Even though no one asked for it – but no one complained – Daily Arts editors Punit Mattoo and Adam Rottenberg return to debate this weekend’s gala awards show: the Emmys. This imagination-free production consistently rewards shows past their creative prime and ignores the few bright spots that might appear on the television landscape. But maybe this year will be different, and newer stars like “Entourage’s” power-hungry agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) or imbecilic patriarch George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor) on “Arrested Development” will receive accolades, rather than safe standbys like the cast members of “Will & Grace” or “The West Wing.”
Best Comedy Series
“Arrested Development” (Fox)
“Desperate Housewives” (ABC)
“Everybody Loves Raymond” (CBS)
“Will & Grace” (NBC)
Punit Mattoo: First of all, how is “Desperate Housewives” a comedy, let alone one of the best on TV? I can’t remember ever laughing during that show except for every time I saw Teri Hatcher’s face – all that plastic surgery kind of weirds me out. Give the award to the funniest sitcom in recent memory, “Arrested Development.” With the best ensemble cast on television, the show blows away “Everybody Loves Raymond” (which my grandmother loves; not a good sign), one-joke hit “Will & Grace” and the winner for trying way too hard to be quirky, “Scrubs.”
Adam Rottenberg: You’re right about “Desperate Housewives,” but the problem is that Emmy voters are too stupid to realize that and are going to hand the comedy award to a DRAMA. Even “Ally McBeal” had a better case to be considered a comedy. “Raymond” has that whole last season thing going for it, too, and I, like your grandma, find the show really entertaining. “Arrested” is the funniest show on TV, but it pulled off its fluke win last year. As for the last two, “Scrubs” is nominated two years too late and “Will & Grace” hasn’t come close to being funny or relevant in years.
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Jason Bateman – “Arrested Development”
Zach Braff – “Scrubs”
Eric McCormack – “Will & Grace”
Ray Romano – “Everybody Loves Raymond”
Tony Shalhoub – “Monk” (USA)
PM: In any other situation, an obsessive compulsive detective would get annoying really fast, but Tony Shalhoub’s performance on “Monk” makes the idea surprisingly funny. The other nominees aren’t even the best characters on their respective shows: Ray Romano is boring, Eric McCormack isn’t outlandish like his castmates, Zach Braff is whiny and Jason Bateman isn’t crazy enough. I like my leading characters slightly off-kilter and that’s why Tony Shalhoub should win again.
AR: I think you said it all. Shalhoub is the best of the bunch, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ray walk away with a trophy for his last season.
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Marcia Cross – “Desperate Housewives”
Teri Hatcher – “Desperate Housewives”
Patricia Heaton – “Everybody Loves Raymond” Felicity Huffman – “Desperate Housewives”
Jane Kaczmarek – “Malcolm in the Middle” (Fox)
AR: How did Jane Kaczmarek get nominated? Didn’t “Malcolm in the Middle” jump the shark like four seasons ago? Is it even still on the air? Please, answer me. Maybe Emmy voters will be wise enough to bestow the honor once again to Heaton for her final season as Debra Barone, but that’s highly unlikely. Then there’s the whole “Desperate Housewives” crew. We’ve already made it abundantly clear that the show is NOT a comedy. Nevertheless, Teri Hatcher will win the award over her more deserving castmates (especially Huffman) because her career had fallen so far before the show that she was doing Radio Shack commercials with Howie Long.
PM: Jane Kaczmarek’s nomination only helps confirm my suspicion that Emmy voters don’t actually watch older shows any more and just keep nominating whoever’s made it past their fourth season. And is going from “Lois and Clark” to Radio Shack ads really that big of a fall for Hatcher? Either way, as much as I hate to admit it, Hatcher did provide the majority of “laughs” on “Housewives,” and she’ll likely win.
Best Drama Series
“Six Feet Under” (HBO)
“The West Wing” (NBC)
AR: Last year’s winner, “The Sopranos,” is notably absent – that’s what happens when you don’t air new episodes for more than a year. This year, there’s no clear favorite. “Lost” is the best of the bunch and its innovation should be rewarded. But if “24” or “Deadwood” win, it wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. Emmy voters are notoriously lazy and will probably reward the undeserving, morose and all-in-all boring “Six Feet Under.” The smug, self-righteous series will go out with one more Emmy win. As long as it’s not “The West Wing” –
PM: I don’t see why you don’t think “Lost” is the favorite. It’s one of the few shows to actually accumulate critical praise as well as viewers, while pretty much everyone agreed that “Six Feet Under” lived up to its name, getting buried under negative reviews all year. You’re right about “The West Wing,” though. The show hasn’t been the same ever since my favorite ‘shroom enthusiast, Aaron Sorkin, stopped writing.
Lead Actress in a Drama Series