Tag Archives: Saturday Night Live

Cultural Learnings’ 2008 60th Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

Last year, during this important period of the pre-Emmy festivities, I had a bit more time to really delve into some key issues. This year, things are busier, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to make some prognostications about the end results. I’m going to be discussing more themes and the like tomorrow in my Emmy Preview, but for now let’s get to what we really care about: predicting who is actually going to walk home with Emmy Awards.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • Boston Legal (ABC)
  • Damages (FX)
  • Dexter (Showtime)
  • House (FOX)
  • Lost (ABC)
  • Mad Men (AMC)

There is some wiggle room here, as each some has something (Pedigree, viewership, buzz, etc.) that makes it stand out, but there is nothing on this list quite as emphatically received and, more importantly, different from your standard fare than Mad Men. I’ll discuss more of this tomorrow, but its combination of a small network, a small fanbase, fresh-faced actors and its attention to detail will be unstoppable.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • James Spader (Boston Legal)
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
  • Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
  • Hugh Laurie (House)
  • Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
  • Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment)

This is a category where only one thing is important: that James Spader finally loses. Either Hamm, C. Hall or Laurie are in a position to usurp last year’s winner, and I’ve got my money on Michael C. Hall. After getting snubbed here last year, and with his show in the big race, voters might choose to recognize his brave and fantastic performance even when the show itself loses them with its dark atmosphere. But, this is maybe the night’s most up in the air race.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters)
  • Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
  • Holly Hunter (Saving Grace)
  • Glenn Close (Damages)
  • Mariska Hargitay (Law and Order: SVU)

This race, however, is not up in the air at all. Its highly serialized nature and red herring use might keep it from being the best drama series on television, but there is no way that Emmy Voters can ignore Close’s pedigree with such a richly portrayed character (even if I’d argue that character isn’t nearly as important as voters might think it is to the show’s success).

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The Top 10+ Pleasant Surprises of the 2008 Emmy Top 10s

The Top 10 Pleasant Surprises of the Top 10s

[If I was currently wearing a hat, I would take it off in honour of Tom O’Neill’s continued amazing work gathering up leaks in regards to the Top 10 lists of semi-finalists for the Emmy Awards panels taking place over the next few weeks. While he doesn’t have the complete list, I’m willing to go out and indicate the 10 choices (In no particular order, but the top 2 probably are) that actually make me optimistic about the show’s relevancy (Before, admittedly, taking a look tomorrow at the ones that give me no hope at all).]

1. Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)

Category: Lead Actress, Drama Series

Last year when writing up my For Your Consideration posts, I said the following about Mary McDonnell’s work as President Laura Roslin on my favourite Sci-Fi series:

“What I love about Mary McDonnell’s portrayal of the character is that, without fail, you are always rooting for Laura Roslin to succeed except for those moments where she is clearly wrong. In those cases, McDonnell makes you want to see Roslin get let down as easily as possible, in order to ensure that she isn’t too damaged in the process.”

This is even more true this season, where her character finds her cancer back and where a whole new perspective is reached. Her performance in “Faith” is heart-wrenching, and that panels will finally get to see an episode of this fantastic series in the Top 10 warms my frakking heart. This is one of those surprises that gives you faith that the Emmys are willing to recognize performances off the beaten path, if you will, and they don’t get much better than this.

2. Zeljko Ivanek (Damages)

Category: Supporting Actor, Drama Series

When previewing this category, I lamented the likely lack of recognition for Damages other supporting actor contender:

“While he seemed fairly minimal in most instance, sparring with Patty or reasoning with Frobisher, Ivanek burst into the main narrative with “I Hate These People.” Without falling into total spoiler territory, the character took a sudden turn to the tragic, a dramatic fall that was more compelling than anything the other supporting characters went through.”

That he broke through was a highlight for me, a sign that people were watching all of Damages and not just the show’s pilot. Ivanek may have had accent issues, and certainly the show wasn’t near perfect, but his performance in his submission is simply stunning, and I can only hope voters enjoy the time they have with this amazing piece of work.

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An Open Letter to NBC, Re: Fall 2008 Schedule

Dearest NBC,

According to the trades, you have revealed your Fall schedule, which is one of those times when I head off to Variety to ponder what kind of stupid decisions you’ve made. Now, you’re right – you have occasionally made some good decisions, and there are some of them found within this year’s announcement. However, at the same time, there are some which frustrate me to no end, and which need to be discussed.

