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The Cadet Awards

Here are my annual awards that I like to call “The Cadet Awards”, which I come up with every year to honour those programs and performances I thought were the best of the past US TV season. Winners will be announced soon. If there is anything at all you have to say about these choices, please email me. However, if you strongly disagree with them, please keep in mind this is my personal opinion for which I reserve the right to have. Winners are in bold.

Drama Series

Felicity (WB)
Law & Order (NBC)
Oz (HBO)
The Practice (ABC)
The Sopranos (HBO)

I found that this past season, there were quite a few excellent drama series on the air. Ultimately, I narrowed it down from about eight to the final five. In its premiere season, I was blown away by the beguiling presence of Keri Russell and the magnificent storylines at work in Felicity. The show started off with a lot of hype and publicity, and then generally faded into the WB shadows for the remainder of the season, but throughout, each and every episode was a moving and very entertaining look into college life in the big apple. Every episode was a hit for me, especially the comic ones, and the episodes dealing with the Noel-Felicity-Ben triangle. As per usual, Law & Order delivered on all counts. Its taut storytelling and fast pace were a rush every week for me. Admittedly, I never got into this show in previous seasons, but after sampling the second episode of the season, I was hooked. Each actor works so well, but that is not what the show is about. We rarely get an insight into their private lives, and that is just fine with me, as this show more than any other, is about the story, which was always sharp and engaging. The episodes I particularly enjoyed were “Empire” (featuring Julia Roberts), “Sideshow” (The Homicide crossover), and “Flight” (featuring Dylan Baker). Oz was the show that left me breathless after every episode. I had the fortune of watching this show on tape, so I watched each episode in succession, not being able to stop the tape and continue my look inside Oswald penitentiary another day. This show kept me on the edge of my seat, at times squirming at the shocking developments, and at other times feeling the raw intensity of its brilliant actors and hooking me in emotionally. From its bleak opening titles to the epilogue brilliantly played by Harold Perrineau Jnr as its narrator and conscience, this show was tops in my book. The Practice could so easily have fell into the spiral of the usual network show – one of moralistic and “quirky” storytelling that didn’t try to push the envelope and maintained its banality so as to keep the masses happy (read: L.A. Doctors, Chicago Hope, Party of Five, the latter being a show that has made my top five on previous occasions). This show was razor sharp in the personal lives of these lovable lawyers, and gave us incredible performances from its entire cast, most notably a sharp improvement in plot development for Kelli Williams’ Lindsay Dole, and the incredible guest work of Michael Monks during the whole George Vogelman storyline. I think I only found one or two episodes that bored me in the whole season. That kind of ratio is pretty damn good in a season where there was a lot of crap everywhere else. From the Lyndsay Dole’s college professor Anderson Pearson, to George Vogelman, to Tommy Silva, and to the nun-killer story arc, this series was electrifying in its pace and its writing. Finally to a show that broke with convention, and gave us 13 consecutive hits of pure television perfection. David Chase, a formidable TV pedigree at the best of times, has come up with an incredibly engossing tale of middle-man mobster Tony Soprano and his two “Families”. From impressive direction, to writing that ranged from the hilarious to the inspired, this show dazzled me, and deserves all the recognition it has been getting. The actors were uniformly brilliant, and special recognition must go to each and every writer, who was able to not only write perfectly for the mob, but also for the average middle-class Sicilian-American family. Now to the shows that I did not ultimately include. I cut out three shows from last year’s lineup: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Chris Carter’s two paranormal series Millennium and The X-Files. Firstly, Star Trek’s final season just did not live up to the amazing work of its previous sixth season. Many episodes were wasted in the first half of the show on frivolous stories that simply did not capture me like the final five series I ultimately chose did. Millennium definitely had its moments, but compared to its stellar second season under the watchful eye of the dynamic duo – Glen Morgan and James Wong – it lacked focus and any real mysticism and suspense, not to mention brilliant writing, which was inevitably what led me to give it my award last year. I will still miss it though. Finally, The X-Files was good. Don’t get me wrong, I was going to include it, but it came down to this: these five shows had me on the edge of my seat and looking forward to the next instalment virtually without fail. The X-Files did not. Too many light-hearted episodes this season amounted to a more whimsical and consequently boring season, with the only standouts, such as “Milagro”, “Triangle”, “Drive”, and “Two Fathers/One Son”, not even being as good as standouts from previous seasons. A good show, but just not good enough for the final five. Other shows I thought were pretty great in this category include Buffy The Vampire Slayer (a bit overrated, but still fun), Homicide: Life on The Street (not as good as previous seasons, but still high class), and my guilty pleasure Dawson’s Creek (a show that nobody admits to watching in my circle of friends, but was good entertainment nonetheless).

