Emmys ’06: The Awardening 6

A few thoughts on the Emmy nominations that came out today, which in the interest of not making the main page a mile long, I’ve placed after the jump.

And by “a few thoughts,” I mean “a roughly dissertation-length dissection of most of the major categories.”

Note: If the link to the full post isn’t working, just click the link with the time on it.

Of course, a disclaimer before I begin: All opinions are my personal ones as a viewer of way, way, way too much television and not as an employee of any production company or television series. Conflicts of interest (i.e., shows I’ve worked on) are noted on a by-category basis.

One thing I should note: My Favorite Motherfucking Show On Television was ineligible for this year’s Emmys, since Season 2 ended before the eligibility period and Season 3 started after. Otherwise I’d be rightly criticizing these hoopleheads for ignoring McShane and many, many others.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • House
  • The Sopranos
  • 24
  • The West Wing

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series

  • Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
  • Denis Leary as Tommy Gavin (Rescue Me)
  • Peter Krause as Nate Fisher (Six Feet Under)
  • Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer (24)
  • Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing)

I won’t comment much on these two categories, since I’m too close to a couple of the players involved to give any unbiased opinions.

I will say, Meloni is a HUGE surprise, although I’m told by people who actually saw the episode he submitted that it was absolutely riveting. He’s generally a solid, underrated actor, but I don’t think anybody (including him) expected him to get this nomination.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series

  • Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (The Closer)
  • Geena Davis as Mackenzie Allen (Commander In Chief)
  • Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
  • Frances Conroy as Ruth Fisher (Six Feet Under)
  • Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg (The West Wing)

Left Out: Jeanne Trippelhorn and Chloe Sevigny (Big Love), Edie Falco (The Sopranos)
Should Win: Kyra Sedgewick
Will Win: Kyra or Allison Janney

Conflict alert: I worked for The Closer for a month at the end of last season, and I’d have gone back in a second if I didn’t have my current job. I’m not a huge cop drama fan, so I probably wouldn’t have started watching this show if I hadn’t worked there, but even just speaking as a viewer, it’s pretty damn good show.

Sedgewick takes a character who could very easily be a tired cliché in the hands of a lesser actress (she’s a consummate professional at work, but her personal life is a mess! She’s addicted to sugar!) and turns her into an actual person. Plus, the fantastic smirk of satisfaction she gets whenever she makes some scumball confess is absolutely priceless.

As for the other nominees: Janney may steal this with the sentimental vote, Davis should never have been nominated (there’s a point where “even” turns into “wooden,” and she reached it in episode five), Conroy’s show ended too long ago to make viewers remember it, and Hargitay is good, but straight-up procedurals don’t win actors Emmys.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

  • William Shatner as Denny Crane (Boston Legal)
  • Oliver Platt as Russell Tupper (Huff)
  • Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti (The Sopranos)
  • Gregory Itzin as President Charles Logan (24)
  • Alan Alda as Arnold Vinick (The West Wing)

Left Out: Terry O’Quinn (Lost), Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), Ciarán Hinds (Rome)
Should Win: Gregory Itzin
Will Win: Shatner

Itzin and fellow nominee Jean Smart were the best things about this sub-par season of 24. He did his best to save a truly ludicrous plot twist (the President is the Mole? How is that even possible?), but it’s his ability to make you buy Logan’s oily conviction that he’s right no matter how stupid his non-plan is that makes him my choice.

Others: Shatner’s going to win because everyone in Hollywood loves him, and he gives entertaining, scenery-chewing performances. Not enough people watch Huff to give Platt the win. Alda wasn’t on West Wing long enough to share in the nostalgia that might benefit that show, Sheen, and Janney. I’m not quite qualified to comment on Imperioli since I don’t watch The Sopranos (try not to die of shock), but from what I know about his chararcter, he’s too despicable for voters to identify with.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

  • Candice Bergen as Shirley Schmidt (Boston Legal)
  • Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Chandra Wilson as Dr. Bailey (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Blythe Danner as Izzy Huffstodt (Huff)
  • Jean Smart as First Lady Martha Logan (24)

Left Out: Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love)
Should Win: Chandra Wilson
Will Win: Wilson or Jean Smart

Don’t get me wrong, I fucking LOVED Jean Smart’s performance as the batshit-crazy first lady on 24 this season. But I loved Chandra Wilson as Bailey on Grey’s just a little bit more. In a series that’s overflowing with characters who wallow in their personal bullshit, Bailey is the one who cuts through all of it. Wilson takes a character who could much more easily be played as an unrepentant bitch and makes her the most likeable of the ensemble.

