Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Year for Friday Night Lights? Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, and People From Other, Almost-as-Awesome Shows Headline 2008 Emmy "Predictions"

For the last several years, I’ve put together a list of “Emmy predictions” before the nominations were announced. What I’ve come to realize, however, is that they’re never very accurate. Why? Because although I have a decent-sized group of shows I watch and know, it’ll never add up to how much good TV is airing at a given time. I also don’t watch premium cable, so that’s always a problem. I try to be relatively objective, but I never am, and even though I “predicted” that Noah Wyle would get nominated three years in a row, he never did. That’s the hard thing—separating the shows I love for their quality from the shows I love for the ships. I loved ER for the ship. I loved The West Wing for the quality. I’m falling for Bones because of the ship. I fell for Friday Night Lights because of the quality. When you find knockout series that also have an amazing love story—thank you, Mr. Abrams—it’s a treat. Separating the two categories, though, is what makes Emmy “predicting” difficult for me--they've been an absolute joke since I first started doing it. It's not predicting, it's wishful thinking, and I shouldn't have been sharing them with anyone other than my therapist.

So this year, I’m trying something new. I went through the categories and picked ONE person from each who I hope will get nominated. Hope, not predict.

Outstanding Drama Series—Friday Night Lights. Hands down, this is the show I most desperately want to be recognized. I often feel like someone needs to take NBC aside and say, “You know this show you’ve got? Well, it’s really good.” Who better to do that than Emmy? Friday Night Lights is touching and sweet and undeniably real. When’s the last time you saw Christian fundamentalism portrayed in such an earnest and irony-free way? The relatively simple stories draw me in just as much as the high-concept crap going on over at Lost. This is the show that everyone should be watching and loving.

Outstanding Comedy Series—Pushing Daisies. So you know what I said about quality shows with quality ships? This is one of them. So many of the shows I watch are high-concept serials with a side of romance. I just wrote a blog about The X-Files and how it’s a show about aliens with the relationship between the main characters playing an integral, constant, secondary role. Pushing Daisies, meanwhile, is a high-concept romance—oh, the potential! The short-but-sweet introductory season was a beautiful exercise in, as I said a few months ago, “creativity and childhood glee and grown-up romance and desperation, really.” Exquisitely detailed, delightfully inventive, and perfectly narrated by Jim Dale, Pushing Daisies badly deserves this nomination.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series—Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights. I had to decide between Kyle Chandler and Matthew Fox—not a choice a girl should ever be faced with. Chandler submitted “Last Days of Summer,” the season premiere, and while Fox’s submission isn’t known yet, I’d guess it would be either “Something Nice Back Home” or the finale. So when I thought about it, I realized that my hopes for Matthew Fox were inextricably tangled with my love for the Jack and Kate episodes. My hopes for Kyle Chandler are based solely on the fact that I think his facial expressions—no dialogue, no blocking, nothing else—could out-act almost anyone else in the category. Jackface comes close, but Kyle Chandler definitely deserves this award this year. I mean, “Last Days of Summer” (and just about every episode this season) had the amazing facials inspired by Gracie Belle. Sold.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series—Kate Walsh, Private Practice. This is actually a really pathetic category this year, which should tell you something about the state of being a girl on TV this season. In fact, I don’t remember the specifics of the episode she submitted (“In Which Cooper Finds a Port in His Storm”), but I think it’s the one where Addison has to keep the baby (“Batgirl”?) overnight. It’s sweet, and it offers up nice character development for Dr. Montgomery, but it’s nothing whoa special. Private Practice as a whole is nothing special. It’s okay, and I like most of the characters, but I’m only watching it for the awesomeness that is Addison. Part of me thinks the perfect fit might be for Walsh to get nominated for Guest Actress in a Drama for her one-off spot on Grey’s this year. Grey’s is still an all-around better show than Private Practice, and that episode reminded me of how much the ensemble lacks without the good neonatal surgeon. Damn, maybe she’ll get nominated for both. Wouldn’t that be something?

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series—Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
. He lost last year to that dastardly Brit, Ricky Gervais, but I still think Baldwin’s a shoo-in for at least a nomination. Wonderfully hilarious as Jack Donaghy, Baldwin had a lot to do this year, what with Don Geiss being in a coma, having a war with Devon, and generally being ridiculous. I got the 30 Rock season one boxed set for my dad for Father’s Day, and he called me the other day just to tell me he was having a Jack-inspired laugh attack. It’s so funny it almost makes you forget what a terrifying person Alec Baldwin is in real life.

