Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Friday, September 08, 2000

twitching and predictions

My my. The Outer Limits went out with one hell of a bang, didn't it?

"I'm sorry, but I'm just a little burned out by the strip search!" "Oh. Oh, yes, the strip search .... is it weird that I want you to tell me about the strip search?"
Oh, them crazy Canadians!

No, realy, I mean it. Bloody freakin' insane. That's about the only explanation for how anyone ever thought of Twitch City, let alone how it got on the air.

Basically, the setup is this: Nathan (Daniel MacIvor) lives with his roommate Curtis (Don McKellar), who never does what he's supposed to do. Therefore, one late night, Nathan is forced to go pick up the cat food for his cat. He runs into a crazy man on the streets and, pushed to the edge by various circumstances, swings the bag of canned cat food at the man, hitting him on the head.

The man dies. Oops! And Nathan goes to jail. And so the story begins.

There are, unfortunately, only 13 shows in the series so far, six in the first season and seven in the second. Even more unfortunately, I didn't come into it until the first show of the second season. But even with such a limited exposure, I can cheerfully say that this show is absolutely freakin' insane. Think HBO's "Oz" as channeled by Dennis Potter as he worked frantically on "The Bob Newhart Show" (with a healthy dollop of "Kids in the Hall"--no, really, Mark McKinney and Bruce McCullogh are on the show) and you've pretty much got Twitch City. A large chunk of it is, in fact, a quite self-conscious parody of "Oz"--one character, "Poet", has the same name as a character on "Oz"--but it's "Oz" as seen through a most sincerely bizarre lens. There's a talk show, the Rex Reilly Show, that is a wondrously improbable combination of Jerry Springer and Sally Jessy Raphael done with a certain infomercial style.

The show is pretty solidly the brainchild of Don McKellar; he plays an important character, wrote the show, directed and produced the episodes. And the show veers wildly between those moments that are fascinatingly loopy and those moments that make you want to look at McKellar askance, thinking, "That child ain't right!"

Nonetheless, it's one hell of a fun ride so far. Weird, but fun.


Another Emmy season is upon us. And being quite the awards show wonk--I'm not fascinated quite so much by the show as by the minutiae of the awards themselves, and the concept of doing it year after year--it's time to make some predictions for the major Emmy award categories! Just for the hell of it. Three things will be noted: Defending Champeen (Emmy being the one award that allows defense--actually, barring cancellation, and sometimes not even then, it almost seems required), Who should win, and who I think WILL win.

Law and Order
The Practice (Two-time defending champeen)
The Sopranos (Should win)
The West Wing (Will Win)

The Sopranos absolutely should win. Overall, it's the best written, best acted drama on television. It's also so thoroughly drenched in blood that, unless the new rules for participation make quite a lot of difference, Conservative Emmy will never EVER go for it. The West Wing is also well written, well acted, and overall more hopeful. As someone else once said, it's the Clinton White House we wish we'd had. Just the sort of thing to ring Emmy's bell.

Dennis Franz, NYPD Blue (defending, will probably win)
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos (Should win)
Jerry Orbach, Law and Order
Martin Sheen, The West Wing
Sam Waterson, Law and Order

This one is a serious two horse race. The Law and Order actors will probably cancel each other out; additionally, it really is an ensemble show with not a lot to distinguish lead from supporting roles--they all get about the same amount of screen time. Overall, Gandolfini probably displayed the most range, and had the most to work with; however, Emmy does like its defending champions, and Franz has a couple of these on the mantle already. Sheen might sneak in, given that he's got the most inspirational performance--the most traditionally uplifting.

Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos
Amy Brenneman, Judging Amy
Edie Falco, The Sopranos (Defending Champion, Should and Will win)
Julianna Margulies, ER
Sela Ward, Once and Again

First off, Lorraine Bracco is in the wrong category; she should be in the Supporting Actress category, if anywhere. Other than that, it's a three-person race. Edie Falco has the beefiest role, and, after a slow start, the most interesting and varied, plus she's got that defending thing going. The issue is whether or not the sentiment for Sela Ward making a successful return to television or Julianna Margulies making a successful exit from ER will carry the day.

