Few Quibbles With This Year’s Emmys22 Sep, 2008 By: John Latchem
Usually I find myself watching awards shows and wondering exactly how voters could honestly come to the collective decisions they often do (the clean sweep of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for the 2003 Oscars comes to mind). Sometimes awards are granted for career achievement. Other times they are granted as a result of old-fashioned politicking.
Whether or not these awards carry any credibility beyond serving as a Hollywood marketing tool is open to debate. But it’s not uncommon to see a slate of awards handed out that doesn’t seem to make sense based on the merits of the nominees.
So I kind of found myself looking over the Emmy announcements as they came in and finding myself mostly in agreement with them, especially in the major awards.
“John Adams” won almost everything for which it was nominated in the miniseries category, taking 13 statuettes to set an Emmy record. This is a fantastic miniseries based on David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of America’s second president. It’s hands down the top nominee in the miniseries category, and the acting awards for Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson are well deserved. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up the three-DVD set from HBO Video, you really should check it out, especially in this election year. It’s an excellent depiction of the founding of the United States and really serves as a reminder of the ideals on which this country was founded.
From early American history to recent events, HBO’s Recount, a great fictionalized recap of the 2000 election dispute in Florida, won best TV movie, and features some great performances as well.
Considering HBO’s great successes in the TV movie and miniseries categories over the years, it’s really no surprise to see it practically sweep the categories this year.
I’m also glad to see “30 Rock” take another award for best comedy series. The landscape of half-hour television comedy has changed a lot in the past decade, with some of the better shows using the single-camera format made popular by “Sex and the City” (of the five comedy nominees this year, only one, “Two and a Half Men,” could be considered a traditional sitcom). “30 Rock” doesn’t get the ratings it probably should, but it’s really a funny show and one of the few half-hour comedies currently on the air I make it a point to catch each week. The cast is excellent, and I was happy to see Alec Baldwin win for his role on the show.
Seeing Jean Smart win for best supporting actress in a comedy series was a pleasant surprise. Some pundits are calling this an upset, but quite frankly the field was weak, and she’s excellent in her role as Christina Applegate’s mother on “Samantha Who?” In retrospect, this one’s a no-brainer.
Don’t think that Emmy is completely off the hook with me, however. As far as I’m concerned, Hugh Laurie should have picked up his fourth Emmy for his transcendent role on “House.” So far, he has none (and inexplicably wasn’t even nominated in the show’s second year, arguably his best).
Jeremy Piven is always great on “Entourage,” so I won’t begrudge him his Emmy. But it’s a safe pick. Kevin Dillon’s Johnny Drama has been increasingly driving the show over the past season. Go ahead and pick up the recently released fourth-season DVD set and see for yourself.
And the idea that “Battlestar Galactica” continues to be shut out of the major categories is unfathomable to me. It’s not that surprising, considering the television and film academies’ long-standing and well-known biases against sci-fi. Still, “Galactica” managed to score writing nominations the past few years (though it didn’t win), which is probably the most the television academy is willing to concede for this outstanding series. You can check it out on DVD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment (I’m sure the Blu-ray versions will be along soon).
As for some of those acceptance speeches from the other night, well, that’s another story …