Others: Sandra Oh is good, and if they submitted the episode where her character has a miscarriage, she has a decent chance of stealing this, but she can also be irritatingly one-note at times. Danner has the same “nobody watches Huff” problem as Oliver Platt. Bergen’s the old warhorse in this category, and she does solid, unshowy work. Clearly going to get overlooked.

Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series

  • Michael J. Fox as Daniel Post (Boston Legal)
  • Christian Clemenson as Jerry “Hands” Espenson (Boston Legal)
  • James Woods as Dr. Nate Lennox (ER)
  • Kyle Chandler as Dylan Young (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Henry Ian Cusick as Desmond (Lost)

Left Out: Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Grey’s Anatomy)
Should Win: James Woods
Will Win: James Woods

As good as Kyle Chandler was as Dooooooooomed Bomb Squad Guy on Grey’s, Woods wins this one easily. He’s a movie star doing TV (10 points) playing a guy with a fatal disease (30 points) in the best episode a fading show has done in years, largely because of his performance (20 points).

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series

  • Kate Burton as Ellis Grey (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Christina Ricci as Hannah (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Swoosie Kurtz as Madeline Sullivan (Huff)
  • Patricia Clarkson as Aunt Sarah (Six Feet Under)
  • Joanna Cassidy as Margaret Chenowith (Six Feet Under)

Left Out: (none that I can think of off the top of my head without Conflict of Interest issues)
Should Win: Christina Ricci
Will Win: Kate Burton

Ricci’s petrified paramedic was damn good in the B-O-M-B episode of Grey’s, but Alzheimer’s is always Emmy gold, and Kate Burton does an excellent job of portraying someone who, while dee
ply loved, is a tremendous pain in the ass.

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Arrested Development
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • The Office
  • Scrubs
  • Two And A Half Men

Left Out: My Name is Earl, Everybody Hates Chris, How I Met Your Mother
Should Win: The Office
Will Win: The Office

TWO AND A HALF FUCKING MEN?! No…Just…no. I realize Earl and Chris can be love it or hate it (and I really, really love both), but for fuck’s sake, How I Met Your Mother, a similar style of show in its first year, was much, much funnier than Two and a Half Men has EVER been.

The Office will win because of its spectacular turnaround. It went from a carbon copy of the British original that was occasionally funny, to an absolutely inspired workplace comedy that is quintessentially American (I’m thinking specifically of the episode with the “business meeting” that’s held at Chili’s).

The cast is magnificent, too: Steve Carrell is spot-on as The Asshole Boss Everyone Has Had At Least Once, Jim + Pam 4EVA!, Rainn Wilson is brilliantly deranged, and bringing the rest of the ensemble out of the background has paid off immeasurably.

Others: The few episodes of Curb I’ve seen are hysterical, but I hear it dropped off a bit this year. Arrested might take the sentimental vote, though my thinking is if it didn’t last year, it probably won’t this year. Scrubs had its weirdest season ever last year, and while I thought it was great, a lot of people didn’t, and this is a tough category.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Larry David as Himself (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
  • Kevin James as Doug Heffernan (The King Of Queens)
  • Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk (Monk)
  • Steve Carell as Michael Scott (The Office)
  • Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper (Two And A Half Men)

Left Out: Zach Braff (Scrubs), Jason Lee (My Name is Earl), Jason Bateman (Arrested Development)
Should Win: Steve Carell
Will Win: Steve Carell

Two more WTF?! noms in this category: Sheen and Kevin James. James is just flagrantly unfunny in a show so bad it almost got cancelled, and Sheen, while a man with excellent timing, is just nowhere near as funny as Braff, Bateman, or Lee. I’ve already stated my love for Carell, and a win for him is a symbolic win for that entire brilliant ensemble.

