Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My (sort of) 2014 Emmy Review

FULL DISCLOSURE: I didn’t watch a minute of the Emmys. I was teaching a class at USC. But that insignificant little technicality is not going to stop me.

Here is my snarky review of the 2014 Primetime Emmy telecast.

Let’s see how close my predictions came to what actually happened.

Since the Academy clearly has abandoned any delineation in categories – shows enter not based on their genre but on which category they think they can win in – the results were somewhat blurred.

Congratulations to THE WALKING DEAD for winning Best Comedy. Kudos to SUPER FUN NIGHT for winning Best Drama. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK walked away with Best Animated Series, and the 2013 EMMYCAST won Best Mini-series.

Stephen Colbert won the Best Guest Star Emmy for his appearance on THE COLBERT REPORT.

Tatiana Maslany was not even nominated for Best Actress in a Drama despite playing nine characters, each one brilliantly, so as far as I’m concerned no one won this year.

There was a long touching tribute to Robin Williams that made it seem his death was far more significant than all of the other industry people who passed away this year.

Seth Meyers had a few good jokes but made you long for the days when real television stars used to host the Emmys. Jimmy Fallon is now even too big.

Between the four major networks, they combined for a grand total of two Emmy wins.

DATING NAKED contestant, Jessie Nizewitz’s vagina won Best Guest Appearance in a Comedy.

Since NBC carried the Emmys this year the options were move the telecast to Monday to avoid a conflict with their Sunday night NFL game, or air on Sunday as usual but only in a little box in the right corner of the screen. They chose wrong.

But seriously, how important are the Emmys when they get bumped for an exhibition football game? Not even a regular season game. And not even teams that America gives a crap about -- A practice game between Arizona and Cincinnati, with a million players no one’s ever heard of. Of course, there were plenty of Emmy nominees and even shows that no one’s ever heard of either. Not to mention mystery presenters. There were at least two of them familiar only to TV editors of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

Red Carpet host Sam Rubin mistook Mindy Kaling for Aziz Ansari.

Taylor Schilling was nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy. They didn’t show any of her funny clips because, well… there aren’t any.

If there was one absolute lock it was Julia Louis-Dreyfus. And along those lines, as a rule, if you won before you won again.

Next year the Emmys should be on Netflix and they can announce all the winners at once.

The comedy bits were forced and too long. (That’s my other lock.)

Aaron Paul, who Fox didn’t want us to hire for our pilot, won again. How many Fox stars won anything last night?

Matthew McConaughey is now a Tony away from the hat trick. Or Bryan Cranston is just an Oscar away from the hat trick.

Everyone fawned all over Matthew McConaughey because they were just so excited to have an actual MOVIE STAR in the house.   It was like TV's version of WAITING FOR GUFFMAN.   

Instead of wearing a gown, Lena Dunham had one tattooed to her body.

Shows that didn't win the big prize got consolation Emmys for acting or writing or two for lighting.

Matthew Weiner lost. But at least he has his movie coming out.

Ricky Gervais entertained the industry people in the room and completely ignored the home audience.  And he wonders why America hates him.

Next year Amazon will offer all TV Academy Members free shipping on their next purchase if they vote for one of their shows. Expect one of their shows to win.

GIRLS didn’t win shit.  Can we finally stop wasting valuable nominations on that show?

Congratulations to shows like THE GOOD WIFE, PARKS & REC, ORPHAN BLACK, SUITS, SONS OF ANARCHY, JUSTIFIED, MASTERS OF SEX, THE MIDDLE, THE AMERICANS, and actors Andy Samberg, Katey Sagal, Liv Schreiber, Matthew Rhys, Kerri Russell, Tim Oliphant, Walton Goggins, James Spader, Jeff Daniels (who WON last year), Gabriel Macht, Rick Hoffman, Neal McDonough, and of course, Tatiana Maslany for an Emmy winning year even though you weren’t nominated so that DOWNTON ABBEY and comedy powerhouse Kate Mulgrew could be.

So how’d I do? I’m sure I nailed it on SUPER FUN NIGHT winning Best Drama. I mean, it was its final year.


Stoney said...

Say what you will about the Robin Williams tribute but I think you'll like the Shea Stadium story that Billy included in it!

Scooter Schechtman said...

