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Big News, and Lots of It: Emmy Reaction, Breaking News of Exciting Fresh TV Import, and TVWW's New Fall Preview!
September 21, 2009  | By David Bianculli

Emmys-Harris.jpgBusy, busy day. Reaction to Sunday's Emmy Awards, news that one of my favorite TV shows screened at RomaFictionFest is coming to the U.S., and -- just in time for the television season -- TV WORTH WATCHING presents its annual overview of the new fall season. Strap on your seat belts. Here we go...

My reaction to the 61st Annual Emmy Awards on CBS, as well as my personal overview of the fall season that starts officially today, can be heard (and read) at the Fresh Air with Terry Gross website after about 5 p.m. ET today by clicking HERE.

Basically, it boils down to this: Neil Patrick Harris is a keeper. So is the idea of bundling all but the major awards by genre. (How the heck did THAT idea elude awards show producers for so long?) And though I loved the idea of introducing stars almost perversely, by citing one of their least remembered credits, I'd up the ante next year by adding video as well. Make it REALLY embarrassing for them, and enjoyable for us.


Nothing I saw last night altered my opinion that Justin Timberlake could bring back the variety series genre if given a chance, and if so inclined. And now, I'm starting to think, so could Neil Patrick Harris. By the way: What Matthew Weiner said at the very end while receiving the evening's final award, when his Mad Men won Outstanding Drama Series for the second straight year, is absolutely true. What's bad for broadcast TV, as the cable universe expands and viewers seek programming elsewhere, is good for fans of quality TV. So long as SOMEBODY pays for it, that is.



When I covered RomaFictionFest, I enumerated some of my favorite series, and expressed hope that some of these intriguing international TV productions eventually would find their way to our shores. Well, I was just informed, by one of the executive producers of one of those productions, that a deal was just struck to bring Underbelly, Australia's home-turf, reality-inspired reply to The Sopranos, to the United States.

The series, as I described it upon my return from Rome, is about the rise of organized crime, and sometimes not-so-organized crime, in Australia. Underbelly has won as Best Drama Series in that country, and currently is in production on season three. All three seasons have been contracted for U.S. telecast by DirecTV, which will unveil the series on its 101 Network early in 2010, just after its new run of Friday Night Lights episodes has concluded.


According to my Roma festival Deep Throat (nothing untoward implied there), DirecTV's presentation will begin with season two, which is a full-season flashback to the 1970s, before presenting the more modern era dramatized in season one. Both seasons, though, are full of sex, violence, drugs and rock 'n' roll. A good time should be had by all. And, just as Weiner said at the Emmys, it's one more case of enjoying quality TV wherever you can find it.



Finally, since this is the day after the Emmy Awards, it's also the day of the launch of the 2nd Annual TV WORTH WATCHING Fall Preview. (As all good journalist students know, there can't be a FIRST Annual anything, because the tradition hasn't been set.)

Last year, we had three TV critics contributing. This year, we have more than twice that -- and even (especially?) when we disagree, the more the merrier. We'll be updating often, so click daily on the colorful Fall Preview banner, and it'll take you to the fall wrapup. The next three new shows to premiere are listed up top, and the whole batch is listed alphabetically beneath that first row. As the shows evolve, so may our opinions, so keep visiting.

And thanks, publicly, to all you TV WORTH WATCHING scribes, you loyal wretches, you abused Bartlebys. Today, the Fall Preview. Tomorrow -- or, at least, in the next few months -- a full site redesign, with column space you won't have to share.




Eileen said:

Neil Patrick Harris hit it out of the park. He was adorable, and I hope he continues as host.

Many may disagree with me, but I was truly happy to see Jon Cryer win. He seemed genuinely surprised and honored, which was nice. Of course we all loved him as Ducky, and he was terrific in Teddy Z.

It's nice to see that he turned out to be a real, decent, normal guy when so many of his contemporaries had demons having achieved success early on.