Others: Shalhoub’s performance has potential to be a sleeper because it’s “quirky,” but again, I think this is a show not enough people watch to give him the win. And really, does anyone think Larry David is acting in Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish (The Comeback)
  • Jane Kaczmarek as Lois (Malcolm In The Middle)
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine Campbell (The New Adventures Of Old Christine)
  • Stockard Channing as Lydia Barnes (Out Of Practice)
  • Debra Messing as Grace (Will & Grace)

Left Out: Sarah Chalke (Scrubs), Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris), Feclicity Huffman and Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives), Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls)
Should Win: Lisa Kudrow
Will Win: Lisa Kudrow

Hands down, the worst job they did with a category this year. The ONLY one of these actresses I would have nominated was Kudrow, who, like Kyra Sedgewick, took what could have been a one-note character and made it a hell of a lot more. However, I must note that I was one of about six people who actually liked The Comeback.

Tichina Arnold not even being nominated is borderline criminal, Chalke is never recognized for the outstanding work she does on Scrubs, and Cross and Huffman (who actually did do good work this season, despite its overall crapitude) were bitten in the ass by ABC’s stubborn insistence on submitting Desperate Housewives as a comedy, even though it’s a drama with some funny moments.

Others: Louis-Dreyfus is funny, but this is a “Congratulations on breaking the Seinfeld Curse!” nomination. Kaczmarek and Messing have been sleepwalking through their performances for years, though if one’s going to take the “Sorry your show is over, love ya lots!” vote, it’s Messing.

I don’t even know where to begin with Channing’s fucking awful performance on a fucking awful show (which I watched because Paula Marshall is hot and was playing a lesbian, and I am powerless to resist that combination) getting nominated for an Emmy. Flat-out disgraceful.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Will Arnett as Gob Bluth (Arrested Development)
  • Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold (Entourage)
  • Bryan Cranston as Hal (Malcolm In The Middle)
  • Jon Cryer as Alan Harper (Two And A Half Men)
  • Sean Hayes as Jack (Will & Grace)

Left Out: David Cross (Arrested Development), Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris), John C. McGinley (Scrubs), Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski (The Office), Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl)
Should Win: Will Arnett
Will Win: Jeremy Piven

Piven’s going to take this on the “insider” vote, plain and simple. Arnett is hilariously unhinged, but Piven plays an amoral asshole better than anyone. His character saved that show, and I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t take home some hardware.

Others: Hayes, like the other leads on Will & Grace, has been sleepwalking through his performance for years. Cranston is funny, but most people aren’t aware that Malcolm was still on the air this year. Cryer…well, I’ve made my feelings on Two And A Half Men pretty clear already.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Cheryl Hines as Cheryl David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
  • Alfre Woodard as Betty Applewhite (Desperate Housewives)
  • Jaime Pressly as Joy (My Name Is Earl)
  • Elizabeth Perkins as Celia Hodes (Weeds)
  • Megan Mullally as Karen (Will & Grace)

Left Out: Jenna Fischer (The Office)
Should Win: Jamie Pressly
Will Win: Cheryl Hines

Hines is damn funny, and will likely win as an industry fave (and a cop-out for those who like Curb, but don’t want to vote it best show). She can’t hold a candle to Pressly, who has absolutely no shame whatsoever, and I love her for it. Pressly throws herself into Joy’s ridiculousness with abandon, while infusing a character who could just be an irritating simpleton with sympathy. Plus, she’s got fucking spectacular comedic timing.

Others: Woodard was completely wasted in this role, which was anything but comedic, and if she wins, I’ll eat my hat. Mullally might pull out a sentimental vote on the end of Will & Grace, and she’s the only one of the main four on that show that actually put anything resembling effort into her character recently. Perkins again bumps up against the “nobody’s watching” problem. If Mary-Louise Parker couldn’t even eke out a nomination for lead actress, Perkins isn’t going to win for a supporting role.

Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Patrick Stewart as Himself (Extras)
  • Ben Stiller as Himself (Extras)
  • Martin Sheen as Harvey (Two And A Half Men)
  • Alec Baldwin as Malcolm (Will & Grace)
  • Leslie Jordan as Beverley Leslie (Will & Grace)

Left Out: Giovanni Ribisi (My Name is Earl)
Should Win: Patrick Stewart
Will Win: Alec Baldwin

Martin Sheen playing Charlie Sheen’s dad gets an Emmy nomination? Gee, that’s a stretch. Patrick Stewart was a lot funnier than Stiller on Extras, but Baldwin will take the “slumming movie stars rock!” vote as a memorial to all the time
and effort Will & Grace spent getting guest stars who added nothing to the show.

