The Alternate Universe Emmys

Writing “A Day In The Life Of A Writer” yesterday exhausted me and gave me cause to be embarrassed by my tragic life (although loads of you found it hilarious), so today I’m going to focus on job searches: today’s blog post will be quite…how shall we put it? Lazy. Words and pictures. Rehashing an old idea. Are you excited? Here’s the preamble…

I have a lot of time on my hands so I’ve been watching a lot of TV. TV can be divided along clear lines: it’s either good or bad. Sturgeon’s Law requires that “90% of Everything Is Crap” and nowhere is that more true than on TV. However, there have been a number of shows I’ve enjoyed recently. In the spirit of paying tribute to those programs (and rehashing an idea I used a few weeks ago) here are my Alternate Universe Emmys. It’s lucky I don’t run an awards show for TV programs, because it would look like this:

Most Annoying TV Character Of All Time: Sgt James Doakes, Dexter
Doakes was by far the most annoying character on any TV show I’ve seen recently. I’ve been catching up with Dexter recently (we don’t get Showtime here in the UK) so I’m a bit behind the curve here: forgive me. If you haven’t seen Dexter I would sort of recommend it; it has some excellent plot structuring and charming characters, but it’s set in Miami which appears to be hell on Earth. In stark contrast to the main character, a sociopathic serial killer, some of the supporting cast are a bit dough-eyed and pathetic. That’s pretty subjective: they’re alright,really and that’s all I can say about them.
Doakes was a different class of annoying: a muscle-bound (he looked like hams squeezed into a sock) overly-masculine throbbing human erection, Doakes charged through two seasons of Dexter acting like an aggressive arsehole to everybody and then expressing apparent surprise at the fact that nobody liked him. He became a kind of parody of everything, starting with aggressive black tough guys, before becoming a kind of parody of the human condition: so hilarious were his off-the-cuff aggressive putdowns and overblown reactions to everything that he became the star of an internet meme. He became more and more pathologically aggressive until he was blown up by Dexter’s crazy ex-girlfriend, at which point I cheered so loud my diaphragm ruptured. I’ve never done a fist-pump watching someone get blown to bits before. I would, however, like to point out that Eric King, the actor who plays him, seems like a genuinely nice guy. I would like to see him in other things, preferably playing a character who isn’t a total asshat.
Runner-up: Kate from Lost, a passive-aggressive human dormouse with no discernible personality. Her main function was to get captured, scream, get semi-naked, run around, sweat and pout. Usually I am all in favour of those things.
Most Disappointing TV Series Ever Made: Lost
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Series One of Lost: “Wow, this is pretty appealing. Hot women and men trapped on a tropical island and weird shit going on.”
Series Two: “I hope they start explaining things soon.”
Series Three: “This is getting ridiculous.”
Series Four – Six : “I hate these idiots.”
Lost started with immense promise: a stellar cast, a dramatic opener, an exotic location, and a series of bizarre mysteries, including bunkers and pirate ships and stuff. Then as things went along we started to realise that the writers didn’t have any more idea of how it was going to end than we did: except we did, of course. The smart money was on Lost being a big purgatory, a sort of “woooo they were dead the whole time wooo”. Charlie Brooker, the Guardian columnist, posited this after watching the second episode. The rest of us played catch-up as the series developed: instead of explaining things, the writers poured more and more mysteries on until eventually the program suffocated under its own weight. The characters had no room to manoeuver: back-stories had to be filled in by progressively more irritating flashbacks (and eventually flash-sideways as the show disappeared up its own arse). Lost is an example of how the road to hell is paved with good intentions: JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof, I would like four-and-a-half series of my life back  (I stopped watching when I realised I no longer cared if everybody lived or died).
While there have been many ridiculous TV series in the last couple of years, Lost deserves special mention because it launched the career of writer Damon Lindelof, who has gone on to ruin Cowboys & Aliens and Prometheus. The fact that he’s co-written Star Trek: Into Darkness makes me very, very scared. HE DESTROYS EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES
Runners-up: the American The Killing, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Girls, Veep, Castle, Lie to Me, The Walking Dead, Being Human, The Event, The Mentalist….
Coolest Male Character in A TV Drama : Don Draper, Mad Men
Episode to episode I have no idea what is going on in Mad Men. Being part of the post-MTV generation I only recognise people by their haircuts, and to me everybody on Mad Men looks identical so I never know who’s talking. I do however recognise Don Draper when he’s on screen because he’s the coolest character on screen.
Don Draper is a boorish, lying, alcohol-swilling, smoking, misogynist, violent, aggressive, dictatorial, borderline-unhinged man who sleeps with everything that moves and has the immediate respect of everyone he meets. He is, in effect, the sort of man that every man wishes he could be. He’s so manly my television sweats testosterone. He reeks of broken hearts. He also has the best creative process ever. Is he the sort of person you’d actually like to be around? No way. Is he the sort of person who makes for a great main character of a tremendously cool TV series? Definitely.
Coolest Female Character in a TV Drama : Sarah Lund, Forbrydelsen (The Killing)
Sarah Lund is the bug-eyed and slightly scary star of Danish TV drama Forbrydelsen about a murder investigation that carries on (let’s be honest) a bit too long. Sarah spends most of her time onscreen frowning, saying “Takk”, wearing absurd jumpers, chewing Nicotine gum and balancing finding a killer against the needs of her self-centred child and fiancee. Does she solve the murder? Well, not really. What’s cool about her then? Well, here’s what. If Forbrydelsen was an original American series Sarah Lund would have made her debut exercising on a treadmill in tight lycra, before going off to shoot a criminal in the face and then have sex with her partner. Americans don’t really do subtlety. Instead, Sarah spends a good part of her time being a Real Woman, balancing the pressures of keeping her own in a male-oriented workplace, solving an unbelievably complicated murder and balancing her home life. And somehow she managed to make baggy woolen jumpers and tight jeans pretty sexy.
Sexiest Female Character in a TV Drama: Carrie Matheson, Homeland
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I think I’ve mentioned before that I find slightly-deranged women unbelievably sexy, and Carrie Matheson fits the bill of my ideal woman: she’s blonde, extremely pretty, intelligent, and a manic depressive who breaks stuff and screams like a banshee. Am I the only person who finds mad women sexy? And I don’t mean, you know, like women who eat their own crap or smother children or any of that Lifetime stuff. I mean women who are perpetually on-edge. Women who don’t blink enough. I probably need counselling.
Nontheless I will persist in my opinion about Carrie Matheson. Claire Danes by herself is absurdly beautiful, but it’s only when she goes bug-eye and the vein appears on her forehead that I start paying close attention.
I think I’m going to go and get an appointment with my therapist. BRB
TV Drama That Could Have Been Terrible But Ended Up Being Sort of Amazing: Elementary
When Elementary was announced by CBS you could hear the bored moan of Sherlock fans from across the Atlantic. You guys always steal our shows and remake them. Sherlock was truly great British TV: smart, funny, and well put together. The assumption was that Elementary would be a lazy Yank cash-in on its success. People like me waited with baited breath, expecting Elementary to be terrible.
And it wasn’t. It was something different. You could claim that Elementary was just House rewritten, and it shares many similarities: the grumpy, rumpled, genius played by a British actor, a sassy American female, and a slightly cynical support team. But Elementary proved to be a neat use of the Sherlock Holmes mythos, confounding our stupid Limey expectations. I’ll give you an example of how good Elementary is: my sister is an avowed fan of Sherlock and believed Elementary would be terrible. She now watches it faithfully.
Outstanding Comedy Series: Archer
James Bond is an arsehole: a heavy drinking, thrill-seeking mysogynist. Archer plays on that for cheap laughs. Animated in a style reminiscent of Mad Men‘s titles, Archer is replete with pop culture references, geeky jokes, and a loving-but-sarcastic take on the spy genre. Now into its fourth series, it is every bit as insane and hilarious as it was to begin with. Archer himself is voiced by H Jon Benjamin, and his slow, sarcastic stoner voice clashes with the setting to astonishing effect.
Runner-up: Check it Out with Dr Steve Brule, which is so amazing I can’t describe it. Riding off of the back of Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!, Check it Out is by turns disturbing, hilarious and tragic. I cannot even explain why it’s unmissable: just go and see it.
Series That Isn’t Outstandingly Funny But Still Makes Me Laugh For Some Reason: Bob’s Burgers
I only ever watch Bob’s Burgers when I’ve had a few drinks, and even though I can’t see what the jokes are it makes me laugh anyway. In particular the one with the talking cow.
Series Deserving Special Mention For Running So Long It Has Desecrated The Memory Of Its Early Days, Repeatedly Running Over Old Ground And Making Tired Jokes: The Simpsons
The Simpsons needs to die. Let it die, Fox. I know you don’t have any other shows worth watching, but just give it up. The Simpsons isn’t funny anymore. It’s a travesty and a violation of the early series, which were iconic, unmissable television. Let the cast go. Stop producing The Simpsons. Please.
Runners-up: Family Guy, South Park

