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Live from the Death Star: The 59th Annual Emmy Awards

Wow, talk about a boring Emmy Awards. I mean I had my doubts when it was announced that Ryan "I'm about as deep as my spray tan" Seacrest would be hosting, but it's FOX, so who else were they going to get to MC this bloated thing, anyway? Paula Abdul? Hardly. (Please bring Ellen DeGeneres back. Please?)

Whose misguided idea was it to hold the Emmys in a circular stadium? I felt like I was watching a basketball game rather than a TV awards ceremony. Badly, badly done. It looked cheap, tacky, and possibly very fitting with the Emmys' new home on FOX. Plus, that Death Star-designed black disco ball freaked me out. Did you notice how FOX seemed to make it out of the opening Family Guy song and dance relatively unscathed? Hmm, coincidence?

In any event, there were a few bright spots, like the writing award for The Office's Greg Daniels, Helen Mirren winning for the superlative Prime Suspect: The Final Act, and Lost's Terry O'Quinn finally receiving some recognition for the amazing work he does as John Locke. He deserves some time in the spotlight. And, yes, he definitely deserves the paycheck of even the least-paid Wisteria Lane denizen of Desperate Housewives.

Also, thank you, Academy members, for doing something right and giving a statuette to the talented cast and crew at NBC's 30 Rock. More than any other series this year, 30 Rock proved that groundbreaking comedy can air on network television (strange, but true). It also proved that the voters aren't completely out of touch with reality, like they were when they awarded best supporting actor in a comedy to Jeremy Piven. Again. Still, the echoes of Arrested Development's win for best comedy struck a chord in my heart. Here's to hoping 30 Rock doesn't suffer the same fate...

But onto the winners and this jaded writer's reactions for each of the main categories.

Drama Series: The Sopranos.

Yawn. But it was rather predicable that the series--which faded to black with a whimper rather than a bang--would get an awards swan song at the Emmys. Still, a standing ovation for David Chase et al? Was that really necessary, given the flak they got for that unfulfilling ending? At least The Sopranos is now ineligible for any more Emmys. That must count for something, right?

Comedy Series: 30 Rock.

Finally, something to cheer about. (And I really did jump off my couch and holler.) Congrats to Tina Fey, the cast, and the uber-talented crew of this smart, witty, absurd comedy. To all the naysayers out there who predicted the series wouldn't make it through the first season, one giant raspberry in your honor.

The only other series up for consideration that I would have been happy with winning was The Office, but even I will admit that 30 Rock had a significantly stronger season than The Office. And, finally, a voting body that admits that there's no rationale for awarding a top comedy prize to Ugly Betty. Yes, it's a funny series, but it's a melodrama with comedic undertones, NOT a comedy. Hee. I'm still ecstatic about 30 Rock.

Reality-Competition Program: The Amazing Race.

As always, the classiest reality series on television. Now maybe CBS will realize how much its fans are going to miss it this fall and, you know, actually put the next season on the air sooner rather than later. Hmm, word of advice, CBS? Pull the god-awful Kid Nation off your lineup and replace it with Amazing Race, stat.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series: James Spader, Boston Legal.

Meh. I don't know a single person who watches Boston Legal and yet Academy voters seem to love the damn thing. And let's be honest, neither 24 nor Rescue Me had very good seasons. But did you see how the crowd got super-excited when they announced the winner as James and then completely deflated when they followed that with Spader? Teehee.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters.

Sure, I was rooting for The Riches' Minnie Driver to walk away with the award, but the Emmy voters really like Sally Field. They really like her. So I'm okay with Field, in her triumphant return to television, winning the Emmy for her work as matriarch on Brothers & Sisters. And, oh, the word she got bleeped for saying? It was goddamn. Sigh. Cut to large, ominous disco ball...

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Terry O'Quinn, Lost.