I'm outraged you didn't take a shot at Louis CK's show, because I had planned to be outraged by your shot.
"Chokin' on my own rage here."

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I liked Jim Parsons's acceptance speech, first praising the work of his fellow nominees and concluding that the reason he was the one with the trophy was: "There's no accounting for taste."


rock.golf@rogers.com said...

Migawd, those predictions were so accurate you make Kreskin look like a fraud!

Brian O. said...

Billi Crystal talking about Billy Crystal missing Robin Williams. Bet Billy has prerecorded his own IN MEMORIAM segment.

Scott H said...

My only complaint about the Robin Williams tribute was that there was no mention or clip of him from the TV SHOW that introduced him to the world, "Mork and Mindy". It seemed inappropriate to have an Emmys tribute that made no mention of the TV series that made him a huge celebrity.

Barry Traylor said...

The Emmys are so under my notice that if you had not mentioned it being on last night I would not have known it was going to be on.
Thanks to you I could avoid watching it with a clear conscience.

Mary Stella said...

You hit the mark with many of your comments.

Since I didn't watch most of the shows that were nominated, I wasn't engaged in rooting for particular nominees. Overall, I thought that Seth Myers and most of the presenters were pretty entertaining. I enjoyed the opening monologue and laughed out loud at the "man on the street" bit, frenetic as it got.

One thing that struck me was that they presented some supporting actor/actress Emmy awards a couple of weeks ago. Then gave a couple of the winners jobs as presenters. Was that the consolation for not getting the bigger audience recognition or being able to thank all of your people on the main show?

Daniel said...

What you don't know is that Tatiana Maslany went onstage, dressed as Julianna Margulies, to accept the Best Actress trophy. Her performance was so good that no one could tell the difference.

Thomas Pinto said...

Pretty damn close for not having watched...add clairvoyant to your resume. I'm predicting Breaking Bad will win everything next year, even when it's not on the air.

CarolMR said...

I can't believe no one from "Fargo" (FX) won anything.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Seth Myers had two jokes you'd appreciate
"I would like to take a moment to congratulate the writers in the room tonight, but their seats are too far away for them to hear me."

"We have comedies that make you laugh and comedies that make you cry because they were dramas submitted as comedies."

The other good joke he said, "This year, we're doing the Emmys on a Monday night in August, which if I understand television, means the Emmys are about to get canceled."

Thankfully a comedy show won the comedy emmy, and at least on the male actor winners were from comedy shows.

The other highlights were the man on the street, the funny dialogue between Julia LouiseDreyfus and Bryan Cranston (and the subsequent kiss), and Billy Crystal (along with the singing which was much better than at the Tonys or Oscars).

The lowlights: Colbert was terrible (no one laughed), Too much with Mcconaughey and Julia Roberts - though Kimmel poked fun McConaughey and Harrelson).

ScottyB said...

Jimmy Kimmel should be hired for everything. Totally everything.

ScottyB said...

You know what's even worse than any awards show? The next morning, where swishy hipster guest fashion dudes beat words like "delicious" to death while discussing dresses.

It's just ... weird.

Cat said...

Except for all the repeat winners (major issue with the Emmys, but no way to fix it, really) I enjoyed the show last night. It was well-paced, the only singing and dancing was done for farce, and Seth Meyers (who I love unabashedly) did a great job. And Matthew M. and Woody Harrelson need to do EVERY project together, they are gold.

DwWashburn said...

The only thing you missed was the description of the Robin Williams tribute. He deserved a lot better than a Billy Crystal monologue that talked more about Crystal than Robin.

Frank Paradise said...

I watched the Louie episode that won the Emmy for best comedy writing and it was very similar to an old Taxi episode where Alex dates a fat woman. The only difference was it wasn't nearly as funny as the Taxi episode.

ScottWhitmore said...

My 2-cents on a partial fix of the mess with category submissions & snubs:

1. Get rid of "comedy" and "drama." Replace with "short program (30 min or less)" and "long program" respectively. (Are any primetime dramas a half-hour? Are any sitcoms an hour?)

2. Further divide the categories above into "short season (15 episodes or less)" and "long season." (Now Veep and Parks & Rec can both win, as can Mad Men and The Good Wife.)

