Not a Blog


January 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm
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In this category I do have a horse in the race, obviously: the first season of HBO’s series GAME OF THRONES. So it goes without saying that, if you enjoyed the show and think it worthy, I’d be most pleased if you included it amongst your nominations.

However, it is not quite that simple. So, a little background for those who are maybe new to the Hugo Awards and the nomination process.

First off, what the hell is a “dramatic presentation,” you may ask. Well, most of the time, it is a television show or a feature film. But the category is actually broader than that. It was named “dramatic presentation” rather than “best tv and film” way back when to suggest that. And indeed, over the years, radio series, albums, live theater, and even convention slide shows have been nominated. A few have even won. That’s rare, however. Nine years out of ten, the category is all about television and film.

Secondly, there are actually TWO categories. Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form and Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. For most of the long history of the award, that was not true. There was only one category, and TV shows and movies competed against one another for the Hugo. With the occasional interloper in the form of a radio series or slide show. Most of the time, a movie won, but that made some of the television folks unhappy, so they started showing up at the worldcon business meeting year after year to try to split the award. That effort was defeated a whole bunch of times, until finally one day it wasn’t. And the split was ratified the next year, so now we have the two categories.

Given the realities, it might have been simpler to call the new categories “Best Film” and “Best Television Show,” but of course that would have excluded the radio series, live theatre, etc, so instead we have the split we have. And there’s wiggle room there too. It call comes down to RUNNING TIME, not budget, means of distribution, etc. So in theory, a eighty-minute-long feature film could be nominated in Short Form, and a long television movie or miniseries… or season… can be nominated in Long Form. The break comes at ninety minutes.

And to how all of this impacts GAME OF THRONES… well, it makes it complicated.

As I understand the rules — (and I know there are SMOFs who read this Not A Blog, so if I get anything wrong, please step in and correct me) — the HBO series is eligible for nomination in both categories.

You can nominate the entire first season of GAME OF THRONES, which had a running time of ten hours, in Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Considering it as one long story. Which it was, kinda, being an adaptation of the first of my Ice & Fire novels. Should the show make the ballot in Long Form, it would most likely be competing for the award against four major motion pictures.

Or, you can nominate the show in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, the usual TV category, where it will vie against other TV shows. However, for this category, you need to nominate INDIVIDUAL EPISODES. If you just write GAME OF THRONES on your nomination form in Short Form, your nomination will not be counted. You need to list an episode title.

FYI, here are the season one episodes:
101 Winter Is Coming (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
102 The Kingroad (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
103 Lord Snow (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
104 Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things (written by Bryan Cogman)
105 The Wolf and the Lion (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
106 A Golden Crown (written by Jane Espenson and David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
107 You Win or You Die (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
108 The Pointy End (written by George R.R. Martin)
109 Baelor (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
110 Fire and Blood (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)

There is nothing in the rules to prevent more than one episode from the same show from making the ballot, if they receive sufficient nominations. In theory, one series could have two, three, or four nominees, or even fill up all five slots on the ballot. I do not believe that has actually happened in recent times, though DR. WHO had three nominations just a few years ago, I recall, and way back when, I believe there was a year when the original STAR TREK monopolized the entire ballot, in a year when there were no good SF movies.

What’s less clear (to me) is whether a show can be nominated in both Long Form and Short Form. THAT has never happened,and I don’t believe it’s allowed to. I suspect that if the series as a whole gets sufficient votes to make the Long Form ballot, while one or more individual episodes place among the top five in Short Form, we’ll end up in one category or the other, but not both. However, I have no idea who actually gets to make that choice. Is it prescribed by the Hugo Rules? Is it a judgement call to be made by Chicon’s 7 Hugo administrators? Or will someone connected to the series need to make the decision? David and Dan, perhaps. Or HBO.

I do know it won’t be ME who makes the call, and for that I am grateful. It is by no means an easy choice. In Long Form, we’d be competing against some major feature films (HUGO, if it is considered fantasy, is probably the favorite, and I have to admit there’s something cool about the idea of HUGO winning a Hugo). In Short Form, any GOT episodes to make the ballot would be up against episodes of all the other SF and fantasy shows now on the air… and in particular against DR. WHO, which has been the unstoppable juggernaut in the category since Short Form was calved off, winning year after year after year.

Of course, all this could be moot. The two Dramatic Presentation categories, along with Best Novel (‘the Big One’) are the categories that get the largest number of nominations, so unless a lot of people nominate the HBO series, it may not get on the ballot at all.

That, of course, is up to you. All I can do is explain these arcane rules, and keep my fingers crossed.

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