Ruminating the 2008 Emmy Awards

by Paul William Tenny

Tina FeyIf you actually watched all three hours of the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards last night, none of this will be a shock to you. My worst complaint against the Emmys is the same every single year, same as it is for the Oscars -- they spend too much time showing clips from old shows (or movies in the case of the Academy Awards) that always end up forcing the people receiving the awards to rush their acceptance speeches. Sometimes it's so bad that some people don't get to give speeches at all, in what is clearly one of the most important moments in their professional careers, or even their lives.
You know the show clips are always going to be there even though they don't add anything of value to the broadcast. Cutting even one of these montages would free up five minutes which, based on tonight's show, would have been more than enough to give everyone time to do their thing. Keiffer Sutherland who has been a drama mainstay on television for years with 24 and is an accomplished film actor didn't get to do or say anything other than present an award due to these time constraints. I can't even begin to articulate how upsetting it is to have to suffer through dry, cardboard reality TV hosts while real, award-winning actors are rushed and pushed aside.

And, per usual, every presenter this year was an actor or actress. Tina Fey won an award for acting and you better believe that if she didn't act, she wouldn't have been asked to present, writing cred be damned.

Speaking of Fey, you've got to wonder that with the great success she's having as a writer and actress, as well as Amy Poehler's recent ascendence, why weren't they asked to host the show this year instead of five reality stand-ins? I'd never even heard of three of them and I had no idea that Heidi Klum had a show. This was the worst choice for hosts that I've ever seen, which isn't saying much since I've only seen a handful of these shows over the years, but still. This is an awards show for talented creative artists, why in the world would you invite five people with no appreciable talent to host it?

It's embarrassing to see the talent "music'ed" off the stage while the reality hosts spent probably 10-20 minutes over the course of the broadcast trying to be funny, trying to kill time when there isn't enough of it, trying to look good and popular and excited in front of a crowd that's well out of their own demographic. It's bad enough that it happens at all, but when Tom Hanks got "music'ed" off while accepting for John Adams (Outstanding Miniseries) I was shocked. This is one of the most accomplished actors of any generation and the Emmys ushered him off like some two-bit reality host.

No, I take that back -- even the reality hosts got more time and better treatment than Tom Hanks did.

The bit/sketch involving the actresses from Desperate Housewives was embarrassing for ABC but an entirely expected bit of whoring since it's coming back next week. I would have gone with the cast of Lost, myself, but whatever floats your boat.

It was over half an hour into the broadcast when the Emmy montage began. I couldn't help but loathe an awards show that celebrates itself. Maybe the old shows deserve it, but does nobody have any shame these days? Was it really necessary to remind everyone how great the Emmy guys think they are at the expense of, once again, time that talent could be using to give the biggest speech of their lives. Half an hour and only three awards were given out.

I'd like to call out the following people who won awards last night but didn't bother to show up. Absent medical emergencies, there's really no excuse for disrespecting the award and the people you were up against that did bother to show up last night. You people don't deserve these awards.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Dianne Wiest (In Treatment)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Tom Wilkinson (John Adams)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Eileen Atkins (Masterpiece Theater)

On the other end of the spectrum, watching Tom Smothers win an honorary award was a wonderful moment and I can't think of any better choice than Steve Martin for presentation. On the other hand, this is why you don't let writers make speeches. I think it should be a regular event to give out honorary awards to people who deserved them, but never got them. It would make this so much more of a real awards show than it is now. People getting awards they earned regardless of any other concerns, rather than it maybe being because the competition was weak this year, figuratively speaking.

One hour into the broadcast, there were only six awards handed out. After Martin Sheen did his West Wing thang which was a welcome sight, they handed out four awards in that segment alone.

Just before that, Polly Bergen won a Emmy for guest actress in a comedy series for Desperate Housewives -- an hour-long drama.

Nearly two hours in, they announce the impending award for reality competition series. I wait for the "Outstanding Slave Driving Reality Production Company That Wont Allow Workers To Unionize" award, but it never comes. Maybe next year? At least the series that won -- The Amazing Race -- is actually a competition.

Don Rickles won an award, but nobody seemed to know why.

The highlight of the show was Greg Yaitanes winning an award for directing "House's Head". The man deserves and four more for that episode alone. It didn't win for best writing, which single-handedly made this years Emmy Awards a painful joke. The kind where someone kicks you in the balls and then laughs at you, you know, because it was funny. No disrespect to Matthew Weiner to did take home that award for Man Men (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes), but House's Head was perhaps the finest hour of Drama on television since The West Wing went off the air.

I'm not kidding.

It was pretty funny to see Alec Baldwin win best male lead for a comedy since he tried to walk off 30 Rock a year or two ago when his nasty phone calls to his daughter came out and his divorce blew up in the public's face. NBC refused to let him out of his contract because 30 Rock is an Emmy magnet. Smooth...

Outstanding male lead in a drama was also a mess. How anyone could beat out Hugh Laurie or Michael C. Hall (Dexter for those who haven't seen it, is one of the best dramas out there) is beyond me. I think the Emmy blue ribbon panels this year were too wrapped up in the basic-cable hype. They were determined to screw the network dramas that are light years beyond what basic cable offers and they succeeded. Congratulations, you're all retards.

Near the end of the broadcast, even after Keiffer had to just come out and present, after presenters were all making excuses about having to rush because they were over, they still found time to show clips from the Mary Tyler Moore show that nobody wanted to see, so they could bring out Mary Tyler More, so she could introduce the next presenter.


Epic fail people, epic fail.
in Television


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