Tag Archives: 24

2009 Emmy Nominations Analysis: Power to the People?

Emmy2009Title

Power to the People?

2009 Emmy Nominations Analysis

The people have the power, and the people have pretty darn good taste.

That’s the story out of this year’s Emmy award nominations (click here for Cultural Learnings’ list, and here for the Academy’s) where a few key surprises and a couple of major snubs indicate that the popular vote was not in any capacity an absolutely travesty for the Academy, as some quite logically predicted. I spoke earlier this week about just what the definition of popular would end up indicating, and the answer appears to be a healthy combination of an appreciation of great television and an eye for trendy selections. The result is an Emmys where nearly every category has a silver lining, and where a few snubs are not enough to give the impression that there’s going to be some very deserving winners in this field.

Mad Men and 30 Rock Dominate

There is no surprise here, don’t get me wrong: no one expected the iron grip of these two shows to stop after dominating last year’s proceedings. However, the scale of that domination is quite ludicrous. 30 Rock has 10 acting nominations, 4 writing nominations, 3 directing nominations, plus its nod for Best Comedy Series and all of its other technical nods. The result is an absolutely staggering number of nominations, and I’m happy about it: I like seeing Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer and Jane Krakowski all get nominations for their work along with Fey and Baldwin, and although the four writing nominations kept other shows out of the running they are four pretty fantastic episodes.

Mad Men, meanwhile, didn’t add quite as many nods, although it did pick up a Lead Actress nomination for Elisabeth Moss, which makes me extremely happy. As I said in my preview, I really expected January Jones in the category, but I prefer Moss’ less showy role at the end of the day. Still, combine with Hamm (also nominated for his guest stint on 30 Rock) and Slattery returning (I’d have preferred Kartheiser, but I’ll take it), and its own four writing nominations (plus a directing nod), and the show is without a doubt dominating on the drama side of things.

Out with the “Popular,” In with the Popular

In the biggest shocker of all considering the popular vote, the Comedy Series category had one shocking exclusion and one suprising (but oft predicted) inclusion. The exclusion is the most popular comedy on television, in terms of viewers – Two and a Half Men failed to secure a comedy nod, something it has done in years previous. This makes me question the definition of popular, especially with the inclusion – Family Guy, the first animated comedy series since The Flintstones to make it into the category. While The Simpsons always chose to compete in the Animation category because it also reflects the work of the animators, Family Guy chose to cut out the animated part and compete with the big boys, and it paid off. However, unlike last year where they could submit their Star Wars special in order to get credit for the animators, this year they’re left off entirely, so MacFarlane’s ego is being boosted at the expense of the show’s direction.

The Sophomores Triumph

No one was quite sure what would happen with Breaking Bad, a second year show that won Emmys last year but without much support around it. Well, we have our answer: although snubbed out of both directing and writing, the series picked up a nomination for Drama Series, and Aaron Paul snuck into the highly competitive Supporting Actor (Drama) category for his work on the show, in addition to Bryan Cranston’s nomination for Lead Actor. Damages also impressed, delivering nominations for William Hurt (undeserved, but whatever), Rose Byrne, Glenn Close, Ted Danson (Guest), as well as Series and Directing nods.

The Freshmen Fail

True Blood had a real shot at some awards love, but it was empathically shut out of the proceedings: it’ll probably contend with United States of Tara for best Title Sequence, but with no Drama Series or Lead Actress love, it’s clear the Emmys didn’t find its vampire story appealing. That’s unfortunate for the show, but it’s a trend: no Freshman series broke into the series categories, and only Simon Baker (The Mentalist) and Toni Colette (United States of Tara) made their way into the major categories.

HBO “Domination”

In a popular vote, nobody quite knew where HBO would end up, but the answer is in far better shape than people anticipated – although Mad Men and Breaking Bad have AMC as the new “it” network, HBO is still holding some cache. Not only did Big Love score a huge surprise nomination as the 7th contender in the Drama Series race, but Flight of the Conchords is honestly the biggest story of the awards. With a Comedy Series nomination, a shocking Lead Actor nomination for Jemaine Clement, plus both writing and directing nominations, the show blew onto the radar like it wasn’t struggling with growing pains in its second season. While everyone saw the show’s Carol Brown getting an Original Song nod, the love wasn’t anticipated. The network also performed well with In Treatment, which missed the Drama Series race but picked up three acting nods (Byrne, Davis, Wiest).

The Year of How I Met Your Mother

I let out an extremely girlish “Yay,” nearly dropping my computer, when How I Met Your Mother was listed as one of the nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series (and I even predicted it!). I know it has no chance in the category, but its nomination is a vindication of the highest order that voters went with the popular vote, and that it jumped from not even being in the Top 10 to being in the Top 7. I call it the Year of HIMYM, though, because Neil Patrick Harris has an open door to pick up an Emmy for Supporting Actor in a Comedy – long live Barney Stinson.

