Nominations for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced Thursday, July 16. The Emmy Awards are a bit like the Gold Glove Award in baseball: There's no apparent reason behind the process of selecting recipients, and once you make the short list you're virtually guaranteed a spot for life.
Many blame the Television Academy's awkward way of determining television's best for the pallid variance between what's actually good and what the nomination list purports. Academy members (terribly busy producers, writers, directors and actors) are sent scant screeners by agents representing nominee hopefuls. These remain largely unwatched and, in the case of more complex shows ("Lost
", "The Wire
"), are often viewed out of context - making their content baffling upon a single viewing.
This method of voting is the reason for Emmy's parallels to the Gold Glove Awards. Defense in baseball is almost impossible to quantify statistically. Therefore, an accurate vote would require actually watching every single player field his position for an entire year just as precision in selecting television's best would rely on watching dozens of programs in their entirety. In each instance, the demands are nearly impossible.
This leads to a voting bloc selecting awards based on criteria other than those upon which the prospective recipients are supposed to be judged. We have baseball writers picking the best defensive players based on offensive statistics or a few highlight reel plays while Emmy voters root their short lists in snippets of seasons or a well-placed For Your Consideration Ad. In both spots, baffled voters simply look at the previous year's list of honorees and fill out their ballots indentically.
It may be impossible to change the voting habits of crusty old baseball writers but members of the Television Academy should be more pliable - these are creative types after all! With that in mind, let's clean ballots of the past-their-primes stars and series that should have ceased being honored years ago.
Best Comedy Series
"Two and a Half Men
Ostensibly, this continues to eek out an Emmy nominee each year based on its being the most-watched comedy on television. But that's not what the Emmy is supposed to honor. This is not a Nielsen award, it's the honor for being the most outstanding program in terms of quality, not in terms of how many half-asleep drones laugh through their drool enough at the show's continual recycling of scripts enough to continue tuning in. There are at least a dozen sitcoms better than this on TV, a real feat considering there only about a dozen sitcoms on TV period.
There's a chance that "Two and a Half Men" won't make the cut, but the nomination for this Hollywood-set HBO series is nearly guaranteed. That's because it carries the perception of quality. Its first two seasons (and most of its third) were so sparkling and received so much buzz that voters will likely ignore its steady decline in quality ever since its first nomination and continue to nominate it until Vince needs a walker.
Image © HBO
Best Dramatic Series
This is the last year this series can receive a nomination, but that doesn't mean it's too late to rail against its inclusion the past two years. This precious-masquerading-as-clever series woos Emmy voters with a few offbeat lines and David E. Kelley's name above the Title Card. Neither reason should be enough for a series to receive a nomination.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
For four consecutive years, Shaloub has notched a nomination for his obsessive-compulsive detective despite the fact nobody's watched the show for years, much less talked about it. Sure, it's a pretty good performance, but hasn't he been on cruise control the last several years as the show's quality has waned along with its viewership. This is the perfect opportunity for Emmy to recognize a past-its-prime performance by leaving Shaloub off this year's shortlist.
for "Two and a Half Men"
Remember, this award is supposed to be for acting, not sleepwalking your way through a version of yourself with a different last name. Despite this, Sheen has earned a nomination for the three years running. It's probably due to the show's high ratings because it can't be based on his performance.
Best Actor in a Dramatic Series
for "Boston Legal
Five years, two series, four nominations, three wins, one performance: James Spader as Alan Shore. It doesn't matter if he's on "Boston Legal" or "The Practice
" voters can't seem to get enough of Spader's incessant mugging and hammy attempts at humor. Maybe he appeals to the narcissist in them all. Whatever the case, this is the last year Spader can get nominated for this role and they should send him out without a goodbye nod.
Best Actress in a Dramatic Series
for "Law & Order: SVU"
Somehow, Hargitay has notched five consecutive nominations for her work as a cop in a procedural. A procedural. Where is the depth? Where is the character exploration in self-contained storylines about gathering evidence and interviewing perps? Sure, there was a time when her character's back story raised her stakes, but that seems like an afterthought now.
Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series
for "Boston Legal"
Much like Spader, Shatner continues to get nominated for the same self-important bit of hammery year after year. Four years in a row to be exact. This was an amusing lark at first, but it has since become tired in a wave of statuettes for the retired Star Fleet Captain. Of course, also like Spader, this is the last time Shatner can receive a nomination for this role.
Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series
for "Grey's Anatomy
Sandra Oh probably doesn't even know she's been nominated four consecutive years for her role on the now-torpid "Grey's Anatomy", but it's true! The only possible explanation is that confused voters still think they're voting for her performance in "Sideways" for the Oscars. Speaking of which, how is Thomas Haden Church
in every other movie and Virginia Madsen
is MIA? Hollywood's latent sexism rears its head again.
Check back tomorrow to see our suggestions of whom should get their first shot at an Emmy Award.
Story by Andrew Payne
Starpulse contributing writer