Monday, March 19, 2007

Emmy Looks To Get It Right?

You almost can't use the word "Emmy" without the word "debacle" in the same sentence.

But for the first time ever, the Emmy people are actually introducing a few rules that may - possibly - help out a few of the more deserving shows that get overlooked.

Last year, Emmy went to a so-called "blue-ribbon" committee that was supposedly a group of experts that were going to revolutionize the voting process and open things up. In a way, they did: These were the geniuses that gave Ellen Burstyn an Emmy for a 14-second appearance in a movie.

The new strategy is to let the entire academy vote, and the top 10 vote getters in each category are then submitted to the committee, which will watch every submission (something that hasn't been done in the past) and then vote. One wonders how nobody could figure out this system in the previous decades.

Also among the changes is the "Burstyn rule" - a performer must appear in at least 5 percent of the submitted movie or TV show to be considered. Hooray for common sense.

Finally, producers and the performers will be able to submit a 250-word essay to explain the context of their submission and why it is Emmy worthy. It's designed to help out the more complexly plotted shows like "Lost" or "Battlestar Galactica," where a voter is likely to be lost if he hasn't watched other installments of the series.

Does this mean that "Battlestar Galactica" and other fringe shows that don't have a lot of mainstream audiences will have a better shot at Emmy glory? In theory. Will it mean actual Emmys for those shows in categories other than technical ones? Probably not.

But at least the Emmy people realize that their system is fundamentally flawed, and hopefully it means that the same old shows don't keep getting nominated over and over and over.

BUFFY SEASON 8: The new Joss Whedon-scripted comic book, which he describes as what would have been Season 8 of "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer," hit the shelves last week.

I read a copy over the weekend, and if you are a Buffy fan, you should get one.

The series picks up in Scotland, where Buffy, Xander and Dawn have their base of operations with their own team of slayers. As usual, Buffy and Dawn are arguing, this time over Dawn's attempts to learn magic without supervision, with hilarious side effects.

Willow is completely absent (the team is searching for her), and Giles and Andrew are mentioned only in passing. The Scoobys, as well as the U.S. military, are investigating a cult of demons that are apparently being recruited into a common cause.

The writing is classic Whedon, with great humor mixed in with the action. The artwork is very solid as well. There's enough there, especially with the return of a popular recurring character from the TV series on the final page, to keep visiting this title, especially since Whedon and most of the other writers from the show are contributing to the comic book.

MONDAY'S BEST BET: ABC's answer to "American Idol" - "Dancing With the Stars" - marks its return tonight with a two-hour premiere at 8 p.m. Bookies have been taking action - I'm not making this up - as to whether Heather Mills' prosthetic leg flies off during a dance routine. It's followed by a new "What About Brian?"

Male firefighters sub for the hot models on a two-hour "Deal or No Deal" (NBC, 8 p.m.), getting rid of the 26 reasons I had to watch this show in the first place, as Howie Mandel & Co. put on Ladies Night.

It precedes a new episode of "The Black Donnellys," which I gave up on last week. Judging by the ratings, so have many others.

"Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.) returns after a week off, no doubt to give the writers a shot at coming up with more preposterous plot points, followed by "24," in which former Pres. Logan tries to hang on for dear life after being stabbed in the shoulder by his ex-wife.

CBS gives us a full night of new episodes with its comedy lineup, beginning with the always-entertaining "How I Met Your Mother" at 8 p.m. A new "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 10 p.m.) follows.

Finally, a new episode of "The Riches" (FX, 10 p.m.) returns after boffo ratings with its debut last week. I found the pilot to be very uneven, and FX seems to be loving the whacked-out characters on its shows a little too much these days. But there are enough elements (especially Eddie Izzard in the lead role) to make me watch one more time.


Zodin2008 said...

Great post, Phillip. A lot of 'meat' today.

Item #1: The Emmy's

I am with you Phillip that I don't see them actually improving the process and actually getting shows like Battlestar and Veronica Mars much deserved nominations, but I appreciate that they at least recognize the problem. This is again why I think national critics such as Tim Goodman, Matt Roush and Robert Bianco should be picking the Emmys.

No matter what happens, it still won't fix two of the most dispicable and egregious errors in Emmy history, both last year...not giving an Emmy to Edie Falco for possibly her greatest work ever on "The Sopranos" and not even nominating (let alone that he should have won in a landslide) Oscar winner Forest Whitaker for his breathtaking performance on "The Shield".

I guess Forest has the last laugh with his Oscar win for "the Last King of Scotland".

Still, though Conan's brilliant quote at the Emmys maybe a true, "hey people, a lot of great things can happen in 14 seconds", I appreciate the Burstyn rule being in place...the Burtsyn nominaton pulled the veil off what a bunch of non TV fans the Emmy folks are. That exposed how they simply looked on a 'list' and gave her a nomination simply by recognizing her name. Insulting.

I can only pray that all that brilliant work being done on Cable (Rescue me, The Shield, Battlestar) along with all the brilliant but ignored network stuff (Veronica Mars, Friday Night Lights) starts getting some due. And enough with nominating soapy mediocrity like "Grey's Anatomy".

