Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1906/2008 Chicago's Baseball Fever - Another Crosstown Series?

The regular Major League Baseball season came to an end this evening on TBS. Superb work by Ron Darling, Dick Stockton, Harold Reynolds and Mark Fein. One big complaint: Dick Stockton said these teams met once before in 1906 and Harold Reynolds didn't know this. Huh? To add insult to injury, Stockton went on to say that the Cubs won that World Series. Huh? I'm letting this major huh pass since the announcing was otherwise outstanding. The Minnesota Twins came to Chicago to break the American League's Central Division tie, but they were blacked out by the Chicago White Sox. TBS will take the first swipe at post-season play as the National League struts their stuff tomorrow with the Chicago Cubs playing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field.

In addition to the wonderful coverage by TBS the other national television broadcasts this year on both Fox and ESPN have been fabulous exercises in a love for the game. The various announcers and on the field reporters gave the 2008 season tender loving care for a great sport. I want to throw in big hugs to the great Hall of Famer Joe Morgan over at ESPN. He is the most "I love this game" guy out there and I appreciate his every vocalized moment in every game he witnesses.

Baseball is poetic. Most sports aren't poetic. Thoroughbred horse racing is poetic in theory. After all Thoroughbreds are born to run, but with humans willing to make a buck at any cost the notion of sending out horses to run is no longer poetic. Having said that, I am looking forward to watching Kentucky Derby champion Big Brown (big disappointment in so many ways) and the 2007 Preakness winner Curlin go nostril to nostril in the upcoming Breeders Cup. Thoroughbred horses are poetic just standing in place. Maybe one day the rules and regs will make this sport pretty again. Baseball, in and of its own strategic tactics and plays are as lovely as Dickinson, Tennyson or Wordsworth.

Tonight, the Chicago White Sox sealed the deal by winning their division (they won it ugly this year, unlike the 2005 "once in a lifetime" team). The White Sox will play Tampa Bay on Thursday. Whether or not the Sox win any more games is irrelevant. They won their division and I'm thrilled. Now I have peace of mind (about baseball) for six more months until the start of the 2009 season. If for some odd reason both the Sox and Cubs win their respective leagues (American and National) they would head to the first Crosstown Classic since 1906. On the one hand I hate the idea and on the other hand I love the idea! I will not explain this. It is a non-starting thought for any Chicago baseball fan.

The big dream (or nightmare depending on your perspective) for Chicagoans would be to see the first Crosstown Classic since 1906! 102 years in the making. I suspect it won't happen, but I am putting in for early dreams. For those of us in the city of big shoulders this would be great television. This would be on a scale that would surpass all television dramas. It would be scaldingly memorable and historically momentous - well only if your team wins! Before I dream too much I wanted to look back on the original Crosstown Classic that of course never aired on television. Tis a pity!

The great series from 1906 began in dramatic and classic Chicago political style (things haven't changed in some ways). The 1906 Crosstown Classic started with a City Council vote. The city's rulers decided to close City Hall and give city workers the day off on October 9, 1906. This was the opening day of the first, and to this date, the only Crosstown Chicago World Series. These guys were smart. Give the people the day off. Give them their freedom. Play ball! They gone!

"Sure," as Alderman John J. "Bathhouse John" Coughlin put it to his colleagues, "give the boys a chance to go to the ballgame." That infamous day became historic. It was only 35 years after the great Chicago fire roared through the city. Mrs. O'Leary's cow (not that it was really the cow's fault, but stories live long) was long gone, but Bathhouse John was going to kick a different fire off - Sox vs. Cubs - day one!

A Chicago reporter posted a story that began with "today a fire is raging through the city that has been smouldering for weeks and will burst into full fury at 2:30 this afternoon when Chicago's two teams of champions face each other on the green battlefield." I wish I had been there.

It was not a "subway series," since the first Chicago subway wouldn't appear for another 37 years. Instead, Sox and Cubs fans rode streetcars and "Ls" as the series alternated games between the Sox's home park at 39th Street and Wentworth Avenue and the Cubs' North Side grounds at Polk Street and Wolcott Avenue (at the time it was called Lincoln street).

It was an amazingly spectacular series! One of a kind! Historic beyond all comprehension! Lots of wacky occurrences took place during the series, including the Sox's Eddie Hahn breaking his nose in game three just after a hen escaped from a nearby pen. The hen was chased out of the outfield. The hen had nothing to do with his broken nose, but that would have been great TV! Too cool! A jinx in the making. Is there no curse attached to this hen? Bring out the hens! To make things even more Chicago style that same hen showed up in game four dressed in white stockings for luck. This time the chick, if you will, was left in the outfield to peck at her new socks. That chick from the Southside had great fashion sensibilities! Clearly, PETA wasn't around to protect this wild example of early 20th century lunacy. I'm not making this stuff up. Also, two somewhat reluctant bear cubs were led around the bases. Where was the ASPCA? Needless to say, none of this stuff would happen today. Tis a pity!

The 1906 Series was mostly about pitching, but aren't they all?! In the first two games the Sox amazed, fascinated and bemused their fans by hitting (the 1906 ChiSox team was not a big hitting team) and thus overcame the Cubs who had entered the Series as 3-1 favorites.

The North and South Side ballparks they played in no longer exist. The sense of innocence that surrounded that red and gold fall season no longer exists either. The day before the opening of the Series Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was trying to sell postcards of himself and his royal family to raise cash. Eight years later, his assassination plunged the world into war. The Cubs and Sox fans are still at war 102 years later. The hatred we all have for each other whether it's about opposing baseball teams, faith or politics is horrific. What happened to respect for other's passions and opinions?

Getting back to the series... On that first day fans bundled themselves in fur coats and blankets since it was a cold day in the windy city. The temps went below 30 degrees and we had some early season snow during the first game at the Cubs home park.

Game 1 - The Sox won 2-1. Winning pitcher Nick Altrock and his Cubs' counterpart Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown both hurled four-hitters.

The next day, the Cubs came back with a 7-1 victory on White Sox home turf. The Cubs utilized a combination of bunts, singles, steals and a squeeze play. The famed combination of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and player-manager Frank Chance together stole a total of five bases.

In Game 3, the Sox took the lead with a 3-3 victory in a pitching duel between Ed Walsh and the Cubs' Jack Pfiester in which this classic play occurred in the sixth inning: Eddie Hahn stepped up to the plate to sacrifice. Instead of bunting the ball with his bat Hahn sacrificed his nose to the great cause. Failing to gauge a swift pitch correctly Eddie was hit squarely on the side of his nose. He broke the bone and a woeful Eddie was taken to the hospital, but the all engaged crowd barely noticed. Bill O'Neill was running for him at first base and the bases were loaded. George Rohe, a last minute substitute who turned out to be the Series' hitting star promptly hit a triple, driving in three Sox runs.

In Game 4, Brown pitched a two hitter for a Cubs victory in the first warm weather game. Hahn, a small red rubber hose attached to his left nostril for breathing purposes returned to make the Sox's first hit off of Brown in the sixth inning. In the seventh, the sun blinded Hahn and he missed a fly ball hit by Chance. Two sacrifice bunts later, Chance scored on a single by Evers for the only run.

