Emmys: The call of the new

Staring at approximately 14,000 new Emmy nominations today, what do we make of it all? Here are a few trends, gripes and more:

1) New is big: Anything new tends to seem bright and shiny and appealing. This year, three first-year shows scored big. "The Good Wife" is up for best drama, with Julianna Margulies up for best actress in a drama. "Glee" and "Modern Family" are both up for best comedy, with many of their actors also nominated.

2) Departing is cool, too: Sometimes, shows get nominated on their way out, too. "Lost" should have had a best-drama nod every year, now it does. Also, Conan O'Brien -- freshly departed from NBC -- has a nomination; Leno and Letterman don't.

3) The overlooked: Great shows on cable tend to be noticed; great ones on the broadcast networks might be ignored. Once again, the wonderful "Big Bang Theory" (CBS) and "Friday Night Lights" (DirectTV and NBC) were again overlooked for best comedy and drama series.

4) The noticed: At least, some of those show's actors were nominated this time. Jim Parsons is up for best actor in a comedy; Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are up for best actor and actress in a comedy. They play the coach and his wife; then again, you could fill the entire supporting category with the superb young "Lights" actors, starting with Jesse Plemmons and Taylor Kitsch. In fact, this week's show (8 p.m. July 9, NBC) has great moments from all three of this season's new young stars.

5) Also overlooked: Two of TV's best competitive reality shows -- "Survivor" and "So You Think You Can Dance" -- weren't nominated. You can catch a "Dance" results show tonight (9 p.m., July 8, NBC).

6) Remember movies?: Yes, people do sometimes make great movies. The season's best movie and performance -- "Temple Grandin," Claire Danes -- were nominated; also nominated was Al Pacino's great work as Jack Kevorkian in "You Don't Know Jack." There are great TV movies out there; one of the best is the splendid "Murder on the Orient Express" remake, at 9 p.m. Sunday (July 11) on most PBS stations.



This dance stuff is dangerous

In my next life, I think I'll be a soldier or a saboteur or a stunt pilot, but not a dancer. Dancing seems way too dangerous -- especially after this week's "So You Think You Can Dance."

Alex Wong injured an achilles tendon and was pulled from the competition -- maybe for this week and maybe for the season. Allison, one of the show's "all-stars," re-injured a rib and asked to be taken to the hospital. And to think some parents breathe a sigh of relief when their kids turn to dance instead of football.

Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:

1) Alex, a sensational talent, has wretched luck. Last year, he had to give up the show because of his Miami Ballet contract; this year, he gave up the Miami Ballet for the show -- and may emerge with nothing.

2) Sean Cheeseman is my new favorite choreographer. His routine -- with two dolls (Robert Roldan and Kathryn) at first trapped in cellophane containers -- was a delight, maybe the best of the season.

3) Still, Robert can't buy a break. That routine -- and the waves of praise that followed -- came in the first hour. Late in the show, viewers saw he and Ashley Galvin struggle with the dreaded quick-step.

4) It was good to see some substantial disagreement tonight. After Nigel Lythgoe was too easy with praise for Adechike Torbert's first routine, Mia Michaels said he was dead wrong. After judges were too harsh on Adechike's Bollywood number, Cat Deeley came to his defense.

5) That second one was especially true. Torbert may not have got all the Bollywood details, but he was wonderfully dynamic and entertaining. As Deeley reminded us, Jose Ruiz was praised for putting his personal stamp onto a Bollywood number; Adechike was condemned for the same thing.

6) It was a great night for Lauren Froderman, who covered the extremes -- sensual the first time, sweetly romantic (paired with Kent Boyd) the second.

7) Kent and Jose did well tonight, but they don't need to. Before and after each dance, their faces light up with a rich humanity that gets them votes.

8) My favorite Kent comment this week was when he said Lauren belches "like the man I could never be."

9) My favorite Kent comment ever was the time the country kid marvelled that his big-city dance partner "will let me touch her anywhwere."

10) And my prediction for Thursday? The rules put Alex in the bottom two; I think Robert and Ashley will join him there, victims of having a quick-step routine near the end of the show. Despite their comments tonight, judges will send Robert home.

"Dance": No suspense this time

OK, that wasn't exactly a night of mad suspense.

After Wednesday's "So You Think You Can Dance," I predicted (see previous blog) that Melinda Sullivan, Billy Bell and Robert Roldan would be in the bottom three, with Melinda being sent home. That's exactly what happened.

It really had to. Melinda was also in the bottom three the first two weeks, but survived. On Wednesday, two judges said they'd made a mistake by not ousting her last week.

