For those who are unaware, every actor or actress or series submitting themselves for consideration for an Emmy Award submit a single episode that will, if they make the Top 10 in the Popular Vote, be screened to blue ribbon panels that will provide a ranking, resulting in 50% of the total score. Confused? Well, let’s put it this way: they have one chance, one episode, in which they can impress those judges.
And so, although it’s only worth 50% this year, a poor submission can destroy the chances for an actor or actress or for an entire series. And there are eight this year that could well take these contenders and make them into high-profile snubs on July 19th.
The Office and Rainn Wilson – “The Coup”
While this episode of The Office was certainly a funny one, it has one distinct problem: it’s more pathetic than it is funny. Dwight (Wilson), especially, comes across as a sad little puppy with no backbone in the episode, as opposed to the lovable weirdo that would play better with voters. The entire episode felt that way: like a cruel joke was being played on Dwight, and he wasn’t in on it. This makes the show out to be far more heartless than it actually is, and I do not believe it will play well with the panels.
Ugly Betty – “Pilot”
Ugly Betty’s pilot lacks a majority of its best qualities. Its diverse cast is pushed into stereotypical roles, its colour palette is extremely muted, and outside of some comic acting from America Ferrera the show’s heart is almost entirely missing. This is a show that gained momentum along the way, and showing the Pilot removes that level of growth from the panel. They want to see charming television, and the Pilot is actually perhaps the show’s least charming episode.
Vanessa Williams – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Similar to her series (Ugly Betty), Vanessa Williams missed the point of the show: its heart is its distinguishing feature. This episode features Williams, to be honest, at her bitchiest; she taunts Claire, and is downright ignorant to Mark’s problems. The episode isn’t really all that funny for her, and this is a distinct problem. She would have been better submitting an episode even like the Finale, where she rescued Mark, or the episode where she hilariously had Mark beat her up.
Neil Patrick Harris – “World’s Greatest Couple”
This episode is funny…if you know Barney and watch How I Met Your Mother regularly. If you don’t, however, its impact (Seeing Barney’s apartment for the first time) is much lesser, and although he’s great in the episode it won’t resonate with the panels as being something special. “Showdown”, where Harris went on The Price is Right to meet Bob Barker, who he thought was his real father, has more heart and feels like an event that would register well with the panels. That should have been his submission, and without it he might unfortunately get lost in the shuffle.
Tina Fey – “Up All Night”
This is actually one of 30 Rock’s weaker episodes: it has prostitutes, divorces, and its biggest problem is that it doesn’t feel like the episode is actually about Liz Lemon, Tina’s character. An episode like “The Head and the Hair” is entirely about Liz’s struggles with men, stands alone as a single episode of the series, and features a great comic performance: why she didn’t submit it I have no idea.
Friday Night Lights – “Pilot”
Friday Night Lights has a great pilot that has been getting rave reviews for its cinematography, editing, and direction. However, as some have pointed out, this is another show that got better as it went along, and featured many fabulous episodes that would have made great submissions (Such as “Mud Bowl”). The pilot is almost too emotionally manipulative, and will have to be judged on its technical merit alone to do extremely well against other shows.
Matthew Fox – “A Tale of Two Cities”
Submitting the season premiere of Lost , as opposed to the season finale (“Through the Looking Glass”), seems like a really bizarre decision from Matthew Fox (As if he forgot to change it). While he did good work in the season’s opener, the finale offered him more dramatic material and some great flashforward overwrought drug addict material to work with as well. He could have snuck into this category, so hotly contested, with the finale, but I feel that people will overlook him for people with more showy tapes with the premiere.
Heroes – “Genesis”
Heroes’ rejigged pilot, separated into two episodes, was not indicative of the show’s quality; Genesis is its first part. This is perhaps the most bizarre submission of them all, because not only does the show have numerous better episodes (I’m looking at you, “Company Man”) but the Pilot actually isn’t good. At all. It is dull, lacks excitement, and Genesis in particular lacks a single bit of dramatic payoff for voters. When the panels see this episode, they will scratch their heads at how this became a hit series.
Those are the eight that I view as the biggest errors in this year’s submissions. Think that these are good submissions? Or have another suggestion for one of these contenders? Or want to point out another submission mistake? Feel free to comment below.
EDIT: The GoldDerby Forums folks have brought up some other good options that should be showcased.
John Krasinski – “Business School”
I talked about how this was the perfect episode for Lead Actor candidate Steve Carell the other week, but for The Office’s Supporting Actor candidate things are very different. He has very little screentime in the episode, and while I enjoy his vampire bit as much of the next guy he doesn’t feel important in what is really Michael and Dwight’s stories. Better episodes include some of the time he spent working at Stanford (Such as “The Convention”) , or even the season finale “The Job”.