We watch... so you don't have to.

It's Emmy-rific!

"This award show is the biggest fraud ever!"
"What about the Emmys?"
"I stand corrected."
--The Simpsons, Not Nominated For A Best Comedy Emmy For The Ninth Straight Year

A few weeks back, us Vidiots took our high school prom tuxedos out of mothballs, sprung for a couple of bottles of domestic champagne, rented out a ballroom at the local Holiday Inn and doled out our annual TeeVee awards. Maybe they made you laugh, maybe they made you cry. Maybe you were busy checking out a real Web site like Slate). Doesn't matter.

The point is, we spent painstaking minutes debating and postulating and flipping coins about who should walk away with our silly little prizes. And we hope you folks--those of you who weren't reading about Michael Kinsley gazing at his own navel, that is--did the same.

"That's nice of those TeeVee boys to go through the rigmarole of heaping high praise and prizes upon celebrities who couldn't care less," you probably said in one of your more reflective moments. "But everyone who's anyone knows that when it comes to TV awards, it's the Emmys that take the cheese. Hearing these enlightened amateurs spout off about Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Jenna Elfman is all well and good, but let's see what the professionals down at the Academy of Televisions Arts & Sciences have up their collective sleeve."

Well, the Emmy nominations) have been out for about a month and a half now. The glacially-paced awards ceremony itself is in a couple of weeks. And around Hollywood way, the question is on everybody's lips--Star Trek: Voyager or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman for Outstanding Hairstyling For A Series?

That's a real puzzler, true, but the savvy TeeVee reader--the one who instantly knows that Tracey Takes On... grabs the Hairstyling Emmy in a walk--probably has a different riddle on the brain: Just what do the Vidiots think of the 390 nominees in 82 categories that will vie for Emmy's warm embrace this year?

Well... I'm sure that they managed to spell most of the nominees' names right.

It's hard to work myself up into a quivering frenzy of hate over the Emmys, and not just because the names of the winners will fade from memory almost immediately after the Bataan death march of a ceremony draws its final breath. It's because the Emmy brainiacs make the same slights and overstatements and flat-out boneheaded mistakes. No Best Comedy nominations for The Simpsons or King of the Hill, who are relegated to the "Best Animated Series" ghetto. Eriq LaSalle dismissed as a supporting actor when anyone who caught a moment of ER last year knows that the moody doc had as much screen time as Best Actor nominee Anthony Edwards. Multiple nominations for dramatic train wreck Chicago Hope. Injustices like that.

Buffy, NewsRadio, Dharma & Greg--shows we singled out for praise in our meaningless, little awards last month-- came up mostly dry at the Emmy well. And Ally McBeal-- which we hailed as the best new drama of last season--is up for the Best Comedy Emmy.

(Note to the Academy: Comedies generally don't include somber montages of cast members looking sad while Vonda Shepherd croons "Alone Again, Naturally." Of course, in Emmy's defense, Ally McBeal is a laugh riot compared to fellow Comedy nominee 3rd Rock From the Sun.)

No, I could sit here and beat my breast and rail about the wrongs against humanity perpetrated by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and it won't make a dime's bit of difference. Because you can come back here in a year's time, and the odds are pretty good I'll be ranting and raving about the same things.

And that's perhaps my biggest gripe with the Emmy Awards. The ceremony itself is eight kinds of boring, as predictable as the punch line in a Henny Youngman gag. Will Frasier win its fifth consecutive Best Comedy Emmy? Of course. Frasier always wins. And John Lithgow will win Best Actor in a Comedy for the umpteenth time just like Helen Hunt will take home another damned Emmy while Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits will probably wind up playing Rock, Scissors, Paper to find out which one of them gets to add to the Emmy collection at home.

The folks who shell out Emmys, you may recall, are the same people who showered awards on Candice Bergen until she had to beg them to stop, lest she wake up one morning to find herself buried alive under an avalanche of gaudy statuettes. Same thing for John Larroquette in the '90s. He'd probably still be getting Best Supporting Actor Awards, long after Night Court left the air, if he hadn't asked the Emmy folks to let someone else have a bite at the apple.

Like a banana republic dictator who rises to power on the strength of a bloody coup, once you crash the Emmy party, you've got an invite for life... no matter the quality of your work or the cruelty of your reign.

Michael J. Fox's performance on Spin City is certainly serviceable, but one of the five best of the year? Nevertheless, the world's shortest Canadian won the Best Actor trinket back in 1988, so he gets to go to the Big Dance while Drew Carey, Dave Foley and Ray Romano can comfort themselves at home with a pint of chocolate ice cream and a good cry.

I don't know of a human being outside of NBC's employ who can sit through an airing of Veronica's Closet. And yet, there's past Emmy winner Kirstie Alley bleating and chewing her way to another nomination.

That's why--in the great food chain of televised award shows--the Emmys are in serious danger of moving to the low rent district where the likes of The People's Choice Awards and the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards hang. The ceremony is long and tedious. The nominees are old and tired. And the outcomes of professional wrestling matches are more up in the air than some of the Emmys reportedly up for grabs.

So set aside one-sixth of your waking hours to watch the big Emmy hootenanny next month. Argue among yourselves whether past winner Kristen Johnston can stave off past winner Christine Baranski in the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy tilt. Get all misty-eyed when Barbara Walter or Oprah Winfrey comes out to tell you about television's "power for good."

But not me. I'll be spending my time doing something more spontaneous and wildly unpredictable than the Emmys. Something like folding my laundry or defrosting a chicken pot pie.

Still, I'm taking bets on Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Series. Murphy Brown against the field. Any takers?


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