The next day, back on the Cubs' turf, where the Cubs had yet to win a game, Chance desperately tried to fend off defeat by ordering his players to wear their traveling uniforms. I love that. Superb management. We need that now! It did not work. The Sox and Cubs traded their respective reputations. The South Siders had 12 hits to the Cubs' 6 for an 8-6 victory.

The White Sox easily took the final game 8-3 setting off celebrations on the South Side. The people went nuts. The neighborhoods gathered on the streets screaming with joy. Evers didn't understand the Cubs' demise. No one ever understands their demise.

This isn't just about baseball. It's about a season, a time, a mindset. It's literally poetry in motion. Television captures every moment. Every pitch, single, double, triple, error, slide, steal, home run and grand slam. They do it well from a visual perspective. Watching Ken Griffey catch and throw tonight was brilliant baseball purity. Watching Brian Anderson slide and catch the ball in centerfield to win tonight's game was enough to make a fan cry. It did make a fan cry!

Outside of personal life issues the single most exciting moment of my life came in October 2005 when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. It took them 88 years to recapture their 1917 World Series win glory. The second greatest moment of my life came while sitting under a raining top shelf Cellular Field hood with my 80 plus year old mother for game two in that World Series. We watched the Sox win that second game in a driving rain. They eventually went on to beat the Houston Astros in four games! Moments never to be forgotten.

My father and older brother loved the White Sox. Both of them had passed onto glory by that date in October '05, so they never had the opportunity to witness that '05 joy of victory. Unfortunately, they always managed to get a series of agonizing defeats. In spite of all of that they loved their ChiSox with every bone in their bodies. They did witness a pennant win in 1959, but the Sox went on to lose the World Series. My brother Chris was the biggest fan of all. Near the final months of his life my brother was too ill at the end to talk about the Sox, but in his heart and soul I know my brother died with a few things still in front of his eyes - God, family, country, baseball. My two surviving siblings were closer to my brother than I was, but he and I shared our own deeply rooted bonds. Notably, God, family, country and baseball. Having lived 1745 miles away from one another as the crow flies we spoke every two weeks pretty much no matter what and the conversation always gravitated toward God, family, country and baseball. Occasionally I'd ask him financial questions and maybe I'd throw in some guy dilemma or we'd talk about some great old movie (Errol Flynn, Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathbone) or even a discussion on music (Bobby Darin's genius came up often), but it always went back to the core basics of life! My brother and father are now praising and resting in peace! I highly doubt they are looking down on the city right now, but if they are they are hoping for a victory over Tampa Bay. In some wild visual image I see them both with their White Sox caps on. They are draped in their black-out t-shirts and they are swaying as they wave a pair of white sox in the air.

I do hope we get another Crosstown Series. Chicago is one of the great cities in the World and baseball rules! Catch the Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Rays, Red Sox, Phillies, Angels and Brewers on a television set near you. It all starts in less than 24 hours!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dexter is Delicious

Hello all Nose-Sirs and Nose-Ettes. I apologize for an extended absence, I've been on a much needed vacation in the lovely Florida Keys. That's right...very close to Dexter-ville in South Florida. Fellow blogger Lisa is absolutely correct, the cuisine in this neck of the woods is fascinating and sublime. I have spent the past week up to my elbows in Conch fritters, Cuban sandwiches, Rock crab and Cafe con Leche. And one awesome Mojito with a shaft of sugar cane as a swizzle stick.

It's no wonder every DEXTER episode includes juicy shots of Miami munchables like so much culinary porn. The third season kicked off on Showtime last night, and it looks tastier than ever. New character District Attorney Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) is introduced when his younger brother is terminated (quite inconveniently) by our hero. Dexter is up to his old antics again, only this time it's self defense and lacks the essential components of "Harry's Code". Sister Deb is back with a new razor sharp haircut and same old razor sharp self depreciating wit. She also has a potential romantic interest with a new very attractive cop on her team. Shame on the Showtime website for not listing his name (or even Jimmy Smits for that matter!) or I would put it here. This guy is hot and he has, like so many Miami folks an adorable NYC accent.

Dexter and Rita spend a lot of time in bed in this "Finding Freebo" episode, and chocolate pudding is featured prominently as a post coital aphrodisiac. Don't even ask.

DEXTER is back with the same stimulating mix of sex, murder and local politics set amidst the steamy palmettos and salsa joints of Miami FL. Yummy! But this season premier teases us with a little surprise at the end. Apparently Dex is destined to be a Daddy. Oh no! Generally, TV series won't introduce the baby character until entire Olympic sized swimming pools of sharks have been jumped. It's fraught with peril. Murphy Brown anyone? I don't think a baby has really helped a television show since Lucy had little Ricky. Here's hoping Dexter Jr. won't be born until next season.

Meanwhile, we can sit back and enjoy. There's plenty of evil lurking beneath the beautiful skies of South Florida, and Dexter is back to put it all right!

Photo by Jane: Islamorada Florida, just south of Key Largo

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Welcome back, SNL!

Adding to my 2008-09 fall season premiere blog (2 or 3 posts below), time to give Saturday Night Live some attention, having just watched last night's show. A definite sign of my age: watching "Saturday Night Live" on Sunday morning!

I won't say Tina Fey single-handedly saved Saturday Night Live, but she may be the person most responsible for resurrecting the NBC institution. Her dead-on (and hilarious) impersonation of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin drew me, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of other formerly-devoted SNL viewers, to the season premiere two weeks ago. After taking a week off, Fey drew me back again last night and what I experienced was perhaps the best SNL show in a decade. I can't really make that judgement accurately because I have only tuned in sporadically over the past 10 years. The show just didn't seem that funny anymore. The season premiere 2 weeks ago was good, but host Michael Phelps really didn't add much. In fact, I think he detracted.

Last night, all the stars lined up. The writing was superb, the performances were great, and the show's rhythm was nearly perfect. Anna Faris did a fantastic job as host, and musical guest Duffy was a delight (I'm already a big fan of hers). The writing was crisp, funny and sharp. None of the skits seemed to run too long. Even on SNL's best shows, in its best years, there were always those one or two skits that kind of bombed. Last night even the worst skit wasn't bad at all. And Weekend Update was a gem. Get that DVR rewind button ready - Kristen Wiigs' Judy Grimes character must be watched repeatedly. I'm not sure if Wiig deserves an Emmy, or an Olympic gold medal because her "just kidding" routine is as much vocally athletic as it is comic. Here's a clip:

If last night's show is any indication of what kind of season we're in for, I think SNL could be heading to a new golden age. I'm going to stay with it through the midpoint of the season (unless it turns unwatchable several weeks in a row). The cast seems smaller right now than in past seasons, and that will help those of us who've been away for a while get to know these comedians more quickly. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday Night -- The Best Night of Television -- on Cable, Of Course!

Tonight is jam-packed with absolutely incredible television, cable television, that is.