Thank you, Emmy gods, for listening for once and giving this award to Terry O'Quinn. The man himself didn't disappoint, bringing us an acceptance speech that was at once touching and hysterical. And, yes, more than a little pointed towards the inequity between the pay scale of the Losties and the ladies of Wisteria Lane.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy.

Oh, Izzy. At least Eva Longoria and the cast of Entourage pronounced Heigl's name correctly when she won the award, as the announcer couldn't seem to do that correctly when they announced her as a presenter. (Nice, guys.) Still, she looked absolutely gorgeous and seemed truly, sincerely shocked.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Ricky Gervais, Extras.

Oh. My. God. I am completely blown away and speechless. I'm a huge Gervais fan but I never, ever expected this, considering that he was up against Steve Carell and Alec Baldin and nominated for a series, which I loved but rarely anyone else seemed to tune in to (Extras). Still, I am ecstatic that Gervais would take home the statue, especially in such distinguished company. I guess there is some love for Andy Millman, after all.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: America Ferrara, Ugly Betty.

It's not a comedy, people. Sigh. I was really, really hoping that this would go to Tina Fey for 30 Rock or Julia Louis-Dreyfus for New Adventures of Old Christine. Or Mary-Louise Parker for Weeds. Sure, Ugly Betty is funny (um, at times) and Ferrara is funny as Betty, but really? I'm quickly losing patience with the Emmy voters again.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Jeremy Piven, Entourage.

Okay, I've officially had it with the voters. Ask anyone I know that they'll say that Entourage peaked years ago. It was bad enough to give Piven the Emmy last year, but to add insult to injury and do it again this year over, say, Rainn Wilson for The Office? Grr. It just burns me up inside. Enough of Piven, enough already.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Jaime Pressly, My Name is Earl.

Question: why was Jaime Pressly quite so... red? Flustered nerves? Sunburn? It's an Emmy mystery. Like Jeremy Piven's award, I'd be happier if she had won this a few years ago. Personally, I'd have rather seen this go to Vanessa Williams or Elizabeth Perkins. It's almost as though the voters were reminiscing about a few seasons back rather than, er, watching the screeners from this season.

And there you have it: another year, another Emmys. Underwhelming, boring, or all over the place? You decide.


This was only the second season of My Name is Earl, no? Or do you mean there was another role Jaime Pressly should have won for?

The comedy vs. drama thing drives me crazy but there's really not a good place for hybrids like Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal (well, that one's place is NOT on the Emmy ballot, but that's a different point.)
Anonymous said…
Worst. Emmys. Ever.

Aside for a few happy moments (yay 30 Rock! yay Terry O'Quinn!) this was one of the most boring award shows ever.

The arena style stage was as awkward and bland as host Seacrest who (luckily) wasn't even around much.

That big black disco ball hanging above the stage totally looked like the Death Star! I kept waiting for it to shoot lasers. Now THAT would have been exciting.
Anonymous said…
Ryan Seacrest should stay as far away from the Emmys as possible. The guy is a douche and a hack. He was terrible.
The CineManiac said…
Obviously the "Theater in the Round" experiment failed, as half the audience was screwed in the seating.
Also what was up with the crappy censoring job. You can censor and let the home viewing audience know what the people said through bleeping, rather than cutting away and going completely silent for several seconds.
I have to say as a recent (as in since this weekend) convert to 30 Rock I was rooting for it to win and was ecstatic that it walked home with the big award.
Anonymous said…
I feel for Quinn, and with the Emmy win he'll have leverage for a raise, but there are too many actors on "Lost" for the principals on that show to be paid as much as the principals on DH. And the structure of "Lost" enables producers not to use character for half a dozen episodes (or more), while that could not happen on DH. So if a Lostie was being too aggressive in his negotiations, or proving himself a nuisance in some other way, he could be written out far easier than a DHer in similar circumstances. DH is a more star-driven show than "Lost", so the stars of DH should get paid more.

Re the awards:

Ferrera's got a lock on that award. Sorry, Jace. The girl's cute. Since when did being funny have anything to do with getting an award for comedic perfomance?