And, he's very funny in Two and a Half Men. I'm surprised Charlie Sheen has never won, as he is as good as it gets in comedy.

Comment posted on September 21, 2009 1:46 PM

Sarah said:

It was a good and fun night all around. I agree Eileen seeing Jon Cryer win was good and HPHs reaction by catching up with him in the press room was great.

Whoever came up with the idea behind giving the awards by genre should get their own Emmy that was just genius and I think made the show stay (mostly) on time. I liked all of the winners but would like to see Hugh Laurie and Kyra Sedgwick get some Emmy love before their series end. Loved John Hodgemens voice overs. And NPH was great, next the Grammys, then THE OSCARS (one can dream can't she?)

Let the new season begin and looking forward to all opinions.

Comment posted on September 21, 2009 4:47 PM

Kristi said:

I was with David on the NPR interview right up until he said "And though "30 Rock" keeps racking up well-deserved Emmys as best comedy, most people still refuse to watch it." That's the whole argument for boutique television -- we don't all love the same thing! I don't refuse to watch 30 Rock because the critics love it, I refuse to watch it because I don't like it.

Comment posted on September 21, 2009 6:28 PM

elise said:

After reading your review of Craig Ferguson's new book, I noticed a huge gap in the nominee list for comedy shows... He belonged among them, I think.... He and Letterman are the only late night guys I watch when I'm able to stay up that late.... And I always laugh....

Comment posted on September 21, 2009 7:16 PM

Rich said:

Last night was a 'snap-shot' of why Neil Patrick Harris should be given Jimmy Fallon's TV show at 12:35 am. He's charming, adaptive, learned of his own professions history and He appeals to everyone. Just like Ricky Gervais- I'm sorry but Steve Carell skeeves the hell out of me- Gervais can talk about anything and it's entertaining (but not 'Forced' like Robin Williams).
Case in point- Gervais at Emmys: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid41190866001?bctid=41276259001

I saw Gervais talk to Sesame Streets Elmo about: Charity, Pajamas, Necophilia, and the Holocaust in under 2 minutes...to Elmo!
It worked, was clean,and Funny- That's this man needs an American Talk show

As for TV's Emmy's I'm not sure that's not becoming like the Oscars where Hollywood votes for itself in a bubble. While I personally agree with the quality and deserved win for "Mad Men", I only know 4 people who watch (one is the owner of this blog. We can agree on "House" cause it's got the acclaim, ratings, & viewer rep on blogs and such but I can't help the feeling that TV (even Bad TV) protects its own and is not a true barometer of what constitutes TV excellence.

How many of these shows will be 'featured' on TV Land in 10 or 20 years...or used as examples in a "TV History" class at a state college?. I guess I'd like to see an alternate Emmy (or system) made of random TV viewers (like Nielsen Families?) to get a bad scope of what's actually 'Worth Watching'.

Comment posted on September 22, 2009 12:20 AM

Gregory Kibitz said:

Loved your Emmy Piece on Fresh Air last night but I have yet to read you entire review of them here. However, I've already penned much of what I have to say (screed) about the Emmy's and a small bit aobut the VMA's (Taylor Swift and Kanye West). Here it is: (Post what you will at your own risk as I am none too kind!)

The Emmy's were great this year but...all the same winners as last year, more or less. I hate that.

It sucks to see the ones I wanted to win last year, and didn't, lose again and to the exact same less good shows or actors this year.

I love/adore/never miss Mad Men so I have no problem there.
And Breaking Bad rules. But really?? Bryan Cranston again?? Really??

That said, I'm so not big lover of 30 Rock. It's okay, kinda fun, occasionally funny but rarely ever laugh out loud funny, and instead so often super cliche' and so been there done that in vaudeville or on Seinfeld or on SNL so not as good exploratory or ground breaking comedy as other stuff. So not as good as Curb or Big Bang or any of about 10 more that I could list that sometimes even make me pee my pants when I laugh!

