TV's biggest night, the Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, is Sunday night. Being a big TV fan, I wanted to weigh in with my picks on some of the major categories as well as mention a few that I feel were overlooked for a nomination. There's not a lot for me to quibble with for two reasons: 1)since having my son Noah I've watched much less TV, and 2)most of the shows I like are well-represented. I don't list all the nominees, so if you want to see the entire list, it's at the Emmy site. Here goes...
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Flight of the Conchords - I never laugh harder than at the misadventures of this New Zealand novelty duo, Bret and Jemaine. I especially seeing Murray, the band manager and my favorite character, getting more of the spotlight this season. From organizing a motley street gang to holding a benefit concert for canine epilepsy, this show might be too offbeat for Emmy voters, but a win could lead to a third season!
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
STEVE CARELL as Michael Scott on "The Office" - Carell is a four-time nominee with no wins. This was really his season, striking out on his own with the Michael Scott Paper Company, only to return in all his mismanaging glory. His biggest competition, Alec Baldwin, won last year, so Emmy may shine favorably.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
TINA FEY as Liz Lemon on "30 Rock" - She's won the Golden Globe, the SAG and the WGA this year. Her fifth Emmy would tie it all up in a nice bow. The public reaction to her non-"30 Rock" turns as Sarah Palin on "SNL" (which already won her an Emmy at the non-televised event) erases any doubt as to who's winning this one.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
RAINN WILSON as Dwight Schrute on "The Office" - What, no Emmy yet for Dwight Schrute? When the book of most memorable modern TV characters is written, reserve a chapter for Wilson's intensely earnest and uncomfortably creepy assistant (to the) general manager. Maybe three times is a charm. Though in voters' "30 Rock" fever, it could go to my fellow UE alum Jack McBrayer (who's role as Kenneth is also deserving, but maybe next year).
BRIAN BAUMGARTNER as Kevin Malone on "The Office" - What is it about Kevin? Is it his blatant ogling of Pam? Is it his ineptitude at his job? I think what was Emmy-worth this season was his articulating the difference between "is she hot or not?" and "would you do her?". How many other TV characters have their own movie trailer?
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
JENNA FISCHER as Pam Beesly on "The Office". She's not even nominated in what may be her strongest year in the series. She had a lot more do to when Pam quit Dunder Mifflin to join Michael's ill-conceived start-up company. Does she deserve an Emmy? Yes. Did I add her to this entry just to post hot pictures of Jenna Fischer? Um...probably.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
CHRISTIAN CLEMENSON as Jerry Espenson on "Boston Legal" - Ok, so he's already won (as a guest actor in '05 before they made him a regular). But his character, a lawyer struggling with Asperger syndrome, grew so much in the intervening years that the performance is deserving of a new win.
JOHN SCURTI as Lt. Ken "Lou" Shea on 'Rescue Me'. Scurti's character, to my thinking, is the heart of the show. His character is a great counterpart to Denis Leary's Tommy Gavin. I think part of him wishes he had what Tommy Gavin once had - the hot wife and the kids, another part is sickened that Tommy squandered his blessings, and another part is Tommy's balls-to-the-wall best friend for life. The audience is always hoping that he'll turn it around. In five years he's gone from a suicidal low to deliriously happy in love to a being resigned to a life of drunkenness and failure. This year he was on the upswing again, coping through it all with his own brand of caustic humor.
OUTSTANDING MADE FOR TV MOVIE
Into the Storm - Actor Brendan Gleeson embodies Winston Churchill in this portrayal of the war years. More force of nature than man, you believe a Churchill-less Britain would have gone down in defeat.
Generation Kill - The writers behind one of my favorite all-time TV shows, "The Wire", give us a look into the lives of a Marine unit at the beginning of the current Iraq war. In the fight for their lives, inept commanders, language barriers and confusing rules of engagement become their biggest enemies. I was actually surprised to see it on the list, since these award shows generally favor recent fare, and this came out last summer. It's out on DVD.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
It's clearly the year of "30 Rock", with 22 nominations and four out of the five spots for this category. I'm going to cross my fingers for the fifth spot - the "Prime Minister" episode of "Flight of the Conchords". Murray attempts to get the visiting prime minister of New Zealand a meeting with Obama. Jemaine finds unexpected benefits of being an Art Garfunkel impersonator. Hilarity ensues.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the Emmys (there's actually a good host this year).