Monday, August 30, 2010
Once Upon a Time, When the Emmys Were Pretty Great
Round about the hour-and-a-half mark last night, I tweeted that the Emmy Awards, thus far, were "shockingly great." That was before some of the air went out of the proceedings with the sloggish journey through the Variety and Miniseries awards (would that Temple Grandin had crashed the podium during all of those acceptance speeches). But on balance, this year's Emmys were an uncommonly surprising affair, at least in the realm of WHO won. Of the eight acting awards handed out in Comedy and Drama, an unheard of SEVEN went to new performances. Only Bryan Cranston's Breaking Bad performance had been previously honored, and you're not going to hear me complaining too loudly about such accomplished work winning (he's ineligible next year anyway). Deduct partial credit for Edie Falco winning her fourth Emmy if you must, but it was for a wonderful Nurse Jackie performance that sees her doing anything but resting on her Sopranos laurels.
I had a wonderful time liveblogging the Emmys at NPR's Monkey See, which you can re-live right here. Follow along as I play Sue Sylvester to Kyra Sedgwick's Will Shuster for reasons even I don't understand.
I wanted to note the handful of best moments from the show, which in Jimmy Fallon's hands went pretty well, even if the good stuff was significantly frontloaded. Starting with my favorite Emmy moment maybe ever ...
You knew they were going to do something with the Glee phenomenon, but credit to Fallon, Tina Fey, and a cast of dozens (or...dozen) for throwing every bit of themselves into making "Born to Run" happen. It's the kind of thing that makes me like every single person involved so much better, and if you hadn't noticed, I already liked Tina Fey and Jon Hamm a whole hell of a lot.
I love the whole big sister/little brother vibe that persists whenever Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon have worked together since the old Weekend Update days (case in point). But everyone put their back into it, from Joel McHale to Hurley to even stupid Kate Gosselin, who is such a terrible dancer that she couldn't even credibly hop up and down, but who at least was willing to let herself get made fun of (it's the incredibly small victories sometimes).
At a time when Glee disillusionment is gathering like dark clouds on the horizon, this segment did more to remind me what's so fun about that show: that unfettered joy that comes with performing, especially when you're not the best at it. Watching Hurley and Nina Dorbev and McHale and Jane Lynch take that stage in a frenzy of adrenaline and silliness and throw their whole selves into what is essentially a lark could not have been more delightful. Kudos upon kudos to this whole endeavor.
Aaron Paul was the most deserving acting nominee in any category, and he was one of the precious few instances where I actually predicted the most deserving nominee to win. (I went 7-for-14 on my picks, by the way. I'd have done better had I given up the ghost on Sofia Vergara and stuck to my guns on my Archie Panjabi hunch.) Anyway, Paul's win was the one moment where I actually whooped and cheered -- deserving in a way so few awards of any stripe are. And, not for nothing, but how tiny and adorable is he? Come on.
Eric Stonestreet besting Jon Cryer here was only one of the several instances where my cynical predictive instincts were beaten back by really worthy winners. Watching Jesse Tyler Ferguson streaming tears from his seat as his on-screen partner accepted his award was just incredibly sweet.
And of course, Jane Lynch. One of those performers who you never expect to actually accept any kind of award like this because she's always been -- as she mentions -- an ensemble girl at heart. I guess it proves that there's an awards-baiting role for every great actor out there. Check out the genuine delight on Lynch here, though. That's kind of why I stick with awards shows through the bullshit and self-congratulation and crassness and frustration: because every so often, an actor I love can get their due in front of the whole world, and I can see them being made as happy as they so often make me.
That sounds pretty Glee of me, which is only appropriate, I guess.