The Last Words

Looking at the list of Emmy nominations as posted by the LA Times’ “The Envelope” site, one thing stuck out. TV is supposed to be the writers’ medium. But the highest-profile writing nomination are at the very bottom of the list, long past the time when most browsers will quit scrolling.

Strangely, the first writing nominations to appear on the list are those for “nonfiction programming.” The “fiction” awards follow (among other things) Children’s Programs, two subcategories of Reality programs, all the sound-mixing awards, prosthetic makeup, and stunt coordination.

So in tribute to the writers of the writers’ medium, here are their nominations only:

six-feet-under.jpgWriting for a Comedy Series
“Arrested Development: Development Arrested,” Fox
“Entourage: Exodus,” HBO
“Extras: Kate Winslet,” HBO
“My Name Is Earl: Pilot,” NBC
“The Office: Christmas Party,” NBC

Writing for a Drama Series
“Grey’s Anatomy: It’s the End of the World, as We Know It (Part 1 & Part 2),” ABC
“Grey’s Anatomy: Into You Like a Train,” ABC
“Lost: The 23rd Psalm,” ABC
“Six Feet Under: Everyone’s Waiting,” HBO
“The Sopranos: Members Only,” HBO

Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
“The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central
“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central
“Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC
“Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS
“Real Time With Bill Maher,” HBO

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries
Movie or a Dramatic Special: “Bleak House (Masterpiece Theatre),” PBS
“Elizabeth I,” HBO
“Flight 93,” A&E
“The Girl in the Cafe,” HBO
“Mrs. Harris,” HBO.

Writing for Nonfiction Programming
“American Masters: Ernest Hemingway
Rivers to the Sea,” PBS
“American Masters: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend,” PBS
“How William Shatner Changed the World,” The History Channel
“Penn & Teller: Bull–: Prostitution,” Showtime
“Stardust: The Bette Davis Story,” TCM

Who will win? I don’t know. The point is advertising and PR. If you get a nomination, there is some tangible benefit to the show’s ability to increase its ratings. If you win — even better. You can go into the fall season saying “Watch the Emmy-winning comedy, ‘Arrested Development!'” Except “Arrested Development” is cancelled. Maybe that was a bad example.

Is there a lot of wagering on the Emmys? Many words will be expended trying to predict the winners. I don’t know why. Does anyone remember the winners two days later?

If I watch the Emmys, I will root for the writers of “Six Feet Under.” That last episode, the one that got nominated, was magical. The rest of my viewing was too spotty for me to have an opinion. The shows I watched this year were “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “24,” “The Office,” “House” and “Entourage.”

And, oh yeah, “Law and Order,” although a 10-year-old rerun is just as good as a new episode, and I often can’t tell the difference. My favorite “Law and Order” flavor is the one with the great Vincent D’Onofrio as a genius cop who spits in people’s faces like a rabid parrot. That program wisely stays out of the courtroom. The courtroom scenes in the original recipe are pathetic. I just spent a month in a courtroom. “Law and Order’s” writers might want to try the same thing.

lisa-kudrow.jpgSpeaking of legal shows, “Boston Legal” was often good for an absurd laugh, although I notice the show’s nominations are all in drama categories. Do people really get caught up in the drama of “Boston Legal?” Maybe they put it in the drama category because at least one storyline per show has a politically correct angle that allows the actors to make speeches about public policy. Those speeches would not last two seconds in the courtroom I was in. Anyway, the point of “Boston Legal” is the clownish William Shatner waving guns around, puffing cigars, working around his approaching dementia, and pulling his pants down in court. You’d think he was auditioning to play Jack D. Ripper in a “Dr. Strangelove” remake.
My wife and I also liked “The Comeback,” but HBO told everyone who would listen that the network considered the show a failure. Well, we didn’t, and we’re glad Lisa Kudrow got nominated. Hers was the most cringe-making performance of the year, topping even Larry David.

I also hope the Emmy voters don’t give the comedy writing award to David Letterman’s show. I’ve been a fan of Letterman since the 70s, but his show lately has been bland and predictable. They always seem to get nominated for an Emmy and frequently win. Stop encouraging them, I say. Make them work harder to entertain us.

One thought on “The Last Words

  1. Forced inside by a variety of factors, I’ve discovered the reruns of “Homicide, Life on the Street,” on cable’s SLEUTH Channel. I missed the original early nineties runs, and I’m glad I did, because it’s all new to me. Andre Braugher is a genius. Yaphet Kotto is a god. Richard Belzer (who somehow ended up as the same character on “Law and Order, SVU,” for my money the best of that franchise) is magnificent. Ned Beatty! Ned Beatty!

    The weakest actor is from the Baldwin family (who coulda guessed?). The writing, good as it is, is still spotty; sometimes they go too far with the comedy ’til an individual performance becomes farce. But it sure kicks ass over whatever else is playing on the networks these days. It’s probably the bridge between “Hill Street Blues” and the “Law and Order” franchise. For me it’s the missing link. I may stay in more.

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