Item #2: The Whedon Comic

I will conmtinue to lament the blatant injustice in life that sees no talent writing hacks such as David E. Kelley continue to churn out garbage like "The Wedding Bells" on FOX (it's like he's the James Patterson of TV), while geniuses like Joss Whedon sit at home and spin frakking conmic books. Who in life did we all piss off for that to happen?

That being said, I have never ever bought 1 comic book ion my 32 years, but today, I finally might. If this is the only way I can have a Joss fix, so be it. I would still have rather seen more Buffy or Angel or Joss in general in Television.

Item #3: The Riches

I liked this uneven pilot enough to watch episode #2 tonight. Fair enough. For me, the biggest keeper was star eddie Izzard who alone is bringing me back for another round. Phillip is 100% right that this show on its worst day is more entertaining than "The balck Donnelleys" or "What About Brian".

However, on the flipside, for as much as I loved Izzard and the show's potential, I thoroughly despised Minnie Driver and her character. If I wanted a pissed off angry druggie with zero sense of humor, I would watch something like "The Wire". This show could drastically improve if tey would dump Driver, kill her off, and keep Izzard as the star and a single dad...that show would be infinitely more watchable.

But kudos to Izzard who's so good he maybe Emmy worthy.

As for teh comparison with "Big Love", well, Izzard is brilliant and even betetr then Bill Paxton, but "Big Love" as a show is far more entertaining and my wife & are far more invested in "Big Love" for now.

Phillip Ramati said...


Item#1: Yes, the critics should pick the Emmys (so long as I qualify for a vote!)

Item#2: No need to diss comic books, arguably the greatest contribution America has made to the world of art. Joss has been writing comics for years, so his writing for comics and TV siumultaneously need not be mutually exclusive.

Years ago, a collection of stories became a graphic novel called "Tales of the Slayer." Written by the likes of Joss, Jane Espenson and other Buffy writers, as well as series star Amber Benson, it was stories of other slayers throughout history and was done very well.

Item#3: The show was very uneven because it couldn't seem to decide whether it was a comedy or a drama, which is why the Minnie Driver stuff seemed so out of whack with the rest of it. It's the second time FX has gone with a whacked-out main character (the other being Ian Hart of "Dirt") and both really brought down the shows they were in. Not the fault of the actors - both Driver and Hart are good - so much as the writers, who are trying to bunch together too much stuff rather than the stories flow organically.

Zodin2008 said...

I was not dissing comic books, Phillip. I was simply saying I had never bought a comic book but I might do that now. It was a compliment to Joss, I just had never really been into Comics before.

As for you getting a vote, fine with me. We disagree strongly in a few cases (24 vs. House) but outside of that, you seem to generally promote the same shows I like.

Anyone who supports fare like Veronica Mars, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, Friday Night Lights and Rescue Me, can have a vote.

I have noticed in general that some of the national critics such as Bianco, Roush, Goodman or an Alan Sepinwall and Maureen Ryan, generally seem to like ore of the kind of stuff you watch or I watch. They also (for the most part) have little patience for Reality TV or one of the minions of procedurals on CBS.

Well, I have not watched a second of "Dirt" so I can't comment on Ian Hart, but I fully blame Minnie Driver for her performance. It feels like a performance that belongs in "Leaving Las Vegas" or "The Basketball Diaries", not "The Riches". I think "The Riches" DOES want to be darkly comic, I just think Driver is trying to make a 'dramatic' name for herself on TV and is ruining the show.

Robert Bianco, the aforementioned critic, pointed out the exact same complaint hating Driver's performance in his recent review in the USA Today. The show feels uneven and is mixed between dark comedy and angry Drama BECAUSE of Driver, not because of the writers.

Obviously, it's not affecting Eddie Izzard's performance...he was dazzling in the pilot.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, I disagree about Minnie Driver. It's not as if she really IS ON DRUGS and the producers are filming her flipping out, which then gets mixed into the show during the editing process.

Her character has been written as a junkie and a psycho, and her actions and dialogue reflect that. If you or Robert Bianco don't buy Driver as a junkie, fair enough, but it's the show's writers who have made her that way and are trying to work that into the main plot.

Izzard is terrific, and hopefully the WRITERS will tone down the junkie aspect and let the characters interact more naturally.

Zodin2008 said...

Well, after watching my 2nd episode of "The Riches" last night, I think I am retiring from the show.

It's not terrible, but it's generally an annoying show with a terrible co-star (Minnie Driver...she's awful, awful, awful) and as much as I love Eddie Izzard and love his character (the man is brilliant), I hope he gets a better script and a better co-star in the future.

I was never a diehard Minnie fan anyway...the ONE movie I adored her in is now 10 years old..."Grosse Point Blank" (and to quote Jeremy Piven IN that movie..."TEN YEARS!!!") but other then that, not a huge fan.

But really, Izzard is a massive talent with ttremendous on screen charisma and deserves better.

Also, one thing that has dumbfounded me is that universally, critics and bloggers alike all seem to feel/think this show is far superior to HBO's "Big Love"???? Huh? I don't get it.

While my wife and I barely made it through 2 episodes of "The Riches", we slurped "Big Love" like it was the biggest crack addiction TV show of the year. It's not even close..."Big Love" by a mile.

Phillip Ramati said...

Comparing The Riches to Big Love is a matter of individual taste.

I have to agree about The Riches. I may stick with it, but only the stuff with Eddie Izzard has been done well.