And enough with all the blow jobs for Loren Michaels! We get it! He is awesome and has been quite possibly singularly responsible for keeping comedy and satire alive on TV or nearly 35 years.

But what about Chuck Lorre? He's great too and he is the double lynch pin of CBS's Monday night comedy line up, which is to me often better than NBC's MUST SEE TV! And yet it was as if he did not even exist. He didn't even get nominated for anything, only a best supporting actor nomination and a win for Jon Cryer, and yet in the category he should have at least been nominated in, 30 rock got 4 writing nominations and then one to the our Favorite Flying Kiwis (Concords) of HBO fame (who most other than you and I know squat about). I can't wait to see what vanity card he writes about this one. Methinks it will be yet another CENSORED.

And even Alec Baldwin seemed (under the surface) to feel like maybe it was time to give someone else an award for a change. He all but said he'd rather be Rob Lowe pretty than get the award. Of course, I am sure he would like them both, if he could (not that I dislike Alec, he's awesome - love that he is so political!).

And the repeat award to Glen Close for Damages also peeved me off to no end. Not because she deserved it or not, but because I have never seen the show, and as much as I so want to watch, it is on tat testosterone loving and vainglorious channel I almost never watch or have time for (well, not until I found Sunny in Philly) and so I've already missed all of Season 1 and I don't like jumping in mid-stream. And I already have too many TV commitments as it is. Too much TVWW and surely not enough TWW (Time Worth Wasting - wasting is a strong word, but it fits the acronym and, to my folks, any TV Watching is just Time Wasting)

So yea, great Emmy SHOW (as in awesome spectacle and entertainment and fun to see all my TV idols) but, as actual awards go, not so much!

Oh and , I hate to agree with the now most hated man and loud-mouthed-drunken-egocentrist in America, but Taylor Swift did not deserve that award, at least over her competition. If anyone was being racist, it was the VMA's and their voting members giving it to the one very clean and proper white girl.** Now, as much as I love Taylor Swift, and much of her non-country work that I know of, there is no way her video and song were anywhere close to as good as Lady Gaga's or Beyonce's. And I guess the VMA's (unlike the Emmys) get that you need to spread the wealth and the awards around a bit and as Lady Gaga and Beyonce got bigger more important awards, I guess they threw Taylor Swift a bone.

** Yes, it is nice to see a bit of sweet and wholesome for a change, esp. on MTV no less. Plus, I do really hate the messages that the other videos send like SEX, SEX, SEX and Pure Objectification and all that jazz. And though Beyonce' thinks she is pushing matrimony, if awesome shaking T&A is the only reason a guy should put ring on IT (not even on her but on IT), then you got the wrong guy! But as they both still won big elsewhere, I guess the poor messages to, and role models for young men and women will remain. And now may the "I'm the real racist,reverse discrimination and quota loving evil-doer" comments begin.

Comment posted on September 22, 2009 4:36 AM

Eileen said:

Sarah is so right. Hugh Laurie and Kyra Sedgwick are both long overdue to receive an Emmy. Secretly I would have loved to see Kyra win for The Closer and Kevin Bacon win for Taking Chance.

They both seem like truly grounded individuals who are amazingly talented and down to earth. If you've ever seen Kyra on David Letterman, she is adorable and hilarious. A great guest.

In addition to Jon Cryer, I was delighted that Jessica Lange won. She is a great actress who is, I feel, very underappreciated. Her nod to Drew Barrymore was lovely and thoughtful.

Maybe next year Hugh & Kyra...

Comment posted on September 22, 2009 12:00 PM

Cyndee said:

I heard you on Fresh Air and I was thrilled (yes, actually) to hear you mention LIFE. So very disappointed that show was not renewed. Excellent casting/story line/character development, etc. Now, I am left hanging! I just hope one of the cable networks will pick it up and get Damian Lewis back on the air.