Comedy Series

Ally McBeal (Fox)
Friends (NBC)
Frasier (NBC)
Sports Night (ABC)
Will & Grace(NBC)

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. Ally McBeal is not the greatest thing to hit our TV screens in a trillion years. It is not really that clever, and let’s admit it does get a bit annoying and mushy. But… By-Gons, it is funny! The many detractors still some how didn’t stop me from tuning in week after week, and laughing out loud at this bunch of loons. The show is quirky (you know, the “good” quirky), the actors are almost uniformly great, especially Lucy Liu (the whole “Wicked Witch of the West” theme was inspired), Greg Germann is a hoot, and even Calista Flockhart did some great work this year (just please lose Portia DeRossi!). Friends was a show I could always rely on for a good laugh and some crazy antics. These six characters have really become the standard bearers of TV comedy, and I could not imagine a season without this show. This year, the writing was snappier and the storylines zanier. Keep up the good work I say, but maybe the powers that be could give Ross less screen time, because as the show gets better, he just gets more annoying. Frasier is the old faithful. Clever writing, direction, and acting make this an all round class act. OK, so Kelsey Grammar irritates me to tears, but I keep laughing and that I’m afraid was good enough for me in a season where the laughs weren’t forthcoming for many shows. Sports Night was the find of the season. It was the buzz around this show that made me watch initially, and I have to say, I am glad I have become hooked to this little treat. It needs to be recognised at least for giving the sitcom form a much needed kick in the pants. It is the snappiest, cleverest, and most sincere of comedy shows. I love its cast, and its writing never fails a beat I think. Finally, the show that makes me laugh the most and the hardest, Will & Grace. Its lack of controversy makes it all the more sweeter, where we can have gay characters without having an Ellen-esque sermon every week. McCormack and Messing have perfect timing, but I must concur with just about everyone else, when I say it is the two supporting characters that make this show so much fun. Jack (Sean Hayes) is laugh-out-loud funny, and together with Megan Mullally, they are the funniest people on TV at the moment. Kudos to James Burrows for directing another show to its heights, and to the Kohan/Mutchnick team for its magnificent comic writing. Other shows that did not make the cut included Everybody Loves Raymond (critics darling, a show I love, but not every episode did it for me), That ‘70s Show (nothing too special here, but original and funny), Sex and The City (surprise Emmy nominee, and a show I look forward to watching, but just did not cut it with the top five), Dharma and Greg (I stopped watching for a while, but rediscovered its craziness later in the season), and my three guilty pleasures, all pretty crap, but I like ‘em anyway: Jesse, The Nanny, and Just Shoot Me.

Variety, Music, or Comedy Series

The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
Dennis Miller Live (HBO)
Late Night With Conan O’Brien (NBC)
Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher (ABC)
Tracey Takes On… (HBO)

Variety, Music, or Comedy Special

The 71st Annual Academy Awards (ABC)
1999 Grammy Awards (CBS)
Jerry Seinfeld: I’m Telling You For The Last Time(HBO)
1998 MTV Movie Awards (MTV)
1998 MTV Video Music Awards (MTV)

TV Movie / Mini-Series

Great Expectations (PBS)
Horatio Hornblower (A&E)
The Passion of Ayn Rand (Showtime)
Pirates of Silicon Valley (TNT)
Shot Through The Heart (HBO)

Debut Series

Felicity (WB)
The Sopranos (HBO)
Sports Night (ABC)
Total Recall 2070 (Showtime)
Will & Grace (NBC)

Lead Actor, Drama Series

David Duchovny - The X-Files (Fox)
Lance Henriksen - Millennium (Fox)
James Gandolfini - The Sopranos (HBO)
Dylan McDermott - The Practice (ABC)
Sam Waterston - Law & Order (NBC)

Lead Actress, Drama Series

Gillian Anderson - The X-Files (Fox)
Edie Falco - The Sopranos (HBO)
Sarah Michelle Gellar - Buffy The Vampire Slayer (WB)
Keri Russell - Felicity (WB)
Peta Wilson - La Femme Nikita (USA)

Lead Actor, Comedy Series

Ted Danson - Becker (CBS)
Josh Charles - Sports Night (ABC)
Peter Krause - Sports Night (ABC)
Eric McCormack - Will & Grace (NBC)
Ray Romano - Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS)

Lead Actress, Comedy Series

Calista Flockhart - Ally McBeal (Fox)
Pam Grier - Linc’s (Showtime)
Felicity Huffman - Sports Night (ABC)
Debra Messing - Will & Grace (NBC)
Sarah Jessica Parker - Sex and The City (HBO)

Supporting Actor, Drama Series

Steve Harris - The Practice (ABC)
Clark Johnston - Homicide: Life on The Street (NBC)
Jerry Orbach - Law & Order (NBC)
Kyle Secor - Homicide: Life on The Street (NBC)
Lee Tergeson - Oz (HBO)

