Shoo-ins, sentimentality, and few surprises
The Emmy Award nominations were announced last week. There were a few surprises in the high-profile nominations, but mostly, it was business as usual. Before I get to those, let's take a look at the nominees from where it all starts: the writers.
There's no surprise that Sex and the City got two nominations, one for part two of the series finale and another for "The Ick Factor," written by Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky. It's great to see the pilot episode for Arrested Development (Fox) by Mitchell Hurwitz get a nod, as well as the often overlooked Scrubs (NBC). Rounding out the list is the series finale episode of Frasier (NBC), written by Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan.
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
HBO owns this category. David Milch's pilot for Deadwood is nominated, and the remaining nominees are scripts from The Sopranos. Overlooked is Ryan Murphy's superb pilot episode for Nip/Tuck (FX).
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
The magnificent Angels in America (HBO) should take this, and any other category in which it appears. But I wouldn't be surprised if Emmy rewards the old-timer Larry Gelbart for And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (HBO). While it's recognition worthy, it can't compete with Tony Kushner's Angels, based on his stage play. Neither can Iron Jawed Angels, Something the Lord Made (both from HBO), or the Showtime biopic The Reagans.
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
John Ritter's nomination (8 Simple Rules) in this category is strange and sentimental. The strongest and most deserving candidate in this category is Larry David (as himself) from Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO). Other nominees include Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani) of Friends and Tony Shalhoub (Adrian Monk) in Monk (USA). Monk is a great character. If only the show were better. Overlooked are Zack Braff from Scrubs and Jason Bateman from Arrested Development.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
James Spader as Alan Shore from The Practice (ABC) is new to the list. I suspect Emmy will go with Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing (NBC) or Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone on Without a Trace (CBS). LaPaglia, like Shalhoub, is a fine actor in a so-so series. Other nominees include James Gandolfini from The Sopranos and Kiefer Sutherland from 24 (Fox).
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Someone in Hollywood loves Bonnie Hunt, and I don't get it. Yet here she is, nominated for her lead role in the now canceled Life With Bonnie (ABC). If you're going to go with second-string actors, why not go with Kelly Ripa from Hope & Faith (ABC) or Sara Rue from Less Than Perfect, two much more engaging performers? But none of them are on par with the divine Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex and the City (HBO). Other nominees include Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS), Jennifer Aniston from Friends (NBC), and Jane Kaczmarek from Malcolm in the Middle (Fox). Missing is Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore in The Gilmore Girls.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
There are two new faces in this category: Amber Tamblyn as Joan Girardi on Joan of Arcadia (CBS) and Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC). The always fine Edie Falco from The Sopranos and Allison Janney from The West Wing reappear on this list. My personal favorite (and long shot) is Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow on Alias (ABC). Missing is Joely Richardson from Nip/Tuck (FX)
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
There's only one choice here Arrested Development (Fox). My sentimental favorite is Sex and the City (HBO), but Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) is also a worthy contender. All of the above are better than Everybody Loves Raymond and Will & Grace (NBC). Missing is Scrubs, The Gilmore Girls, and sure, why not Two and a Half Men (CBS), which is just as good as, maybe better than, Raymond.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Of this slate, The Sopranos is the clear winner. My sentimental favorite is 24 (Fox). Other nominees are CSI (CBS), Joan of Arcadia (CBS), and The West Wing (NBC).
Outstanding Drama Series
The 56th annual Primetime Emmy Awards presentation, hosted by Garry Shandling, will air Sunday, Sept. 19 on ABC.