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

From: Fred Willard (
Date: 03 May 2009

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    Thanks for this post I enjoyed reading it.


    On May 3, 2009, at 8:46 PM, JIM DOHERTY wrote:

    > Todd,
    > 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.

    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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