This Year's Peabody Winners, and the Unawarded Shows That Paved the Way
The Peabody Awards annually honor clumps of accomplished TV series, news specials, and radio programs, but "no more than 36" per year, claims the official site. That's a lot of plaques! While the Peabody Board can boast an accolade that traces back over 60 years (predating the Emmys), they've also ignored a fair amount of top-notch programming, even in the face of this year's just-announced winners. Here, then, are three of the 2009 award winners in television and the under-honored shows that came before them.
Peabody Winner: The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Official Rationale: "The Scottish-born Ferguson has made late-night television safe again for ideas."
Peabody Whiffer: Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Craig Ferguson is a jocular, eminently likable presence, but in terms of "making late-night television safe again for ideas," the kingpin of kook was and always will be Conan. Ferguson may strike an unpretentious rapport with guests, but O'Brien mastered that brand of self-deprecation, freewheeling badinage, and vaudevillian energy a full decade before Ferguson took to the air.
Peabody Winner: Modern Family
Officional Rationale: "This wily, witty comedy puts quirky, contemporary twists in family ties but maintains an old-fashioned heart."
Peabody Whiffer: Gilmore Girls
Modern Family and Gilmore Girls both explore family strife with offbeat comic timing, but Gilmore Girls added a baroque conversational voice that remains a singular quality. Modern Family, while refreshing, could still use a stronger individual tone.
Peabody Winner: Glee
Reasoning: "The musical dramedy that revolves around the motley members of a high-school choral club hit especially high notes with episodes such as 'Wheels,' about the daily struggles of a wheelchair-bound singer."
Peabody Whiffers: Freaks and Geeks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Glee's format alone marks it as a television anomaly, but two of its unconventional ancestors were overlooked by the Peabodys. Freaks and Geeks's one-season glory also captured the wonder and weariness within a typical high school's outer margins, while Buffy the Vampire Slayer's legendary "Once More, With Feeling" episode riffed on high school strife and melodrama with the flair of a Busby Berkeley classic.