3. Actor/Writer/Director awards are submitted based on episode, not season length, so should remain unchanged.

PS: Love the blog, Ken. Start my morning with it everyday.

PSS: Go Mariners.

CarolMR said...

Was there a tribute to James Garner?

Anonymous said...

CarolMR, he was in the montage. Very few of the clips in the montage had sound, but his did. As did Don Pardo (LIVE from New York...).

I enjoyed Billy Crystal's tribute. If Robin Williams had a best friend, after Chris Reeves, it would be Billy. I thought it was sweet and a tender remembrance of time with his friend.

Pam St. Louis

benson said...

Didn't watch a second of it, but what I find interesting, this is supposedly the golden age of television, and movies are in a real slump, yet the Emmys are the red-headed stepchild of awards shows. Maybe it's because like the Grammys, there so many freakin' categories. I don't know.

Re: James Garner. Don't know what they did, but since TV is now aimed at 20-somethings, I'm surprised they would even mention him.

john driscoll Voice Over America said...

Seth just does not cut it

Judith said...


You left out RECTIFY.

JoeyH said...

Jimmy Kimmel? Lord, please, no.

Jason said...

Watched the first season of Orphan Black after reading about it here.


How is it possible that an actor can convince me that she's multiple different characters IMPERSONATING EACH OTHER and I can believe it?

Johnny Walker said...

@ScottWhitmore: That sounds like a sensible solution! I wonder if they'd consider it.

chalmers said...

What's rarer, Ken, a one-time Emmy winner or a one-time Gold Glover?

Breadbaker said...

If you read the full list of categories, including the ones not announced on TV, it's even more amazing. They have casting categories for drama, comedy, miniseries. They have three- and one-camera cinematography. They have prosthetic and non-prosthetic makeup, for each of the three major divisions.

But if Fred Armisen is only a supporting actor in Portlandia, who is the star? He is on camera about 95% of the time.

Pat Reeder said...

I agree, the categories made no sense, and giving the Best Comedy award to "Modern Family" AGAIN was ridiculous. But at least it was actually a comedy. Many of the nominations made no sense at all, but to me, the most baffling win was Sarah Silverman for best writing for a comedy/variety special. Even critics who normally fawn over her thought that was her weakest special. I caught it recently in the middle of the night when there was nothing else on. Laughed about five times in 45 minutes and finally turned it off when she started strumming a guitar and singing the "c-word" over and over and over in what I assume was cutting-edge social satire in 1972. She should leave the sexually-explicit musical satire to Garfunkel and Oates.

Shirley said...

I'm sure this is a dumb question but how did everyone know that Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a lock?

VP81955 said...

Get rid of "comedy" and "drama." Replace with "short program (30 min or less)" and "long program" respectively

Or simply add a "dramedy" category. Otherwise, I fear the traditional multi-camera sitcom will fall by the wayside where Emmy nominations are concerned, done in by the "TV snobs" (aka David Bianculli and anyone who discusses prime-time TV on NPR).

Steve said...

I'd like your opinion on this Ken: was the monologue a bit too entertainment industry insider? Does the average viewer know or care what it means for a show to be "submitted as" a comedy or drama? And also about Lena Dunham going dressed as a fruit salad.

Ken Levine said...

Like I said, I didn't see the Emmys.

mmryan314 said...

I watched all of it. I thought Seth Myers was funny, enjoyed Kimmel, loved Fallon's highjacking of Colbert's award speech, didn't like Colbert last night ( although normally do), and loved Woody Harrelson and Matthew Mcconaughey's gig, and I was touched by the tribute to Robin Williams. The awards themselves were almost secondary. Maybe all of the actors/comedians should just get together and give speeches. Then their "speeches" could be given awards.

iconoclast59 said...

@Steve: Lena Dunham didn't go dressed as a fruit salad; she went dressed as a toilet paper roll cover.

Lyle said...

Normally I don't much care for award shows. I found the Oscars boring and predictable . . . same with Golden Globes.

The Emmys tonight, however, were quite entertaining. I enjoyed Seth Meyers on SNL, not so much on his late, late night tv show, though, in fairness, I have a hard time staying up that late so haven't watched a lot of him. So, I probably had a built-in bias against him when I heard he was the mc for the Emmy's.

He turned me around. I thought he did a superb job.

