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Do You Believe In Dragons? An Emmy Report Card
September 20, 2015  | By Alex Strachan
 

It’s a little early in the school year for report cards, but then that’s why they hand out the Emmys at the start of a new season. Memories are short. If we don’t remember what was best about the past TV year, how are we supposed to know what to watch now that a new season is here?

The reviews are in for TV’s biggest night and, as usual, there are as many opinions as there are viewers for The Big Bang Theory. Rather than grade the entire night, then, here are a few individual performances worth pointing out.

VIOLA DAVIS
Her class project was called How to Get Away with Murder, but Viola (top) has always led her classmates by fine example. In her acceptance speech for outstanding actress in a drama series, she cited the 19th century abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman, by saying, "'In my mind, I see a line. And over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. . . . The only thing that separates women of color is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there." Some of us hold these truths to be self-evident, but not all. That’s why we need people like Viola to remind us.

GRADE: A+

Note to parents:
Viola is an inspiration to those around her, even when some of her classmates feel more like joking. There are times when she can seem to take herself a little too seriously, but she always seems to know how much is right and when to pull back. That’s a rare quality in someone so young. Best in class.

ANDY SAMBERG
The class clown is no longer a distracting influence on his classmates, I’m happy to say. He’s matured. His humor is no longer puerile — though, admittedly, some parents were apt to be put off by his mining Bill Cosby, Robert Durst, Lady Gaga, Paula Deen, the last season of Girls, and Kim Davis’ four weddings for comic material.

GRADE: C+

Note to parents:
Andy still has boundary issues, but that will come with maturity. His classmates have voted him most likely to succeed, which might come true one day — if success means hosting a fake-news segment for a late-night sketch-comedy program or hosting an awards dinner for show-business celebrities.

GAME OF THRONES
As class projects go, this one takes home the big prize, even though some — well, me — didn’t think enough people would take it seriously enough to give it more than an "A" for effort. It’s a good thing this class isn’t graded on a bell curve, or there wouldn’t have been room for anyone else to win anything. Color me surprised — pleasantly so.

GRADE: A

Note to parents:
As group efforts go, this one ranks right up there with the best — though I think you all need to sit down with your children at some point and figure out where some of these truly disturbing ideas and visual images come from.

JON HAMM
Ordinarily I wouldn’t approve of anyone who hoist himself belly-up on the stage, after winning a big award, instead of taking the stairs like everyone else. But I think we can give Jon a pass because he’s been through a lot in recent weeks, and because this has been a long, long time coming. His acceptance speech struck just the right note of humility, gratitude and genuine surprise, and that was nice to see.

GRADE: A

Note to parents:
Jon deserves credit for a job well done, and for keeping it together after such a long wait, with so many disappointments along the way. I’m still not sure I’d want to buy a used car from him, though. He has a gift of the gab, and sometimes favors style over substance. He’s chosen the right career, though.

TINA FEY
She was that chatty, annoying kid at the back of the class who just wouldn’t shut up, when she started in this school. She’s learned to choose her moments, though, as she’s grown and matured. Presenting an award at an industry get-together can be a thankless task, but this is how she introduced the award for outstanding leading actor in a drama. "A serial killer with a mean streak. An FBI agent to the stars. A Philadelphia cop just 20 seconds away from retirement. A baby who made a wish to be an alcoholic president. And a very tiny scientist. Those are just some of the characters that I made up backstage."

GRADE: B+

Note to parents:
If only Tina would learn to control that nervous energy, there’s no saying how far she could go. She’s not the annoying distraction to her classmates her friend and fellow late-night classmate Andy Samberg is, but then she’s older and wiser. I see a great future for her. Perhaps on cable.

TRACY MORGAN
While it was good to see Tracy again, after his time in recovery from a near-fatal auto accident, he still has little feel for the occasion. For a moment there — a long moment — he threatened to make the most important moment of the evening all about him, as when he said, "Only recently I’ve started to feel like myself again, which means a whole lot of young women are going to get pregnant at the after-party." Fortunately, he pulled up short, but only barely.

GRADE: C

Note to parents:
Sorry, but I’m just not feeling Tracy’s sense of humor, or his sense of timing. Perhaps another time, in another school year,

That’s it, then. Until this time next year, class dismissed.
 
 
 
 
 
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