After the jump: Surprises! Snubs! Etc.!

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Emmy Awards

Upfronts Analysis: Fox 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

UpfrontsFOX2

Fox 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

May 18th, 2009

FOX has always performed well in the Spring, but this year they managed to do something they hadn’t in the past: they were smart with their scheduling in the Fall, used House as a lead-in as opposed to a lead-out, and managed to put together two shows (fall debut Fringe and midseason Lie to Me) that were stable enough to earn a spot on their 2009-2010 schedule. They did it with the help of both House and American Idol as lead-ins, of course, but they were intelligent in the way they used those spots, and their Fall Schedule feels more stable as a result.

The question now, of course, is whether they can maintain that momentum, which they will try to do with a highly aggressive schedule that demonstrates that FOX is willing to compete in the Fall…at the risk of running one of its franchises into the ground, throwing one of its new shows out into the wild on its own, and holding its new offerings until midseason.

So even when you think they’ve got the hang of things, FOX has to go and shake things up to prove that, no matter how consistent they may seem at times, they’re always going to pull out a new trick or two.

The full schedule, with my analysis, after the jump – if you’re looking for all the official images and press releases plus plenty of analysis, I suggest you head over to Televisionary where Jace has it all covered.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Upfronts

2009 Golden Globes: TV Nominations Analysis

globes

2009 Golden Globe Awards: TV Nominations

December 11th, 2008

Predicting the Golden Globe awards is, quite literally, a devil’s bargain. While the Movies side is its own monster, the Television nominees are perhaps one of the most difficult to predict in all of awards-dom. Yes, the Emmy Awatds are a broken process, but they at least have a structure that allows for observant parties to analyze. With the Globes, it’s about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s whim – it’s what they consider hype-worthy, what they wake up one morning obsessed with, and overall what about 100 obscure and oft-maligned international journalists decide people should be watching.

Which makes this more fun than anything: we can’t take it too seriously, so it’s just a fun head shaking exercise. The big question is what big new show they’re focusing their attention on (The answer: HBO’s cult hit True Blood, although not as much as they could have), which returning shows they continue to be obsessed with much to my chagrin (The answer: HBO’s Entourage), and which nominees actually sneak in to be deserving independent of their trend-driven qualities (The answer: Neil Patrick Harris).

Overall, these nominees aren’t bad, but they do little to save the show’s reputation: while often lauded as potential kingmakers for films during Oscar season, they are still content to pretend that liking HBO is still hip and cool. While they were the first to recognize Mad Men, and will good reason, there were some other cable shows this year (Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, in particular) which probably could have snuck in for some attention. Unfortunately, the awards don’t quite work that way, and I guess we can’t expect them to. All we can do is sit back or, if you’re me and obsessive about award shows, delve into each individual category with critical gusto. So, let’s take a look at the madness.

Best Television Series: Drama

Dexter, House, In Treatment, Mad Men, True Blood

This category tells us a few things. First, it tells us that the HFPA are fans of both Dexter’s dark sensibilities and House’s dour but occasionally light-hearted medical mysteries, along with being big fans of the show’s eponymous performances. Second, it tells us that Mad Men is going to be a show that the HFPA continues to like: after winning last year, the show is back in the awards’ marquee category. The other two nominees are no surprise: often one to pass over great seasons of returning dramas (See: Lost) and shows which don’t have the same international appeal as others, it is no surprise that their interest in international connections, HBO series and hip new series would lead them to the low-rated but Israeli-created In Treatment and the buzzworthy vampire lust of True Blood. If there’s one show missing, it’s AMC’s Breaking Bad, but it couldn’t repeat Mad Men’s successful ascension from AMC to the interest of the HFPA (even with Cranston’s Emmy win), plus it aired quite some time ago.

Best Television Series: Comedy

30 Rock, Californication, Entourage, The Office, Weeds

While I am more than slightly annoyed that it is the uneven and kind of boring Californication and not Pushing Daisies that proved to have legs for the HFPA following their freshman frames last year, I’m more annoyed at their continued obsession with HBO’s Entourage. I just don’t see how the show belongs in this category over some other, much better, comedies. This isn’t a new sentiment for me, sure, but it warrants mentioning. I’m glad that The Office and 30 Rock have both stabilized in this category, something that is difficult for a show like The Office being in its fifth year. Similar to Entourage, Weeds is a HFPA favourite, having been the first to recognize Mary-Louise Parker for her role in the series; they’ll apparently nominate it until the cows come home. Missing shows here include any new network sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory) as well as some deserving holdovers (How I Met Your Mother, It’s Always Sunny…)

For all of the acting nominations, click below.

