You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

It's the Emmys!! (Yawn)

You may be wondering why we don't live blog the Emmys the way we did the Oscars? The answer is a complex one, informed by classical asthetic theory, sociological pressures, and economic trends. It can, however, be summed up in two words:

"Who cares?"

While up to a trillion people will tune in globally and extraterrestially to see the Oscars on any given year, the Emmys, America's television awards, can rarely be counted on to draw enough people to fill a studio apartment. One reason is that television is simply less glamourous than film. Film stars make massive amounts of money for doing the amount of work a TV actor has to do just to reach the studio in the morning. Also, films, particularly American films, are a worldwide phenomenon, whereas American television largely consists of remakes of older, cheaper, and generally better British television series (the exceptions being Star Trek, the Tonight Show, and Gilligan's Island.)

The main reason though is the simply massive number of awards given out at the Emmys. Not only are there Best Actor and Actress awards given out for Dramatic series, but also for Comedy, Variety, Western, Horror, Variety, Mystery, Suspense, Musical, Variety, Erotic, Dance, Legal Drama, Hospital Drama, Animal Drama, Reality, Variety, Children's, Daytime, Nighttime, Overnight, Daylight Savings Time, Leap Year, Variety, Science-Fiction, Variety, Sports, Variety, Variety, Variety, and Spam. (, just skip that last one.)

Given the number of writing, directorial, costume, and sound awards that go along with each of these categories, the show takes no less than 72 hours to run. There simply aren't enough musical numbers celebrating even legendary classics like Green Acres or The Jeffersons to hold our attention that long. Even the affable host, Ellen DeGeneres, can only make the "running time" bits work for the first 17 hours, although the ventriliquist's dummy was a nice touch.

Having said that, and realizing that the programme is still going on as I type this (and will be until about 6 a.m. EDT...they're awarding the Best Supporting Extra for a Science-Fiction Western Variety Programme in Esperanto right now - there are 12 nominees), there have been a few highlights this year worth mentioning:

- William Shatner gets an Emmy: The Transformed Man gets an Emmy award for his work on Boston Public. Shatner has a rep for beign notoriously difficult to work with, yet still keeps getting work because, face it, the bloke is hilarious.

He's the obvious inspiration for better actors like Christopher Walken. He's a spectacularly entertaining mess, who every so often gets it right (The TV version of the Andersonville Trial, for example...His recent album Has Been contains an eerie, almost creepy poetic reading about his wife's drowning death that is surprisingly effecting, most of all because it's so alarmingly personal for a fellow who spends most of his time playing a caricature.)

We can't help liking the guy, despite our better judgement, and despite the acrimony he inspires in so many others, including the recently departed James Doohan (Who had he not passed on, probably would have keeled over to see Shat get the award.) Now, Bill's got a statue to put on the mantle. Could this be the inspiration for another 10 years of comic prima-donna icon revelery from this dynamically comic male diva? Will he trash his hotel room tonight in celebration? We should only be so lucky. Phillip Michael Thomas is an amateur male diva compared to B.S.

- Johnny Carson Tribute: David Letterman was the perfect choice to do this, and, although it left out some choice bits, it was still rather nice to see Carson on the screen again. These things tend to be maudlin and depressing, reminding all of us who used to watch the Tonight Show just how old we are (Did I mention that I turned 40 this year? When do the Social Security checks start coming in? When do I get my complimentary bottle of Geritol?) Nonetheless, it was a good opportunity to show these whippersnapper kids how it's done. Letterman himself once said of today's generation of comics that there's "no wit anymore, it's all just attitude." ...Attitude and four letter words masquerading as punchlines.

- Network Anchors Tribute: Peter Jennings' untimely death gave this more emotion than it would have otherwise had. In other words, everyone stayed awake and didn't interrupt the proceedings with calls for Teri Hatcher and Ray Romano. It was marred a bit at the end when Dan Rather left the teleprompter script to ramble, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

- TV Themes Tribute: Green Acres, The Jeffersons, Star Trek...all classics. Fame...It was an overhyped piece of disco pap when it was the movie theme, and remains so today (Which may be why some people love it so much.) "I want to live forever?" How about five seasons? Still, that was longer than Trek, proving that there's no justice in television.

Still, they left off several classic American TV theme songs that were equally deserving, listed below:

  • Gilligan's Island
  • Dobie Gillis
  • S.W.A.T. (Not a song of course, but still gripping!)
  • Maude
  • WKRP in Cinncinatti
  • Hawaii Five-O (Again, not a song per se, but the best of the lot.)
  • The Flintstones
  • The Brady Bunch
  • The Saturday Morning Looney Tunes Song

This just in: The award for Lighting in a Comedy Variety Sports Variety Event Variety Special has gone to the crew of Super Bowl XXXIX. The award was accepted on their behalf by Leonard Nimoy.


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