Thursday morning's SAG Awards nominations marked the end of an era. It's an epoch I've dubbed The Era of Mainstream Award Shows Ignoring Possibly the Best Series in TV History. By my calculations, the 2009 SAG Awards are the last kudosfest able to ignore "The Wire." The Emmys had their last chance to ignore "The Wire" in September and mostly succeeded admirably. The Golden Globes had their last chance to ignore "The Wire" last week and succeeded admirably.
That's why I have to take this last chance to roll my eyes at SAG and ponder what it means that the Actors think that "House" is a better dramatic ensemble than "The Wire." You'd think actors would be able to tell the difference between a true ensemble and a remarkable (and SAG-nominated) star turn buttressed by a couple decent supporting performances. "House" is "The Hugh Laurie Show: Also Featuring Lisa Edelstein, Omar Epps and Robert Sean Leonard." It isn't an ensemble.
But who am I kidding? The SAG membership had never honored "The Wire" before and, like the Golden Globes, they weren't about to start now.
So maybe Thursday actually marks the end of another era: The Era of TV Critics Whining About the Lack of Award Nominations For 'The Wire.'
I'm sure you're all relieved.
In general, the SAG TV nods are about as boring and middle-of-the-road as you'd expect.
On the drama side, the nominations are nearly identical to last year's. "The Sopranos" dropped off the rolls because the series ended and "Damages" didn't air a new episode in 2007, so it wasn't eligible. The only series or actor to lose a nomination while still being eligible was "Grey's Anatomy."
Given that little bit of extra wiggle room, the SAG voters replaced James Gandolfini with William Shatner, a former nominee in the comedy category. And with the space left by Edie Falco and Glenn Close, SAG nominated former nominee Mariska Hargitay and Elisabeth Moss, from "Mad Men."
The entrenchment in the SAG comedy is, in general, both laughable and a reflection, I guess, on the state of TV comedy. Four of the five actor and actress nominees are repeats of last year's nominees, while Piven, Carell, Shalhoub and Baldwin have been nominated three straight years. And on the series side, "Desperate Housewives," "The Office," "Weeds," "30 Rock" and "Entourage" have all been nominated at least twice in the last three years.
The only nominated actor never to have received an individual SAG nomination previously was the well-deserving Moss. Moss, David Duchovny and Tracey Ullman were the only actors without prior SAG nods for their current roles, though both Duchovny and Ullman had multiple past nods.
That's nothing if not monotonous.
It's not like there weren't alternatives. The Emmys and Golden Globes both found multiple places for HBO's "In Treatment." Bryan Cranston was a worthy Emmy winner for "Breaking Bad," SAG voters only had time for one AMC show (admittedly the one I prefer). Neil Patrick Harris has now received Emmy and Globe nominations for "How I Met Your Mother" and, as comedy supporting players go, he's far more deserving than Jeremy "The Thermometer" Piven. No awards group has yet to discover Jim Parsons of "Big Bang Theory," but he'll eventually get his due as one of TV's funniest men.
Once SAG left "Pushing Daisies" out last year, I guess it didn't have much hope this year, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't have been fresher than what they picked. If the Emmys could think outside of the box and honor Amy Poehler for "Saturday Night Live," why are is SAG so rigid? "Lost" has been off of SAG's radar for a couple years now, but it remains a truer ensemble than "House" and the failure to recognize that show's fourth season bounce-back is a pity.
Heck, as awful as I think HBO's "True Blood" is, nominating Anna Paquin would have given some new blood to the SAG Awards.
This is why, when the SAG Awards air on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 25, I'll be watching the movie categories with interest and using the TV categories for bathroom and burrito breaks.