RARA-AVIS: Re: The Edgars (courtesy Sarah Weinman and Bill Crider)

From: JIM DOHERTY (jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 03 May 2009

  • Next message: Fred Willard: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: The Edgars (courtesy Sarah Weinman and Bill Crider)"


    Re your comments below

    "Still the most ridiculous category. Somebody is goofy for Dick Wolf and WIRE IN THE BLOOD (with CSI MIAMI in to pretend they aren't, perhaps).

    "Best Television Episode Teleplay
    'Streetwise' – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Paul Grellong (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
    'Prayer of the Bone' – Wire in the Blood, Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (BBC America)
    'Signature' – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Judith McCreary (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
    'You May Now Kill the Bride' – CSI: Miami, Teleplay by Barry O'Brien (CBS)
    'Burn Card' – Law & Order, Teleplay by Ed Zuckerman and David Wilcox (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)

    "In a year that also featured LIFE, DEXTER, and a slew of better series than SVU and even the re-improving L&O, this has no relation to sober professional judgement."

    I've served on an Edgar committee, and, while I'm ethically constrained from talking about the actual deliberation and discussion that took place, I can tell you a few things.

    First, the committee can only consider those works that are actually submitted. Suppose hypothetically that Edgars were awarded in 1931 (for 1930), and, in the Best Novel category, that Dashiell Hammett did NOT submit THE MALTESE FALCON, D.L. Sayers did NOT submit STRONG POISON, and Ellery Queen did NOT submit THE FRENCH POWDER MYSTERY. In that case, a situation would have been created in which it would be much more likely that S.S. Van Dine might win for THE SCARAB MURDER CASE, despite the fact that any of the other books were clearly superior.

    Second, committee members are not necessarily encouraged to beat the bushes for nominees. In fact, they might be actually discouraged from doing so, because it might be construed as favoritism. So, if a committee member knows of a worthy potential entry in the category to which s/he is assigned that has not been entered, s/he might not be in a position to encourage the author, publisher, or producer to submit that piece.

    Third, though the L&O franchise and N.Y.P.D. BLUE have tended to dominate over the last decade or so in this category, they haven't always won. Dark horses have finished in first place on a number of occasions. Episodes of THE SOPRANOS, BURN NOTICE, the British version of LIFE ON MARS, THE PRACTICE, and SEA OF SOULS have all won, despite the "inside track" that many suppose Dick Wolf and Steven Bochco enjoy.

    Fourth, all that said, I'd skip over a dozen episodes of LIFE, which leaves me totally cold, to catch one episode of L&O, L&O-SVU, or L&O-CI. I don't have HBO, so I haven't seen DEXTER, but I'll bow to your judgment.

    Finally, to me the more troubling aspect of the TV categories is that in four out of the last seven years, no award, none at all, has been made in the category of Best Mystery Teleplay Special (or best Telefeature/Mini-Series, or whatever it's called these days). There have been plenty of worthy potential entries in this category. Presumably, not enough entries are getting submitted, and the committee members feel constraints on encouraging entries. But the whole point of having two separate TV categories, a custom going back to 1971, arose out of the perceived unfairness of having an episode in a weekly series compete with a higher-budgeted, presumably more carefully produced TV-movie or serialized drama.

    In the three years leading up to 1971, though a number of regular series episodes were nominated, the Edgar was awarded, in each case, to a made-for-TV movie.

    However, if, in recent years, not enough TV-movies or serialized "mini-series" are getting submitted to make the competition worthwhile, maybe MWA should consider simply folding the two award categories together again.



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