We have to give our biggest shout-out to the Season 3 premiere of Dexter on Showtime, at 9pm. This year there's a great new castmember in Jimmy Smits, a stunning new short haircut for Dexter's sister Deb, played by the incredible Jennifer Carpenter, and a shocking development that starts this season out with a surprising gut-wrenching premise. Actually, there are several surprises in this first episode of the new season. The show looks to be in fine form and we can't recommend this terrific show too highly. Dexter is a show worth falling for; it's exciting, amusing, complex, and richly involving, on so many levels. Uniformly skilled and nuanced performances by all involved, the vibrant Miami setting (for which Los Angeles environs often admirably stand in), and an intriguing blend of the outrageous and the utterly mundane make Dexter possibly the consistently entertaining of the new dramas, completely satisfying all our desires for a great hour of television.

At 10pm on Showtime, David Duchovny's show business saga Californication starts its second season. We wouldn't have said it was a roman a clef until his unfortunately well-publicized sex addiction treatment became known, but there it is, and if the adventures of randy screenwriter Hank seem just a little more interesting since we know Duchovny walked the walk, it can't hurt the show. This is definitely worth tuning in for.

HBO's sexy vampire romance TRUEBLOOD continues its first season at 9pm. It's a gooey mixture of vampire blood, illicit attractions, frequent and vigorous sexplay, Louisianna accents as thick as gumbo, divey nightlife, sweaty interactions and yes, somewhere in there, sweet romance. Anna Paquin is delightful as Sookie, the hard-working telepathic waitress who falls for brooding ex-Civil War soldier vampire Bill, played broodingly and Heathcliff-like by Brit Stephen Moyer. Lois Smith is warm, loving and unique as Sookie's Grandma. Sookie's black galfriend Tara, played by Rutina Wesley, is amusing and also tragic (she has a hopelessly addicted mother who treats her like shit), carrying a torch for Sookie's belligerent, dumb but obviously sexually potent brother. I have trouble telling apart Sookie's brother and her boss -- played by Ryan Kwanten and Sam Trammel, respectively -- but I will say that the male characters are as convoluted as the females, and some are a bit of both, like the spirited gay cook Lafayette, played with verve by Nelsan Ellis. The show is exciting, a bit over-the-top, maybe at heart simply a fanged Romeo and Juliet, but I think there's enough there to entertain and you don't get to see multiculturality like that -- yeah, I know, two Brits are in the leads -- on television that often. Curiously, this show doesn't make me as hungry as Dexter does, with its occasional tasty glimpses of Cuban sandwiches. I keep hoping for more Cajun deliciousness to appear in TRUEBLOOD, but then, I guess solid food isn't a big deal for vampires, is it?

At 10pm on HBO the fifth season of Entourage continues, as Vince and the boys try to put their lives and careers back together after the superflop of their Medellin biographical film. Entourage is full of scabrous humor, hostility, desperation, and ambition but the friendship of the group continues to evolve in the deadly waters of Hollywood show business. You think that the guys in Mad Men are disrespectful and kinda hateful to women? I think Entourage gives them a run for their money...not that I'm complaining.

HBO's new series Little Britain USA premieres at 10:30pm. You may already be a fan of the original British series, which I like...mostly...but I don't think it's for everybody and you may be left cold by its assortment of characters. I watched some clips of the U.S. version online and I'm not sure that it's going to work quite as well with the Stateside setting, but it will be worth watching to sample the transition. There's no doubt that Matt Lucas and David Wallaims are marvelously talented. Good luck to them.

And we can't forget the next new episode of Mad Men on AMC, at 10pm. AMC rightfully postponed this episode for last week's Emmy Awards, but the ad men and women are back with what will undoubtedly be another superb episode. Mad Men is deep, deliberate, not a crazy romp but a complicated story brilliantly told, completely deserving of its Outstanding Drama Series win.

Most fortunately, all these series air multiple times throughout the week on their respective channels, as well as On-Demand if you have it, and you can find some of them online, too, officially and unofficially. Can you think of any other night that has ever had so much can't-wait-for-it viewing excitement in store?

It's unbelievable. Sunday Rocks! Cable Rocks! Television Rocks!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2008-09 Off To A Good Start

The first week of the fall TV season has drawn to a close, and I have found this to be an extremely entertaining week. Like so many others, I've split a lot of my time between the internet and television, so I don't have as many shows to discuss as past years. I will say my returning favorites did not disappoint.

An amazing season so far. While last Sunday's episode was not the season premiere, it was by far my favorite all-time episode of the series. A tour de force for Jeremy Piven when he hunted down his arch nemesis & rival agent and literally bitch slapped him in front of the man's office staff. The writing, acting, directing and cinematography were flawless. You must check out the bitch-slap scene:

The Office
This show never disappoints, but the producers took a risk with an hour-long premiere. Expanded shows often collapse under their own weight, but not this time. It was an LOL extravaganza. The weight-loss competition and outrageous situations made for the most awkward hour I've spent in quite some time. I was literally squirming on my couch! And loving every minute of it. My partner and I laughed out loud repeatedly.

Lipstick Jungle
We came so close to not watching the recording this morning. The DVR had been set from last season (when we were on the fence about this comedy-drama bred in the same stable as "Sex And the City"). The writers and producers corrected every problem from the show's short freshman (sorority?) season. Last spring the women were so flawed that I just couldn't get behind them. This year, in a feat worthy of the best "LA Law" episodes, the writers managed to turn these characters around and in doing so, switch your allegiances. For the first time I was pulling for all three of the lead characters. Timothy Busfield ("Thirtysomething") did a great job directing the season 2 premiere.

Dancing With The Stars
Two words: Cloris Leachman. The comic genius has had a reputation for being a loose cannon for years... and her antics have sent the producers into overdrive trying to time out the live broadcast all three nights. 83 years old - and she'll be back for week two! Try watching this show in HD on a nice big plasma. "Reality" never looked so beautiful!

Still to Watch
Speaking of reality in HD, I still have "Survivor: Gabon" waiting for me on my DVR. First season in HD and I can't wait. It may require its own post.

Still to Come
Looking forward to the premieres of "Lost," "24" and "Amazing Race," and I'm going to jump on the TFN bandwagon and watch the Season 3 premiere of "Dexter." If you're a regular here, you know it's a TFN favorite.

Worth Noting
I must mention that "Mad Men" is half way through its second season and it's every bit as good as its first. We've all waxed eloquent on this stylish and brilliantly acted show. What jumps out at me is the tactics used to drive the sub-plots. On medical, police and legal dramas, the writers often come up with plots that are "ripped from the headlines." In "Mad Men," it's old ad campaigns of real products such as UTZ Potato Chips, Maidenform and American Airlines. It adds just enough authenticity to counter-balance the high number of metaphors that run through every episode.

Just About 24 Hours Until "Dexter"!

