Sunday, May 29, 2005

REMIND ME, AGAIN, WHY ON EARTH ANIMATED SHOWS AREN'T ELIGIBLE? Following up on our tour through the Best Actress in a Drama category for the Emmys, we turn to another category--Best Comedy Series--how do you fill this category without Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Friends, or Sex and the City. Of last year's five best comedy nominees, one ended its run last year (SATC), one produced no new episodes during the eligibility period (CYE), and one, well, the less said about it this season, the better (Will & Grace). Raymond and defending champ Arrested Development are safe bets to return, and those lovable Desperate Hosuewives seem likely to join them (and, yes, it's a comedy, more specifically a satire, as Marc Cherry memorably pointed out in the AD finale). But what fills the category?

Entourage, HBO
  • The upside: Allegedly exceedingly funny and utterly deadpan, featuring a great performance from Jeremy Piven in particular. The second season will be airing as voters vote, keeping the show in perople's mind.
  • The downside: May be seen as too "inside baseball" for its own good and too deadpan. Not nearly the "buzzy sensation" that many HBO shows have been. Eligible shows aired last summer, a long time to stay in the memory.
Scrubs, NBC
  • The upside: Dry enough to please the bitter and sarcastic, but broad enough to appeal to the general audience. Manages to mix the comic and the dramatic highly effectively. Not previously recognized by the Emmys (not even for John C. McGinley). A hyper-talented cast that's well-regarded throughout the industry.
  • The downside: A bad ratings year due to a nasty timeslot. Allegedly, saw something of a creative slide (I didn't see much of it this year because it was up against TAR) during the season. Is arguably experiencing Will & Grace syndrome with a constant parade of guest stars (Tara Reid, Matthew Perry, Heather Graham, Juliana Marguiles, Molly Shannon).
Gilmore Girls, The WB
  • The upside: A critical darling with top-notch writing and performances that's unanimously agreed to have had a creative and ratings renaissance this year after a lackluster 4th season, which has never before been recognized by the Emmys.
  • The downside: May not be viewed as "comic" enough, especially this season, where Rory's storyline in particular was very dark, on the WB, may be seen as too "girly."
The Office, NBC
  • The upside: Exceeded just about everybody's expectations by being not merely a shot-for-shot remake of the hugely successful Britcom (see, e.g., Coupling), very funny, tour de force performance by Steve Carrell.
  • The downside: Still not as good as the BBC version. Low-rated. Short run (only six episodes) may not be viewed as "enough" to support a nomination.
Two and A Half Men, CBS
  • The upside: It's the new "biggest sitcom in America." Funny in that utterly disposable way that many sitcoms are. Keeps Charlie Sheen away from hookers at least one night a week, and gives Jon Cryer gainful employment.
  • The downside: Utterly disposable, often painfully formulaic, critically loathed, may well be the beneficiary of its timeslot. Does anyone you actually know watch it, much less admit to watching it?
The King of Queens, CBS
  • The upside: Been around forever, has several critics (particularly EW) who adore it, decently rated, and the cast has had success in other media this year (Kevin James in particular).
  • The downside: Again, does anyone really care?
Joey, NBC
  • The upside: LeBlanc's coming off three straight nods for playing the same character, moments of pleasant surprise (LeBlanc and De Mateo's chemistry, Jennifer Coolidge), some clever "inside Hollywood" jokes.
  • The downside: Not nearly as good as Friends, LeBlanc's schtick/character wears thin quickly. Andrea Anders is horrible in her part (though attractive) and that relationship never got workable, leading to a "huh?" quasi-cliffhanger.
I don't think whatever the fourth and fifth nominees are will make a great deal of difference, with the fight between the three very different types of shows that the guaranteed slots present monopolizing the votes. Anything I'm missing? What fills the final slots?

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