TELEVISION: The Emmy Winds Are Changing!

While some things Emmy [ABC, 8/7C] remain the same [Hello, James Spader!], some things Emmy have definitely changed – and for the better [I’m looking at you Mad Men!]. Gold Derby at the Los Angeles Times has handicapped the possible winners for us, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be right. Heaven knows that the Academy does the unexpected often enough to make their award winning selections suitable for bookie fodder. So, then, what follows is the Gold Derby handicapping for each category followed by my selections – not of the winners, but of those who should win in my not necessarily humble opinion…

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BEST DRAMA SERIES
“Mad Men” – 5/4
“Damages” – 7/5
“Lost” – 8/1
“House” – 9/1
“Dexter” – 10/1
“Boston Legal” – 50/1

Six shows and only two really don’t belong here – Boston Legal has degenerated to the point where it is, at best, a guilty pleasure, and House was so up and down that even the gripping season finale couldn’t entirely make up for some of the downs. Of the remaining four, I’d love to see any one of them take the prize but would prefer to see the Emmy go to Lost, which really kicked up the quality [and the drive] in season four.

30 rock

BEST COMEDY SERIES
“30 Rock” – 1/3
“The Office” – 8/5
“Entourage” – 20/1
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” – 30/1
“Two and a Half Men” – 40/1

Knock Two and a Half Men off the list [it really doesn’t belong there] and slide in The Simpsons, or even King of the Hill, and you’d have a far more deserving fifth nomination. I have to agree with Gold derby here – 30 Rock was smarter and more consistently funny than any of its fellow nominees.

Hugh Laurie

BEST DRAMA ACTOR
James Spader, “Boston Legal” – 2/1
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” – 11/5
Hugh Laurie, “House” – 13/5
Michael C. Hall, “Dexter” – 8/1
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” – 8/1
Gabriel Byrne, “In Treatment” – 35/1

James Spader does not belong here, though he’ll probably win again – the Academy dotes on showboats. I would like to see Michael C. Hall win for Dexter. He manages to take a character who claims to be a monster and have no human feelings and then present those very feelings while allowing his character to not acknowledge them. That’s profound acting.

rippy & hunter

BEST DRAMA ACTRESS
Glenn Close, “Damages” – 2/1
Mariska Hargitay, “Law and Order: S.V.U.” – 3/1
Sally Field, “Brothers and Sisters” – 7/2
Holly Hunter, “Saving Grace” – 4/1
Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer” – 9/2

This field is perhaps the best one in terms of quality acting. It might seem that Glenn Close’s forceful performance on Damages making her the prohibitive favorite, but I would like to see Holly Hunter – who displays far more, far more often, on Saving Grace – take home the Emmy.

lee pace

BEST COMEDY ACTOR
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock” – Even
Steve Carell, “The Office” – 5/2
Lee Pace, “Pushing Daisies” – 7/2
Tony Shalhoub, “Monk” – 6/1
Charlie Sheen, “Two and a Half Men” – 50/1

Once again, we have “which one of these is not like the others” category. Charlie Sheen really doesn’t belong on this list when someone like Bret Harrison of Reaper is left off. While the remaining nominees are all brilliant [Shalhoub, especially, deserves notice because he continues to make Adrian Monk a compelling character even as his series slowly disintegrates], I’d prefer to see Lee Pace win. He was brilliant as the brother in Wonderfalls, but in Pushing Daisies, he gets to play a wider range and manages to add exactly the right dash of real heart into the show’s whimsical nature.

mary-louise parker

BEST COMEDY ACTRESS
America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty” – 2/1
Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?” – 7/3
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “New Adventures of Old Christine” – 5/2
Tina Fey, “30 Rock” – 3/1
Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds” – 50/1

This is another strong category. That said, Tina Fey made me laugh much more than her fellow nominees – even though Liz Lemon changes in unlikely ways over the course of the season.

tin man

BEST MINISERIES
“John Adams” – 1/2
“Cranford” – 7/5
“Tin Man” – 30/1
“The Andromeda Strain” – 40/1

I’d love to see Tin Man, the Sci Fi re-working of Wizard of Oz, win this, but the fact is John Adams was the best mini-series of the year.

raisin in the sun

BEST MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE
“Recount” – 5/4
“Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale” – 7/5
“A Raisin in the Sun” – 8/1
“Bernard and Doris” – 10/1
“The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” – 50/1

I have to admit that I didn’t see The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, but of the four remaining nominees, I vastly preferred A Raisin in the Sun. Sean combs can act. Who knew?

ricky gervais

BEST ACTOR, MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Paul Giamatti, “John Adams” – 7/3
Ricky Gervais, “Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale” – 5/2
Ralph Fiennes, “Bernard and Doris” – 3/1
Kevin Spacey, “Recount” – 4/1
Tom Wilkinson, “Recount” 5/1

Paul Giamatti was quite amazing in John Adams. He really should win, here.

judi dench

BEST ACTRESS, MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Phylicia Rashad, “A Raisin in the Sun” – 8/5
Susan Sarandon, “Bernard And Doris” – 9/5
Laura Linney, “John Adams” – 5/1
Dame Judi Dench, “Cranford” – 6/1
Catherine Keener, “An American Crime” – 8/1

Ditto Phylicia Rashad in A Raisin in the Sun.

bill maher

BEST VARIETY SERIES
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” – 4/5
“Saturday Night Live” – 3/1
“The Colbert Report” – 10/3
“Late Show With David Letterman” – 8/1
“Real Time with Bill Maher” – 40/1

The Daily Show will win here [unless there’s some apocalyptic occurrence that renders votes for the show void], but I’d really like to see heavy underdog Real Time with Bill Maher take home the golden lady after twenty-one noms without a win [counting this year, if he loses]. Even Susan Lucci had to win sometime…