Another terrific promo for Season 3 --

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nose-talgia: * Does ANYONE Remember=>Q.E.D. *

It is the spring of 1982. The Weather Channel launched, Dynasty entered its second season with the introduction of Alexis Carrington (Joan Collins), and Magnum P.I was ending its premiere season. But one show from this television season did not even get a mention in the footnotes for this season -- Q.E.D.

Q.E.D. was a mid-season replacement show for CBS. It aired Tuesday nights at 8:00pm premiering on March 23, 1982. Its last show aired April 27, 1982.

QED-TitleCreditWhat does Q.E.D. stand for? While doing my research on this show I searched Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia it is: , "an abbreviation of the Latin phrase 'quod erat demonstrandum' (literally, "that which was to be demonstrated"). Unfortunately, this has NOTHING to do with this forgotten gem of a TV show. My next stop for mining information was IMDB. According to the IMDB ratings system, Q.E.D. scored an impressive 8.1 in viewer self-ratings. It seems there is more to Q.E.D. than the lack of letters in its title.

"Q.E.D." are the initials of Professor Quenitin Everett Deverill (Sam Waterston). The Professor decides to quit his full-time job as a Harvard professor and move to England. This self-initiated exile was the result of continuing criticism he received from his peers regarding his ideas and inventions for the 20th century. You see, Q.E.D. takes place in the year 1912. Technology is beginning to show its face to world. One idea which Q.E.D.'s colleagues laughed at was the concept of a camera taking a series of photos in succession and transmitting them over the air waves to people's homes. In each home would be a box which could take these transmissions out of the air, and rearrange them to project onto a glass screen inside this box. The images would be arranged so quickly, it would give the 'illusion of movement. (Things that make you go, "Hmmmmm").

I must admit, while watching this show, I forgot how much I enjoyed it, way back in 1982. I thought it was soooo cool for someone in 1912 to think about the future in which I was living. (Hey, I was in the 9th grade). The things I took for granted, were not even invented yet, like the TV! 9th grade remember?

The first thing I noticed was the music. The show opened with an instrumental theme, reminiscent of a period piece. And when played more than once, begins to stick in your head. Click here to play the 30 second opening credits theme.

While on the topic of opening credits, let's review the cast and the roles they played:

Sam Waterston. He played Professor Deveril. Professor Deveril believes in the future and how technology would improve QED-Sam Waterson 2people's lives. He left Harvard University and moved to London, where he meets his arch-nemesis Dr. Stefan Kilkiss. Who, like most arch-nemeses, wants to take over the world. Sam Waterston has been in many television roles since QED, the role he is most recognized with is Law & Order.

A.C. Weary. He played Charlie Andrews, an American newspaper reporter who is based in London.

George Innes. He played Phipps. Phipps is the taxicab driver hired by Deveril. Philps is 'jack-of-all-trades' for Deveril. In any episode he is the chauffeur, butler, valet, lab assistant and cook.

Caroline Langrishe. She played Jenny Martin. Jenny is Professor Deveril's secretary and a secret admirer.

QED-HeChosePoorlyJulian Glover. He played Dr. Stefan Kilkis, the arch-villain. Kilkis wanted to rule with world by various nefarious means. And each time, he was thwarted by Professor Deveril. Julian Glover has been in many movies and TV shows since Q.E.D. However, he is probably most recognized for his role in Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). After the fourth episode, Julian Glover's name was no longer appearing in the opening credits. The reason for this is unknown. Speculation is the show was going in a more "mystery of the week" direction. Besides, how many different ways can someone try to take over the world in 1912?

After watching the pilot and several other episodes of this series, I cannot deny that the series was a lot of fun and very nostalgic to watch. For a period show, it really does not show its age. Sam Waterston delivers a very engaging light-hearted performance for the title role. Neither he nor the show really take themselves seriously. This further enhanced its appeal.

With only six episodes produced, it is very unlikely we will ever see this gem officially released on DVD. However, if you happen to have an opportunity to view an episode on-line or have a chance to pick-up a viewed copy at a convention, due so. You will not be disapointed.

Another Wonderfully Strange "Dexter" Promo

Here's another fascinating promo for the upcoming Season 3 of Dexter, starting this Sunday on Showtime. This might be the weirdest one yet -- hurray for that!

Charming Discovery Channel Promo

Am I the only one who hasn't seen this promo until recently? Where have I been? Anyway, it's really cute and sweet.

Visit here to see it in hi-def and for the lyrics.

If you need a lift, watch it a few times. And I think we all really need a lift these days, ya know what I mean?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The "Dexter" Countdown Really Begins!

If you've been watching the widget on our page, you know that we're down to the last few days before the Season 3 premiere of Dexter, Showtime's showpiece and one of our favorite series. Magazine readers may have already seen some of the highly-touted faux mag covers featuring Michael C. Hall's Dexter; they're getting a lot of coverage and are pretty classy. Here are most of them, anyway; you can probably figure out what magazines they're spoofing


I'm not sure they've done this here in the States, but evidently this is a photo from Madrid where they have been promoting Dexter with fake corpse arms nestled among real meats at butcher shops. Seems a bit unlikely here -- sanitary standards come to mind first of all -- but it's particularly gruesome and fairly hilarious nonetheless.

The preem episode has been available online via streaming video for a little while, but even if you've watched it, do support Showtime and Dexter by watching it again on Sunday night. The ratings will get reported and we want Dexter to look like the hit that it is, right? Support the show by watching it on Showtime and then any other way you want to.

We'll be posting some of the intriguing Dexter Season 3 promos here, also, starting with this one:

The Flaming Nose is thrilled to have Dexter back; keep coming back for more Dexter news and features!

Monday, September 22, 2008

All New Monday Night Tonight on All Networks!

As if magically appearing to take the bad taste out of your mouth after the nearly-universally panned Emmy Awards telecast last night -- panned for a bad show, not bad winners -- tonight offers up an amazing array of brand new series, new episodes of old favorites, and the return of the cult favorite that seems like it's been away forever.

ABC has new live Dancing With the Stars and a new Boston Legal. Fox gives us new episodes of Terminator and Prison Break. CW unveils new eps of Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill. CBS entices us with season premieres of its terrific Monday night comedy line-up of Flaming Nose favorite The Big Bang Theory, the growing-on-us How I Met Your Mother, the sorry-but-I-can't-stand-it Two and a Half Men, and the very first ever episode of Worst Week, followed of course by CSI: Miami.

In the most hotly-anticipated Monday night treat, NBC comes on strong with three hours of Heroes, starting with a one-hour Countdown to the Premiere -- shouldn't that be Re-Premiere? -- and then a special two-hour season opener that fans of the show evidently will love.
Happy Monday!

Worst Emmy Awards Show Ever?

Wow. If it was as painful for the attendees as it was for those of us watching at home, our condolences. Other than a few bright spots, this was a dull-as-dishwater Emmy telecast, a curiously bland affair which gave lipservice to the idea of the 60th anniversary of the awards but did nothing to evoke any emotional response to the notion.