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series—Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives. I had it down between Longoria and Tina Fey and I’m still not sure I made the right decision. Gabrielle didn’t have anything fantastic to do this season—that Victor storyline was pretty dumb—but I think Longoria is just generally great. I really thought she deserved to win for season two, and this award is a long time coming for her. This season, with the introduction of Katherine Mayfair and a mystery just as delicious as season one’s, was a resurgence of sorts for Desperate Housewives, and Longoria was consistently great, even if her own storyline wasn’t the most imaginative. (Also, I can’t WAIT to see Gabrielle as a mom to two mischievous little girls next year!)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series—Michael Emerson, Lost. Another shoo-in, perhaps, but can you blame me? As Ben Linus, Emerson had his plate monumentally full this year and he pulled absolutely everything off. Half of Darlton—can’t remember which half—commented on realizing, after distributing the script for “The Shape of Things to Come” (the episode Emerson wisely selected), just how much they had demanded of this actor: playing the piano, firing a weapon, experiencing the death of his daughter, speaking Arabic and Turkish, commanding the smoke monster, and, of course, having dramatic, cryptic conversations with Charles Widmore. Ben Linus scares me, y’all, but I’m undeniably intrigued by his character. Michael Emerson needs this Emmy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series—Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights. For some reason (probably incompetency, but I shouldn’t jump to conclusions), Connie Britton was submitted for Supporting. Now, in all fairness, she does technically play a “Supporting” role on FNL, but there’s a lot of room for leeway as far as which category you go for, and I would think that, in the interest of not overloading one category with actors while neglecting another, Britton would have ended up in the Actress category. Nevertheless, she’s over here with the other three regular female cast members from her show. She should’ve been in the Actress category, but I still hope to goodness she gets nominated. Hell, I’d be rooting for her in the Guest Actor in a Comedy series if that’s where the monkeys decided to put her. If I were to guess on which episode Britton submitted, I probably would have guessed it to be a late episode, one of those angsty Mom and Julie episodes, maybe even the driving-test episode (“Leave No One Behind”?). But no. She submitted “Bad Ideas,” the second episode of the season, in which Tami Taylor has a new baby and an absent husband. She’s so awesome in it. But it's an understated awesome. In fact, she’s so awesome…here it is, y’all. If you haven’t seen it—watch it now.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy—Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock. I normally would be championing John Krasinski, but I just can’t this year, not after everything Jim put me through. Instead, I’m choosing to support Kenneth Ellen Parcell. Sometimes, I wonder which television character I most closely resemble. I like to think I'm a Liz Lemon most of the time, a Liz Lemon who occasionally veers into the realm of Izzie Stevens. However, when I really think about it, I’m so Kenneth. First of all, we grew up about twenty minutes from each other, and Wikipedia has the following sentence to describe Kenneth: “His love of television and his unending devotion to the NBC network are two of his most defining character traits.” Yeah, that’s me, folks. There’s just such an earnestness to McBrayer’s portrayal of Kenneth—his happiness is infectious. There’s no way you can watch that scene of Kenneth biking through Manhattan with an exotic fish in one fist and singing “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and not feel light and happy inside. God, I love southerners.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy—Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies. Okay, so I had it down between Dana Delany, Angela Kinsey, and Kristin Chenoweth. It really sucks the way The Office submits its actors for Emmy competition. I’ve always seen the show as having four leading actors (Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, and Jenna Fischer) with a large contingent of supporters. However, the show submits only Carell as leading and everyone else in supporting categories. There were eight submissions from The Office to the Supporting Actor in a Comedy category and six for Supporting Actress. I feel like pitting Jenna Fischer against Angela Kinsey in this category is a little ridiculous. Seriously, and y’all know how much I love Angela, but there is no way logistically she’s going to get nominated in this category. Dana Delany saved Desperate Housewives for serious, but I ultimately went with Chenoweth on this one. As Olive, Chenoweth brings a different kind of lightness and a different kind of desperation to the table. She provides a nice contrast to Chuck, and while we all of course want Ned to end up with Chuck, we can’t help but feel for poor pining Olive. I’m just waiting for her to duet with Raul Esparza. Holy crap, that’s going to be amazing.

Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth (!!) are announcing the awards at 5:40 AM PDT on Thursday, July 17.

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