It was two steps forward, one step back.
At the Emmys, that’s about the best you can hope for.
The 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards showed off a few fresh faces, and a show known for its stultifying winning streaks received a couple of shots of adrenaline courtesy of newcomers like “Modern Family” and “Glee.”
In fact, the show started out with four consecutive wins for those freshman series, two each, followed by first-time winner Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory.”
It wasn’t until 45 minutes into the show that a past winner picked up a statuette – and that was Edie Falco, who’d won three times in the drama category for “The Sopranos” but was a first-time comedy winner for “Nurse Jackie.”
And then, as if to apologize for that familiar face, voters made the boldest proclamation yet that this would not be business as usual, ending the seven-year winning streak for “The Amazing Race” in the Reality-Competition category and handing an upset victory not to “American Idol” or “Dancing with the Stars,” but to “Top Chef.”
Sooner or later, though, the voters of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences did what they always do, which is to go back to the same well they’ve been going to year after year.
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad.” Him again? (That’s three years in a row.)
Writing for a Drama Series: Matthew Weiner, “Mad Men.” Yawn.
All the Made-for-Television Movie and Miniseries awards: HBO. What else is new?
Variety, Music or Comedy Series: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” for the eighth year in a row. Wake me when it’s over.
The problem is, you can’t really blame Emmy voters for this. Oscar voters and Grammy voters don’t really have any choice – they have to give their awards to different people every year, because different people are eligible every year.
At the Emmys, you have essentially the same lineup of contenders year after year. Let’s face it: “Mad Men” was one of the best shows on television the first year it was on, and it’s still one of the best shows on television. It’s not wrong that it won the award for the third year in a row – it’s just a little boring.
So you take what you can get at the hands of the Television Academy – and what we got were quite a few newcomers from all over the map. We got Eric Stonestreet and Aaron Paul and Archie Panjabi from “The Good Wife,” whose Supporting Actress – Drama victory was predicted by almost nobody, and who quite correctly, if indelicately, used her speech to note the impact it might have on her career.
Were Christina Hendricks or Elisabeth Moss robbed? Maybe. And so, perhaps, were Michael C. Hall and Kyle Chandler and Terry O’Quinn and a bunch of others.
And if “Temple Grandin” was hardly the most interesting or exciting big winner, HBO movies about real-life characters have always been a reliable bet in these parts.
One final note: Heaven forbid that the Television Academy actually adds any categories … but if they ever felt inclined to put in a new honor for Stupidest Red Carpet Statement, the competition would be fierce but the frontrunner would have to be Ryan Seacrest, who greeted the cast of “Jersey Shore” and said, with a straight face, “hopefully you guys can win an Emmy someday.”
On the other hand, if any of those jokers ever did win, it’d certainly shake up the Emmys big time …