First, let’s discuss the good:

  • Friday Night Lights is definitely coming back, although not until the Winter. Through some sort of cost-saving measure (Hopefully not cutting out parts of the ensemble, although I could do with less Lyla in general), the show has been saved – long live quality television.
  • On the same front, unsurprising considering its buzz in critical circles, 30 Rock is returning for a third season. After such a creative push pre-strike, it should be interesting to see how it does in the post-strike period. Hopefully, like How I Met Your Mother, it will see a boost.
  • A smart network, “Thursday Night Live” will air for four weeks leading up to the Presidential Election following The Office on Thursday Night. This shall offer some strong comedy, which excites me.
  • NBC is officially not picking up Scrubs, a great decision in my books. Too bad ABC wishes to flog the dead horse a while longer.
  • Critical hit Life, even with low ratings, is renewed as previously announced, but might struggle for viewers on Friday nights in the Winter.

Now, based on this you’d think that I was happy with this upfront, that I wouldd have just posted about how great you were, NBC, and move on with my life. Well, let’s just say that I have some other issues – I won’t get into your new shows (Not much information is available, and what little there is doesn’t tickle my fancy to be honest), but there are a few decisions you’ve made that are potentially awful:

  • Airing after the Super Bowl, NBC is officially launching a spinoff of The Office. Now, this is only a potential evil: I haven’t seen the show, and no details are available as of this time. However, I’ll have more thoughts throughout the week on why I think this is a fairly volatile idea.
  • However, that’s not even the biggest concern with the Office – that belongs to the idiotic return to one-hour episodes in the Fall. I’ll rant more about this later too, but do we not remember those episodes? And how they were not up to the standards of the half-hours which proceeded? Did no one at NBC pay attention to the quality of the show in this decision? Clearly, they did not.

What these decisions represent to be is a shameless milking, a milking that goes against the quality of a television program. I think there is potential for an Office spinoff (I vote for Daryl, personally), but I don’t know if the show proper is at a place creatively where it will be able to excise part of itself. I guess that your confidence in The Office financially doesn’t quite jive with my own views of its relative quality this season, which is fine…I just wish you’d just kept it at a half hour. I could deal with spinoff, but the two combined just angers me.

I shall vent more anger tomorrow, so stay tuned. Plus, knowing you, you’ll have changed this schedule by then.



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Saturday Night Live (September 29th, 2007): Lebron James and Kanye West

Through the joys of YouTube, but perhaps not for long, I’ve been able to get a glimpse at what Saturday Night Live brought to the table in their season premiere. The episode always presents the show’s biggest challenge, in that the quality of the season to come will be judged based on this hour and a half. This year, it will be judged based on three qualities: its cultural relevance, its musical guest and, of course, its Digital Short.

Kanye West

Champion/Everything I Am

Stronger/The Good Life

Skit: Kanye West the Awards Crybaby

Ummm…why didn’t Kanye West host the show? Based on this clip, he is infinitely funnier than Lebron James. I’m guessing it was probably a time commitment issue, which kind of sucks, but Kanye West is a funny, funny guy. And the performances are good…the freestyle is a little bit off, as I prefer the actual lyrics of Everything I Am, but what can you do? In other news: “Give a black man…give a SHORT black man a chance” from the skit is pretty well hilarious.

Pop Culture Sendoff 

SNL does High School Musical [YouTube Link]

Ummm…this is not funny. It’s clear that Andy Samberg is being treated like the star of SNL now, but James is rather unfortunately unable to embrace the skit’s real comedy. It’s a rather lazy High School Musical parody that, even with a strong performance from Samberg, never feels like biting satire. In other words, Mad TV could have done this sketch. That’s not a compliment.

The Digital Short 

SNL Digital Short: “Iran f. Adam Levine” [Youtube Link]

A sendoff of Mahmoud, the lovable president of Iran, this digital short is something that many of them have not been: genuinely well-produced and going for a fairly subtle form of comedy. The song is actually fairly catchy, especially with Levine doing the chorus, and the piano riff is apparently from Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th.

And the skit is funny! Mahmoud is performed wonderfully by Fred Armisen, the Jame Gyllenhal cameo is great, and it’s just a very enjoyable piece of comedy. I don’t expect a viral sensation, but I certainly enjoyed it.

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