Overall, I thought the show was quite well done. True, some of the bits done by the presenters were the product of pretty lame writing . . . others were funny.

Disappointed in Stephen Colbert's bit. I like him. A lot. But tonight was not his finest, nor funniest, hour.

Normally not a fan of Jimmy Kimmel but I thought he was great. Don't care much for Fallon, but he did OK.

I hope they invite Seth Meyers back next year. I think he's earned it.

Had a good time watching. The Billy Crystal salute to Robin Williams was beautiful.

Robin the Boy Wonder said...

Andre Braugher got robbed!

Buttermilk Sky said...

You couldn't have predicted the two low points. Weird Al Yankovic performed a pointless medley of theme-song parodies, and Sofia Vergara was displayed on a revolving platform like something in a shop window. (Not at the same time.) Seth McFarlane's "We Saw Your Boobs" at the Oscars was Cole Porter by comparison.

The students in your class had a much better evening.

Harold M. said...

Seth Meyers reminds me a lot of Troy McClure. He thinks he's a lot more important than he really is.

Ralph C. said...

If one watches enough Emmy programs and knows current television, predictions aren't so hard to make. Like many t.v. Shows, it has its patterns and scripts to follow, scenes arranged just so... and award shows are much the same in organization. Attempted organization, at least. Only takes a couple of rogue performers and/or presenters to throw the whole sha-bang out of wack-a-doosy.

That's my thought, anyway.

luciuspaisley said...

Tatiana Maslany isn't doing anything Larry Storch didn't do almost 50 years ago on F-Troop.

At least when he played a character of the opposite sex, the make-up was believable - a mullet and merkin goatee do not a man make...

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...


very practical idea.
Which means they'd never do it.

that's another thing Show Biz and Politics have in common, i.e. Common Sense, Taste and doing 'more with less' is not something they are interested in.

Steve said...

Sorry, thought you planned to watch after the fact.

Charles H. Bryan said...

"Next year the Emmys should be on Netflix and they can announce all the winners at once."

That would be awesome. I'm not sure how the acceptance speech part would work, but I think all of the nominees could pre-record acceptances (to canned applause and orchestra) and then they're just dropped in. Losers -- I mean, other valued nominees -- would receive a video file to email to everyone they love and pretend to love.

I didn't watch either. I did the next best thing -- I read my email newsletter from The Hollywood Reporter. It also included a show recap with the best lines. 15 minutes.

jbryant said...

Jeff Daniels DID get nominated, by the way.

Barbara C. said...

Daniel: "What you don't know is that Tatiana Maslany went onstage, dressed as Julianna Margulies, to accept the Best Actress trophy. Her performance was so good that no one could tell the difference."


D. McEwan said...

"I enjoyed Billy Crystal's tribute. If Robin Williams had a best friend, after Chris Reeves, it would be Billy. I thought it was sweet and a tender remembrance of time with his friend.

Pam St. Louis"

You know that Billy Crystal was Robin's best friend based on what? That Billy and Robin were friends a long time is true. (Let's take the "After Chris Reeve" as given.) That Billy was Robin's "Best Friend" is not. Robin's best friend was Rick Overton. I've known both men for over 35 years. Robin and Rick were Best Friends.

For me the one great thing about this year's Emmys was that the one program that wasn't rewinning its Emmies for the fiftieth time each was the sweep for Sherlock. It was a genuine pleasure seeing Steven Moffett and Mark Gatis up there. Moffett seemed genuinely surprised. And the fact is that, despite its being the best-written show on television, they're never going to give Emmies to Doctor Who.

"CarolMR said...
I can't believe no one from 'Fargo' (FX) won anything."

Good, then don't believe it, because it is not true. Fargo won Best Miniseries. As Noah Hawley wrote the entire series Fargo, he counts as "[Some]one from 'Fargo'," and there he was, holding his Emmy and talking about the Coens.

Perhaps it deserved a few more awards, but when you are the Best Miniseries and then you win "Best Miniseries," you can't really complain about it.

Jacob said...

America doesn't hate Ricky Gervais, Christian America hates Ricky Gervais. He's an outspoken atheist but because they can't beat him in an argument about their faith they resort to personal attacks. It's how cowards fight. I'd be surprised that you stooped so low as this Ken, but you've done it before so I'm not. I'm only disappointed.