Spader was as shocked as anyone, and THAT was my favorite moment of the night. What did Laurie submit? I'd be willing to believe that Laurie and Gandolfini split the conscious vote, allowing the super old people who always vote for Spader ('cause BL is the only show they watch) be the deciding factor.

Field may also be another lock 'till that show's cancelled. (Which, please, let it be soon.) She's got 2 Oscars. That means she should have Emmys.

Supporting Actor should go to Neil Patrick Harris. I know you have some weird block against HIMYM, but his performance is bouyant, enjoyable, and consistantly pitch-perfect. Wilson is sometimes over the top and enough people hate both his performance and (more importantly) find his character irritating. That hurts him, especially among the Spader set.

Supporting Actress is where "The Office" will one day pick up an award, if it gets back to being funny again.

If "30 Rock" makes it through the next year, Alec Baldwin will win Best Actor.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, Kyle Chandler was H-O-T. He should have presented every award.

Anonymous said…
How can you rail against America Ferrera's win and yet wish for a Vanessa Williams award in the same show? That makes no sense.
Anonymous said…
Um, Anon, maybe because VW's performance is actually a fully realized comedic performance with scope and range and America Ferrara's is all pratfalls and bad outfits? Just saying.

I thought the center stadium thing was doomed from the beginning. Why would you have half of your audience facing everyone's backs? That's just poor planning on the organizer's part.

I thought Seacrest Out was pretty awful. The real embarassing part was when he came out wearing the costume from the Tudors. That was a low point in an evening filled with them.

Glad 30 Rock won, glad Terry and Ricky won, but was hoping for some love for Neil Patrick Harris. Can Jeremy Piven please go away now? thanks.
eAi said…
I think Terry O'Quinn is pretty good, but I wouldn't have given him the award... I don't really (personally, of course) think he's that interesting a character in Lost...

I'm surprised at Ricky Gervais winning - considering the competition and that its not a US series. I very much enjoyed Extras, but as you say, I'm surprised that it was as well received in the US. It seemed weaker than The Office too...

Jaime Pressly is another surprise, but well deserved. Her character is perfect and well acted.
Caro said…
"Ugly Betty" isn't a comedy but "Weeds" is? I think America Ferrera is hilarious on "Ugly Betty" and deserved the win. (Not that I don't love Mary-Louise Parker too.)
Vance said…
Actually, maybe because I anticpated a humongous debacle, I didn't think this years was the worst. (that would be last year).
I think I missed most of the first half and most of the boring categories/bits so maybe my perspective is skewed.

Anyways, Im okay with Ugly Betty in the comedy category because if you were to go by the same notion, Weeds is really more a drama than comedy as well ( oh wait, I just noticed Caroline made the same comment).

Meanwhile, I knew people would hate the round theatre thing but I totally thought it opened the thing up and felt less stodgy. Maybe it was me but I liked that there were more angles to the show.
Anonymous said…
I'm so glad to hear Terry O'Quinn won! I always felt Lost doesn't get the awards it deserves. I'm again surprised it didn't win for writing.
I also think they should create a new category for 1 hour comedy/ dramas. Shows like Ugly Betty and Weeds can't even be compared to the hilariousness of 30Rock and The Office.
Anonymous said…
I find the hostility to the Sopranos really odd - I'm in the UK so it took a while to be able to see it - but thought some of the final series outstanding, and whenever here we talk about how superior much American tv is (specifically drama) the Sopranos is usually mentioned in the same breath (OK, the argument is weakened if they also bring up Desperate Housewives...) and it is widely held to have raised the bar for all other shows since it first aired. It's not lazy to still refer to it that way, I think it did a terrific job right up to the end, and what I find most disappointing and worrying about the savaging the ending received is that the Sopranos was always a show that never underestimated its audience, and yet the public reaction suggests that in the end they overestimated them after all. It was challenging and made you think, and now no show will ever be able challenge its audience in such a way again, pat predictability will be required once more which is a great shame. So hats off to them, I thought they deserved.

