10 reasons why you shouldn’t blow off the Emmy Awards this year
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org September 20, 2012 8:52PM
GRAPHIC: The Emmys by the numbers
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Updated: October 24, 2012 6:22AM
Last year’s Primetime Emmy Awards posted some of the poorest ratings in the kudosfest’s history.
Some 12.4 million people tuned in — less than a third of the audience for this year’s Oscars.
It’s time to show the small screen some big-screen respect. Reports of the death of television’s Golden Age are greatly exaggerated. Sure, there’s plenty of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” schlock out there, but there’s also plenty of room on the ever-expanding TV dial for top-notch fare.
If you think the television industry hasn’t risen to the occasion, just look at this year’s field of Emmy contenders for outstanding drama series. Not a mediocre show among them.
“Sunday Night Football” will be there next Sunday night. Here are 10 reasons to watch the 64th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday:
1. Jimmy Kimmel
I predict the quick-witted talk-show host will kill it as this year’s emcee. Money-back guarantee he’ll blow away the team of reality TV hosts at the helm the last time ABC had the show in 2008, when Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst and Ryan Seacrest worked together to deliver one of the least-watched Emmys ever. Kimmel told TV critics he took some satisfaction in that show’s abysmal outcome. “I was able to look good by not doing anything at all,” he said. “That’s my goal in life, by the way.” Sunday marks the first time Kimmel will host the Emmys, but he said he’s not as nervous as he was hosting the White House Correspondents’ Dinner earlier this year. Said the comic: “I’m more comfortable in front of an audience of fellow shallow Hollywood stars.”
2. The dearly departed
The annual “in memoriam” reel is one of the most popular segments of the show and for good reason. It’s a bittersweet, emotional tribute — and a lightning rod for fans’ wrath when one of their favorites is inevitably omitted. Last year’s outcry was over “Taxi” star Jeff Conaway’s snub. The late Andy Griffith should factor heavily into this year’s montage. “Some people get a big round of applause, some people don’t,” Kimmel said. “I love that even in death, you’re subject to a popularity contest.”
3. ‘Mad Men’ or ‘Bad’ men?
AMC’s show built around a Madison Avenue ad agency in the tumultuous ’60s could make history as the first drama series to win top honors five times — in a row, no less. As much as I love it, I think “Mad Men’s” winning streak in this ridiculously competitive category could come to an end. It’s telling that the academy didn’t give a best lead actress nod to zou bisou bisouing Jessica Pare, who had a key role last season as the new Mrs. Draper. This year would be a good time to hand out some overdue hardware to another AMC show, arguably the best TV series ever: “Breaking Bad.”
4. Charlie Sheen comeuppance
After crazy pants got kicked off “Two and a Half Men” last year, Sheen’s former co-star, Jon Cryer, has been bumped up from the supporting to lead actor category. If Cryer wins for his work on the CBS comedy (something Sheen never managed to do), it’s bound to make Sheen’s tiger blood boil — especially after Kathy Bates took home a statuette at last week’s Creative Arts Emmys for playing the ghost of Sheen’s character.
5. ‘Girls’ gone wild
Lena Dunham, creator-writer-star-producer-and-sometimes-director of HBO’s new comedy “Girls,” isn’t the only multi-hyphenate up for lots of Emmy love (see Louis C.K.). But at 26, she sure is the youngest. It’s a nice change of pace for the academy to recognize fresh, youthful talent. Even if the polarizing series doesn’t win best comedy — and odds are it won’t — Dunham is still the unlikely belle of the ball with four noms.
6. Say what?
Sure, most of the time acceptance speeches are boring (yet short, thanks to the music department’s itchy trigger finger). But you can always count on one or two doozies to dissect at the water cooler, like Jim Rash’s inspired imitation of Angelina Jolie’s leg at this year’s Oscars. Here’s a little homework assignment in advance of Sunday’s show: Go to blogs.suntimes.com/tv and check out Parker Posey’s new YouTube video on how to deliver the perfect Emmy acceptance speech — and how not to look like a disgruntled loser when you don’t win. It’s three minutes well spent.
7. Banner year for PBS
Not so fast with the budget ax, Republicans. Only HBO and CBS posted more nominations than PBS. The public television network has never been better, racking up a total of 58 noms for such stellar offerings as the addictive “Downton Abbey” — PBS’ first top drama series nod in 35 years — and the incomparable “Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (Masterpiece).” I’m looking forward to seeing PBS rake ’em in.
8. Fashion hits and misses
Seeing what the stars are wearing is half the fun, even if it means another blow to female body image courtesy of bombshells like Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”) and Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”). We can always feel better about ourselves by scoffing at the fashion flubs. A belated thanks to Julianna Margulies for last year’s sartorial snafu, when the “Good Wife” wore a bad dress.
9. Continuity or coup?
Will perennial winner “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” snag a 10th consecutive win for best variety series? Probably, but there’s always a remote chance that someone — maybe first-time nominee Jimmy Kimmel himself? — finally could be the one to knock Stewart’s Comedy Central show off the throne. Same goes for CBS stalwart “The Amazing Race.” It’s only been eliminated from the race for outstanding reality-competition program once since the category’s inception. I still think “Amazing Race” is the best of the bunch, but it could get called out this year by “The Voice.”
10. It’s sports, but swankier
You know that rush you get when your favorite baseball or football team wins? There’s some of that contact high with the Emmys, too. Moments most likely to give me goosies this year, should they come to pass: Claire Danes winning best actress for Showtime’s “Homeland,” and a “Breaking Bad”-palooza, with Bryan Cranston adding to his Emmy collection for lead actor, Giancarlo Esposito saving face with a supporting actor win and the show itself finally getting the gold for outstanding drama series.