Based on the list of 10 finalists for best comedy and drama series that the television academy has released, I’m halfway tempted to say "good job" to the voters — a strange situation, I know, given the amount of criticism we’ve heaped on the awards and their process in the past. After a series of "blue ribbon panel" screenings this weekend, the opinions of those panels will be averaged with the full academy vote to produce the nominees in each category.
This being the Emmys, a flawed system in which only a single or a handful of episodes helps determine what shows and performers are deemed the best of that entire season, much can still go wrong. But aside from a couple of obvious snubs and a head-scratching inclusion here and there, there could be two very solid sets of nominees that come out of these finalists.
Potentially having the past two best comedy winners — 30 Rock and The Office — competing against Pushing Daisies, Flight of the Conchords (pictured above) and Weeds? That’s an Emmy race I’d care about. Ditto a drama face-off that includes The Wire, Lost, Dexter, Mad Men and House.
The rub, of course, is that the odds of the nominees actually being those shows are pretty slim. I’m a little shocked that Conchords is even in the top 10 list (though not as much as I am at the inclusion of Entourage, which really went off the rails last season), and Pushing Daisies, for all its verbal wondrousness, may be too quirky to make the final cut.
(I also like the fact that Family Guy is in the mix for best comedy. I run sort of hot and cold on the show, but the fact that an animated show is at least under consideration seems like a good thing.)
Now: Would I rather see, say, How I Met Your Mother or Samantha Who? or even Desperate Housewives, which had something of a comeback year this season, on the list instead of Entourage or Two and a Half Men? Oh hell yes. I’d also put Scrubs ahead of a couple of those shows, even though this truncated season wasn’t its best.
The drama list is pretty good too. The only obvious, top-of-my-head snub here is Battlestar Galactica, which I’d slot well ahead of the up-and-down Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Legal and probably The Tudors, which lost a little something in its second season. (And even fans were grumbling about its sluggish pace through the first part of this season, though the gut-punch of a finale wiped away a good amount of that ill will.) And good on the academy for not including Heroes, a nominee last year that stumbled badly this season.
I’m not surprised that the likes of In Treatment, Life and Dirty Sexy Money didn’t make the cut, but it’d be nice to see them get some consideration for acting or writing when the nominations come down next month. Particularly with In Treatment, an acting nod or two seems like almost a mortal lock.
Your thoughts on the finalists? Do you like the idea of finding out what’s in the running beforehand? What would you include or exclude?