Who needs an Emmy when you've got clicks?
This episode of Recovery is brought to you by caffeine, the cause of and solution to all of life's problems (with apologies to Homer Simpson).
Fun fact: The Simpsons -- the longest-running sitcom in history and arguably one of the most formative -- has never been nominated for a Best Comedy Emmy. I've got a theory that if the television voters had done so about 18 years ago, they wouldn't currently be in the embarrassing position of nominating for their awards "shows" that don't give a damn about television. Hear me out.
Pop-culture-inclined geeks who need to raise their blood pressure now and then need go no further than the awards process for movies and television shows, which mainly give awards to things that are similar to things that have already gotten awards. Those awards are mainly given out by the kind of people who think they're geeky because they wear glasses or can operate a Sidekick without electrocuting themselves -- not our kind, in other words.
And so geek sci-fi/fantasy pop culture has grown up alongside the mainstream, awards-bedecked type. Over the years, we upgraded from heartfelt but cheesy fare (e.g., original Star Trek, original Battlestar Galactica, MacGyver, Quantum Leap, In Search Of...) to well-executed, smart productions -- Buffy, Firefly, the Battlestar Galactica do-over, Deep Space 9, the Stargate universe, Nowhere Man, 4400, and so on. We're even capable of making smart, well-executed cheese -- right, Warehouse 13 fans?
The mainstream has, in contrast, gone from forging a path -- I Love Lucy not just because Ms. Ball was incandescent but because Desi Arnaz had some amazing ideas about how TV shows should look -- to shoveling same-same dreck like "Everybody Loves The Grey Anatomy Of The King Of Queens," or whatever that mess was called. The innovation now is happening on cable and, as we see more clearly than ever before, out with the geeks on the Interwebs.
Until this week I thought that was just one of those things the people who make TV were okay with; no one's forcing me to watch The Tudors, after all. But then I took a list at the nominations for Outstanding Special Class - Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs: NBC -- which had at least a few good ideas about the Internet as far back as their site for Homicide: Life On The Street -- is represented by a project connected to The Office; Battlestar Galactica, which collected minor nominations like wheat pennies but never rated acting or best-series noms, since that would require voting actors to watch some of that icky old science fiction stuff; Bruce Springsteen's Super Bowl halftime show; The Daily Show; and... what, now?
How did Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog get an Emmy nomination? And why on earth would it want one?
Alone of all the nominees above, Dr. Horrible has no direct TV connection, unless you count its genesis in the writer's strike that crippled that industry. That protracted affair put people like Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly -- genuine Emmy anathema in other words) at liberty to do a project with people like Nathan Fillon (Firefly) and Felicia Day, not only an actress but a formidable Web-series creator in her own right.
No one got paid at first for participating and no one seems to have needed an agent to hook the project up; the production length shifted from 30 to 42 minutes; it was released in 14-minute episodes over the course of five days; it was free first and then it came out on DVD with extra fan-submitted material. None of that sounds very TV-like to me -- and frankly I prefer the Web way of doing things. I got to watch the episodes repeatedly on my computer, on my own schedule, without entertainment-industry lawyers assuming I was trying to steal their content. Heck, I'm watching it right now. (Thanks Hulu, and good luck with that Emmy nomination you guys got for the Alec Baldwin commercial -- if, you know, you want it.) And I can't even imagine how Whedon would have talked TV executives into a musical about the love life of an oddly sympathetic super-villain. Jeez, he couldn't talk them into running Firefly episodes in order.
And it all goes back for me to the snub of The Simpsons. To this day there are people who dismiss the show as genre fare only because it's animated. In fact, the nomination of Family Guy for Best Comedy this year -- the first animated show to be thus noticed -- is another example of Emmy voters thinking outside the box several decades after it needs to happen to be relevant to viewers like me. Animation is a genre. Sci-fi is a genre. A genre is something the cool Hollywood kids think they ignore, or use to make money to fund non-genre stuff. Meanwhile, the rest of us are moving on.
On that timetable, they'll figure out how to reward superior science fiction and fantasy in the year I-won't-care-because-my-entertainments-are-found-elsewhere. (Seriously, do you think these voters rooted around FunnyOrDie to see if anything there merited their attention? Please.) I didn't need TV to find Dr. Horrible, I don't currently need a TV to enjoy it, and it wouldn't occur to me to look on TV to find anything like it.
I think it's the cherry on the top of the sundae that Neil Patrick Harris, our beloved Dr. Horrible, will be hosting the Emmys telecast this year. He's probably there because of How I Met Your Mother, a show I've seen exactly half of once; if I watch, it'll be because I'm hoping for a reprise of "Brand New Day." Because like the man says, the status is not quo.
And then there's this: I talk a lot about Twitter; heck, I talk a lot on Twitter. I appreciate, however, that a number of folks are still unconvinced that the microblogging service is worth watching (never mind joining). If you tested the waters and found them uncongenial, or you're one of those people who prefers to have direction as to the "right" way to do things, may I recommend a book for your speedy weekend-reading pleasure? An O'Reilly book, so you don't feel your geek cred is compromised by reading a book about Twitter?
It doesn't conform to the service's 140-character limit, but otherwise The Twitter Book, by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein, really does catch the spirit of the thing -- not only the shibboleths such as @usernames and #hashtags and RT, but the why-bother of it all.
There's a good helping of business-specific advice -- that is, how to make Twitter an asset to your business rather than a way of embarrassing yourself in a venue that is both lightning-fast and unforgiving of boneheaded behavior -- for those looking for the monetary angle.
However, the book works equally well as an guide to the sense and sensibility of Twitter culture -- the "ambient awareness" of what friends and other folk you interest you are up to, combined with the opportunity to dip into the hive-mind honey when the fit takes you. Milstein (@sarahm) has an engaging writing style and a keen ability to choose good examples, always a plus in tech books. And yes, even though the book's wisdom isn't portioned out in 140-character helpings, it's a fast read; considering the book itself is a petite 6" x 8", this would be a good choice to slip into a pocket or backpack for when you have a few minutes to kill -- if you don't do the really O'Reilly thing and get the digital edition, of course.
Let your nerd flag fly and have a great weekend.