Mailbag: ‘NCIS’ and Emmys, ‘Forgotten’ Osbourne

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Mark Harmon stars in NAVY NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) an action drama about a team of special agents led by NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Harmon), whose mission is to investigate any crime that has a shred of evidence connected to Navy and Marine Corps personnel, regardless of rank or position. (Cliff Lipson/CBS)

You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers.

Q: “NCIS” is continuously slighted by all award shows. While I understand it is hard to nominate one member of a huge team, a nomination for the No. 1 series, if nothing else, makes sense to me. What do you think?

A: I think, first of all, that the CBS drama is a well-made program. Mark Harmon is one of the subtlest actors in TV. The show had more than 21 million weekly viewers, which by many measures made it the most-watched series in prime time for the 2012-13 season. (NBC has made an argument for its Sunday night football telecasts ranking higher, but the networks used different measuring criteria.) Still, it has largely been overlooked by the biggest TV awards, the Emmys, for reasons that have nothing to do with its popularity,

NCIS is not a flashy show. It does not proclaim its innovation, or suggest that it is changing the way television is made. It is not held up as a demonstration of the magic television can make. It is, simply, a good series that aims to entertain its viewers every week with a blend of drama, action and humor. Then consider this: The makers of Home Improvement used to bitterly joke that all they got from the Emmys were awards for lighting; it won that prize often, but none as best comedy. Angela Lansbury has yet to win an Emmy. Andy Griffith never won. Both recall Harmon, who has a comparable making-it-look-easy approach to acting.

Prime-time Emmy voters want to show off; they say their awards “celebrate excellence,” not ratings. They want shows that make their industry as a whole look good by demonstrating art and innovation, but from a process that also differs from how most people watch TV. For instance, if you do steady, good work over the course of a 22-episode season, you could easily lose to a show that has been more uneven, because the series Emmys are chosen based on six episodes from a season, letting a producer display six great episodes and shove aside another 16 bad ones.

And the process does not depend on how many people have watched a show. Emmy darlings like Mad Men or recent winner Homeland receive a fraction of the audience of the most popular broadcast-network shows. Even then, with a limited number of nominating slots and dozens of shows competing for them, some critical favorites get overlooked; although actors from The Shield and Friday Night Lights won Emmys, the shows as a whole never did. The Shield was not even nominated for best drama — but won an even more prestigious Peabody Award.

Of course, we may disagree on what’s great and what is not. And sometimes popularity and Emmy wins do go together. But the Emmy awarders as a whole are not very different from the people who pick some other awards, the Oscars, for example, go for art over box-office; the most recent best-picture winner, Argo, made far, far less than Marvel’s The Avengers, which was not even nominated for best picture.

Q: Could you please tell me why Sharon Osbourne never talks about her oldest daughter, Aimee? What’s her story? How old is she? Where does she live? What does she do?

A: One thing the woman sometimes called “the forgotten Osbourne” does is try to have a private life. The older sister of Jack and Kelly Osbourne, she is 29, has reportedly written for Nylon magazine and, like her famous father Ozzy, has done some singing. She also participated in Ordinary People: Our Story, a 2003 memoir by the five Osbournes (counting Aimee). But she was famously not part of the family’s TV series, said in the book that it changed her mother and siblings, and noted with some pleasure that “I still have my identity, as well as my privacy.” Since then, for the most part she has kept placidly out of the limelight, and it appears that Sharon has respected her privacy.

Q: Will “Welcome to Myrtle Manor” be coming back next season? I got hooked on the show because I found the people so interesting.

A: The TLC series about the residents of a trailer park trying to become a classy resort in Myrtle Beach, S.C., has received an order for a 10-episode second season. But Entertainment Weekly questioned in May whether it would have all those people you found so interesting, since three had been arrested within a week. EW reported that Amanda Lee Adams was arrested for drunk driving, Taylor Jonathan Burt was accused of having sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl and Lindsay Brooke Colbert was arrested for a DUI. A representative of the show said recently that casting for Season 2 has not yet been set.

Do you have a question or comment for the mailbag? Write to the Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com. Please mark the email or envelope with “mailbag.” Letters may be edited for publication. Please do not phone in questions. Individual replies cannot be guaranteed.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter.


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