Monday, August 28, 2006

Popsurfing Through The Emmys

Well, the show was a fitfully entertaining mess, even if the awards are the most frustating, puzzling and downright stupid around. Conan did a fine job hosting and his Billy Crystal-like opener (where he popped into a bunch of different shows) was pretty good. His song-and-dance number about how much trouble NBC is in was even better. The biggest mistake was forcing presenters to make chit-chat or (even worse) jokes before announcing the nominees and winners. Don't they know you could cut half an hour out of the show and save us all a lot of misery by skipping all that? Sure, Stephen Colbert's bit with Jon Stewart was funny, but that's one out of about 20. Further, when the winners are announced, the producers are so afraid of dead airtime while the people walk to the mike that they try to fill in with random clips of shows that are invariably confusing and cut off in the middle. Also, who decided what categories should get brief clips and which categories would just be named? Some idiot decided Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie should feature a clip, which meant we saw about half of Ellen Burstyn's entire performance. Presenters were notably dull, with most of them mumbling out the name of the winner. I don't need high drama, but a slight pause and a note of congratulation in their voice would surely be a lot more appropriate than "andthewinneriselizaebththefirst."

The best speech was from the "My Name Is Earl" scribe who named people he DIDN'T want to thank. Otherwise, the producers seemed rudely focused on cutting off acceptance speeches. Sure, the director of "Elizabeth I' sounded so comatose he was probably glad. But most of the stars, deserved their moment. And like the Oscars, they failed completely to give you an idea of the performances and shows that were being honored. Most award presentations didn't feature any clips and the ones they did show were too short. How about cutting comedy routines and actually celebrating the shows you're supposed to be honoring?

The tribute to Dick Clark was nice, especially since they let him talk. Did we have to hear the three-minute version of "American Bandstand's" theme song, however? And the Aaron Spelling tribute was heartfelt if rambling. It actually was fun to see the reunion of the three Angels, though Kate Jackson has had so much work done she actually looked scary. I don't say that to be mean. I found it really disappointing and sad, since she was always my favorite and presumably the least obsessed with her looks. And the frisson of seeing Tori and her mom in the audience while it went on was fun. Too bad they didn't push the reunion idea further and have the cast of "90210," "Dynasty," "Hart To Hart' and so on all get together in quick bursts. It could have been sensational.

The big awards dulled the pain of this year, since "24" and "The Office" actually deserve to win (not to mention Kiefer Sutherland's long-overdue victory; maybe he threatened the academy with torture?). But mostly, idiocy reigned. Jon Stewart seemed embarrassed to win (for the fourth year in a row, because of course Letterman and Conan and Colbert weren't worthy) and said he thought they were making a mistake. Tony Shalhoub seemed embarrassed to win for the third time and clearly believed Steve Carell was going to triumph. Hey people, if you're embarrassed about winning year after year, don't nominate yourself! Problem solved. Andre Braugher was honored with Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for the cancelled TV show "Thief" they put up for the miniseries category in hopes of getting lucky. (Shouldn't an awards committee be around to eliminate nominees that CLEARLY don't belong in their category like Braugher and Burstyn.) The craziest category has to be for individual performance in a variety show or special: it pits Barry Manilow's one-time TV concert against a season of David Letterman. The only reason they're squeezed together is to reduce categories and save time. It makes literally no sense, of course. The best written and directed comedy is "My Name Is Earl," which wasn't even nominated for Best Series. The biggest groaners were Shalhoub (again), Louis-Dreyfuss (which just seemed like knee-jerk laziness in the worst batch of nominess -- as far as overlooking great work), Megan Mullally for "W&G," Blythe Danner for "Huff," Alan Alda for "The West Wing," (not a knock on his performance -- it's just once an Emmy winner, always an Emmy winner, to the boredom of fans), and above them all "The Amazing Race" for Best Reality Series when EVERYONE thought this season (with families pitted against each other) was a complete disaster. Can't wait for next year, when they'll ignore "Deadwood," "The Wire," "Battlestar: Galactica" and all the other great shows on TV right now.

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