Monday, January 12, 2009

Finding Substance on Television

Forgive me for taking a rather ho-hum attitude towards the Motion Pictures category of the Golden Globe Awards given out each year by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I recognize that this is the Hollywood part of the event, through which all those foreign journalists can show off how much they enjoy being posted in Hollywood and serving as the front line for Oscar buzz. However, with the exception of the award for Colin Farrell in In Bruges (which simply demonstrated that he had the chops for Martin McDonagh, regardless of how Hollywood wanted to push him as "property"), the real action was over in the Television category.

Consider the complete list (courtesy of the Associated Press):

• Series, Drama: "Mad Men."

• Actor, Drama: Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment."

• Actress, Drama: Anna Paquin, "True Blood."

• Series, Musical or Comedy: "30 Rock."

• Actor, Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock."

• Actress, Musical or Comedy: Tina Fey, "30 Rock."

Miniseries or Movie: "John Adams."

• Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Laura Linney, "John Adams."

• Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Paul Giammatti, "John Adams."

• Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Laura Dern, "Recount."

• Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Tom Wilkinson, "John Adams."

What this list tells us is that HBO still has "the touch," even if the viewer numbers have not reflected the enthusiasm of the foreign press. John Adams cleaned up on every possible category, simply because Abigail provided the only female role of substance. However, if the women of the eighteenth century were too diminished by the historical record, Laura Dern made up for the deprivation with her no-prisoners approach to Katherine Harris in the "contemporary history" of Recount. Meanwhile, although I would not deny Mad Men its best dramatic series award, the real acting in that category was best displayed by Gabriel Byrne and Anna Paquin, both of whom got to work with some of the most interesting material of the season, albeit in radically different ways. With that kind of substance on television, our household has little time for musicals and comedy series; but in this election year at least I could sympathize with the award-winning actor and actress!

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