As for Billy, he reminds me of Danny Tidwell in 2007 -- a brilliant dancer who had trouble dropping his classically-trained veneer and connecting with the audience. Danny's problem was a shyness that people confused with arrogance; he recovered and was runner-up.

Here are a few of my other comments; please add yours:

1) When in doubt, all dancing or skating routines should be to music from "Carmina Burana." That opening number was terrific.

2) Yes, this season has become wildly lop-sided. All six men remain; only two women do. Still, that's fair; the three women eliminated were clearly the bottom of a great bunch of finalists.

3) Don't expect the mismatch to continue, though. Ashley Galvan and Lauren Froderman are gifted dancers who have stayed out of the bottom three. Lauren has talent, Ashley has warmth; we should see some guys leaving now.

4) Tap-dancing is nice, but it needs time. Given 30 seconds to "dance for your life," there wasn't much Melinda could do. To save herself, she would have had to spend that time tapping on the heads of British Petroleum executives. 

"Dance": Now we see the other solos

It's good that "So You Think You Can Dance" is requiring everyone to do a solo on Wednesdays. For a while, it seemed like we'd never see some of them.

The show was only requiring solos (on Thursdays) for people in the bottom three. That meant no Alex Wong or Jose Ruiz or Billy Bell or such; it meant seeing a Melinda Sullivan solo every week.

Tonight, everyone had to do one. And we saw that those people -- plus Ashley Galvan, Adechike Torbert and Kent Boyd -- are rather magnificent soloists.

And the rest of tonight? Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:

1) I've really got to start paying attention. There was a lot of buzz that Lauren had a costume malfunction that was shown live in the Eastern time zone, where I live. Somehow, I didn't see it; I would have liked to.

2) Even the part I saw -- the fully clothed part -- was slinky and seductive and more, all done to Debbie Gibson's "Let Me Entertain You."

3) Who would have guessed, a while back, that one sentence would contain "slinky," "seductive" and "Debbie Gibson"?

4) Two other slower-paced pieces -- with Ashley and with Billy -- were also terrific. (I think the judges were too hard on Billy.) And Lauren seemd to put extra thought to her solo, finding just the right 30-second stretch of Cyndi Lauper singing "Unchanined Melody."

5) I have to agree with the judges -- and the crowd -- on Alex Wong's piece. This ballet dancer was sensational in a hip-hop number.

6) I also agreed with the two judges who said they should have voted Melinda off last week. That's what I had been telling them.

7) I don't think they were listening then, though. People hardly ever do, when I scream at my TV set.

8) Life is not fair, especially when the show asks each person to say whom they were inspired by. Robert Roldan had an emotional story about his mother, complete with divorce, two deaths and breast cancer; others just kind of said they liked their school counselor or someone.

9) Kent's inspiration story was a pretty good one -- about an older brother who was an athlete and a role model and is now becoming a youth minister. At the end, however, the brother needed to be hit by a bus.

10) My prediction for Thursday? Melinda goes into the bottom three, with Billy and Robert. Then she goes home.



Daytime Emmys: Not ready for prime time

The daytime Emmy awards should be banished to ... well, daytime. They're clearly not ready for prime time.

Sunday's ceremony had a lot of potential. It included tributes to two giants (Dick Clark and soap creator Agnes Nixon) who will never die and a show that is about to.

"As the World Turns" will continue through Sept. 17, but its final taping was Wednesday. Four days after they became unemployed, three of the show's actors -- Jack Snyder, Maura West and Julie Pinson -- won Emmys; "The Bold and the Beautiful," however, won the top award, for best daytime drama.

Then there were the talk-show awards -- "The Doctors" as best informative show, "Ellen" as best uninformative show (OK, it's really called best entertainment show), Mehmet Oz of "Dr. Oz" as best host.

This should have been fun, but it fell flat. That started with Regis Philbin's mini-monologue, which had weak writing and worse delivery. (One of the few good lines was that he had seen Susan Lucci in the casino and she had to play the slots 19 times before she finally won. Philbin promptly blew that one by pausing to explain it.)

Things rarely improved after that. Acceptance speeches -- sometimes delivered by unidentified producers -- were dull and generic; the heralded participation of "The Lion King" and Circus Soleil added nothing.

And the show spent much of its time inexplicably promoting Las Vegas. It even paused for a film in which someone kept gushing about the hotel where this was being held.

In the daytime, people may be used to such endless hype. And daytime would be a logical place to exile this award show.