Handicapping the 2010 Emmys: Comedy Acting
June 2nd, 2010
In comedy this year, a lot depends on what shows make it big: we know that Glee and Modern Family are going to make a statement (as noted in my piece handicapping the Comedy Series race), but is it going to be a statement of “this is a great show” or a statement of “this is the greatest show since sliced bread?” The difference will largely be felt in the acting categories: both Modern Family and Glee have multiple Emmy contenders, but it’s unclear whether some of the less heralded performers will be able to rise along with the big “stars,” or whether the halo of series success won’t help them compete against some established names already entrenched in these categories.
Ultimately, I’m willing to say that there’s going to be some pretty big turnaround this year in some of these categories, but others feature quite a large number of former nominees who likely aren’t going anywhere, so it should be interesting to see how things shake out on July 8th. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the four major Comedy Acting Emmys and see where the chips lie.
“The Floating Anniversary”
October 14th, 2009
I could take a gander at Cougar Town tonight, considering that I remain really perplexed at people who can’t seem to get beyond the show’s premise and Cox’s overacting to see a show that has a really strong emotional core, but since I didn’t get to cover The Middle’s pilot I figure I should discuss the show’s third episode. The show is not as inventive as Modern Family, or as diverse as Cougar Town (which I find more cohesive), but it is a solid family comedy that’s a bit reductive of Malcolm in the Middle but could have had a much worse fate.
What makes the show work is that it features good performances and has a surefire sitcom premise that is inarguably charming. I think the kids are decently engaging, Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn make believable parents, and perhaps more importantly the show has something to say about families dealing with an economic crisis. Where the show loses points in how it tends to stick to the same jokes, and how it relies too heavily on Patricia Heaton’s performance without letting the other parts of the show get their due.
“The Floating Anniversary” is perhaps the weakest episode yet, if only because it feels the least like an ensemble piece: while the pilot logically placed the emphasis on the biggest star who is at the heart of the show, I think the show needs to branch out beyond its stereotypes in order to really grab my attention.
ABC Fall Schedule 2009-2010
May 19th, 2009
ABC is the one network this year whose strategy appears to be “let’s order a ridiculous number of new shows,” which is really quite interesting in this economic climate. The network isn’t in a bad position, per se, but its been through a rough development patch where this past year brought the failure of three out of four of its major sophomore series (Private Practice being the only survivor) as well as the failure of all but one of its midseason replacements (Castle being the only one who managed to pull it together, and even then only with the support of the Dancing with the Stars lead-in). Their staple shows have remained fairly strong, with Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters all remaining solid performers despite industry-wide drops in ratings, but they were in need of some new blood.
Their solution, however, is going to be a rather interesting experiment, especially when we consider the way in which the network is programming those new series, and just how many of them they have working for them: ordering a mix of legal, procedural, and science fiction dramas on top of four (count ’em) four new comedies, the network is banking on people being ready to laugh and, more importantly, to embrace shows in the 10pm timeslot with NBC out of the running.
Let’s take a gander at the highlights, shall we?
In the Emmy Awards’ smallest acting category, there’s not much in the way of wiggle room. The small numbers should mean more of a chance of grabbing a nomination for newcomers, like Pushing Daisies’ Anna Friel or Miss/Guided’s Judy Greer, but it’s also one of the most tightly contested of the major categories. This is because there’s a lot of forces at play here: you’ve got the power of the four Housewives, the heritage of Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond and Married…with Children, and the credibility of awards-show favourites like Mary-Louise Parker or Tina Fey.
Combine all of this with last year’s winner America Ferrera, and you have a category where making the Top 10 isn’t enough; you need to have something special that’s going to make you overcome the logjam that could lead to the category’s five nominees. On the one hand, this shuts out a lot of good candidates who probably deserve a shot, as they won’t rank highly enough in the popular vote to have a chance.
However, the one good spinoff is that for the candidates who do have that name recognition, it’s going to be a race that is decided by who has the best tape. The seven or so candidates who have a chance of cracking that Top 5 will have to put forward their best material of the season, and the result is a race that’s going to be very close even if there’s so many “real” contenders.