least I don’t have to choke on Boston Legal anymore…In: The Shield. See bulk of this essay.

Comedy Series: “Entourage,” HBO; “Family Guy,” Fox; “Flight of the Conchords,” HBO; “How I Met Your Mother,” CBS; “The Office,” NBC; “30 Rock,” NBC; “Weeds,” Showtime. // Out: Entourage. Past its shelf life…In: Better Off Ted. After an over-hyped and only-average first episode, it’s been about the funniest thing on television.

Actor, Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad,” AMC; Michael C. Hall, “Dexter,” Showtime; Hugh Laurie, “House,” Fox; Gabriel Byrne, “In Treatment,” HBO; Jon Hamm, “Mad Men,” AMC; Simon Baker, “The Mentalist,” CBS. // Out: Hugh Laurie. Like the show, beating a dead horse. In: Michael Chiklis, The Shield. Maybe his strongest season, and that’s saying something.

Actress, Drama Series: Sally Field, “Brothers & Sisters,” ABC; Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer,” TNT; Glenn Close, “Damages,” FX Networks; Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” NBC; Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men,” AMC; Holly Hunter, “Saving Grace,” TNT. // Out: Mariska Hartigay. Good, but nothing special…In: Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy. In as impressive of an about-face as Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad, this is a bravura performance getting overlooked.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: William Shatner, “Boston Legal,” ABC; Christian Clemenson, “Boston Legal,” ABC; Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad,” AMC; William Hurt, “Damages,” FX Networks; Michael Emerson, “Lost,” ABC; John Slattery, “Mad Men,” AMC. // Out: William Shatner. Caricature, not character. In: Walton Goggins, The Shield – should not only have been nominated but should have won in a landslide. Am I the only person who gets the FX channel?

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Rose Byrne, “Damages,” FX Networks; Sandra Oh, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Chandra Wilson, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Dianne Wiest, “In Treatment,” HBO; Hope Davis, “In Treatment,” HBO; Cherry Jones, “24,” Fox. //  Out: Chandra Wilson. Yawn, ywner, yawnest…In: Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost. Nuance on network television? I guess I should have known better.

Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS; Jemaine Clement, “Flight of the Conchords,” HBO; Tony Shalhoub, “Monk,” USA; Steve Carell, “The Office,” NBC; Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock,” NBC; Charlie Sheen, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS. // Out: Tony Shaloub. How many do you need, anyway? I love the guy, and the character is great, but it’s a comfy shoe by now…In: Jay Harrington, Better Off Ted. Smooth and graceful with impeccable comic timing, including the asides to the camera. He makes it look so easy, but it’s an art.

Actress, Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” CBS; Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?” ABC; Sarah Silverman, “The Sarah Silverman Program,” Comedy Central; Tina Fey, “30 Rock,” NBC; Toni Collette, “United States of Tara,” Showtime; Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds,” Showtime. // Out: Sarah Silverman, and that’s without even seeing Toni Collette’s show. And I *like* Silverman!…In: Portia deRossi, Better Off Ted. Perfectly acidic opposite Harrington’s Cary Grant character.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Kevin Dillon, “Entourage,” HBO; Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother,” CBS; Rainn Wilson, “The Office,” NBC; Tracy Morgan, “30 Rock,” NBC; Jack McBrayer, “30 Rock,” NBC; Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS. // Out: Cryer, as much for the show being tired than his small arc of a character…In: John Scurti, Rescue Me. Yes, it’s drama, but it has enough structured comedy scenes to qualify, and Scurti is the perfect foil that all the other actors use as a springboard.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Kristin Chenoweth, “Pushing Daisies,” ABC; Amy Poehler, “Saturday Night Live,” NBC; Kristin Wiig, “Saturday Night Live,” NBC; Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock,” NBC; Vanessa Williams, “Ugly Betty,” ABC; Elizabeth Perkins, “Weeds,” Showtime. // Out: Williams – even though Poehler and Wiig shouldn’t even be in this category – she and the show have flatlined…In: Kate Flannery, The Office. A fearless and hysterical performance; on a show that crosses the line she punts it from there.

I shouldn’t complain. Thanks to DVR and DVD I can ignore the glut of dross on television and savor It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia or Jackie Woodman rather than be subjected to most of what passes for entertainment. Hell, I’m no snob – I think Castle has taken over where Bones has slipped, and although I lament the loss of Life On Mars I am glad that we still have Fringe and Lost and 24 and other network shows to go along with the exceptional programs the smaller cable networks are churning out.

Ahh, but bitching about television is fun…and Jeremy Piven can’t win.

Keep track on Emmy site or the Awards Daily site.

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Filed under Editorials, Features and Interviews, Film/TV

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