Thursday, September 17, 2009

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Comedy Series

Nominees are pictured and listed in alphabetical order. Thanks to Tom O’Neil over at Goldderby for providing episode information. Each series submits six episodes in three pairings that are randomly distributed to voters. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses.

Entourage ("Fire Sale" and "Tree Trippers," "Gotta Look Up to Get Down" and "First Class Jerk," "Playin' with Fire" and "Return to Queens Boulevard")
It’s a bit of a puzzle how the buddy dramedy remains in this category. It finally made it in for its third season after a stellar second season was snubbed, and it edged out “Pushing Daisies” for the fifth slot last year, and is back despite what most agree was an abysmal fifth year. It’s an entertaining show, but it’s not really in the same league, quality-wise (at this point), as some of the other nominees, and with its lackluster episode selections, it couldn’t possibly eclipse the likes of past winners “30 Rock” and “The Office.”

Family Guy ("I Dream of Jesus" and "FOX-Y Lady," "Family Gay" and "Peter's Progress," "Road to Germany" and "Baby Not on Board")
The inclusion of FOX’s animated series is quite a major step for Emmy voters, branching out in terms of both format and appropriateness. Each submitted installment of this show is increasingly offensive, and the show makes a special effort to throw in knocks at celebrities and handicaps as often as possible. It’s a show that takes everything too far purposely, and I’m not sure voters will appreciate that. “30 Rock” and “Arrested Development” specialize in pushing the envelope, but not nearly as crudely as “Family Guy.” If these episodes leave as bad a taste in voters’ mouths as they did in mine, the show doesn’t stand a chance.

Flight of the Conchords ("Unnatural Love" and "Murray Takes It to the Next Level," "Prime Minister" and "Tough Brets," "New Cup" and "Love is the Weapon of Choice")
This nomination was a big shock too, and it may even have saved the show, which before the nominations announcement had been presumed cancelled. It’s quite hilarious to those who appreciate and get it, but to others it’s utterly off-putting and boring. It seems way too offbeat for Emmy voters to actually crown it the best comedy on television, but its episode selection contains some truly terrific and funny storylines which will appeal greatly to some voters. It would be quite a surprise if “Flight of the Conchords” pulled off a win, but it could happen. It’s got the added advantage of having fantastic songs written for each episode, though I’m not sure it’s enough to propel it to the top.

How I Met Your Mother ("Do I Know You?" and "Benefits," "The Naked Man" and "Three Days of Snow," "Wooo!" and "The Three Days Rule")
After three seasons of being all but ignored (two nominations for supporting star Neil Patrick Harris), CBS’ popular comedy finally earned a nomination for Best Comedy Series. It’s actually exactly the kind of thing that Emmy voters used to love, when laugh-track sitcoms like “Friends,” “Will & Grace,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” won this prize. The six episodes selected are great displays of why HIMYM is beloved, and as the only nominated show that still has a laugh track (“Two and a Half Men” wasn’t going to win), I think it has an excellent shot at appealing to nostalgic voters who just like simply comedies where the laughs are laid out. It just has to get past those two hit comedies without laugh tracks, the next two nominees.

The Office – ("Michael Scott Paper Company" and "Broke," "Golden Ticket" and "Café Disco," "Stress Relief")
NBC’s hit comedy is back with its fourth nomination after winning the prize back in 2006. It’s still just as hot as ever, and this year’s Michael Scott Paper Company arc was a strong point which reinvigorated the show. The submitted episodes take two from that storyline, two merely entertaining installments (“Golden Ticket” and “Café Disco”) and one solid hour-long episode (“Stress Relief”). It’s a good mix that represents well what “The Office” has to offer. There is, however, nothing to indicate that “The Office” will win again anytime soon, especially with “30 Rock” still around and four new unpredictable contenders in the way.

30 Rock ("Believe in the Stars" and "Reunion," "Christmas Special" and "Generalissimo," "Apollo, Apollo" and "Mamma Mia")
This show may just be unbeatable. After taking home this award two years in a row, it’s back with a staggering five regular cast acting nominations, six guest acting nods, three directing mentions, and four out of five writing nominations. It’s never been as on-fire with the Emmys, and therefore it’s the default frontrunner to win a third time in a row (“Frasier” did it five times straight). The episodes are strong and just what Emmy voters will like, though I still can’t believe that neither “Gavin Volure” or “The Bubble” is on the list. It’s now only a matter of what show could manage to knock “30 Rock” off its pedestal, and whether that happens anytime soon or whether it just keeps winning and winning.

Weeds (Mother Thinks the Birds Are After Her" and "Lady's a Charm"; "The Whole Blah Damn Thing" and "Three Coolers"; "Till We Meet Again" and "If You Work for a Living, Why Do You Kill Yourself Working?")
After reinventing itself in its fourth season, Showtime’s marijuana-fueled dramedy made it in the top comedic category. The major problem facing the show is that it was considered a drama by many, and could even probably have effected a category-switch if producers had tried. The last time a show that wasn’t quite a comedy competed in this category, the inaugural season of “Desperate Housewives” lost out to the final season of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I don’t think “Weeds” has nearly the buzz of the former, and I think multiple shows in the category are far stronger than the latter. The episodes chosen are good, but there are too many holes to fill in for a category lined with such traditional comedies.

Who should win (based on entire season): “30 Rock”
Who should win (based on individual episodes): “The Office”
Who will win: I’m going to go with How I Met Your Mother, though “30 Rock” is the one to beat and it could also be any one of the other new nominees.


Fabio Nascimento said...

I can't see anyone defeating 30 Rock this year. The tapes chosen were excellent and the buzz is still so big. The Office had a better season though. HIMYM seems like a wild-card at this point but I just can't see it winning, it has the buzz but not as much as Fey's show. Maybe in the next few years.

Richter Scale said...

Correction: How I Met Your Mother doesn't have a laugh track. It's a single-camera show, like 30 Rock and The Office (if you watch an episode, you'll see that there's no laugh track, and there are way too many locations for it to have one). Just thought I should tell you that.

Movies with Abe said...

Fabio - I see your point but I love to predict upsets. We'll see what happens.

Richter Scale - There are laughs inserted into the episodes of HIMYM. I didn't mean to imply that it was filmed in front of a live audience, and that distinction isn't crucial to the point I'm trying to make - that audiences like to be told where to laugh and often find shows funnier when they're told when to chuckle. Do you agree?