18 responses to “The Alternate Universe Emmys

  1. I miss Doakes, it was fun watching him try to trip up Dexter. Dexter’s sister on the other hand – dear god.

    • Really? You don’t like Debra? I sort of like weird, hot, awkward girls. She has a sort of charm. What I want to know is why Dexter doesnt ever consider killing LaGuerta. She’s so.goddamn.annoying.

      • I haven’t watched the show after the season with Johnny Lee Miller in it – maybe Debra improves as a character.

        From what I’ve seen she’s just kind of boring, repetitive and therefore annoying whenever she appears. Constantly angry but on the verge of tears are the only emotions she seems to express. Kind of de-humanising actually; like she doesn’t come across as a real human being, rather, just a twisted idea of a human being. Maybe that’s the point – maybe that’s the way Dexter sees other people as most of the characters in the show are paper thin. It doesn’t make for amazing television when Dexter is really the only significantly interesting character in the show though.

        • Yeah I think that is a problem with the show. Dexter is the most, um, sympathetic of the characters. Compared to him actual people with their irrationalities and stuff seem a bit…mawkish?

  2. I think Sgt. Doakes earns his spot as one of the tv’s greatest nemeses purely for the tangible tension you can feel between him and dexter throughout his screen time. Also, for this:

    • Hahaha totally. It was a good feud, I’ll grant you that, but I genuinely preferred a serial killer to this guy. He was like every terrible bully in one, and was then apparently surprised that people thought he was a murderer…

      • I stopped watching them a long time ago. It is pitiful, just like you said, a drunk uncle at a wedding telling the same joke over and over.

          • Who knows? Maybe the original writers wanted more money and they replaced them with inexperienced ones. Or maybe the originals ran out of ideas. But, as long as they hold certain percentage of viewers, they keep them.

            Another thing that bugs me is when they start a really good show then go on hiatus forever. By the time they come back I’ve either lost interest or moved on to a different show. That happened to me with “Burn Notice”.

            • I never actually caught Burn Notice- is it good? They do this thing now in the UK with Doctor Who, where its divided into two half-seasons. Totally destroys any sense of buildup you might need to keep watching, so I see what you mean

              • It was good the first season. I never watched it after that because they took so long to come back and I think they changed the the time slot too.

                Doctor Who is hard to get over here. If you can get it at all, it’s always on very late or early in the morning and only sporadically.

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