Supporting Actress, Drama Series

Lorraine Bracco - The Sopranos (HBO)
Angie Harmon - Law & Order (NBC)
Camryn Manheim - The Practice (ABC)
Nancy Marchand - The Sopranos (HBO)
Kelli Williams - The Practice (ABC)

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series

Greg Germann - Ally McBeal (Fox)
Robert Guillaume - Sports Night (ABC)
Sean Hayes - Will & Grace (NBC)
Matt LeBlanc - Friends (NBC)
David Hyde Pierce - Frasier (NBC)

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series

Lisa Kudrow - Friends (NBC)
Lucy Liu - Ally McBeal (Fox)
Megan Mullally - Will & Grace (NBC)
Lynn Redgrave - Rude Awakening (Showtime)
Debra Jo Rupp - That ‘70s Show (Fox)

Variety Performance

Whoopi Goldberg - The 71st Annual Academy Awards (ABC)
Dennis Miller - Dennis Miller Live (HBO)
Rosie O’Donnell - The 1999 Grammy Awards (CBS)
Jerry Seinfeld - I’m Telling You For The Last Time (HBO)
Tracey Ullman - Tracey Takes On… (HBO)

Lead Actor, TV Movie/Mini-Series

Don Cheadle - A Lesson Before Dying (HBO)
Anthony Michael Hall - Pirates of Silicon Valley (TNT)
Vincent Perez - Shot Through The Heart (HBO)
Stanley Tucci - Winchell (HBO)
Noah Wyle - Pirates of Silicon Valley (TNT)

Lead Actress, TV Movie/Mini-Series

Stockard Channing - The Baby Dance (Showtime)
Helen Mirren - The Passion of Ayn Rand (Showtime)
Charlotte Rampling - Great Expectations (PBS)
Susan Sarandon - Earthly Possessions (HBO)
Cicely Tyson - Mama Flora’s Family (CBS)

Supporting Actor, TV Movie/Mini-Series

Don Cheadle - The Rat Pack (HBO)
John Goodman - The Jack Bull (HBO)
Peter Fonda - The Passion of Ayn Rand (Showtime)
Paul Sorvino - Houdini (TNT)
Skeet Ulrich - A Soldier’s Sweetheart (HBO)

Supporting Actress, TV Movie-Mini-Series

Glenne Headley - Winchell (HBO)
Lynn Whitfield - The Color of Courage (USA)
Irma P. Hall - A Lesson Before Dying (HBO)
Gina Gershon - Legalese (TNT)
Julie Delpy - The Passion of Ayn Rand (Showtime)

Writing, Drama Series

Tom Fontana - Oz, “Animal Farm” (HBO)
J.J. Abrahms - Felicity, “Finally” (WB)
Rene Balcer - Law & Order, “Sideshow, Part 1” (NBC)
David E. Kelley - The Practice, “Trench Work” (ABC)
David Chase, David Manos - The Sopranos, “College” (HBO)

Writing, Comedy Series

Dave Hackel - Becker, “Pilot” (CBS)
David Kohan & Max Mutchnick - Will & Grace, “Big Brother Is Coming, Part 1” (NBC)
Jay Kogen - Frasier, “Merry Christmas, Mrs Moskowitz” (NBC)
Alexa Junge - Friends, “The One Where Everyone Finds Out” (NBC)
Aaron Sorkin - Sports Night, “The Apology” (ABC)

Directing, Drama Series

John Wells - ER, “The Storm, Part 1” (NBC)
Ed Sherin - Law & Order, “Sideshow, Part 1” (NBC)
Paul Shapiro - Millennium, “The Sound of Snow” (Fox)
David Chase - The Sopranos, “Pilot” (HBO)
Chris Carter - The X-Files, “Triangle” (Fox)

Directing, Comedy Series

Alex Graves - Ally McBeal, “Sideshow” (Fox)
Michael Lembeck - Friends, “The One Where Everyone Finds Out” (NBC)
Alison Maclean - Sex and The City, “Valley of The Twenty Somethings” (HBO)
Thomas Schlamme - Sports Night, “Pilot” (ABC)
James Burrows - Will & Grace, “Pilot” (ABC)

Guest Actor, Drama Series

Tony Danza - The Practice, as Tommy Silva (ABC)
Charles S. Dutton - Oz, as Alvah Case (HBO)
Reed Diamond - Homicide: Life on The Street, as Mike Kellerman (NBC)
Christopher Meloni - Oz, as Keller (HBO)
Michael Monks - The Practice, as George Vogelman (ABC)