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Shirley Knight as Phyllis Van de Kamp (Desperate Housewives)
  • Kate Winslet as Herself (Extras)
  • Cloris Leachman as Ida (Malcolm In The Middle)
  • Laurie Metcalf as Cora (Monk)
  • Blythe Danner as Marilyn Truman (Will & Grace)

Left Out: Juliette Lewis and Brett Butler (My Name Is Earl)
Should Win: Kate Winslet
Will Win: Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet was so goddamn funny in her turn on Extras I just about fell off my couch laughing. Far and away the high point of the series. The only competition I would have given her was either Juliette Lewis’s lunatic bounty hunter or Brett Butler as Joy’s mom (“Don’t judge me!” is the great uncaught catchphrase of 2006), but neither was even nominated, so it’s Winslet in a walk.

All righty, that’s about it. Please feel free to disagree with me or point out people I missed in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Emmys ’06: The Awardening

  1. Reply Dave Weigel Jul 7,2006 6:06 am

    I’m an even worse judge for these awards than I am for the Oscars – I watched Scrubs, The West Wing, Six Feet Under, Arrested Development, and absolutely nothing else that was nominated. And I caught enough of 24 to realize that, yes, Gregory Itzin gave a career-making performance. As much as I liked Alda as Arnold Vinick (the whole season he did one slow burn as a man who was *this close* to making it to the number one office in his land, and had it snatched away by circumstance), Itzin was alternately hilarious, pathetic, and terrifying. I think he was the only TWW actor who deserves anything – the series won so many goddamn Emmys in the Sorkin years, it would be rude to give them more.

    Basically fuck sentimental Oscars.

  2. Reply Laz Jul 7,2006 6:27 pm

    You make a lot of good points with which I agree, and nobody can argue for shit like Kevin James and Two And A Half Men, but, sorry, you lose all credibility by not watching the Sopranos. Sorry. Can’t be passing TV judgment without watching television’s all-time greatest, best-written, best-acted show (Deadwood could have gotten to that point, but three seasons won’t be enough to earn that spot).

    You, of all people! No Sopranos?! Jumpin’ Jesus on a Rye-Flavored Triscuit!!! I’m so disappointed in you.

    Oh, and if Martin Sheen wins over Leary or Krause for lead actor in a drama, then the world will stop on its axis and we’ll all get hurled into space. I love WW, but Sheen had about four scenes this entire season.

  3. Reply Ellen Jul 7,2006 7:21 pm

    You know, I tried watching the first episode of The Sopranos like four times. And every time, I just didn’t like it. I can’t tell you why, I just couldn’t get into it. I’m not going to pretend it’s rational, but it’s there.

    And I won’t comment on anyone in the drama lead actor category, because of my work with certain parties who shall remain nameless.

  4. Reply Rebecca Jul 8,2006 10:07 am

    Your picks seem pretty good.

    I was also shocked about your left out nameless party that you work with. I don’t get a chance to watch House that much, but it is a good show. And he gave the absolute best acceptance speech of the Golden Globes this year.

    I do like SVU, but I quit watching it this year when I heard of an upcoming ‘shipper plotline, so I really can’t say anything.

    I think Sandra Oh may have more people on her side, and she has previous wins.

    Christina Ricci did not impress me very much in the first episode. She was much better in part 2.

    I’m in the camp that did not like Scrubs this year.

    Tony Shalhoub really does have a shot. He won last year and another one previously. So it’s probably between him and Carell.

  5. Reply Patrick Jul 9,2006 6:31 am

    In that ER episode, don’t forget Maura Tierney. :)

  6. Reply Pat Jul 17,2006 3:39 pm

    I’m way late to this party (I really should just bookmark your blog instead of reading it for like an hour once a month), but I had the same exact Sopranos issue you did for a long time. Tim finally made me take the whole first season, and I’ll say it does grow on me, but I can’t share everybody else’s obsession. It is, I maintain, not a bit the masterpiece that Deadwood is.

    Also, what boggles my mind is the-show-what-must-not-be-named being nominated for best drama sans its central performance, which is hands-down its strongest element. I also wish the finale had been put up for a writing nom… Was that not a submitted episode?

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