Sunday, August 15, 2010

Poll Results - What Show SHOULD win the Emmy as Outstanding Reality-Competition Series?

I didn't poll this category last year, preferring instead to look at the Reality-Competition Host category. That was a mistake, and I admitted as much last year. As a result I don't have anything to compare the voting turnout with. Anecdotally I think that with eight votes this category is having a downturn of interest, but I can't be absolutely certain.

As I said there were eight votes cast, and they all went to just two shows. In a three-way tie for third place we have ABC's Dancing With The Stars, Lifetime's Project Runway, and the show that has won in this category every year that it has been on the Emmy ballot, The Amazing Race from CBS. In second place with three votes (38%) is FOX's American Idol. Finally the winner with five votes (63%) is Bravo's Top Chef.

Now the fact of the matter is that the only shows on this list that I watch are Dancing With The Stars and The Amazing Race and as I've stated many times before, The Amazing Race is one of my favourite shows and certainly my favourite Reality Competition series. I can't speak to the quality of the other three shows. I have heard that both Project Runway and American Idol have had less than stellar seasons. Supposedly Project Runway suffered in the transition from Bravo to Lifetime. In the case of American Idol there's a sense that the drama at the Judges table – the replacement of Paula Abdul by Ellen Degeneres, and now the announcement that Ellen herself is joining series star Simon Cowell in leaving the series (and that Kara DioGuardi might be leaving as well) – might be overshadowing the talent on the show. American Idol is slipping in the ratings, not that that really means much to the Emmy voters.

As far as the two shows that I do watch is concerned, Dancing With The Stars is an enjoyable series and invariably delivers an audience. As with all such series – and in my mind this sort of show is essentially the same as The Apprentice or Hell's Kitchen or even Top Chef and Project Runway; the early stages weed out the less capable cast members. The difference is of course that the fact that the public votes on who goes home means that the incompetent sometimes end up staying longer than you would suppose. As for The Amazing Race the show not only brings the world to its viewers, it manages to give ample doses of local colour and interest while still maintaining a certain amount of imagination in the preparation of its challenges. And even though it is thought by some that the past two "seasons" of the show were less than the best that they've delivered, that still puts it ahead of most reality-competitions shows (and maybe more than a few scripted shows). That's why I think that it's a permanent Emmy favourite and a show that is going to be hard to unseat.

Top Chef is a show that I used to watch occasionally. I don't anymore. I'm a big fan of Hell's Kitchen, so it may be a surprise that this show doesn't really do anything for me. Maybe it's because this show has a lot more to do with the artistic side of cooking rather than examining the business of working in and running a restaurant. Whatever the cause it frequently seems to me as though the chefs on Top Chef are continually producing "signature dishes" and artistic presentations that would be very hard to duplicate on a consistent basis. And that doesn't even mention how it sometimes seems to me that the whole show is some sort of gigantic product placement.

Now I'm going to tell you something that will surprise you. You're choice is wrong. Don't feel bad; My choice is wrong too. Worst of all – because it is why you, gentle readers, and I are both wrong – the Emmy voters made the wrong choice as well. Because as far as I'm concerned the Outstanding Reality-Competition series of the past year wasn't even nominated. That would be Survivor. If you want to break it down further, into one of the show's two seasons this year, I would say that the show should be judged on the Heroes vs Villains, which early on featured the "demented Hobbit" (Russell Hantz) against one of the best strategists that the show has ever produced (Rob Mariano) And later on produced one of the most satisfying results, when the alleged "floater" – Sandra Diaz-Twine – beat Hantz who received no votes at all...and sill insisted that he should have won if it weren't for some flaw in the way the game is set up. The Heroes vs Villains season was a truly outstanding bit of Reality-Competition programming. I'm not sure why it wasn't nominated. Maybe it was the episode they submitted but I think it is equally possible that those people who voted for who will be nominated for the Reality-Competition Emmy have a certain disdain for most shows in this form, including Survivor – in short they're being snobs about it – and that might just explain a lot about what gets nominated.

New poll up in shortly.

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