AWARDS SHOWS ARE THE JUNK MAIL OF TV: a nugatory nuisance that just seems to keep proliferating. The next few days, however, bring two worth watching. First up is the MTV Video Music Awards (Thurs., Sept. 7, 8 p.m. ET), always enjoyable for its raucous, anything-can-happen atmosphere. Past surprises include host Eddie Murphy and a camera crew hitting the streets of Manhattan in 1985 and Roseanne and VJ Kennedy trading insults onstage last year. This year’s show is shaping up auspiciously, with razor-witted Dennis Miller as host, Ricki Lake and NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman among the presenters, and performers such as Michael Jackson and one of Beavis and Butt-head’s favorite bands, White Zombie.
Prime time’s prom night—the Emmys on Fox (Sun., Sept. 10, 8 p.m. ET)—promises to be no less provocative, judging by some of the baffling nominations. For example, Murphy Brown’s Candice Bergen is once again up for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, a category she has already won four of the past six years. Emmy voters have traditionally displayed a preference for familiarity, but enough is enough. The class act in the category this year is clearly Helen Hunt. Her subtle performance on Mad About You makes Bergen’s comedic style look like mugging. The Emmys will be cohosted by Jason Alexander and Cybill Shepherd, a tandem that prompted David Letterman to quip in a recent monologue: “Cohost, ha! I don’t need a cohost to screw up an awards show. I can do it all by myself.”