I'm sure those who advocated for the new Reality Host category were tickled pink, but to repeatedly hand over precious minutes of the telecast to the wincingly unfunny blathering from the five-headed do and know-nothings was a crucial mistake and sunk the awards. What was up with the timing of the show, anyway? Some people were hurried on, some winners hurried off, as if preserving those awkward host bits were job one. More of those hosts rather than something from Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris? I don't think so.

There were a few bright spots -- Ricky Gervais, who unfortunately didn't take home any awards from his superb nominated Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale, was droll and unexpected, a bit confrontational and fascinatingly so.

And every time Tina Fey was on, she was a delight. Boy, if she isn't a terrific role model for smart girls everywhere! I also liked the interaction between Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus during her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy acceptance speech, when Fey joked that her husband had told her to act like J L-D, and that it was working out for her really well. To which Julia did a hilarious thumbs-up.

As our correspondent Scott noted, the Josh Groban TV theme song medley was pretty good, not exactly a sentimental walk down memory lane, but an interesting pastiche of eras.

In terms of the awards themselves, biggest disappointment for us was Stephen Dillane not getting the Emmy for his Thomas Jefferson in John Adams, and that Tom Wilkinson got it for his Benjamin Franklin. It was that beaver hat, I tell ya. They went for the flashier performance, not that Wilkinson wasn't excellent, but hmmm...still think Dillane should have gotten it. And we also desperately wanted Ashley Jensen to get hers for her supporting role in the Extras finale.

Nice showing for John Adams overall, excellent wins for Mad Men, both well-deserved. And when that Mad Men cast went up on stage -- what a stunning ensemble. It's a really different looking group, not blandly glamorous, but so very interesting to look at. Let's get more people hooked on this tremendous show!

What were your Emmy impressions? Loved the Awards, hated the show? We did.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Emmy Dud

Just a quick post from me... and in the spirit of the most boring awards show in decades, no artwork or links or videos from me!

I won't comment on whether the right shows won (except to say that plenty of my -and TFN's - faves won). My cohorts at TFN gave a live, real-time account and went into greater detail in the several posts below this one. So I'll keep this brief.

This was one of the worst produced Emmy telecasts I've ever seen. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the category orders. They wasted time with garbage and rushed the winners more than ever. So many categories are now included that there no time for clips. Except for Josh Grobin's amusing (and surprising-in a good way) medley of TV theme songs, the show was completely devoid of entertainment. The opening skit with the five hosts "having nothing" prepared fell flat. Most of the presenters and hosts stumbled along.

Brightest moment: Don Rickles and Kathy Griffin. They actually provided 6 or 7 great minutes. Don Rickles FTW!!

And I'm not grumpy because the show ran late and I'm tired. It actually ended on time - 2 minutes before the 11pm news. Unheard of. I just really disliked the broadcast! As a television program it fell short.

What Happened to TV's Most Memorable Moments?

ABC made such a big deal about them on their website -- did I just miss them during the show, or were they also dropped?

The Last Few Emmy Awards

Jeff Probst wins for Outstanding Host for Reality or Reality-Competition Program for Survivor.

Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White presenting an Award. Betty White looks amazingly good, MTM is quite thin, isn't she?

Outstanding Comedy Series: 30 Rock does it again! Congratulations! 2nd year in a row. Well-deserved. Tina Fey has been up to win an award three times tonight! Another cute and humble speech. She's the best!

Tom Selleck -- he looks good -- is up to present the award for Outstanding Drama Series, and the winner is...Mad Men. Seems to be a popular choice, nice shout in the audience. The whole cast and everybody seems to be going up on stage. They all look so happy and Matthew Weiner gave a terrific speech, including thanking his parents. Awwwww....

A quick goodnight from Probst and a weirdly truncated ending and horrible ending theme music. Very underwhelming close. Boy, they were really watching the clock...Did it go over? Seems to have ended about on time, but they have the end music going forever.


Well, that's it. Some of our favorites won, other good choices won, overall all terrific bunch of contenders and congratulations to all of you who make terrific television from those of us at The Flaming Nose who love terrific television.

Some Great Emmy Award Wins!

Bryan Cranston Wins for Lead Actor in Drama Series for his work in Breaking Bad.

So happy to see this wonderful win for Cranston! Very heartfelt and obviously he was surprised. Nice shout out to his wife, his sister and his daughter. So happy about this one!

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series -- Tina Fey for 30 Rock! Good win, nice gal, she's such a hilarious combination of gorgeousness and wit. Gotta love her.

Jimmy Kimmel giving award for Outstanding Reality Host -- they are making a big deal out of this first-time category. Mostly they are annoying, but these five folks probably are watched more than anybody in any of the other categories. Holding the winner until after the break as a funny touch...

Paul Giamatti wins as John Adams!

Very sweet and amusing speech -- "I'm a reminder to all kids that anybody...anybody...can grow up to play the President." He's our favorite and congrats to him!

Candice Bergen giving the Outstanding Lead Actor in Comedy Series right now -- to Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock. 1st Emmy win for him, 7 noms over the years. Thanking Tina Fey, calling her the "Elaine May of her generation." Now let's hope people remember who Elaine May is...

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Glenn Close, Damages! They are playing her off with music...

The Death Roll right now -- Carlin, Heston, Buckley, Les Crane, Alice Ghostley, Ivan Dixon, Cyd Charisse, Mel Ferrer, Villa Alegro, Barry Morse, Deborah Kerr, Larry Harmon, Estelle Getty, Sydney Pollack, King Brother, Bernie Mac, Pleshette, a few others who went by too fast...Dick Martin, Delbert Mann, Harvey Korman, Jim McKay, Lois Nettleton, Mel Tolkin, Richard Widmark, Stan Winston, Tim Russert...

More Emmy Updates!

Nice to hear them remember the late Dwight Hemion.

Don Rickles wins as Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program! Lovely acceptance speech, very funny and also heartfelt. Very sweet that he always honored his beloved mother Etta in his remarks. Nice man, obviously. Great win!

Outstanding Direction for a Drama Series -- House, House's Head. Surprised it wasn't Mad Men, would have liked Breaking Bad, but nice speech by the winning director Greg Yaitanes. Congrats!

Outstanding Writing for a Dram Series -- Matthew Weiner for the pilot of Mad Men. Excellent choice, nice speech. Good win for a great series!

Emmy Updates --

Eileen Atkins in Cranford for Outstanding Supporting Actress In a Miniseries or Movie -- no Ashley Jensen, unfortunately. That's a real shame.

Nice seeing Don Rickles up there! Looks marvelous!

Amazing Race for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. Again.

Huzzah! John Adams wins for Outstanding Miniseries!!

Our Thomas Jefferson Stephen Dillane Didn't Win --

Waaaa! I figured that Wilkinson's more flashy Ben Franklin might win, but we sure wanted the amazing Stephen Dillane to triumph for John Adams in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. But congrats to Wilkinson, of course!

Jay Roach just won as Outstanding Directing for Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special for Recount from HBO. Good exhortation to people to "keep your elections honest..." Expected...hoped...for John Adams win.

