Sasha Stone, Mirror TV Critic
Every year we muster up the energy to get excited about the Emmys and every year their choices prove disappointing. The Emmy voters, like the Oscar voters, are out of touch with what shows are really creating waves out there. In hopes of updating their voting system, which tends to award the same performers and the same shows year in and year out, it has become too bland. The Emmys themselves are in danger as becoming as irrelevant as the Grammys – only seeming to matter when clustered in a group on someone’s shelf. “I won eight Emmys for that show,” for instance, means a lot more than the day-to-day runnings of the Emmy awards themselves. Who cares if Everybody Loves Raymond wins yet another Emmy for Best Comedy Series?
The Emmy voters see no problem with awarding the same winners, and the same nominees, year after year, sending the message that they, simply, like what they like. The way it has worked (so awfully) all these years is that Academy members submitted their ballots (a.k.a.: their Neilson rating viewing record log) and the top five vote-getters in every category were the nominees.
They changed it this year so that yet another layer of voting was added to the major acting categories and for outstanding drama and comedy series. The top voters were then “screened” by a “blue ribbon panel” of apparently more savvy and reliable folks (a.k.a.: not out of touch) they refer to as “industry peers.” The panel then graded the nominees A, B, or C as to how strongly they recommended it. The best graded of the top vote-getters ended up as the nominees.
The idea was to help bring lesser watched, but more buzzed shows, like Gilmore Girls and Big Love into the arena with the top Emmy dominators like The West Wing and The Sopranos.
Did it work? Well, yes and no. In their scramble to get better quality choices (cough cough), they left off the best and most buzzed-about show of the year, Lost. Other shocking, and frankly, embarrassing omissions include Hugh Laurie for House and Edie Falco and James Gandolfini for The Sopranos.
In their hopes of rewarding someone like Lauren Graham, who has done such marvelous work on The Gilmore Girls for years, they ended up overlooking her yet again. Grey’s Anatomy, which is wildly popular, was among the most nominated shows, along with Fox’s 24, which really did have its best season ever this past year.
Many of their picks are for canceled or retired shows, like The West Wing and Arrested Development. Now that those shows are off the air, what incentive do voters have to recognize them? One great and surprising pick was for Lisa Kudrow in The Comeback. The HBO series was an acquired taste but some of the best satire on television.
The saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Emmys were broke, all right. But they haven’t been fixed. They say that acknowledgement of the problem is the first step towards recovery. Let’s hope the Television Academy is already on working on steps three and four.
The Emmy Nominations in the major categories:
Drama Series: Grey’s Anatomy, ABC; House, Fox; The Sopranos, HBO; 24, Fox; The West Wing, NBC.
Comedy Series: Arrested Development, Fox; Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO; The Office, NBC; Scrubs, NBC; Two and a Half Men, CBS.
Miniseries: Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS; Elizabeth I, HBO; Into the West, TNT; Sleeper Cell, Showtime.
Made-for-TV Movie: Flight 93, A&E; The Flight That Fought Back, Discovery Channel; The Girl in the Cafe, HBO; Mrs. Harris, HBO; Yesterday, HBO.
Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Colbert Report, Comedy Central; The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Comedy Central; Late Night With Conan O’Brien, NBC; Late Show With David Letterman, CBS; Real Time With Bill Maher, HBO.
Variety, Music or Comedy Special: 78th Annual Academy Awards, ABC; Bill Maher: I’m Swiss, HBO; George Carlin: Life Is Worth Losing, HBO; McCartney in St. Petersburg, A&E; The XX Olympic Winter Games – Opening Ceremony, NBC.
Actor, Drama Series: Denis Leary, Rescue Me, FX; Peter Krause, Six Feet Under, HBO; Kiefer Sutherland, 24, Fox; Martin Sheen, The West Wing, NBC; Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC.
Actress, Drama Series: Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer, TNT; Geena Davis, Commander in Chief, ABC; Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC; Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under, HBO; Allison Janney, The West Wing, NBC.
Supporting Actor, Drama Series: William Shatner, Boston Legal, ABC; Oliver Platt, Huff, Showtime; Michael Imperioli, The Sopranos, HBO; Gregory Itzin, 24, Fox; Alan Alda, The West Wing, NBC.
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Candice Bergen, Boston Legal, ABC; Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy, ABC; Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy, ABC; Blythe Danner, Huff, Showtime; Jean Smart, 24, Fox.
Actor, Comedy Series: Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO; Kevin James, The King of Queens, CBS; Tony Shalhoub, Monk, USA; Steve Carell, The Office, NBC; Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men, CBS.
Actress, Comedy Series: Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback, HBO; Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle, Fox; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine, CBS; Stockard Channing, Out of Practice, CBS; Debra Messing, Will & Grace, NBC.
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Will Arnett, Arrested Development, Fox; Jeremy Piven, Entourage, HBO; Bryan Cranston, Malcolm in the Middle, Fox; Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men, CBS; Sean Hayes, Will & Grace, NBC.
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Cheryl Hines, Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO; Alfre Woodard, Desperate Housewives, ABC; Jaime Pressly, My Name Is Earl, ABC; Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds, Showtime; Megan Mullally, Will & Grace, NBC.
Actor, Miniseries or a Movie: Charles Dance, Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS; Donald Sutherland, Human Trafficking, Lifetime; Ben Kingsley, Mrs. Harris, HBO; Jon Voight, Pope John Paul II, CBS; Andre Braugher, Thief, FX.
Actress, Miniseries or a Movie: Kathy Bates, Ambulance Girl, Lifetime; Gillian Anderson, Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS; Helen Mirren, Elizabeth I, HBO; Judy Davis, A Little Thing Called Murder, Lifetime; Annette Bening, Mrs. Harris, HBO.
Supporting Actor, Miniseries or a Movie: Denis Lawson, Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre) PBS; Hugh Dancy, Elizabeth I, HBO; Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth I, HBO; Robert Carlyle, Human Trafficking, Lifetime; Clifton Collins Jr., Thief, FX.
Supporting Actress, Miniseries or a Movie: Kelly Macdonald, The Girl in the Cafe, HBO; Shirley Jones, Hidden Places, Hallmark; Ellen Burstyn, Mrs. Harris, HBO; Cloris Leachman, Mrs. Harris, HBO; Alfre Woodard, The Water Is Wide (Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation), CBS.
For the complete list of nominations, visit http://www.emmys.org.