Everybody Loves Raymond
Frasier (will probably win)
Sex and the City
Will and Grace

Egad! A category with NO defending champion! A rarity! (Well, Ally McBeal had a perfectly awful season. Of course, I think that ALL of its seasons have been perfectly awful, but that's beside the point.) Which makes this a wide open category. OK. First, Sex and the City will never EVER win best series. The reason is right there in the title. (No no no, not because it's in New York City.) People may appreciate its daring, marvel at its writing, drool at its bare breasts, but Emmy is not quite ready to accord her highest honor to a series that's essentially purely about sex and relationships. (We won't mention the Daytime Emmys daytime drama category, will we? Let's not.) If Emmy is feeling daring, she may fall to Will and Grace. If Emmy is feeling conservative, she may fall to Frasier, multiple winner and comfortable choice.

Frankly, I thought the sharpest comedy on TV last year was Action! which is now among the deceased. Absent Action, the next best comedy was Showtime's "Beggars and Choosers," still on the air but not noticed by Emmy. So ... eh. Pencil in Frasier.

Michael J Fox, Spin City (Will win)
Kelsey Grammar, Frasier
John Lithgow, 3rd Rock from the Sun (defending champeen)
Eric McCormack, Will and Grace
Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond

Well ... the idea that anyone could unseat Michael J Fox after the exit he had to make is pretty thoroughly heretical. And I'm not feeling like a heretic today, thanks.

Jenna Elfman, Dharma and Greg
Patricia Heaton, Everybody Loves Raymond
Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle
Debra Messing, Will and Grace
Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City

Again, no defending champion, as "Mad about You" has left the building. Pretty much a toss-up category, really. Smart money at the moment seems to be on Jane Kaczmarek. However ... I think I'll pick Debra Messing, just to be contrary.

Arabian Nights
The Beach Boys: An American Tragedy
The Corner (Should win)
Jesus (WILL win)
PT Barnum

Smart money at the moment is on "Arabian Nights". Please, God, NO! Not that overproduced badly written tripe! "The Corner" was strong, gritty, dramatic, real ... and entirely too much to watch. I'd be willing to bet that most of the Emmy voters bailed before they got through the second episode. In this, our year of The Media Pogrom, "Jesus" would seem to be a good bet.

If These Walls Could Talk 2
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (should win)
Oprah Winfrey Presents: Tuesdays with Morrie (will win)
RKO 281

A three horse race, really. The question is, will Halle Berry's recent unpleasantness put a damper on "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge"--that, combined with the fact that it first aired back in October, dimming it in many voters' minds. RKO 281 has the eclat of its Golden Globes, and "Tuesdays with Morrie" has the power of being (still) a best selling book and overwhelmingly sentimental.

Halle Berry, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (should win, will win)
Judy Davis, A Cooler Climate
Sally Field, A cooler Climate
Holly Hunter, Harlan County War
Gena Rowlands: The Color of Love: Jacey's Story

Ideally, Khandi Alexander should win this award walking away. However, most Emmy voters probably never watched enough of the show to realize how strong her performance in "The Corner" was; the show was that difficult to survive. Given that, Halle Berry should win, but again, her recent unpleasantness may serve to keep this award out of her grasp. In that case, it would probably go to Holly Hunter.

Michael Badalucco, The Practice (defending champeen)
Dominic Chianese, The Sopranos
Steve Harris, The Practice (should win)
Richard Schiff, The West Wing (will win)
John Spencer, The West Wing

Please let me be wrong. Please let Steve Harris win. He really should have won last year, except that he ran into his teammate having a career year. But Badalucco didn't get anything like the story lines this year that he got last year. However. Richard Schiff, who has a really strong, well written supporting role, will win. And I can't say as I think that's a bad thing. But it would be nice if Steve Harris won.

Jennifer Aniston, Friends
Kim Catrall, Sex and the City (should win)
Lisa Kudrow, Friends
Megan Mullaly, Will and Grace
Doris Roberts, Everybody Loves Raymond (will win)

If "Sex and the City" is going to sneak in any category, it will be either here or Lead Actress. Kim Catrall deserves quite a lot of credit for taking a character that could quite easily turn into caricature and making her an actually interesting creation. That said, the type of character may be extremely offputting for Emmy; after all, she has a lot of sex with a lot of men, enjoys it and doesn't apologize for it. Doris Roberts' character is about as far from that character as you can get ... which is one reason why she's likely to win.

Tune in on September 11 to see how well I did with these!

September 10: Night of the big ceremony!

7:00 - The event begins!

7:01-7:11 - Will they please shut Garry Shandling UP!

