Friday, July 17, 2009

Emmy Nominations: Where's Friday Night Lights?

While many of my favorite TV shows received Emmy nominations this week -- Mad Men, Lost -- one particular program, Friday Night Lights, got snubbed in all the major categories and I'm pretty steamed. Connie Britton, who kicked some serious Texas butt as Tami Taylor, the new Dillon High School Principal, got no love. Ditto for Kyle Chandler, who played the restrained and pained Coach Eric Taylor who had to wear a phony let's-just-go-along-to-get-along smile when dealing with J.D. McCoy's crazy dad. The ensemble FNL cast deftly dramatized the gamut of authentic teen angst spanning various socio-economic strata and had one of the most uncomfortable yet realistic feeling mom-daughter sex talks I've ever seen. Shame on the Academy for blowing off this show.

Other things that got my undies in a bundle about this 2009 slate of Emmy nominations:

-- I was pleased as punch to see Gabriel Byrne from HBO's In Treatment among the nominees for lead actor in a drama. I likewise thought it appropriate to honor Hope Davis, who played an unstable New York lawyer who was a patient of Byrne's, but it was a criminal oversight that John Mahoney, who played a disgraced yet proud CEO in the grips of a nervous breakdown, was overlooked in the supporting actor in a drama category. Mahoney acts circles around William Shatner for goodness sake.

-- Big Love had a stellar season, complex and surprising and poignant. The intricately interwoven stories took viewers to fascinating places. Hence it was great to see the HBO drama receive a best drama nomination, but curiously, none of the individual actors or actresses received a nomination. Surely Sally Field could sit one year out from playing a terribly predictable character on Brothers & Sisters to make room for one of the Big Love wives. Maybe for Jeanne Tripplehorn who had a strong season where she faced the threat of a recurrence of cancer, embraced the notion of a fourth wife, was excommunicated from her faith (that Temple episode was something) and had communication problems with her teenaged daughter who got pregnant then lost the baby. (Tripplehorn's Barb should ask Britton's Tami for pointers on how to conduct a good teen sex chat.)

-- This season's Rescue Me on FX has been a revelation, a detailed, painful examination of the long-term impact of 9/11 on the FDNY. A journalist working on a book about 9/11 came into the firehouse and stirred up recollections of that day caused Denis Leary's Tommy Gavin to give up a year's worth of hard-earned sobriety, as Gavin coped with massive personal losses in his life, so overwhelming that he worried that he was losing his capacity to feel anything. And no one, other than Michael J. Fox who played Janet Gavin's boyfriend, gets any Emmy nom love? Not even Leary, especially after the blow-torch scene? That's just cold.

-- Others who got the dramatic acting shaft: Terry O'Quinn from Lost, Patricia Arquette from Medium and January Jones from Mad Men.

Okay, now onto the positive. The rest of the major nominees can be summarized thusly: Mad Men, 30 Rock, cable channels, 30 Rock, Breaking Bad, Tina Fey, Matthew Weiner and the major networks need to take some cues from their cable breathren.


My two favorite shows -- Mad Men and Lost -- are both nominees in the most competitive category on the board. Every show on the expanded best drama category is top-notch. Plenty of super-quality shows didn't make the cut. It's worthwhile to note that among the seven shows nominated, only two are from broadcast networks. Here's the list: Big Love (HBO), Breaking Bad (AMC), Damages (FX), Dexter (Showtime), House (Fox), Lost (ABC) and Mad Men (AMC).

As for dramatic acting nominees, Mad Men's Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss got top nods, awards I hope they wind up receiving on September 20, although both of their leading dramatic categories contain tough challengers. In addition to Hamm, the other actors nominated include AMC pal Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad (AMC), Michael C. Hall from Dexter (Showtime), Hugh Laurie from House (Fox), Byrne from In Treatment (HBO) and Simon Baker from The Mentalist (CBS). On the actress side, Moss is competing against Holly Hunter from Saving Grace (TNT), Kyra Sedgwick from The Closer (TNT), Sally Field from Brothers & Sisters (ABC), Glenn Close from Damages (FX) and Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order SVU (NBC).

In the dramatic supporting acting nominations, I'm going to pick up the pom-poms and cheer for Michael Emerson as the delightfully fiendish Benjamin Linus on Lost. The episode, "The life and death of Jeremy Bentham" and "316" showcased Emerson's talents.


This category is all about Tina Fey, 30 Rock (got 22 nominations) and Saturday Night Live. In this category, the major networks fare better than they do with dramas, mostly thanks to 30 Rock. Ms Fey is having a year isn't she? She's nominated as best leading actress in a comedy, best guest actress in a comedy (her Sarah Palin bits on SNL), her show was nominated as best comedy and its writers snagged four out of the five nominations for best writing for a comedy series. Riding the Fey train are Alec Baldwin as lead actor, Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer as supporting comedic actors, Jane Krakowski as supporting comedic actress, three out of the five guest actor in a comedy nominees (Steve Martin, Alan Alda, Jon Hamm) and two guest actress nominees.

The other comedy nominees include: Entourage (HBO), Family Guy (Fox), Flight of the Conchords (HBO), How I Met Your Mother (CBS) and Weeds (Showtime).

In the leading comedic actor category, in addition to Baldwin there's my personal favorite, Steve Carell who was so good as Michael Scott this past year on The Office. After his work following Scott's departure from Dunder Mifflin and the starting the short-lived Michael Scott Paper Company, Carell added so much new life to an older comedic franchise that Carell definitely deserves this nomination and the award.

I'd be stunned if someone other than Fey walks away with the lead comedic actress honor, but I admired the inclusion of Toni Collette who plays a challenging role which could easily slide into camp, on Showtime's United States of Tara. Rounding out the rest of the lead comedic actress nominees are Mary-Louise Parker for Weeds, Sarah Silverman for Sarah Silverman Program (Comedy Central), Julia Louis-Dreyfus' The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS) and Christina Applegate for Samantha Who (ABC)

Anyone or show about which you're thrilled received an Emmy nomination? Any snubs you're particularly upset about?

Image credit: AMC.

No comments: