Repeat Offenders: Consequences of Emmy Love Affairs

Ah, spring–when a TV watcher’s heart turns to Emmy consideration. Ballots come out on Monday, and since there’s nothing the Baconeers love so much as a good list (you may have noticed), said ballots whet our appetite. As much as we are sometimes frustrated with the Emmys–and oh, how frustrated we get–last year’s had some surprisingly great moments. Remember the murderous comfort food cookoff judge from the greatest Pushing Daisies episode ever? Eric Stonestreet has an Emmy now. How neat is that?  While we might gripe about who was excluded from nominations–wherefore art thou, Community and Friday Night Lights?–Modern Family and Mad Men were deserving winners. Huh. Maybe that adorable Jimmy Fallon-Glee opening just put everything in a more flattering light.

Bryan Cranston gives me pause, though. I love Cranston–I thought he was robbed of an Emmy for his Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, and his performance on Breaking Bad is a genuine tour de force. It’s certainly hard, then, to argue that he shouldn’t have won. At the same time, this was Cranston’s third win in a row, while nominees like Hugh Laurie–who, believe it or not, has never won for House–continue to languish unrewarded. While I’m not ready to ask Cranston to remove himself from contention this year (Breaking Bad‘s broadcast schedule takes care of that), it got me to wondering about how often the Emmys get “stuck” on one winner, and what repercussions that might have beyond the winner.

We looked back at the last 20 years, examining in particular three things: first, the percentage of repeat winners (winning in consecutive years for the same role or show), such as the Cranston example above. Second, we looked at the percentage of multiple winners (winning in non-consecutive years for the same role/show)–two lauded performances trading off wins across several years might block notable others from winning just as much as one repeat victor might. Third, we looked at who the other nominees were during years with repeat or multiple winners. Who is potentially being blocked from an Emmy when the Academy becomes obsessed with a single winner? If, for example, Frasier‘s multiple wins came at the expense of The Nanny, maybe that’s not a problem–maybe it’s justice.

Drama Series: 40% repeat winners; a whopping 75% multiple winners

While Mad Men has won the last three trophies, the most notable repeat winner in this category in the past 20 years was The West Wing. The show usually cited as a close second-place–or robbed, depending on your perspective–was The Sopranos…which won the Best Drama Emmy twice, so maybe things turned out just fine. In the past 13 years, however, only 6 series have won (The Practice, The West Wing, The Sopranos, Lost, 24, and Mad Men). Notable nominees during that time who never won? Six Feet Under, Deadwood, House, Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Legal, Damages, Breaking Bad, and Dexter. While I like some of those shows very much, and while I would have preferred to see some of them win in their nominated year(s) (hi, Deadwood), the repeat winners do look pretty strong.

Maybe the problem is in the nomination process: notable shows that couldn’t break the repeat stranglehold because they were never nominated include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, Veronica Mars, and Friday Night Lights, among others. If repeat winners had to skip a year or took themselves out of contention, would genre spoilers sneak into contention?

Comedy Series: 30% repeats and 60% multiple winners

Two non-consecutive wins each for Murphy Brown and Everybody Loves Raymond (Except Me), but four consecutive wins for 30 Rock and five for Frasier (Modern Family‘s win certainly raises the question of whether Christopher Lloyd has the submission process dialed in). Frankly, I personally have more trouble with some poorly chosen one-time winners than these repeaters (Ally McBeal? Really?), but notable nominees who lost to repeaters include Scrubs and The Larry Sanders Show. On the other hand, I can’t feel that bad about Two and a Half Men.

Still, perhaps the problem is–again–in the nominating process, since Frasier and 30 Rock tended to beat the same competition over and over: Pushing Daisies, Gilmore Girls, and, perhaps most notably, The Simpsons were boxed out entirely during these repeat winner years.

Are repeat winners a problem, or just rewards for a job well done? Should the Academy attempt to spread the wealth more? What series do you think were most unfairly denied the gold by repeat winners?

Friday: But you were talking about Bryan Cranston and Hugh Laurie. Does the tendency toward repeat winners hurt individual actors more than series?

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SCRUBS Begins Second Life Tonight with ABC Premiere

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Scrubs makes its ABC debut tonight for its eighth and possibly last season. And with the new season comes a new guest star (Courtney Cox, appearing for a multi-episode arc) and a whole new set of interns.

Why introduce new characters in what’s supposedly the comedy’s swan song year? Apparently, in case the series goes on for a ninth season. Creator Bill Lawrence (who’s currently working on a sitcom pilot for ABC titled Cougar Town) and star Zach Braff have both said they’re leaving after this season and the series/season finale is already in the bag. But if Scrubs performs well for ABC (which is desperately lacking in the comedy department), the network could renew the series, with or without Lawrence and Braff.

According to The New York Times, Lawrence is fine with that. If it keeps his cast and crew employed, he’s not Grinchy enough to object. For his own part, Braff says he might even be willing to continue recording the voice-overs that provide the framework for each episode.

Of course, that’s all dependent on the series pulling in good numbers for ABC–something it was never quite able to do on NBC. Scrubs has always been something of an acquired taste, what with its goofy dream sequences, recurring (some might even call them repetitive) jokes, broad slapstick, and a tone that sometimes borders on the schmaltzy (all of which is why we love it, of course). And being the only half-hour comedy on ABC’s schedule probably won’t help the envelope-pushing show find an audience.

So for now, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy these 18 episodes as the gift they are–the closure I never thought I’d get for this beloved underdog series.

SCRUBS Gets an ABC Premiere Date

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I’m afraid Mikaela was mistaken in her last post because I’m pretty sure there’s still one show she’ll be tuning into ABC for even after the PIemaker has baked his last pie–Scrubs.

Remember Scrubs? That quirky little comedy that was ill-treated by NBC for years before being granted a reprieve by ABC. Well while they were canceling all our favorite shows this week, ABC was also making room on their schedule for Scrubs. See, sometimes things do magically reappear.

The new season is slated to premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 6, at 9 p.m. EST. Even better, ABC will be running an hour of back-to-back episodes for the first two weeks. Then Scrubs will settle in as a single half hour, followed, presumably, by another comedy. The network hasn’t announced which show will run complete the hour, but one possibility is the new Mike Judge animated comedy The Goode Family. In which case there may actually be two whole shows worth watching on ABC in the spring.

Labor Day is Made for Marathons

Forget barbecuing. Why battle bugs, heat prostration and burned burgers when you can spend your Labor Day in air conditioned comfort, racked out on the couch in front of the TV?

That’s what the cable networks seem to expect you do anyway, since they’ve planned a whole slew of TV marathons to help you wile away the last rays of summer.

  • For those who want to spend the whole three-day weekend in a nostalgic stupor, VH1 Classic has lined up 80 Hours of the ’80s starting Friday at 4 p.m., and featuring an A-to-Z showcase of videos, an 80 Greatest Songs of the ’80s special, and more.
  • On Sunday, AMC has a five-episode Mad Men marathon to catch you up on all of this season’s episodes, starting at 5 p.m. and ending with a new episode at 10 p.m.
  • Starting at midnight on Sunday night (or is that Monday morning?) SOAPNet has a 24-hour “mega-marathon” of Beverly Hills, 90210 to help get you ready for the premiere of The CW’s spin-off.
  • Moving on to Monday, USA has a Monk marathon starting bright and early at 6 a.m.
    • FX has That 70’s Show all day starting at 7 a.m.
    • TV Land will be showing I Love Lucy from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a seven-hour Scrubs marathon at 4 p.m.
    • A&E is offering a CSI: Miami marathon at 8 a.m.
    • Hallmark has Murder She Wrote all day starting at 8 a.m.
    • Sci Fi Channel will be showing Star Trek: The Next Generation from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
    • TNT will be airing 12 episodes of The Closer starting at 9 a.m., and ending with a new episode at 9 p.m.
    • The Travel Channel has a marathon of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations starting at 9 a.m.
    • The Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs marathon runs from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
    • Spike TV will be showing CSI from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
    • TBS is offering a 20-episode House of Payne marathon starting at 10 a.m.
    • ABC Family has a My Wife and Kids marathon on tap at noon.
    • Food Network has seven hours of Unwrapped starting at noon.
    • BBC America will be showing a marathon of Pink Panther movies starting at 12:30 p.m. (which is what we’ll be watching in my house).

    And, of course, for the traditionalists, there’s always the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

    THE WIRE, SCRUBS Honored as Humanitas Finalists

    The Humanitas Prize has announced this year’s finalists, which included episodes from Boston Legal, John Adams and The Wire in the 60-minute television category and The Bill Engvall Show (that sound you hear is me scratching my head), In Treatment and Scrubs in the 30-minute category.

    The Humanitas honors film and TV writing that “explores the human condition in a way which affirms the dignity of the human person and reveals common humanity.” The complete list of finalists is behind the cut.

    Continue reading

    Bacon Bits: VERONICA MARS Movie, Emmys, and More

    – EW’s Michael Ausiello says Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell are talking about a Veronica Mars movie. Don’t dust off that Neptune Pirates letter jacket just yet, though. Between the two pilots already on Thomas’ plate and the chances of any studio greelighting a feature film version of a TV show that averaged only 2.5 million viewers, we’re more likely to get a Serenity sequel than to see this baby get off the ground.

    – The Emmys want you to help choose TV’s most memorable moments. Watch clips and vote online at emmys.abc.com until Sept. 15. Just don’t ask me why the M*A*S*H where Henry dies is part of the “comedy” category.

    – Can’t figure out what all the 90210 fuss is about? SoapNet will be airing a 24-hour marathon of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 on Sept. 1st to ring in the premiere of the CW’s spinoff the following night.

    – The Bad News: Sci Fi Channel has canceled Stargate Atlantis (the series will finish out its fifth and final season in January). The Good News: the network has greenlit a two-hour movie based on the series.

    – Scott Foley and Elizabeth Banks will each be returning to Scrubs this season, for one- and two-episode guest spots, respectively.

    Bacon Bits: DOCTOR WHO, THE OFFICE, and more

    – For once, Americans will get the full-length, unedited version of the Doctor Who finale on the Sci Fi Channel. The networks says they’ll air the 65-minute final episode as a 90-minute special in August.

    The Office summer webisodes return starting tomorrow! This year featuring Kevin, Oscar, and Darryl! And Heroes webisodes start Monday, but I don’t care as much about those.

    – A new season of Project Runway starts next Wednesday, so where’s all the hype?

    – Check out Advertising Age‘s mock up of a fake 1960 issue featuring Mad Men‘s Sterling Cooper. And here’s the scoop on season two, which starts July 27.

    Michael J. Fox is in talks for guest spots on Rescue Me and Scrubs.

    According to a Nielsen report, the average American is actually spending more time watching TV than ever before.

    Pickups and Cancellations Abound in Advance of Upfronts

    It’s upfront week again, that wonderful time of year when networks present their fall schedules to advertisers and reporters in the hopes of generating lots of hype and, in turn, beaucoup de advertising bucks (well, except for NBC, which already did theirs weeks ago). More importantly, it’s the time when we finally learn the fate of all those bubble shows, and what exciting new TV we can look forward to in the coming fall/winter season. At least it’d better be exciting, since the networks have managed to hemorrhage six million viewers since last year’s May sweeps.

    The actual presentations don’t start until tomorrow, but the networks have been getting ready for upfront week by doing some housecleaning–ordering pilots to series, renewing and/or canceling old shows, and casting for new ones. Here’s a roundup of the weekend’s scuttlebutt.

    Over at the CW, the highly anticipated (by some, anyway) 90210 spinoff has been picked up, and old school cast member Jennie Garth has signed on to reprise her role as Kelly Taylor, now a guidance counselor at good old West Beverly Hills High School. Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, who rewrote the pilot script after Rob Thomas exited the project, will stick around as showrunners. In addition, the network is reportedly close to picking up a new comedy based on Zoey Dean’s book How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls, which should mesh nicely with Gossip Girl.

    As for existing shows, I’m sad to say that the critically acclaimed but little-watched Aliens in America is officially cancelled. We told you guys to watch it, but did you listen? No, you did not. But don’t worry, I’m sure there’ll be plenty more Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious in your future to make up for it. Hey, don’t complain to me, ya’ll brought this on yourselves.

    In other CW news, Girlfriends spinoff The Game will be back with 22 more episodes. There’s no official word yet on Reaper, but TV Guide‘s Michael Ausiello is saying there’s a good chance it’ll be back. The CW will unveil its full lineup on Tuesday evening.

    ABC’s negotiations with David E. Kelley over the Life on Mars remake seem to be close to a resolution, and unfortunately for all of us that resolution doesn’t involve the complete abandonment of the project. Kelley, who owns the rights to the American version of the acclaimed BBC series, is expected to exit the project in exchange for an agreement to bring Boston Legal back in the fall. October Road exec producers Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg are reportedly in line to take over as showrunners for the new Life on Mars.

    ABC has given a 13-episode order to animated comedy The Goode Family, from Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. Mum’s still the word on Scrubs, but it’s expected to have a place on the network’s fall schedule, which will be officially announced Tuesday afternoon.

    Fox was especially busy this weekend, dishing out series orders for J.J. Abrams’ new sci-fi drama Fringe, the Jason Bateman-directed comedy The Inn (from Arrested Development scribe Abraham Higginbotham), and (speaking of Arrested Development) Mitchell Hurwitz’s animated comedy Class Dismissed (based on the Australian series Sit Down, Shut Up). Fringe is rumored for a fall premiere while Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated Dollhouse probably won’t be ready until midseason. The network also announced some unsurprising cancellations, including Back to You, New Amsterdam and Canterbury’s Law. Fox’s upfront presentation will take place Thursday afternoon.

    CBS, on the other hand, has been playing its cards close to the vest this weekend. But rumor has it the network is looking to create a new comedy block on Tuesdays or Wednesdays in the fall. Some series pickup announcements are expected to come later today, including the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Eleventh Hour and The Mentalist, from writer Bruno Heller. Other likely contenders are the Diane Ruggiero-penned Mythological Ex and murder mystery Harper’s Island. CBS will announce its full schedule on Wednesday afternoon.

    NBC Says Goodbye to SCRUBS… Without Saying Anything at All

    Next Thursday NBC airs its last-ever episode of Scrubs, but don’t expect a grand farewell with lots of fanfare (or closure). After seven mostly-excellent seasons, the under appreciated comedy is going out with little more than a whimper.

    And yet… the cast and crew have been back in production for weeks. Why, you might ask, is a studio producing episodes of a costly veteran comedy without anyone saying boo about who those episodes are for? Good question.

    It’s one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood right now that ABC has ordered 18 additional episodes of Scrubs for airing next season. The network is expected to make the announcement at its upfront presentation later this month, but until then they’re apparently keeping mum.

    Some of that silence may have to do with NBC, which got its feathers ruffled a while back when word leaked that the series was jumping networks. Of course, the series is jumping networks, NBC just doesn’t want you to know that until its tied up its run. Which leaves the network in the rather awkward position of farewelling a series that’s skipping over to a competitor. And, in a fashion typical of the way NBC has treated Scrubs over the years, it’s handling the situation by doing nothing at all.

    Ironically, since its post-strike return, Scrubs‘ numbers are up 17% compared to last year, thanks in part to its cushy post-Office timeslot. And because of that, of course, tonight NBC has shifted Scrubs out of that slot and into the earlier post-Earl position (awarding the post-Office slot to 30 Rock, which will be back on NBC next season).