EMMY AWARDS SPECIAL…
Well, we knew THE 60TH ANNUAL EMMY AWARDS was an awards show going in, so we can hardly be surprised that it dragged shamefully. The telecast was buoyed by more deserving winners than usual (see below) but the lack of a strong host (five weaklings don’t equal one Conan O’Brien) meant there was no energy driving events forward.
My favorite win, hands-down, was Bryan Cranston of BREAKING BAD taking lead actor over MAD MEN‘s Jon Hamm and HOUSE‘s Hugh Laurie — both talented gents. But Cranston’s portrayal of a terminally ill high-school science teacher who turns to manufacturing crystal meth to amass a nest egg to leave his family strikes just the right notes of ingenuity and inspiration amid the despair and hopelessness of his diagnosis and the brutality of the drug trade. The humor is blacker than black, which is what makes the program so enjoyable. Hamm has honed his retro cool to diamond hardness, but it’s easier to relate to the dumpy guy in the dead-end job than the coldly competent master of the Madison Avenue universe. Besides, fellow AMC freshman MAD MEN deserved to scoop up best drama for overall excellence; this is not a one-horse show, as evidenced by creator Matthew Weiner scooping up the writing award for the pilot.
Speaking of dark cable series, FX’s DAMAGES did more than a little damage to the acting categories, with Glenn Close claiming lead actress honors in the closest thing to a lock going into the night. Her co-star Zeljko Ivanek, in contrast, bested the better-known Michael Emerson, who helped revitalize LOST on ABC.
The Emmy ceremony itself could have used a good villain to swoop in and revitalize it. The night started with warm-up act Oprah and her half-hearted Grouchoimpression introducing the five nominees for best reality show host: Tom, Heidi,Howie Jeff and Ryan. The gang of five trotted onstage and proceeded to do nothing. Literally. They tried to make a joke out of not having any prepared material, but the stony silence of the audience highlighted the unintentional irony that the hosts of unscripted series were utterly helpless without scripted material!
When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler came out, they at least raised things to the level of standard lame TelePromTer banter until ENTOURAGE’s Jeremy Piven won his third straight supporting Emmy and unleashed a broadside at the time-wasting opening.Ricky Gervais was actually funny while needling Steve Carell, who stars in the American remake of Gervais’ THE OFFICE. I voted Hayden Panettiere (Claire,HEROES) and Jennifer Love Hewitt (Melinda, GHOST WHISPERER) my own award for best pair of presenters. (When I later rewound the tape to listen to them, it turned out they presented a writing award.)
Whoever thought it was a good idea to drag out the reality host conversation over the whole night needs to be voted off the island. Jimmy Kimmel did his best to sell the imitation elimination ceremony. And, okay, it was funny (for about 12 seconds) when he held the reveal for a commercial break. But the award itself was anti-climactic. Much like the show.
•How powerful is the director’s guild? Its winner accepted on-camera, while the best guest supporting actor/actress in a comedy (y’know, people viewers recognize) were relegated to a separate ceremony a week ago.
•THE AMAZING RACE wins best reality series every year because it is the best. No other series has the scope and depth of this chase, in which teams go spanning the globe to find themselves.
•Veteran funnyman Don Rickles got off the best lines, making me laugh out loud.
•The “In Memoriam” segment was especially moving, set as it was to Procol Harem‘s “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”
So, kudos to BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN, DAMAGES and 30 ROCK, as well as Cranston and Fey (the latter won writing and acting awards). Better luck next year to Hamm — and us viewers.