The Emmy Awards have come and gone. Didn’t notice? Don’t worry, you’re hardly alone. Whether because it’s the only major award show that doesn’t take place in award season or simply because it does crazy things like nominate three “Desperate Housewives” one year, and then none the next year (to mention nothing of Ellen Burstyn’s nomination for a 14-second role in “Mrs. Harris”), people just don’t give a damn about the Emmys.
I would try to change that, but even I can’t watch the entire show. While the awards remain largely arbitrary and even the event aspect of the Emmys pales in comparison to any other major awards show, there are always a handful of happenings worth the awareness of anyone who styles himself a TV fan.
First of all, it’s an empty-handed goodbye for “Arrested Development.” The comedic creation of sheer genius that everyone seems to talk about, but apparently no one watched, was cancelled after its shortened third season. The show won a total of six Emmys and a Golden Globe in its run, but, of course, Fox chose to cancel it while leaving the offensive and downright pointless “The War at Home” in its stead. More on that fantastic development in a moment.
Steve Carrell’s rise to upcoming king of TV comedy (achieved thus far by Jerry Seinfeld alone) was momentarily halted by his surprising loss in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy category for his role in “The Office.” Tony Shaloub (“Monk”) won for the third time in four years. That, along with another six nominations for “Will & Grace” (bringing that tired series’s total haul up to an incomprehensible 79 Emmy nominations), only further proves that Emmy is out of touch with what is good in television now. It took them five years to realize the icon that Jack Bauer of “24” has become for contemporary action drama (Kiefer Sutherland finally bagged an Outstanding Actor in a Drama award this year), so perhaps in a couple of years Carrell’s Michael Scott will get his too.
And speaking of giving awards based on reputation alone, how about Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (“Seinfeld”) winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for her role in CBS’s midseason replacement, “The New Adventures of Old Christine?” Fans of “Seinfeld” will know that Louis-Dreyfuss has an uncanny knack for the terse tensions of sitcom subtlety, but have you seen that new show? The jokes consist of one or two words, and even if they manage to coax a smile, the laughtrack is unbearable. And why does the whole show look like it’s filmed in someone’s basement?
Despite Carrell’s unfortunate upset, “The Office” pulled an upset of its own by snagging the Outstanding Comedy Series award. Perhaps now those Thursday ratings will pick back up for NBC. “The Office” and “My Name is Earl” make up the best hour of comedy on TV any night, but viewers so far have still leaned towards the brain-numbing “Two and a Half Men.” Even though viewers will be hard to find on those busy Thursday nights (a combination of “Survivor,” “CSI,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Smallville” attracts just about everyone), these comedies and a resurgent “ER” have at least made NBC respectable once more on the night it made “Must-see-TV.”
Even so, a disturbing trend arises here. “Arrested” was cancelled despite nearly universal critical acclaim and “The Office” and “Christine,” which together fielded the top comedic actor and actress are both mid-season replacements – plugged in as fillers when other shows failed. It’s hard to believe that in an age when networks flagrantly shove “Skating with Celebrities” down our throats in order to increase ad revenue, they could fail to see the potential of such fine shows/actors. Indeed, the marketing fiasco that was Fox’s feeble attempt to promote “Arrested” proves again that we can’t depend on the networks to tell us what’s good.
Or the Emmys, for that matter.