Guest Actress, Drama Series

Amanda Foreman - Felicity, as Meghan (WB)
Linda Hunt - The Practice, as Judge Hiller (ABC)
Meredith Monroe - Dawson’s Creek, as Andiee (WB)
Julia Roberts - Law & Order, as Katrina Ludlow (NBC)
Holland Taylor - The Practice, as Judge Kittleson (ABC)

Guest Actor, Comedy Series

Woody Harrelson - Frasier, as Woody (ABC)
Jesse L. Martin - Ally McBeal, as Dr Greg Butters (Fox)
Bob Odenkirk - Just Shoot Me, as Donnie (NBC)
John Ritter - Ally McBeal, as George Madison (Fox)
Giovanni Ribisi - Friends, as John Jnr. (NBC)

Guest Actress, Comedy Series

Rosie O’Donnell - Ally McBeal, as Dr Hooper(Fox)
Tracey Ullman - Ally McBeal, as Dr Tracey Clark (Fox)
Kathy Bates - 3rd Rock From The Sun, as Charlotte Everly (NBC)
Teri Polo - Sports Night, as Rebecca (ABC)
Debbie Reynolds - Will & Grace, as Mommy Adler(NBC)


Brimstone, “Encore” (Fox)
Felicity, “The Force” (WB)
Millennium, “The Sound of Snow” (Fox)
The Sopranos, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusumano” (HBO)
The X-Files, “Drive” (Fox)

Music Composition

Buffy The Vampire Slayer , “Amends” (WB)
Felicity, “Pilot” (WB)
Millennium, “The Sound of Snow” (Fox)
Total Recall 2070, “Machine Dreams” (Showtime)
Stargate SG-1, “Into The Fire” (Showtime)


The Practice, “Happily Ever After” (ABC)
The Sopranos, “College” (HBO)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “What You Leave Behind” (Syndication)
Star Trek: Voyager, “Dark Frontier” (UPN)
The X-Files, “One Son” (Fox)


Homicide: Life on The Street, “A Case of Do or Die” (NBC)
Law & Order, “Empire” (NBC)
Millennium, “TEOTWAWKI” (Fox)
Oz, “Strange Bedfellows” (HBO)
The Sopranos, “Nobody Knows Anything” (HBO)


Homicide: Life on The Street (NBC)
Law & Order (NBC)
Oz (HBO)
The Practice (ABC)
The Sopranos (HBO)

Production Design

Brimstone, “Pilot” (Fox)
Fantasy Island, “Pilot” (ABC)
La Femme Nikita, “Looking For Michael” (USA)
Star Trek: Voyager, “Bride of Chaotica” (UPN)
Total Recall 2070, “Machine Dreams” (Showtime)

Costume Design

Ally McBeal, “Sideshow” (Fox)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer, “Doppelgangland” (USA)
Total Recall 2070, “Machine Dreams” (Showtime)
Tracey Takes On…, “America” (HBO)
The X-Files, “Triangle” (Fox)


Buffy The Vampire Slayer , “The Zeppo” (WB)
Earth: Final Conflict, “The Gauntlet” (Syndication)
Total Recall 2070, “Machine Dreams” (Showtime)
Tracey Takes On…, “Drugs” (HBO)
Stargate SG-1, “One False Step” (Showtime)

Animated Series

Batman Beyond (WB)
Dilbert (UPN)
Futurama (Fox)
King of The Hill (Fox)
The Simpsons (Fox)

Visual Effects

Babylon 5, “A Call To Arms” (TNT)
Stargate SG-1, “A Matter of Time” (Showtime)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “What You Leave Behind” (Syndication)
Star Trek: Voyager, “Dark Frontier” (UPN)
Total Recall 2070, “Machine Dreams” (Showtime)

Network Totals

HBO 39, NBC 31, Fox 28, ABC 25, Showtime 16, WB 13, CBS 6, TNT 6, UPN 4, Syndication 4, USA 3, MTV 2, PBS 2, A&E 1, Comedy Central 1.

Nominations Tally

The Practice 12 * The Sopranos 12 * Ally McBeal 10 * Law & Order 9 * Sports Night 9 * Will & Grace 9 * Felicity 7 * Oz 7 * The X-Files 7 * * Friends 6 Total Recall 2070 6 * Homicide: Life on The Street 5 * Millennium 5 * Buffy The Vampire Slayer 4 * Frasier 4 * The Passion of Ayn Rand 4 * Tracey Takes On… 4 * Pirates of Silicon Valley 3 * Stargate SG-1 3 * Star Trek: Voyager 3 * The 71st Annual Academy Awards 2 * Becker 2 * Brimstone 2 * Dennis Miller Live 2 * The 1999 Grammy Awards 2 * Great Expectations 2 * Jerry Seinfeld: I’m Telling You For The Last Time 2 * La Femme Nikita 2 * A Lesson Before Dying 2 * Sex and The City 2 * Shot Through The Heart 2 * Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 2 * Winchell 2.