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The Gemini award nominations were announced today, so it seems wrong not to mark the occasion. I guess my Emmy prediction post can wait a little longer.

What are the Geminis, you ask? They’re Canada’s version of the Emmys (only really not, as a writer who was nominated today has been known to say). I’m no awards basher – I think everyone who’s nominated should be proud, and I’m proud of the ones I know personally or even know of through my Canadian TV activities. The whole list of nominees is here (I think it’s longer than the Emmys, believe it or not) and the leading contenders were Murdoch Mysteries with 14 and Durham County with 13.

Not many people would claim that any awards signify the absolute best of anything, partly because there is no measure of absolute best, partly because there’s always politics and hype and success and a million other things that go into naming winners. But awards are an imperfect system to reward quality rather than ratings or commerce, and there’s a virtue in that alone. I’m a recovering awards junkie, as a matter of fact. The Geminis have never been my drug of choice, however, though I’m hoping that will change this year now that I’m familiar with most of the nominated shows because of the TV, eh? site.

The Geminis have a major PR problem, like the Canadian TV industry as a whole. Emmy nomination morning, I logged onto the computer immediately after waking, eager to see if I needed to get my rage on. I had no idea the Gemini nominations were coming today, and I run a website on Canadian TV.

I mentioned them to some people today and had to explain each time that they’re Canada’s version of the Emmys (only really not). Part of the problem is our cutesy proclivity for using alliteration for our entertainment awards, which makes the award names blur together. I have to mentally calculate whether it’s the Geminis or Genies or Junos that apply in each situation.

When Global finally broadcasts the Gemini ceremony on November 28 (after three earlier days of awards on October 20-22), expect to hear in the acceptance speeches more of the patented Canadian TV industry strategy of attempting to get publicity for shows that people don’t care about by whining that people don’t care about the shows. Not to mention the awards themselves: the media and fans don’t know or care enough about the Geminis, so let’s stretch them out over four news cycles over the space of a month? That can’t be in Getting Media Coverage for Dummies, can it?

Some people have heard of some of the shows, but very few outside the industry have a pony in the race. Snub Hugh Laurie and us House fans will come after you; snub Yannick Bisson and you’ll hear “who?” Though I say that both as someone who’s liked him since Hockey Night and who doesn’t necessarily think his lack of a nomination this year is worthy of the snub label. It’s hard to come up with a list of snubs when you haven’t given a moment’s thought to the nominations before seeing them.

For the average TV watcher in Canada, it’s also hard to get invested or make predictions when you haven’t seen most nominees. That doesn’t stop me with the Emmys, partly because my predictions are deliberately lame, but mostly because even if I haven’t seen Lost or Heroes, I have sampled them and can tell you most of the plot points just from reading TV news and hearing my friends talk. Besides making it more fun to write, people will read a post predicting the Emmys. Because of my Canadian TV activities I’ve sampled more Canadian shows than most people I know, but if I haven’t seen it on TV, you can bet I won’t have heard about it from the watercooler, virtual or otherwise.

All that makes it hard to care about the Geminis on anything other than a “yay for people I know or sort of know” level. But I can cheer over one huge achievement at the Geminis that wasn’t true in years past, when some categories looked desperate for any warm body: there’s more than one or two shows that more than one or two people have seen that are worthy of being celebrated. Congratulations and good luck to everyone. I might even write a Gemini prediction post (that no one will read) if I can figure out when exactly the damn things are being announced amid those four days of celebrations.