Also very pleased for Quinn and some recognition for Lost. Was it 24 that started the trend for 20+ episode seasons? It has to be very hard to maintain standards over such a stretch (24 certainly can't manage it), and Lost really came good in the later stages of the last season.

Anticipating next year's Emmys. I just caught the pilot for Pushing Daisies. Oh my God. Anna Friel back on tv, even with her new teeth... you don't know what it does to an Englishman of a certain age who was raised on a diet of Anna in Brookside. Blimey! Hope the season lasts for 24 episodes!
Anonymous said…

I actually thought it was a pretty entertaining show. Loved the Jersey boys number (better than the entire musical).

The disco ball annoyed me because it blocked half of the screen I was looking at, and I couldn't see some stuff (thankfully I had this small monitor right in front of me).

Thought there were more surprises than usual, so that made it good.

Even though I don't particularly enjoy going to the emmys, I liked the show.

I totally disagree on Jaime P. In a pretty lackluster season, she was consistently the shining star. She cracks me up every week and I think she definitely deserved it.

Jeremy Piven. Yuck.

Terry O - Hoooray!!!!

Knew the Sopranos was going to win, but it really didn't deserve to. 8 semi-decent eps can't compare to other shows more consistent 22. It just can't. At least it can't compete anymore.

That Spader moment was hilarious. It didn't quite have the impact on tv, but being there - man, it was hilarious.

Theatre-in-the-round was lame. Glad so many people made comments (Spader's was the best).

I can't believe I am about to type this, but...Seacrest wasn't nearly as bad as I thought he'd be. I don't want him back, but he wasn't a total disaster.
The CineManiac said…
Also I have to say NPH (Neil Patrick Harris to you non-HIMYM watchers) totally should have got Best Supporting Actor rather than Piven.
Anonymous said…
To answer your question terraling, most shows do over 20 episodes. (They usually do around 21). 24's the only one to do 24.

"The Sopranos" has, throughout its run, done far fewer per season, because it's had the good luck of being on HBO. This has lead to a great deal of grumbling (justified, IMO) amongst its peers around awards time that it is not fair that they be judged in the same category, as oftentimes any network show nominated for Best Drama would have put out two times (or in the case this year, THREE TIMES) as many episodes as "The Sopranos" in the same amount of time.
Anonymous said…
Regarding the Anonymous comment above about America Ferrera's win:

"Since when did being funny have anything to do with getting an award for comedic perfomance?"


And you put down the wonderfully talented Rainn Wilson.

Not cool, Anonymous. Not cool.
Anonymous said…
thanks for that anonymous, I agree the final "season" was more like a mini-series and so it maybe wasn't a fair comparison, but in general saying 20-episode shows shouldn't have to compete against a great (IMO) 13-episode show makes me think of the old "and such small portions, too" Woody Allen joke.

If HBO have the sense/money/whatever to stick to 13-episodes for great shows like Six Feet Under, Rome, the Sopranos etc rather than string them out too thinly like Lost et al then all the better for them and us.

Except, of course, for pushing daisies which, as long as Anna Friel features strongly, can be on 52 weeks of the year as far as I'm concerned. (I might just have to turn the sound off to escape the awful wisteria lane-esque voice-over if it persists beyond the pilot.)
Anonymous said…
I watch Boston Legal. I like Boston Legal, but in no way should have THAT James won over the other James or just about anyone else in that category. Yay for 30 Rock and Gervas. Blah for Piven, Heigl, Presley, and Field. You are right, Entourage peaked two years ago and it's now painful to watch because it's the same old story. Boys look like they are in trouble but something happens and those devlish boys somehow pull it out of their asses to save the day.

That Sopranos tribute was ridiclous. Sappy 50s love songs over images of decapitation, really didn't match up.

Also, on the set pieces where a bunch people appeared on the stage under the cage like things that were lifted off to reveal was just tacky, especially the cast of Roots (a mini-series about slavery).

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