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Ask A TV Critic: Andrew Johnston

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"I'm definitely seeing a lot less bad TV than I used to see bad movies when I was a film critic"

The thing is, again, that because of the volume of stuff that exists in TV...in movies, there's only a small percentage of movies released every year that realistically have a shot at the Oscars, and it's always the same kind of movies, usually -- you have quality studio pictures, and then movies from the Miramax companies, so it's really only, say, five percent of all the movies released that really have a shot at the Oscars or fall into this area. But with TV, there is really a hell of a lot more quality shows and quality performances proportionally, in dramatic television, than you have in film, and so narrowing it down to five nominations out of a much larger pool than the Academy Award nominations are usually drawn from, a lot more people just get passed over. From my point of view, from an outsider to the industry -- quote-unquote outsider, as a critic, relatively outside the industry -- yeah, it's kind of appalling, but I'm also...why am I appalled? Because I'm kind of cynical, I'm a cynical person by nature, and you can't do this job without being kind of cynical in some ways.

Sars: Yeah, well, the fact that Charlie Sheen got nominated? Actually I have to double-check, I'm not sure he got nominated this year --

Johnston: He did! He got nominated. I was looking at the list, Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer got nominated, and Holland Taylor from that show, and Holland Taylor's always great and all, but it's like --

Sars: Oh, I love Holland Taylor, but...for that? Really?

Johnston: "But for that," yeah. I don't watch that show regularly, although I've watched it a few times, or enough times, and maybe I could see giving it to Jon Cryer, but Charlie Sheen, I don't know. He seems like he may be a pretty cool guy, but you know what I'm saying.

Sars: Oh, no, I know. Do you think there's been any improvement in the Emmy nominations? Is it matching up more than in the past with what you would have picked -- are the two lists closer now than they have been in the past, or it depends on the year?

Johnston: I feel like in some ways they're a little further apart. I remember a few years ago, when Michael Chiklis won for The Shield, during its first season -- that show's become one of my favorites and I really loved it right off the bat, and it just seemed kind of really out of left field, and, like, right now, you have Denis Leary nominated for Best Actor for Rescue Me, sure, but that show's in its third season or fourth season now, isn't it? It's not like it was with The Shield when it was in its first season, you never have that happen, and the first-season nominees from that category, it's like, Masi Oka is great, but -- or is he Supporting? Shit, I should go back and check, I may be getting my categories mixed up here, but I think it's back to a little more conservatively than a couple of years ago. Every so often you have something like a West Wing that was just a monster right off the bat from its first season like Hill Street Blues was, back when I was in eighth grade or high school that came on, and it's rare for a first-season show to really just dominate that way, and so it seems like last year they were pretty belated in recognizing, you know, 24, which had really been a good show for several years, but they were late in picking up on that. They're a little bit behind the curve in some ways, even though they fill in a lot of sort of exception-y things like Patricia Arquette winning for Medium, which sort of came out of the blue, or relatively out of the blue, a couple of years ago, et cetera. I mean, I don't want to go back to that William Goldman "nobody knows anything" cliché, but there's some of that there, you know.

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Mondo Extra
Ask A TV Critic: Andrew Johnston

Episode Report Card
Grade It Now!
YOU GRADE IT
"I'm definitely seeing a lot less bad TV than I used to see bad movies when I was a film critic"

The thing is, again, that because of the volume of stuff that exists in TV...in movies, there's only a small percentage of movies released every year that realistically have a shot at the Oscars, and it's always the same kind of movies, usually -- you have quality studio pictures, and then movies from the Miramax companies, so it's really only, say, five percent of all the movies released that really have a shot at the Oscars or fall into this area. But with TV, there is really a hell of a lot more quality shows and quality performances proportionally, in dramatic television, than you have in film, and so narrowing it down to five nominations out of a much larger pool than the Academy Award nominations are usually drawn from, a lot more people just get passed over. From my point of view, from an outsider to the industry -- quote-unquote outsider, as a critic, relatively outside the industry -- yeah, it's kind of appalling, but I'm also...why am I appalled? Because I'm kind of cynical, I'm a cynical person by nature, and you can't do this job without being kind of cynical in some ways.

Sars: Yeah, well, the fact that Charlie Sheen got nominated? Actually I have to double-check, I'm not sure he got nominated this year --

Johnston: He did! He got nominated. I was looking at the list, Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer got nominated, and Holland Taylor from that show, and Holland Taylor's always great and all, but it's like --

Sars: Oh, I love Holland Taylor, but...for that? Really?

Johnston: "But for that," yeah. I don't watch that show regularly, although I've watched it a few times, or enough times, and maybe I could see giving it to Jon Cryer, but Charlie Sheen, I don't know. He seems like he may be a pretty cool guy, but you know what I'm saying.

Sars: Oh, no, I know. Do you think there's been any improvement in the Emmy nominations? Is it matching up more than in the past with what you would have picked -- are the two lists closer now than they have been in the past, or it depends on the year?

Johnston: I feel like in some ways they're a little further apart. I remember a few years ago, when Michael Chiklis won for The Shield, during its first season -- that show's become one of my favorites and I really loved it right off the bat, and it just seemed kind of really out of left field, and, like, right now, you have Denis Leary nominated for Best Actor for Rescue Me, sure, but that show's in its third season or fourth season now, isn't it? It's not like it was with The Shield when it was in its first season, you never have that happen, and the first-season nominees from that category, it's like, Masi Oka is great, but -- or is he Supporting? Shit, I should go back and check, I may be getting my categories mixed up here, but I think it's back to a little more conservatively than a couple of years ago. Every so often you have something like a West Wing that was just a monster right off the bat from its first season like Hill Street Blues was, back when I was in eighth grade or high school that came on, and it's rare for a first-season show to really just dominate that way, and so it seems like last year they were pretty belated in recognizing, you know, 24, which had really been a good show for several years, but they were late in picking up on that. They're a little bit behind the curve in some ways, even though they fill in a lot of sort of exception-y things like Patricia Arquette winning for Medium, which sort of came out of the blue, or relatively out of the blue, a couple of years ago, et cetera. I mean, I don't want to go back to that William Goldman "nobody knows anything" cliché, but there's some of that there, you know.

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