I love television. Love it. I think it's one of the most underrated art forms of the 20th century. At its best, a superb television show can give us depth and complexity equal to that of a great novel — exploring characters, comedy, and pathos in a rich and introspective way that most movies simply cannot compete with.
This doesn't mean there isn't a lot of crap on TV. And I'm sure there always will be. But it's a good time to be a TV viewer. Thanks to TiVo, DVR, and On-Demand technology, it's pretty easy to avoid the crap if you want to, and just watch what you want to watch. We now have so many choices at our fingertips that television has become personalized as never before. We don't even have to watch commercials if we so choose.
This means I take the Emmy Awards seriously, even if they continuously frustrate me beyond belief, nominating shows and actors as if by rote, year after year, pretty consistently ignoring at least 75% of the truly original or breathtaking.
So I'm conflicted. I love the Emmys, I hate the Emmys. Each time, I tell myself I won't watch. I'll just read about the winners the next day. And then I watch. I have only myself to blame. I just keep hoping I won't see nominees that would have appeared appropriate if they'd only been nominated, oh, three or four years earlier. I hope I won't see awards perpetually go to the same performers year after year after year. I was so glad the uneven, over praised Will & Grace finally went off the air, for instance, because it meant that other highly deserving leading and supporting comedy players would finally get the chance at some awards themselves. And while I adore Tony Shalhoub and his superb, poignant and very funny portrayal of the gentle and haunted detective in Monk, after multiple Emmy wins for the role, this year I badly wanted to see the award go to someone different and challenging, like the fabulous Ricky Gervais for Extras, or (most of all) to the outstanding Alec Baldwin for his work on 30 Rock.
Based on the bright spots on the nominees list, though, this year's telecast definitely seemed promising. The Academy had actually managed to put forward some decent shows and performances. These included shows that rocketed to popularity almost immediately, like Heroes, Ugly Betty, or 30 Rock (and they nominated them now, not, more predictably, three years from now).
They have still overlooked plenty of wonderful stuff, of course. In a perfect world, we would have seen major category nominations for excellent and truly original shows like The Wire, Dexter, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Veronica Mars, and more. In a perfect world, Lauren Graham would have won at some point in her seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, as would Hugh Laurie for his brilliance on House. Of course, in a perfect world Veronica Mars would not have been canceled, and Arrested Development would still be on the air.