Emmy predictions 2011, part one: Comedy Series

Emmy season is upon us again, and I’ve been deep in episodes, trying to view as much as humanly possible before those gold statues are handed out. I pretty much bombed my Creative Arts Emmy predix, but then, I don’t usually predict those, so I chalk that up to a learning experience. My stellar ace in the crown last week was predicting Hot in Cleveland for Art Direction. C’mon! Who else had that one?

But it’s this week’s awards, especially in this unpredictable year, that are going to really separate the true Emmy prognosticators from the slackers. I am gonig to give my full predictions in my podcast, which should be posted in the next couple of days, but I wanted to use this column to cover some aspects of the judging that have come up for me.

Once again, people do not seem to realize that you rise and fall, or Emmys are given, based on the episodes that you submit. This is true for actors, who submit one of their stellar performances from the season (which is then pitted against other actors also nominated), and it’s true for Series nominations. In both Comedy and Drama Series, the shows put together packages of six episodes. Three tapes, two on each. These are then randomly given to voting members, so they see one of each show, in various combinations, and then vote on which is best. It behooves people, then, to select their best episodes, AND their best shows paired together. Sometimes people seem to forget this.

And if you have storylines that carry over, it’s best to have it make sense. To have self-contained episodes, that aren’t reliant on you knowing the whole season and its intricacies. Lost lost out a few times due to that.

So I wanted to explore what those who’ve been watching TV all season already know. Here’s the way I judge it. You have six episodes. Three of those (by my rating system) have to be an A+ episode to win an Emmy. And even then, they also have to best your competitors’ A+ episodes. You pretty much have to have all A episodes to stay in the game. Anyone with a B episode or lower is out. Simple.

This year, I’ve done something different than I normally do. I’m trying to watch every episode in the Drama Series category that’s been submitted. (In some cases: Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Friday Night Lights, The Good Wife, Mad Men–it meant catching up with entire seasons of shows I was behind on; in other cases: Dexter–I have stopped watching any because the one I did watch (“Teenage Wasteland” which is a Series submission and Michael C. Hall’s submission) was so dreadful, C+ by my grades, I need go no further. Dexter is out. So is Michael C. Hall. Sorry, pal.

I feel really remiss in the Comedy category, and I may pay for it on Sunday. I am super behind (like more than a season) on both 30 Rock and The Office, so I’m not even factoring those in. I normally hate jumping into a season, without having seen the seasons before, so I’ve been hesitating about The Big Bang Theory, though I probably will watch their eps before Sunday.

The one big question mark is the wonderful show Parks and Recreation. I did catch up with the early seasons and it just keeps getting better and better. However, I have not, and will likely not, caught up with this Season before Sunday. If they win, I’ll be happy for them, but bummed that I didn’t have time to view these eps.

I want to focus in this blog post about two of the Comedy Series competitors that I have been spending quite a bit of time with. One that I think has no chance in hell of winning, and one that I think will win.

First up: Glee. Sigh. What the hell happened to you, Glee? There were so many things about Glee last year that I totally loved, but this year, WOW. It’s, as the kids say: “A hot mess.” That it got nominated astonishes me. (Where is Hot in Cleveland?)

But let’s take a look at it, shall we?

I’m still slogging through it. I have the last six eps to force down. Boy, has it been a tough slog this season. In fact, it’s been so jaw-droppingly awful, I would be hard-pressed to pick the worst moment of the season. Sue Sylvester marrying herself would be right up there. Characters were all over the place, bed-hopping with abandon. Mr. Shue even kissed the football coach (for no apparent reason). Sometimes people were gay, sometimes they weren’t. In much of the beginning of the season, the viciousness and hurtfulness was almost too much to bear. If I didn’t have Emmy predictions to do, I would’ve stopped back then.

Kurt goes to another school, cause he just can’t take the harrassment, then he gets ridiculed and put in his place (in a different way) at his new school. New characters get dropped into the story, also for no apparent reason. Emmy-winning Gwyneth Paltrow, whom I thought was just awful in the episode she won an Emmy for, actually comes back later in the season and redeems herself. Mr. Shue’s wife has all but disappeared. Shue and Emma had a hot wistful romance going at the end of Season 1, then she gets cold feet, then she takes up with AND MARRIES, completely out of the blue, a hot dentist. Then she’s not having sex with him, cause she really still loves Will. Yawn.

Very few parts of what any of these characters do is plausible. Their motivations change like the wind. Even the great dance and song numbers from last season have regressed to Top 40 pandering. The season included tracks from Ke$ha, Justin Bieber and My Chemical Romance instead of last season’s Streisand. (Are you puking yet? I certainly was.) The episode, Original Song, mind-bogglingly one of the episodes they submitted for consideration, included songs written (supposedly) by the students themselves. I think those were even worse than the Bieber stuff.

The lip-synching is out of control. Even Sue Sylvester was dancing and singing in a song. She was the most all over the place this season. She has Cheerios, then she has none. She was on TV, then she wasn’t. She hates Will, then she goes with him to see some sick kids sing, and nearly cries. And if she wins another Emmy this year (which she very likely will) I think I’ll cry. (Listen to my podcast, MBH116, for more on that fiasco.)

But, in the midst of all that real dreck and pablum, there are moments of absolute brilliance. The entire Rocky Horror Glee Show was genius, from start to finish. Shue and Emma do a fabulous “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” then they all come to their senses and realize, “Oops this is a high school. This is too racy.” So they can’t perform it. Even though they already have.

It’s just stuff like that. Eye-rolling constantly.

But then you have a beat-for-beat recreation of Donald O’Connor’s “Make ‘Em Laugh” which just took my breath away. Excellent stuff.

I also loved how the hot stud falls in love with the “fat chick.” He sings a rowdy and wonderful version of Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” which anyone would be complimented to have sung to them, but said girl gets offended. Yet, later in the season, when he sings her a much more offensive song about fatness that he “wrote,” she loves it.

The saddest thing about Glee’s contention at the Emmys is that they didn’t even INCLUDE the Rocky Horror Glee Show as their Emmy submission. So, to my eyes, Glee is out.

GLEE
Tape 1: “Audition” = B/“Silly Love Songs” = A
Tape 2: “Original Song” = C+/”The Substitute” = B+
Tape 3: “Duets” = B/“Never Been Kissed” = A (their strongest tape)

Compare this to a show that, in its second season, only built on and improved the amazing stuff they brought us in their first season. I am talking, of course, about the show I believe will take its second Emmy for Comedy Series: Modern Family.

MODERN FAMILY
Tape 1: “Old Wagon” = A/”Someone to Watch Over Lily” = TBA
Tape 2: “Mother’s Day” = TBA/”Caught in the Act” = TBA
Tape 3: “Manny, Get Your Gun” = A+/”The Kiss” = A (their strongest tape)

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