Afternoon Baseball

Common-sense ruminations on baseball and culture.

The one award the show truly deserved tonight. The writing awards are a toss-up, dependent more on picking the right episode to submit rather than the season-long quality. On Best Comedy, while it's so damn hard picking against "Scrubs," just getting nominated for once might be enough for that brilliant work. "Scrubs," actually, may have been the better show by a hair this season, but it's riffing off its own established tradition, albeit a widely inventive and quirky one.

"The Office" went from lesser ripoff to wild beast almost instantly, becoming the subtle, human, touching "reality show" no reality show's been able to pull off, featuring the love story that men could actually watch, and the show with the best use of an ensemble cast in an era where casts are ballooning like Americans' waistlines.

But sadly, there's no real crime in Steve Carell not winning, although it would have been deserved and a treat. He's an integral piece to a fine show. "Monk," for as much fun as it is, is a formulaic show that endlessly repeats itself despite putting out about half the episodes of a broadcast network sitcom. The other actors aren't terribly gifted, the cinematography is rote, and the plots are ordinary and often uninspired outside of the quirks of Monk and how those shape his world.
But therein lies the genius of Monk and of "Monk." Tony Shalhoub put this show on his back long ago and made it into a force in pop culture rather than just a forgotten oddity for people with way too much time on their hands. No one, repeat, no one, could have done what he's done with the role. No one could have turned a 6-episode cancellation series into a must-watch summer treat.

Steve Carell? "The Office" took off when Jim, Pam and Dwight became the focus, and the supporting cast revolved around them and their relationship with Michael rather than the show being about Carell's character and him interacting with others. This is not to knock Carell, who did his own Shalhoub-like job with "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Rather, Carell is like the crackerjack baseball closer who brings it home in his own, brilliant and inimitable style. But the fact remains that he comes in only when the groundwork has already been set. Best Lead Actor does not reward that guy.

As for "Arrested Development," it slipped from a A+, in-the-vault show to a B+/A- this year, with the slip in writing (as most left before Season 3) evident even in the A+ level episodes 1 and 2 of the season. Submitting the series finale, a rushed, blurry mirror image of the series premiere, as the Emmy nominee in best writing essentially ruled out them winning that award for the third year running. Supporting Actor nominee Will Arnett should have been nominated in seasons 1 and 2 when he had a chance. Jeremy Piven, inexplicably, is like the Perfect Storm right now -- you see him coming, you can't stop him. Pretty good for the guy who was the unconvincingly gay clothes salesman in "Rush Hour."

Other quick thoughts:
Alan Alda did, actually, deserve that Emmy. You saw a presidential candidate, a thoughtful, competent one. That alone deserves applause. But moreover, you forgot, ever so briefly, that he was Hawkeye Pierce, only one of the 10 most imprinted television characters of the past 30 years.
The rest of the awards -- and the nominees competing -- were pretty dreadful. That's not a suprise. That's also why I didn't watch any of the show.


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