"LOST" IS the only nominee for this year's Emmy for dramatic series that doesn't have a corresponding nomination in the lead actor or actress category. Michael Emerson, who plays the chillingly deadpan Ben, is up for supporting actor but that's it for the acting categories. Which is a little strange considering that "Lost" is pretty much crawling with actors.
You could chalk up this seeming inconsistency to the nature of ensemble drama -- who are the leads in a narrative that continually shifts focus, in a cast that expands and contracts like some aberrant half-molten landmass? Matthew Fox as Jack? Evangeline Lilly as Kate? But the acting categories are judged by single episodes. Last season Yunjin Kim's Sun and Jorge Garcia's Hurley got tons of air time and some pretty dramatic moments. And what about Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet Burke? Or Terry O'Quinn as Locke? Are we honestly saying that none of these folks delivered performances to rival James Spader's or Mariska Hargitay's? Please.
The problem is not so much the form as the genre. Fantasy never plays big at awards time. Special effects? Yes. Writing? Maybe. Acting? Almost never. It's as if we don't take fantasy seriously enough to consider the embodiment of its characters real acting. But what could be more challenging than creating a consistent realistic character in a world bereft of the usual dramatic touchstones -- no courtrooms on the island, no crime scenes or operating rooms (or at least not functional ones), no vibrant Miami streets or Boston skylines to convey depravity or isolation or urban cool.