Comment posted on September 22, 2009 1:54 PM

Gantz said:

In comment to Mr. Kibitz---

Actually no one should win an MTV award as they are now as relevant as Peoples "sexiest person" or Maxim's Hot 100. It's often used as a publicity stunt or way to grease the palm of a celebrity. Taylor matters to MTV as much as Kanye does to Nascar.

As for the race thing. I thought a discerning critic didn't see race, color, quota, politics, or lifestyle- only pure talent and performance.

Comment posted on September 22, 2009 4:34 PM

Greg Kibitz said:


Can't agree with you more**.
MTV and NASCAR so don't mean ANYTHING to me.

I just watch the VMA's for the spectacle of it all, and this year, I got exactly what I came for. And what Kanye did, didn't REALLY matter (not like Healthcare Reform or Global Climate Change matter) but I definitely noticed it and immediately thought WTF?!? And so, it did matter, to me at least; I was wicked peeved at him; Presumably most of America was too; And I was amazed it did not go viral until the next morning. But I still think, all things being equal and fair and objective, she should not have won that award over her competition. But obviouly that is them all stroking each other and thus, who really gives a rat's tush? Clearly, far too many (and even I let it suck me in too).

And I care not for MTV or their choices, or lack thereof, be they racist, reverse-racist or whatever. But I do really like a couple NON-COUNTRY Swift Tunes, so that I will defend. But I would never buy any of them. I'm a 40 something adult with Hard Rock, 60's Rock, Acid Rock, New Wave and Alt. Rock Roots, so Bubble Gum Pop is so not my thing, just a latent guilty pleasure from my 70's pre-teen AM Top 40 days. Also, not a big Rap or Hip Hop Fan, except Eminem (His Lyrical choices so remind me of Frank Zappa's many fabulous penning's - I have most of his work pre-mortem work).

Anyway, there is this one Swift tune (White Horse) that, like some of what Kelly Clarkson (Because of You) or Avril Lavigne (I'm with You) sometimes pull off, is so darn mature for their age and career/life experience, and that is something I cannot help but respect. And then there is that babalicious factor, but I'm sure I would find them to be far too vapid teens and 20 something's in person, and homey prefers a little more maturity and stability under the hood, and not just for legal reasons!

** Before the show, I had only seen the few winning Videos like 1 or 2 times each. I only tuned in to see WTF was going on in the world of videos and youths of today (and I like Green Day & ColdPlay). Try as I might, even with several extra MTV and VH1 channels on my Time Warner Line Up, I still find it near impossible to find any of the latest and greatest vidoes (other than All Rap All The Time and then endless Shows about Classless, Self-Conceited & Spoiled Skanks).

Maxim's Hot 100? Now there's an award I can so get behind! Literally, behind! That is: behind, in front, next to, under, over, on, beside, bedside, inside, whatever! }:-P (I wonder if David will censor this last part. Hmmm...)

[I thought about it, but decided not to. But behave. This is a classy group we've assembled here. -- David B.]

Comment posted on September 24, 2009 4:14 AM

Greg Kibitz said:


Where is your line of propriety?
The edge of the Carlin Zone? Or the Moral Majority Zone?
Just wondering, so I can be sure to cross it. }:-P

That's just a joke, btw. Believe me, I heavily censor my prose for your site (as in what I posted above was like so toned down, for me at least). But if I knew it was okay, I'd go all Pesci, Scorscese, Sopranos, Tarantino and Californication on you. Weird that we can watch the stuff, but god forbid we talk about it with the exact same words or visuals that we just watched and/or listened to. Surely more evidence of the utter insanity of our species!

Also, just a test to see if you really are reading all my incessant and inexorable blather and palaver. I do so hope I'm not driving you completely nuts. I seem to have some extra time on my hands, and yet I ever complain I have no time for all my shows and movies or anything else for that matter. Hmmmm...

[Don't worry. You and your passionate, insightful comments are very welcome here. -- David B.]


Comment posted on September 25, 2009 12:02 PM
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