7:12 - First award! Hey, nothing like having Chris Rock come out and plotz all over it, even if he is right. Supporting Actress Comedy series goes to ... Megan Mullaly! Damn! 0-1.

7:15 - Second Award! Directing in a Comedy series to ... Todd Holland, who directed an ep of "Malcolm in the Middle". And he's ... really really gay. And he thanked "his sweetie Scott." And then they showed Scott! Egad!

7:26 - Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series to Sean Hayes for Will and Grace. Well, of COURSE.

7:30 - "Malcolm in the Middle" for comedy series writing. Eh.

7:31 - Will they PLEASE shut Garry Shandling up? Please? PLEASE?

7:39 - Hey, Eddie Izzard won for writing in a variety, music or comedy program for "Dress to Kill"! Way cool!

7:48 - Hey, Eddie won again for performance in a music or variety program! Go, Eddie! Hey, this is the sixth award in only half an hour of actual award giving. At this rate, they could actually finish by ... Tuesday or so.

7:54 - Supporting Actress for a drama series goes to ... Allison Janney for The West Wing! Well, not a surprise, really.

8:01 - Supporting Actor in a Drama series goes to ... Richard Schiff. 1-1.

8:15 - West Wing wins both writing and directing for a drama series, back to back. I sense a march to the sea in the making....

8:16-8:44 - various awards. Not paying lots of attention, really.

8:44 - Hey, Wayne Grady is doing a musical number ... oh, my. I wonder if all the black presenters/performers somehow got together and decided, "Yes, we WILL make a point of pointing out the overwhelming whititude of the nominees and certain shows," or if this just all happened coincidentally. "Rachel's very dark cousin", indeed.

8:48 - Michael Richards gets to do this nonaward-winners award winners speech as part of his lead-in to the Variety, Comedy, Music Series award. How ... cute. Really. Just don't let "Politically Incorrect" win, can't stand Bill Maher ... Of course, I can't stand Letterman, either. Blech.

9:01 - Halle Berry actually won for Actress in a Miniseries or Movie! Whoa! Cool! 2-1

9:08 - Hey, Charles Dutton won for directing for "The Corner"! It's actually picking up awards! The voters watched it! And both Khandi Alexander and the real-life woman she played are at the ceremony. Must be very strange, watching people winning awards for portraying your life.

9:09 - "The Corner" takes Miniseries! YES! OK, technically, I missed that one, but I'm not really sorry about it. 2-2

9:12 - Will someone PLEASE shut up both Garry Shandling AND Michael J. Fox?

9:23 - Outstanding TV Movie goes to ... Tuesdays with Morrie. 3-2.

9:27 - In Memoriam. I actually know who all the actors who died during the past 12 months were, saw them in something and knew the names to attach to the faces. I think that's the first time I've ever been able to say that.

9:34 - Cher presenting Actress in a Comedy series. As a blond. Well. and Patricia Heaton wins for Everybody Loves Raymond. Great start to the acceptance speech, though. "I just want to thank God for thinking me up, and my mother for letting me come out." Heh. 3-3.

9:37 - Jennifer Anniston presenting Actor in a Comedy Series and screwing it up royally by forgetting Ray Romano. Not that it matters, of course, because Michael J Fox won. 4-3.

9:42 - Commercial. I don't care how hard they want to convince me, I do NOT call ABC "Mello Yello". No. Not in this lifetime. NO.

9:44 - Actress in a Drama Series, presented by Andre Braugher in this express no-nonsense manner. To Sela Ward. Oh, well. 4-4.

9:47 - Actor in a Drama Series goes to ... James Gandolfini! Well, how 'bout that? But it drops me below .500! Damn. 4-5.

9:55 - Comedy Series (after a brief comedy of errors) ... to Will and Grace! Oh, my goodness! PlanetOut and DataLounge will be plotzing themselves with joy all week long! And it is ... quite the moment, one way and another. Love that acceptance speech from the producer, holding the Emmy statuette: "As a gay man, I finally met a woman I want to sleep with!" But now I can't recover to .500. Alas. 4-6.

9:57 - Drama Series ... goes to The West Wing. Well, no surprise there. Nice nod to The Sopranos by Aaron Sorkin. 5-6.

Good lord. Emmy finished on time??! That could almost be an official miracle. Wuxtry, wuxtry! Stop the presses! Industry Awards show finishes on time, on schedule, only has to run over a couple of winners' speeches!

Posted by iain at 09:52 PM in category