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The trouble with the Emmys? Pretty much everything. And that's always been true.



But I refuse to get discouraged. I'm an incorrigible optimist. I continue to believe that some day - who knows? maybe even on Sunday's version on Ch. 7 - there will be an Emmy broadcast that's equal to television's gloriously weird vitality these days, rather than one smothered by the deeply tiresome orthodoxy into which conventional television judgment has sunk.

An idea that I've been floating for years is actually beginning to gain some steam: this is a true Golden Age of American Television, demonstrably greater than the early 1950s era, when the original Golden Age of Television took place. But as the great Randall Jarrell once said with immense quotability, people in a Golden Age are always going around complaining that everything looks yellow.

Even so, how seriously can anyone take the Emmys when the all-important Best Drama category includes "Downton Abbey" and "Game of Thrones" but not "The Good Wife" and "Boss?" I'm sorry, but to me those nominees are classic Hollywood award night tedium: 1) Reckless Brit worship in the case of "Downton Abbey" and 2) money worship in the case of "Game of Thrones" (when a lot of money is spent, after all, showbiz folks think kindly of you around award time if, in the orthodox axiom, all that money is "up there on the screen." In the case of both "Game of Thrones" and "Boardwalk Empire," despite their nastiness, it all is.)

In the meantime, there is more passing intelligence on an ordinary episode of "The Good Wife" than in a few weeks of "Game of Thrones."

It's an ancient carryover from the time when television was America's boisterous and backward stepchild, the home intruder that commanded people's consciousness the way nothing had ever done before, despite its unquenchable thirst for profitable mediocrity.

In the world of tedious orthodox opinion, one salaams in the direction of "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," but not "Boss."

But you don't even have to look all that carefully to see that there is sunshine desperately trying to peek through the gloom of conventionality that invariably settles over the Emmys to elevate the shamefully ordinary worship of money and smugness. In the Best Drama category, a genuinely deserving show - "Homeland" - stands a decent chance of sending authentic sunbeams through the encrusted gloom of "Mad Men."

Look at the Best Comedy Series category and, by God, there is Lena Dunham's vehemently funky and controversial little number "Girls" all present and accounted for, along with the usual suspects.

And, most interesting, in the utterly absurd Variety category (which is really a "talk show plus" category with "The Daily Show," Colbert and "Real Time" with Bill Maher), a palpable movement to recognize Jimmy Kimmel among all the usual suspects resulted in Kimmel not only snagging an Emmy nomination when Leno and Letterman couldn't, but he was also tagged to host the show.

It's not for nothing that ABC smartly decided that Kimmel is ready for the late night equivalent of "prime time" - the 11:35 p.m. time slot against the big boys, starting in January, bumping "Nightline" to early morning.

One needn't feel too sorry for Letterman. It's just been announced that the Obama family's conspicuous affection for the guy and his show has resulted in Letterman being a Kennedy Center honoree on the next go round.

Leno, of course, is another matter. When the year's hippest new HBO show - "The Newsroom" - begins with a sneering description of its fictional newscasting hero as "The Jay Leno of TV News" until he regrew some integrity - it has now reached the point where all of Leno's ratings are now being matched by universal obloquy.

It got so bad in one instance - Howard Stern ragging Leno mercilessly on his satellite radio show - that, according to Stern, NBC threatened Stern with severance from his gig on the smash "America's Got Talent" if he didn't stop using his blowtorch on Leno's elephant hide.

Somewhere in the Great Beyond, both Karma and Johnny Carson are having the last laugh.

So here we are in our current Golden Age of TV. And the upcoming week is when everyone ought to be training as much attention as possible to what's coming.

Some highlights from shows rolling out in the new season:

Monday, 10 p.m.: J.J. Abrams' "Revolution" on NBC - the second coolest Fall TV series idea of 2012 after CBS's "Elementary" - has its first head-to-head opposite ABC's season debut of "Castle," which Rolling Stone magazine has just anointed the modern "Rockford Files." Meanwhile, "Revolution" presents us a future world in which all electricity has been canceled everywhere.

Did anyone mention that "Dancing With the Stars" will precede "Castle," with the return of Kirstie Alley and Bristol Palin? Well, I just did. (By all means forget "The Mob Doctor." Good cast, workable idea, silly show.)

Wednesday, 9 p.m. - "Criminal Minds" on CBS, network TV's darkest and nastiest hour, loses Paget Brewster and gains Jeanne Triplehorn. Not an easy show to stay on, it seems, given its historic revolving door for cast members. At 9 p.m. on NBC, Capt. Kragen is busted for murder on "Law and Order: SVU." Did he do it? Guess, just guess.

Thursday, 8 p.m. - On ABC's "The Last Resort," great idea No. 3 for a series this Fall TV season - rogue sailors (led by Andre Braugher) go off the grid. The coolest idea of the new season by far - a 21st century Sherlock Holmes and Watson no one could have imagined until seeing them - arrives at 10 p.m. on CBS with "Elementary."





email: jsimon@buffnews.com