For the first time in a while, I'm excited for this Sunday's Emmys broadcast. I feel a serious Mad Men domination coming on (writing, design, costumes, etc.) and it feels good, baby.
Sadly, AMC's original-programming juggernaut can't win every race, so here I muse about other Emmy's other possibilities.
Outstanding Actor, Drama
James Spader has already won for his addictively demented turn as Alan Shore on Boston Legal, as has Hugh Laurie for his equally dark lead as Gregory House. I love Bryan Cranston, but how many people have actually seen Breaking Bad? And, as much as I adored Gabriel Byrne on In Treatment (his shrink is my favorite dysfunctional TV doc ever), that series had even more of a niche audience than Mad Men. The show's lead, Jon Hamm, who won a Golden Globe last January, has this one in the bag.
Outstanding Actress, Drama
Man, this one is tough. I've adored Mariska Hargitay for years on SVU, but she's already won and I think fans have moved on. Kyra Sedgwick has become a recent favorite, but The Closer has lost its freshman-and-sophomore-years luster, so I'm going to have to pass on another win for her. Glenn Close scared the crap out of me on Damages, but I feel like she's playing another "Glenn Close Character" (cold, insane, etc.) so it's not enough of a stretch in my mind. So we're left with the fearless, gorgeous, so-good-she's-nuts Holly Hunter of Saving Grace. I'm hard-pressed to think of another female part in TV history that asks this much of her actress and the audience.
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama
I am not a fan of Lost, so that precludes me from even thinking that Michael Emerson has a chance here. I appreciated Zeljko Ivanek as Ted Danson's slippery lawyer on Damages, but the Southern accent was off-putting. Shatner has had his time in the sun (and then some) as Denny Crane on Boston Legal (how this show is even considered a drama, I'll never know), and while I absolutely adore John Slattery for his nihilistic Roger Sterling on Mad Men, I feel like the academy will favor the veteran, Ted Danson. His Arthur Frobisher on Damages was not only the best surprise of 2007, it helped to restore my faith in the "thriller" genre.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
This one is truly a toss-up. I've dismissed Candice Bergen as a contender (sorry lady, but David E. Kelley doesn't give you enough to chew on), and I feel like the Grey's Anatomy vote is too split between former winner Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson. So that leaves Brothers & Sisters' Rachel Griffiths, long a favorite of mine, and Dianne Wiest of In Treatment. I'm going for the latter because, in my book, subtlety and effortlessness beat soapy schmaltz any day othe week.
Outstanding Actor, Comedy
Lee Pace? Huh? Like most people, I proably caught hallf an episode and a half of Pushing Daises, so sorry Lee. Tony Shalhoub, for the love of God, has won this thing so many times, I can't even let myself go there. So that leaves Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock, Steve Carell for The Office and Charlie Sheen for Two and a Half Men. Baldwin and Carrell are both Emmy alums, so I'm kinda thinking it's going to be Sheen's year. No, he's not much of an "actor," but compared to the competition, his is the only show that's a true "sitcom."
Outstanding Actress, Comedy
For some reason, I've banished Ugly Betty to Lost-ville, so, sorry America Ferrera. Mary Louise Parker acts the living crap outta her alter-ego Nancy Botwin on Weeds, but I know too many people who think she's annoying to give her any hope of taking home a statue. Tina Fey is my hero, but an "outstanding actress" she is not. And as much as I appreciate Christina Applegate, her amnesia-ridden heroine on
Samantha Who? is pure slapstick with a candy coating. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has always been my gal, and anyone who can make The New Adventures of Old Christine a DVR-worthy outing is, in my book, a genius.
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Is this talent pool so shallow that we've nominated not one, but two guys from Entourage? Yikes. Kevin Dillon and Jeremy Piven are decent "actors," but they rarely make me laugh. Rainn Wilson hits his Dwight Schrute out of the Office ballpark, but I think his nomination is a couple seasons too late. Jon Cryer is quite deserving of recognition for Two and Half Men (not the least reason being that he has to work with Sheen every day), but I must maintain my allegiance to ... wait for it ... Neil Patrick Harris. His Barney on How I Met Your Mother is nothing short of a comic revelation.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Jean Smart. Vanessa Williams. Kristin Chenoweth. Holland Taylor. These ladies, all vets of stage, screen and television, raise the Emmy bar for a category that's often quick to be dismissed. So it was with great interest that I saw Amy Poehler's name tossed into the mix for her dutiful work on Saturday Night Live. Supporting actress? Not really. The reason the show hasn't sucked in a while? Yah, that sounds about right. My money's on this funny (soon to be) baby mama.
I almost feel a little sorry for Larry David. Once upon a time, Curb Your Enthusiasm was the edgiest comic offering on the tube. Today, it pales in comparison to a whip-smart, quirky, anti-sitcom starring ... Tracy Morgan? Yes, 30 Rock had a bumpy start, but its third season was as good as comedy gets on the small screen. The Office is still a sweet, if not predictable, romp. And, I'll keep saying it, Two and a Half Men is damn funny show. But 30 Rock takes it all to another level; a level where total absurdity and pitch-perfect comic timing mingle to create the closest thing to modern art on TV today.
Not a single HBO show is among Emmy's five lauded dramas. My how times have changed! Showtime's Dexter is a deliciously dark and utterly original romp, but its serial-killer-with-a-heart-of-gold theme is still a tough sell, I think. Damages scared the crap out of me last year and in another race I could see this F/X thriller pull a surprising lead. I still very much enjoy FOX's House, but more for the medical-oddity factor than deep dramatic content. You know I feel about ABC's Boston Legal even being in this race, so I won't even go there. Thus we are left to celebrate the certain win of AMC's Mad Men. It is, in my humble estimation, modern television's finest hour.