August 29, 2006

The Emmys, Futuresex/Lovesounds and Bye-Bye Pluto

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As a dutiful student of popular culture, I took it upon myself to watch the telecast for the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards hosted by Conan O’Brien. I know all award shows are just self-congratulatory love-ins for rich people to collect hardware, but, after all, I needed to see if my favorite shows would win. Sometimes you need validation from a group of strangers, who, judging from some of the nominees, may not have seen all the shows or actors they nominated. The consistent amount of awards showered on Megan Mullally lends me to believe this.

Conan brought his usual brand of self-deprecating humor to make the award show very entertaining. A funny pre-taped segment that opened the show featured Conan accidentally wandering through several television series like Lost and The Office in Billy Crystal-esque fashion. I applaud Conan’s willingness to be edgy when at the end he finds himself at a home and confronted by an investigator from NBC’s Dateline ala their sexual predator exposés. Funny but edgy. The other great bit Conan performed was his send up of “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man by altering the words to describe NBC’s ratings woes. Only a person with a refined sense of humor can understand the inherit comedy and silliness of the American musical. But I do have to deduct points from Conan for treading on familiar ground because, as author of the great “Monorail” episode from The Simpsons, Conan wrote a memorable parody of the same song. The placement of comedy legend Bob Newhart in a glass container with only enough air for the award ceremony’s allotted amount of time proved to be a solid running gag.

As for the award winners, I was pleasantly surprised. This year’s Emmy Awards were criticized for lazily re-nominating past winners and not nominating at all shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives. I think Battlestar Galactica not being nominating for any major awards was a crime, but that’s just me and a great many television critics. My favorite award winner of the night was Jeremy Piven for his role as Hollywood hotshot agent Ari Gold on HBO’s Entourage. Piven, finally no longer just the best friend of John Cusack, distinctively rocked the ascot. I was also glad that the best show on TV, 24, finally broke through and won Best Drama and Best Actor for Kiefer Sutherland. Although it was a toss-up for me between Kiefer and Martin Sheen since he never won for The West Wing, how can you be unhappy for Jack Bauer getting his much-deserved little golden statue? The West Wing’s Alan Alda won for Best Supporting Actor although he wasn’t present to collect his award. I can only guess that since Alda probably has 20 Emmys lying around his house, he simply can’t be bothered to go to these things anymore.

Perusing the iTunes music store recently, I noticed Justin Timberlake’s yet to be released album, FutureSex/Lovesounds, shot to number one on the most downloaded album list. I have to say Timberlake’s solo debut album, Justified, altered my impression to rank him as a legitimately good pop singer. However the title of his newest album along with its single, “Sexy Back,” might be some of the best titles I’ve ever heard. All I can I hope for is that Timberlake explains what exactly “future sex” is so we have something to look forward to. I do like the thought of Timberlake building a time machine and traveling to the future to bring us the “sexy back,” whereever it went.

Lastly, I couldn’t wait another week to express my concern over the recent demotion of Pluto to “dwarf planet” status. You live your whole life thinking one thing then a bunch of people on the nerd-patrol, the “planetistas,” decides all of sudden to change something you’ve known your entire life to be true. In the vein of Stephen Colbert, my gut tells me Pluto should be a planet, so it is. I am so tired of “big-astronomy” telling us what is true and what isn’t. What next, the Earth revolves around the Sun? Good-day to you sir, good-day!