Thursday, July 19, 2007

As with many TV critics I was upset at the Emmy nominations for best drama announced today. While Boston Legal, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House, and The Sopranos were among the dozen or so shows we watched in the 06-07 season, two of the very best shows did not make the list: Wire (Season 4), and Dexter. For the Wire, let me quote Alex Strachan writing for the CanWest newspaper chain:

"The Wire -- a searing, heart-wrenching look at junior-high students from Baltimore's inner-city housing projects -- that most resembled a sprawling, post-modern morality tale as it might have been conceived by Charles Dickens, if he were alive today and writing for TV."

I could understand the Emmy voters missing the shows from last season that were very good at spots, but uneven: Rome, Deadwood, The Shield, Rescue Me, Battlestar Galactica, and Friday Night Lights. Yet bypassing one of the best shows ever is beyond me, and missing the innovations of Dexter is stunning as well.

Studio 60 got 5 nominations; for me, it should get the nomination for best show that demonstrates how not to make dramas anymore. One can't expect today’s insta-reality audience to remain focused on a show that drags out five minutes for two characters to have a tedious exchange of semi-illuminating banter. At best, one needs to edit the exchange into 90 second segments, interspersed with other sub-plot segments, and punch up the end of each bit with pseudo conflict; even Coronation Street knows this. The days of slow motion unfolding character development are gone, replaced by the need to hook'em and hold'em with kinetic pacing. By contrast, an interesting show was Criminal Minds which took a no-holds barred approach to using stereotypes - it was startling the number they could cram into a single show. However for the channel surfers, it meant if they flipped on by, the ready-to-follow plot line and characters could snare them.


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