Outstanding Writing for Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: Kirk Ellis for the Independence segment of John Adams. Well-deserved award, with a nice jab about politicians using complete sentences.... They cut him off for a commercial, unfortunately. Wanted Gervais and Merchant, but this is a great choice, of course.

More Emmy Results

Dang it. Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale didn't win, but the great and important Recount from HBO did for Outstanding Made for Television Movie.

Nice bit by Martin Sheen urging people to exercise their right to vote.

Tina Fey Wins for Comedy Writing

Very cute acceptance speech by this very cute and talented writer/actress! Congrats!

More Emmy Award Results

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Our favorite Laura Linney for her role as Abigail Adams in John Adams from HBO!

And a lovely closing to her acceptance speech where she thanked "all the community organizers who founded our nation."

Long intro by Steve Martin to a special writing Emmy to Tommy Smothers for his work on the groundbreaking Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour back in the '60s. Smothers was sweet, humble and interesting. Martin...used to like him but his style is a little grating these days, or maybe it's just me. But a lovely shout-out by Smothers dedicating his award to "all people who feel compelled to speak out...and refuse to be silenced."

The old cast of Laugh-In announcing the nominations for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series. Lily Tomlin even showed up and was hilarious as Ernestine the telephone operator, Ruth Buzzi looked great as her Gladys Ormphby, Gary Owens the Announcer, Joanne Worley was ebullient, and it was great to see Alan Sues. The Daily Show won the Award.

And now Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series: Pushing Daisies, Barry Sonnenfeld the winner.

Forgot the Best Direction of Variety, Music or Comedy

Was the 80th Academy Awards.

The Results So Far

Jeremy Piven in Entourage, again, for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Not unexpected, his third for his role out of four noms.

Jean Smart in Samantha Who?, for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Zelijo Ivankek in Damages, for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. For all the talk about Mad Men, this one didn't go to John Slattery.

Dianne Wiest in In Treatment, for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Great presenter appearance by Ricky Gervais; you honestly don't know quite what he's up to, and he's wonderful.

Outstanding Writing for Variety Program: The Colbert Report.

Watching E! Coverage of the Emmy Red Carpet

Great seeing Michael C. Hall, Bryan Cranston, and some other guys, but mostly it's about the ladies and what they're wearing -- to be expected.

A big shout-out to Tom Hanks (exec prod. of John Adams) and his wife Rita Wilson, and her exhortation to viewers to remember to register to vote! She's right!

Flaming Nose Exclusive: Vetting the 2008 Emmy Awards!

With the Emmy Awards just a few hours away, it's time for The Flaming Nose to chime in with our take on this year's field. We think it's safe to say that we've never had so many favorites nominated, directly due to the fact that seldom has there been so much terrific television out there. The nominations reflect an astounding array of entertainment and achievement, and we're going to dig right in. This is the line-up as they will be presented on TV, so follow along during the ceremony.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Jeremy Piven, Entourage, HBO
Kevin Dillon, Entourage, HBO
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother, CBS
Rainn Wilson, The Office, NBC
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men, CBS

The Flaming Nose
Pick: Great bunch of guys, all of them, same contenders as last year. Will they give it to Piven again? Not the best year of Entourage, probably not. Kevin Dillon is consistently a delight in the series, too. Rainn Wilson seems to be everywhere lately, always great in The Office. Jon Cryer, well, what can I say, I think Two and a Half Men isn't terrific, but Cryer is good. I'm going to throw our hat into the ring for Neil Patrick Harris. He really makes the show, IMHO, and would be a wonderful winner.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies, ABC
Jean Smart, Samantha Who?, ABC
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Life, NBC
Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men, CBS
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty, ABC

The Flaming Nose Pick: Kristin Chenoweth. The multi-talented actress/singer is perfectly cast in ABC's vivid and unusual Pushing Daisies, and she's quite unlike anyone else in the running, all of whom are very talented ladies giving wonderful performances.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
William Shatner, Boston Legal, ABC
Ted Danson, Damages, FX
Zelijo Ivanek, Damages, FX
Michael Emerson, Lost, ABC
John Slattery, Mad Men, AMC

The Flaming Nose Pick: John Slattery in Mad Men. Excellent contenders all of the fellows in this category, and nobody loves Shatner more than we do, but Slattery as Roger Sterling managed to perfectly show us the vulnerabilities behind the nifty suits and the noontime martinis. Is he a bastard? Yeah. Is he a total prick? Sometimes. Do we like him? Yes, I think we do, when we're not shaking our heads. A cool performance like most everything else cool about Mad Men, but so smart and watchable.

Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program:
80th Annual Academy Awards, ABC
Company (Great Performances), PBS
Saturday Night Live, Host Tina Fey, NBC
The Colbert Report, #4051, Comedy Central
The Daily Show, #13050, Comedy Central

The Flaming Nose Pick: Any choice is fine with us, though of course anything live gets a boost because of the unpredictable quality, so Oscars or SNL get extra points for hazard duty.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Candice Bergen, Boston Legal, ABC
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers & Sisters, ABC
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy, ABC
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy, ABC
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment, HBO

The Flaming Nose Pick: Rachel Griffiths. This is a tough category with excellent contenders. Griffiths is a fearless actress constantly charting new waters with her performances, and her work in Brothers & Sisters is no exception.

Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program:
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC
Late Show with David Letterman, NBC
Saturday Night Live, NBC
The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
The Daily Show, Comedy Central

The Flaming Nose Pick: Anything but David Letterman is okay with us.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Dame Judi Dench, Cranford (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS
Catherine Keener, An American Crime, Showtime
Laura Linney, John Adams, HBO
Phylicia Rashad, A Raisin in the Sun, ABC
Susan Sarandon, Bernard and Doris, HBO

The Flaming Nose Pick: Another tough category with five amazing actresses, but one clear choice for us -- Laura Linney as Abigail Adams in HBO's John Adams. Whether in her humble farm garb or dressed up like a veritable queen, Laura Linney never failed to show us the real woman beneath the historical image of Abigail Adams. The strength of her character, her fortitude during dismal times, the passionate love she felt for her husband, her fascination with their urbane friend Thomas Jefferson, the guidance and support for her children -- all facets were brought to keen life in Laura Linney's strong and humane performance.
Dame Judi was wonderful, of course, Phylicia Rashad similarly so, Susan Sarandon magnificently eccentric as Doris Duke, and Catherine Keener raw and shocking in probably the other performance we'd favor, but in terms of an achievement that made us love Abigail Adams and mourn her passing as much as her family did, we think Laura Linney takes the teacake.

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series:
Late Show with David Letterman, CBS
Real Time with Bill Maher, HBO
Saturday Night Live, NBC
The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Comedy Central

The Flaming Nose Pick: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart continues to consisently create credible entertainment and commentary. This award isn't for societal influence, but The Daily Show's excellence enables it to reach people's minds, too.