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Golden Globes

Seriously, FOX? Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse to air on Fridays

dollhouse

I don’t normally post news, but I figure this is frustrating enough to enjoy a bit more analysis outside of my Twitter feed. Ironically, it was through Twitter that the news was revealed to me. From FOXBroadcasting’s new twitter feed came the following:

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse launches Friday, February 13th

My immediate response: seriously, FOX? Are we going to go through this again? After Whedon’s last FOX show, Firefly, was destroyed by mismanagement by FOX, fans of the creator have already had reason to be slightly concerned about the show’s trajectory. Now, with the creative side seemingly together, comes the next blow – that even when it does air, its opportunity for success has shrunk dramatically.

The thing is, a lot more could have been done: FOX could have premiered the show behind an episode of American Idol, something that is increasingly common and that their other new drama, Lie to Me, is likely getting on January 21st. Nothing about this move seems even remotely like a network that is fully behind this show: and would premiering it a week early and avoiding the ominousness of Friday the 13th really have killed them?

I’m excited for Dollhouse, even as someone who outside of Firefly and Dr. Horrible is woefully behind on my Whedonverse viewing, but these signs keep popping up that this show is cursed. I don’t want to be a harbinger of ill-will towards the series’ fate, and I would love to feel more optimistic, but considering that repeats of NCIS and other crime procedurals are the shows performing best on Fridays something tells me that FOX’s attempt to rekindle The X-Files’ success in the timeslot a decade ago isn’t going to work…and if this means that Whedon’s fans are going to have to pick up FOX’s slack at promoting one of his series AGAIN, I don’t think this is the kind of deja vu the show is trying to discuss.

Below the jump, though, let’s take a look at what the rest of FOX’s January schedule brings us – to be honest, it’s quite reasonable, if frustrating for fans of the network’s science fiction dramas.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Dollhouse

Trying to Care About the Production Troubles of 24

When I first started this blog, 24 was starting its sixth season, and I started posts comparing the show with freshman sensation Heroes. How funny is it, then, that here a year and a half later I really have no emotional attachment to either show, not even really blinking an eye at the most recent news that production on the 7th season of 24 has shut down due to unforeseen creative difficulties.

To start with, for the seventh season itself this isn’t exactly bad news: they’re not going to get behind (considering that they already have 18 episodes filmed and aren’t starting until January), and perhaps the break might improve the end stretch, something that was probably necessary last season with the least memorable 24 conclusion yet. But I think that, like any announcement about 24 these days, it raises to the surface the big question: why is this now two productions stoppages in two years, and what exactly is wrong with this series that is quickly fading from the pop cultural radar?

The answer can be found in one thing: expectation.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under 24

My (And Tim Kring’s) Apologies

My Apology

Over the past four weeks or so, the output on Cultural Learnings has been fairly limited. This has been especially damaging when, over the past week, the WGA strike has essentially provided a whole host of important commentary that any good blogger should be commenting on. However, coincidentally, I was dealing with a strike of my own, assisting my Students’ Union with an information blog during a three and a half week long faculty strike.

As a result, I’m sorry I missed many great episodes of television, many important news stories, and in general just wasn’t around. During that time, I was fortunate enough to finish in 2nd place in Hey! Nielsen’s Best in TV Blog Contest, and I felt incredibly guilty that I wasn’t living up to this fantastic honour bestowed upon me by you, the reader. I plan on trying to live up to that in the near future, so stick with Cultural Learnings in the interim.

Tim Kring’s Apology

However, my apology is not the only one I want to discuss today. Tim Kring, creator of NBC’s slowly fading Heroes, has officially gone on the record that the second season of Heroes has been a wildly miscalculated and redundant exercise (my words, not his). For someone who has defended the show’s various problems (Which aren’t all new, let’s be honest), it is strange to see Kring backing down – the fan response has just been that overwhelmingly negative. And I tend to agree with Alan Sepinwall: just as Kring says this, the show has its best episode of the season. Coincidence? I think not.

Now, I think we shouldn’t give Kring a free ride based on this apology: he’s never been a good writer, and much of last season’s iconic moments came from the mind of Bryan Fuller, not the ex-executive producer of Crossing Jordan. But it’s good to see that he’s at least admitting that his series has fallen off the rails creatively, which shows me that he’s willing to listen to fans. However, adversely, he also considers his vision to be expendable.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Heroes

An Act of Desperation: 24 and the Resurrection of Tony Almeida

Normally, I would be remiss to place an unmarked spoiler directly within my thread title; I count myself amongst those who universally despise spoilers, and would love to attempt to keep this a secret. However, the producers of 24 and FOX don’t want to keep a secret: they want the whole world to know that they’re bringing beloved Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard, pictured with still dead Michelle) back from near-certain death for the show’s seventh season in January.

Although one could certainly make an argument that this resurrection (Which opens up more plot holes than I’d care to imagine) signifies the moment at which 24 jumped the proverbial shark, I would contend that this is nothing compared to the larger problem: a show built on surprising its audience, 24 has taken a potentially shocking revelation and turned it into a talking point.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under 24, Television