Sunday, July 19, 2009

Emmy Thoughts

COMEDYBEST COMEDY SERIESEntourageFamily GuyFlight of the ConchordsHow I Met Your MotherThe Office30 RockWeeds
BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES Alec Baldwin, 30 RockSteve Carell, The Office Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords Jim Parsons, The Big Bang TheoryTony Shalhoub, MonkCharlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIESChristina Applegate, Samantha Who? Toni Collette, United States of TaraJulia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old ChristineTina Fey, 30 RockMary-Louise Parker, WeedsSarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIESJon Cryer, Two and a Half MenKevin Dillon, EntourageNeil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your MotherJack McBrayer, 30 RockTracy Morgan, 30 RockRainn Wilson, The Office
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIESKristin Chenoweth, Pushing DaisiesJane Krakowski, 30 RockElizabeth Perkins, WeedsAmy Poehler, Saturday Night LiveKristin Wiig, Saturday Night LiveVanessa Williams, Ugly Betty

This is easy: 30 Rock, Jim Parsons, Tina Fey, Neil Patrick Harris, Kristin Chenoweth

DRAMA BEST DRAMA SERIES Big LoveBreaking BadDamagesDexter House LostMad Men BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIESSimon Baker, The MentalistGabriel Byrne, In TreatmentBryan Cranston, Breaking Bad Michael C. Hall, Dexter Jon Hamm, Mad MenHugh Laurie, House
BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIESGlenn Close, Damages Sally Field, Brothers & SistersMariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVUHolly Hunter, Saving GraceElisabeth Moss, Mad MenKyra Sedgwick, The Closer
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIESChristian Clemenson, Boston LegalMichael Emerson, LostWilliam Hurt, DamagesAaron Paul, Breaking BadWilliam Shatner, Boston LegalJohn Slattery, Mad Men
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIESRose Byrne, DamagesHope Davis, In TreatmentCherry Jones, 24Sandra Oh, Grey's AnatomyDianne Wiest, In TreatmentChandra Wilson, Grey's

This isn't so easy. Oh, Aaron Paul for best supporting actor is obvious. But I haven't seen any of the supporting actresses. For lead actress, Holly Hunter emotes up a storm in a crap show. Glenn Close I haven't seen but I suspect it's the same. Sally Field is superb but Kyra Sedgwick is also excellent and is more essential for her show so I guess I'd pick her.

But best actor? Both Hugh Laurie and Simon Baker do shows that would be unwatchable without their performances in fundamentally absurd characters. I think of them as leads in TV shows dedicated to the proposition that the asshole is erotic (or at least erogenous.) They do it superbly, but is it really worth doing? I watch The Mentalist every time, and it's charming for me. But an Emmy? Bryan Cranston and Michael C. Hall are both in outstanding shows but I haven't seen the third instalment of Dexter. Cranston for the repeat?

And it gets really difficult in best drama, partly because I haven't seen Big Love, Damages or Mad Men.

It is puzzling how Lost can still be nominated. It has undergone the collapse so common to heavily serialized shows. The plot is contorted beyond hope of satisfactory resolution. The characters have repeated their essential stories, then been rewritten at random for an illusion of change. For a long time now, Lost has been relying on the Farscape principle: It doesn't have to be good if it's something new (to TV, at least.)

Supporting arguments? The grave importance of inputting the numbers, to prevent catastrophe, was nonexistent, a fake conflict. The season spent showing Ben manipulate Jack into surgery was pointless. The island, as a character, was so schizophrenic that the writers had to split it into two separate characters, at least, with the smoke monster a possible third, to justify its past actions. Except that unveiling the fundamental conflict after four seasons means the rest was pretty much a waste. As for the characters? Jack/Kate/Sawyer have gone around as many times as John and Aeryn, and like Farscape it has devalued their story. Locke has been rewritten as mysterious and wimpy so much they've killed him off and it was hard to tell! I believe they should use the opportunity and actually reset the timeline. This could be rationalized as Jacob beating his opponent by removing Locke from the board. Then the opponent, internet nicknamed Esau, could spend the last season trying to manipulate the key characters onto the island, in full view, so we have the real story unfolding for once.

Breaking Bad finished with a symbolic expression of Walt's continuing fall into depravity. Relying upon symbolism in a realistically styled series is an unfitting diversion. It is obviously caused by the "need" to extend the show chronologically. Walt's resentment of Walt Jr.'s handicaps needs to emerge in his mistreatment of Jesse. The symbolic resolution of Walt's manslaughter of Jesse's girlfriend delays that resolution. This ratcheting down of tension will probably demand a fair amount of time wasted. The wife's resentment of Walt's weakness in getting sick is irrational, if human. But even she should notice that she is letting her boss ride when she won't let her own husband. Dean Norris as Hank is excellent but the proper resolution is for Walt to kill him, even if he doesn't admit to himself how much his resentment leads to do so.

Dexter's second season was weaker than the first. It, like so many character driven dramas, repeats the delicious character story. In this case, Dexter is offered a chance at an relationship based upon the open acknowledgement of his murders, and he refuses and kills the person who tried to force a choice upon him. To do so, they series had to get uncharacteristically sloppy in the plotting. In particular, Doakes has to act the idiot for the plot to work. I gather the third season does something similar? To be properly resolved, Dexter has to make the choice when either Deborah finds out about Harry. She should for a start find out about Harry's suicide. Finding out how crazy Harry was of course leads to the possibility of discovering Dexter's other side. Marriage with Rita should be a dramatic choice for Dexter, but his frameup with Paul has not been properly dealt with by her. What is she going to tell the kids? Honestly, the series should end with Dexter getting killed by a victim, getting caught or committing suicide.

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