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series:
30 Rock, Rosemary's Baby, NBC
Entourage, No Cannes Do, HBO
Flight of the Conchords, Sally Returns, HBO
Pushing Daisies, ABC
The Office, Money (Parts 1 & 2), NBC
The Office, Goodbye, Toby, NBC

The Flaming Nose Pick: 30 Rock, Rosemary's Baby, though all are terrific choices.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series:
30 Rock, Rosemary's Baby, NBC
30 Rock, Cooter, NBC
Flight of the Conchords, Yoko, HBO
Pushing Daisies, Pie-Lette, ABC
The Office, Dinner Party, NBC

The Flaming Nose Pick: Let's give a little love to HBO's Flight of the Conchords. Oblique, and unique, Flight of the Conchords is a delight. Since we're rooting for 30 Rock for Best Comedy, they can let this category go by. What a great group of five contenders here. Every one is outstanding.

Outstanding Made For Television Movie:
Bernard and Doris, HBO
Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale, HBO
The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Lifetime
A Raisin in the Sun, ABC
Recount, HBO

The Flaming Nose Pick: Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale, HBO. Yes, it was perhaps technically more of an enlongated TV episode than a movie, but nothwithstanding its unconventional form, this was so much more than the sum of its parts. Hilarious, brutal, heartbreaking, emotional, scandalous...this was Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's vision at its most mature. A scathing examination of show business, of friendship, of loss, of gain, of artistic goals vs. commercial selling out, Extra: The Extra Special Series Finale was gut-wrenching and one of the most affecting things I saw on TV all last year. I've never seen a better example of something that combined laughter and tears. Simply brilliant.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie:
David Morse, John Adams, HBO
Stephen Dillane, John Adams, HBO
Tom Wilkinson, John Adams, HBO
Denis Leary, Recount, HBO
Bob Balaban, Recount, HBO

The Flaming Nose Pick: In a year when everybody up for the award was playing real people, for us, nobody did it quite like the marvelous British actor Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson in John Adams. David Morse was touching as Washington, bringing to life our image of the Prez #1, Tom Wilkinson was a cantankerous, excellent, yet more predictable Benjamin Franklin, but Dillane led us deep into the serene brilliance of Jefferson.

Contemplative, often still and quiet, Dillane created a Founding Father with an intriguing unknowability, a man with a mind of his own and finely attuned to the strains of liberty. Not even close to a caricature or impersonation, Dillane's Jefferson was a unique creation out of the whole cloth of acting, a virtuoso example of a performance so sublime that we really felt that we were seeing the real man before us as we never had before. Superb.

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special:
Bernard and Doris, HBO
Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale, HBO
John Adams, HBO
Recount, HBO
The Company, TNT

The Flaming Nose
Pick: John Adams, HBO. An amazing achievement, an intricate tapestry of characters, places, and issues made real.

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special:
Bernard and Doris, HBO
Cranford (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS
Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale, HBO
John Adams, Independence, HBO
Recount, HBO

The Flaming Nose Pick: Reflecting on all the categories, extra specially amazing achievement clearly stands out. Although we love John Adams beyond all reasoning, we will have to go with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's gut-wrenching, mature, silly, exquisite script for Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale. You may have thought it was going to be merely a hoot, but this production took you by the lump in your throat and dragged you through intense and intensely personal human emotions in a way that basically never happens on television, at least on U.S. TV. In a scathingly brutal and yet ultimately accepting way, Gervais and Merchant managed to delineate those complex human interactions that so often end up merely sentimental in lesser hands, but they found the true essence. Amazing.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Audra McDonald, A Raisin in the Sun, ABC
Dame Eileen Atkins, Cranford (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS
Ashley Jensen, Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale, HBO
Alfre Woodward, Pictures of Hollis Woods (Hallmark Hall of Fame), CBS
Laura Dern, Recount, HBO

The Flaming Nose Pick: In a field filled with tremendous performances, we unhesitatingly go with Ashley Jensen's stunning work in Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale. I've never before seen such an honest, unveiled portrayal of a vulnerable yet absolutely inviolate female character. In plumbing the exquisite depths of pain and pleasure found in everyday existence, Jensen went far beyond the cliches and typical choices. She clothed her character in genuine pathos, but of such a high and sublime quality that she truly and genuinely broke your heart. An unbelievable performance -- kudos to the Academy for seeing the brilliance of the Extras finale and nominating it in several categories -- and Ashley Jensen should get the award.
Notwithstanding Laura Dern's brittle malevolence as Florida's electoral wicked witch, the lushly talented Audra McDonald, the always impeccable Dame Eileen Atkins, or Alfre Woodward's undeniable skill, Ashley Jensen achieved transcendence.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program:
American Idol, Fox
Dancing With The Stars, ABC
Project Runway, Bravo
The Amazing Race, CBS
Top Chef, Bravo

The Flaming Nose Pick: Because it's the least bitchy, the most hopeful, and the one that truly captures hearts as well as gets the adrenaline going, American Idol.

Outstanding Miniseries:
The Andromeda Strain, A&E
Cranford ( Masterpiece Theatre), PBS
John Adams, HBO
Tin Man, Sci Fi Channel

The Flaming Nose Pick: If you're a regular here at The Flaming Nose, you'll know that we were regular patriots about HBO's magnificent John Adams mini. This saga of the courageous and brilliant colonists who forged the United States of America was never less than riveting, whether showing us the contentious machinations of the Continental Congress or taking time to give us a bracing taste of life on the homefront for the family of John Adams. Beautifully realized, with a genuine sense of time and place that brought you completely into the production, John Adams was a magnificent piece of television. No competition here at all. Andromeda Strain was a dull dud, Tin Man quite imaginative at least, and Cranford typically terrific Brit TV, but John Adams stands far above them. John Adams it is for us, then!

Outstanding Individual Performance In a Variety or Music Program:
Jon Stewart, 80th Annual Academy Awards, ABC
David Letterman, Late Show with David Letterman, CBS
Don Rickles, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, HBO
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live, NBC
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, Comedy Central

The Flaming Nose Pick: We're going for the veteran now, the incredible Don Rickles in the satisfying story of his own life. He's still got it.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series:
Boston Legal, The Mighty Rogues, ABC
Breaking Bad, Pilot, AMC
Damages, Pilot, FX
House, House's Head, FOX
Mad Men, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Pilot), AMC
The Flaming Nose Pick: Breaking Bad, Pilot. Dazzling, unexpected, idiosyncratic.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series:
Battlestar Galactica, Six of One, Sci Fi Channel
Damages, Pilot, FX
Mad Men, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Pilot), AMC
Mad Men, The Wheel, AMC
The Wire, 30, HBO

The Flaming Nose Pick: Great to see Battlestar Galactica nominated, kudos to Damages, and honestly The Wire should have gotten an Emmy long before this -- horrible oversight -- but we've got to go with Mad Men's pilot episode. Skillfully setting up the intellectually exotic world of Madison Avenue circa 1960, Mad Men's impeccable vision is unbeatable.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock, NBC
Steve Carrell, The Office, NBC
Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies, ABC
Tony Shaloub, Monk, USA
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men, CBS

The Flaming Nose Pick: Alec Baldwin. Baldwin as network head Jack Donaghy is a wonder, a maddening, eccentric, hilariously dead-pan corporate climber who also manages to be endearing and the perfect foil for Tina Fey's Liz Lemon. At the same time both subtle and madcap, Baldwin gives it everything he's got and it's perfect.

