Thursday, June 24, 2010

Emmy Wish List: Supporting Actress

I love my supporting actresses, so making this list proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated. There are several names that it pains me to leave off, but I could not deny the talent that these twelve women possess. My inability to remain interested in Community, Cougar Town, and Nurse Jackie also caused the absence of a few fan favorites (Alison Brie, Busy Phillips, Merritt Wever, etc.). Though the women on this list may not be the leads of their shows, they certainly are the stars that make us laugh and cry the most.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Lizzy Caplan, Party Down - Best know for her roles in Mean Girls and True Blood, Caplan does her best work as a struggling comedian working at a catering company. She may not be as over-the-top as her cast mates, but her character is genuine and truly funny. "Party Down Company Picnic" and the season finale stick out as her strongest episodes.

Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock - Krakowski's neurotic, narcissistic Jenna never fails to crack me up. This season had her doing great work with James Franco, Jan Hooks as her mother, and Will Forte as a drag queen. As long as 3o Rock is on the air, Jenna's craziness will always keep me laughing.

Jane Lynch, Glee - Believe it or not, Lynch has been on the scene for quite a while. Her role as the scathing Sue Sylvester has finally made her a household name. Week after week she delivers the show's greatest moments in a single line. I may not particularly enjoy Glee's attempts to humanize Sue, but Lynch's performance perfects the balance of evil and human.

Megan Mullally, Party Down - I recently read a critic's blog that described Mullally's performance on Party Down as the worst on the show. I must say that I strongly disagree. She fit perfectly into the group this season as Jane Lynch's replacement and usually makes me laugh the most each episode. Whether she's sexually pursuing a party guest, accidentally snorting cocaine, or supporting her daughter's acting career, Mullally is constantly hilarious.

Sofia Vergara, Modern Family - This year's funniest new show will be a strong contender in several categories. Vergara wields a thick accent and a great sense of comedic timing. She doesn't let the strong male cast overshadow her, and her talent truly shines.

Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty - Like Sue Sylvester, Williams plays a great villain whose best weapon is the one-liner. In fact, some of Wilhelmina Slater's best moments involve only a simple glare or raise of the eyebrow. An Emmy would be the perfect reward for four years of great work on an amazing television program.

Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds and Aubrey Plaza, Parks & Recreation

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Morena Baccarin, V - There's a strong possibility that all of my other picks for this category will earn actual nominations. Unfortunately the same fate is not likely for Baccarin. I chose her because she showed such a great transformation in Anna, the alien queen, as she began to experience human emotion. She exhibits such alien-like qualities that it's hard to believe she's actually human.

Rose Byrne, Damages - Byrne has done a fantastic job for three seasons. She is able to hold her own and showcases herself alongside her talented costar, Glenn Close. Though I believe last season was her strongest, