Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Problem with The Emmys

It seems that every year, the Emmy nominations miss someone or something. This year, I think there were quite a few obvious snubs. One would think that with The Sopranos out of the picture, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences - AKA the Emmys - would have finally taken a look at some performers or shows that it overlooked in previous years during the time that they fawned over The Sopranos. But no, the Emmys still seem to have blinders on when it comes to certain performers, genres, or even networks.

Here’s who and what I think they missed.
Battlestar Galactica – Most notably, Mary McDonnell should have received a best actress nomination. Her performances as President Laura Roslin were consistently riveting. In fact, where I had previously jumped off the Battlestar Galactica train for a while, McDonnell’s performances were one of the things that drew me back in. Same for the likes of Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) and Tricia Helfer (Six) and Edward James Olmos (Admiral Bill Adama). The Emmys doesn’t have a good feel for the sci-fi genre, and it shows by many snubs for acting and for the show itself.


Vincent D’Onofrio, Law & Order Criminal Intent – How could the Emmys ignore D’Onofrio’s nearly painful performance in the episode “Untethered”? It was one of THE most uncomfortable episodes I’ve seen on television in a while. D’Onofrio’s character Robert Goren being subjected to torture seemed very real. Sure, D’Onofrio gets panned every now and then for his overacting, but in this episode, and a few others this past season, he was able to perfectly relay the inner pain and conflict of his on-screen persona. The episode “Untethered” was almost a visible representation of his grief and turmoil that he’d faced in previous episodes. The Emmys also seem to hate Dick Wolf or the entire Law & Order franchise, which it has consistently snubbed year after year. I just don’t get it.


Robert Sean Leonard, House – Sherlock Holmes needed Dr. Watson as his sounding board, and Dr. Greg House needs Dr. Wilson for his. Likewise, part of the success of Hugh Laurie’s performances (Laurie was nominated) is the interplay between House and Dr. James Wilson. In many cases, Leonard had the better lines of the two, and he delivered them with the perfect blend of wit, disgust, concern, and annoyance. Robert Sean Leonard's Wilson is the Yin to Hugh Laurie's Dr. House Yang. OK, that sounded dirty but it's not. Leonard plays Wilson so well it almost makes one forget that it’s just a TV character that we’re watching.


CSI (the franchise) – Like Dick Wolf and Law & Order, the Emmys seem to loathe the CSI franchise. I can understand why they ignore CSI Miami. Yes, I watch the show faithfully but regular readers of my blog know that it’s more for the camp and comedy than the acting of David Caruso. But CSI and CSI NY – the latter which I am warming up to more and more – is filled with great performances by many of its lead characters. William Petersen has created such a deep, complex character in Gil Grissom, yet it seems the Emmys overlook him because Grissom is so low key and clinical. Despite the fact that Gary Dourdan is on the outs with the show, he turned in several memorable performances this past season. It seems that the Emmys don’t like procedural-type shows, but the CSI franchise has done a lot to create episodes that stay with the format but are told in creative ways. I don’t know what they expect from this show, but the millions upon millions of viewers this franchise receives can’t be wrong.

My conclusion is the Emmys are broken and they need fixing. It seems that even though the number of television shows have expanded as more cable channels develop their own offerings, the number of nominees haven’t increased proportionally. It seems wrong that, for example, that the outstanding lead actor in a drama category only has five nominees, the same as the number of nominees for movies/miniseries, the latter having far fewer in overall numbers of shows. Maybe they need to up the number to 10 nominees to give others a fighting chance, or, at least just to recognize the performance? So what if they have a bigget crowd for the Emmy dinner and show.

It would also be great if there were a way to obtain viewer input to determine nominees. For the Emmys to ignore shows that are clearly hugely popular makes the Emmys look like a bunch of elitist snobs who think the common people don’t really know what makes great television.

Bottom line: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences are becoming less relevant to the viewing public, since they rarely represent what viewers think is the best television. For what it's worth, for those I mentioned above that were not nominated, there are many viewers out there who appreciate your efforts and our award to you is continuing to watch your shows.

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