Steve Carrell is awkwardly wonderful, Tony Shaloub has already won three times so enough already, Charlie Sheen...eh...and it's nice to see Lee Pace in there for the underwatched Pushing Daisies which let's hope becomes a real audience favorite this year.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie:
Ralph Fiennes, Bernard and Doris, HBO
Ricky Gervais, Extras: the Extra Special Series Finale, HBO
Paul Giamatti, John Adams, HBO
Kevin Spacey, Recount, HBO
Tom Wilkinson, Recount, HBO

The Flaming Nose Pick: Paul Giamatti, the Mr. Adams to Laura Linney's Mrs. Adams. He managed to turn a prickly, sometimes pompous, immensely intelligent, dutiful and patriotic Founding Father into a real person. From his days as a young lawyer, to the burdens of forming a new government, to his Presidency, to his days as an aging farmer back on the land he loved so well, Giamatti as John Adams took this less-emblematic figure from our history books and made us care for him. Just as compelling whether orating to save the lives of accused British soldiers, or standing up for what he felt at the time of the coming split with England, or merely spending time with his beloved wife, or as a frequently absentee father bestowing whatever wisdom he could on his equally beloved children, Giamatti made John Adams live again for us all.

Kevin Spacey and Tom Wilkinson were wonderful in the maddeningly true Recount, Ralph Fiennes terrific as Doris Duke's intriguing butler, and Ricky Gervais gave a stunning performance -- far from a mere comic turn, he was absolutely brilliant -- in the Extras movie, but for overall achievement, for getting at the man beneath all the period trappings, Paul Giamatti triumphed over all.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Glenn Close, Damages, FX
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters, ABC
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace, TNT
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer, TNT

The Flaming Nose Pick: Glenn Close in Damages. This incisive and intelligent actress is always superb and a keen thrill to watch especially when she lets loose. Forget the cops and the moms -- go with Glenn.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment, HBO
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, AMC
Michael C. Hall, Dexter, Showtime
Jon Hamm, Mad Men, AMC
Hugh Laurie, House, Fox
James Spader, Boston Legal, ABC

The Flaming Nose Pick: Wow. This is a real tough one. The Nose itself is split on this one.
First off, enough of James Spader. Terrific but he's got three. Gabriel Byrne...well, it was primarily a reactive acting assignment and though we know that's completely just as difficult as playing a more proactive character and he was great, let's leave him out, too. Hugh Laurie...also great but he just got a big raise -- he should maybe just go buy something expensive for himself this year instead of bringing home an Emmy. He'll win one some day, for sure. And if the next three guys weren't as amazing as they are, we'd be so for him. To wit...

Jon Hamm -- his suave, unreadable, cool grace as Don Draper is like a dry martini. Soooo good, so close to the vest, such easy duplicity. Mad Men truly is an ensemble piece, perhaps that's a bit of a handicap for Hamm here. It's his first year, though, and he'll have more chances.

Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan, the conflicted serial killer -- boy, he was tremendous this year, caught on all sides with the walls coming in on him, in the form of one crazy girlfriend, one other merely neurotic one, one dogged FBI agent, one crazed colleague on his tail, and all of Miami looking to blow his cover. Hall skillfully and unerringly delineated his character by showing us both the humanity and horror that coexist inside Dexter. A wonderfully entertaining, incredibly vivid performance.

Bryan Cranston -- what a heartbreaking character he created as he showed us the deep wells of frustration, anger, sadness, desperation and fortitude that his cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher was forced to drink from. Utterly convincing, completely right, often unexpected and breathtakingly poignant, I have to go with Cranston's brilliant portrayal of Walter White. I don't think anybody came close, not really. I believe we'd officially say that Jon Hamm or Michael C. Hall will get it, but I'm rooting for Cranston all the way.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?, ABC
America Ferrara, Ugly Betty, ABC
Tina Fey, 30 Rock, NBC
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine, CBS
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds, Showtime

The Flaming Nose Pick: A tough choice. Christina Applegate is fresh and charming in Samantha Who?; America Ferrera certainly burst winningly upon the scene last year and snatched the Emmy, deservedly so; Tina Fey is bright, unique and delightful in 30 Rock; Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a pure classic, as good as Lucille Ball with physical comedy and so much more; and Mary-Louise Parker pushes the envelope with her sly, sexy and scandalous role in Weeds.
Our pick -- or should I say my personal pick -- because she's the most out there and the least like a conventional comic presence, would be Mary-Louise Parker. Not that I like Weeds the best as a series, and I think Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are genuine comic icons, but for fearlessly teetering between comedy and the most scathing and acidic satire out there, Miss Parker deserves a win. But if either Tina or Julia get the awards, that's dandy, too.

Outstanding Host For a Reality or Reality-Competition Program:
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol, Fox
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars, ABC
Howie Mandel, Deal or No Deal, NBC
Heidi Klum, Project Runway, Bravo
Jeff Probst, Survivor, CBS

The Flaming Nose Pick: Is this a real category? Well, let's go with Ryan Seacrest. You will have had the chance to watch them as the hosts of the Emmys, at least.

Outstanding Comedy Series:
Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO
Entourage, HBO
The Office, NBC
30 Rock, NBC
Two and a Half Men, CBS

The Flaming Nose Pick: 30 Rock, for sure, like last year. It's everything you want in a comedy -- intelligent, hilarious, absurd, liberating, urbane, homespun, sweet, nasty, acidic, slapstick, witty -- with a dream cast and oodles of charm.

Curb Your Enthusiasm continues to amuse, Entourage is maybe as much soap as comedy now but still great, The Office of course keeps on going strong, and Two and a Half Men...eh. Worthy contenders all (except maybe for Two and a Half Men, I'd say). We've going to be rooting for 30 Rock to do it again!

Outstanding Drama Series:
Boston Legal, ABC
Damages, FX
Dexter, Showtime
House, Fox
Lost, ABC
Mad Men, AMC

The Flaming Nose Pick: Tie for us -- either Dexter or Mad Men. If the Academy goes for serious, contemplative and intellectual drama, it's got to be Mad Men in its first season. This incredibly layered and nuanced saga, an exquisite look at the men and women who work in a 1960s-era Manhattan ad agency, is perfection. On the other hand, Dexter's second season was thrilling, exciting, gut-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat intelligent television with verve, humor, chills, and a unique POV combining the monstrous with the moral. Do the voters like a slow burn or a spectacular conflagration? Of course, Mad Men was this year's Emmy breakout, with 16 nominations and a Sopranos provenance in the form of creator Matthew Weiner. It would be a brilliant winner. On the other hand, we sure love Dexter. I think we'd predict Mad Men, though.

Good luck to all the nominees and join us for here for live blogging during the Emmy Awards tonight! We will be watching the pre-ceremony shows as well so check us out early for all the news straight from The Flaming Nose!