While accepting the Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Miniseries for John Adams, executive producer Tom Hanks was thankful that the TCA Awards are not televised due to his random, somewhat dirty humor. After attending Saturday night’s ceremony, I feel just the opposite, because the awards themselves and particularly the acceptance speeches were so hilarious that it’s a shame more people don’t get to see them,
The TCA Awards recognize the best in television, and this year the awards were divided among three shows: 30 Rock, Mad Men and the HBO miniseries John Adams. In an odd moment of mutual adoration from critics and the industry, those just happen to be the three most nominated programs at this year’s Emmys.
Tina Fey accepted the awards for Individual Achievement in Comedy and Best Comedy for 30 Rock. Proving she deserved them, her speeches were a hilarious cavalcade of self-deprecation and commentary on the current state of network TV. She called 30 Rock “the highest-rated cable show on network television” and claimed that doing 30 Rock on NBC was a bit like doing vaudeville in the ’60s. Sharing the love with the other winners, she cited Tom Hanks’ work on Bosom Buddies as appointment TV for her back in the day and described co-star Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghey as making “Don Draper look like half a fruit,” referencing the womanizing main character of Mad Men. She also had kind words for her co-stars, describing Jack McBrayer as a little kid who has a disease that makes him look like a 30-year-old hillbilly.
Mad Men was the big winner with three awards for Best New Program, Best Drama and Best Program of the Year. All three speeches were very gracious to thank the TCA for writing about and promoting the show’s quality. Star Jon Hamm also thanked shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Flavor of Love for lowering the bar so low that show’s like Mad Men can rise to the top. However, his words indicated a rather deep knowledge of those shows when he mentioned the fact that Rock of Love has a recently announced upcoming third season.
While Tom Hanks’ speech for John Adams was funny, the man who stole the show was Paul Giamatti, accepting the award for Individual Achievement in Drama. He repeatedly called the ordeal of making the miniseries “nutbusting.” He also announced he recently quit smoking for the second time after picking it up again because of the “nutbusting” endeavor that was John Adams.
The one surprising winner was The Wire for the Heritage Award, honoring the history of television. Though fellow nominees included such classics as M*A*S*H and Roots, it was a series that just ended a few months ago that was hailed as an all-time great classic, and with good reason. Presented as what many TV critics call the greatest drama ever made on television (which is a sentiment shared by this critic), creator David Simon graciously accepted the award and said the TCA is directly responsible for the show’s survival.
Simon revealed that The Wire was actually cancelled after the third season, but the collection of profusely glowing reviews helped him convince HBO to bring it back. Simon said it was cancelled again before the fourth season premiered. However, the HBO president made a deal that if the reviews were positive, he’d get another season. Simon knew immediately it would come back, and so it did.
Other awards handed out went to the PBS Ken Burns documentary The War for Best News and Information Program, PBS’ WordGirl for Best Children’s Program and Saturday Night Live mastermind Lorne Michaels, who received the Career Achievement Award.
Opening the ceremony were the Smothers Brothers, the classic comedy duo that raised serious issues and fought the status quo back in the 1960s. As someone born well after their time, I now find myself eagerly awaiting the eminent release of their variety series on DVD. Pioneers for most of the political comedy we see on cable and network late night shows, the Smothers Brothers blazed the trail for being politically incorrect. Before Stephen Colbert mounted his unsuccessful bid for the presidency, the Smothers Brothers ran fellow comedian Pat Paulson. Before criticizing the administration became a nightly routine for Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, the Smothers Brothers were pushing the envelope, getting fired by CBS in the process.
Overall, the TCA Awards were exactly what you’d expect from a group of television critics. The recipients truly represent the best TV had to offer in the last year, the acceptance speeches were fearlessly hilarious and it was finished in about an hour. The Emmys, Golden Globes, Oscars and every other award-giving body should take notes.
Check back with BuddyTV over the next week for more updates and scoops live from the TCA press tour.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of AMC)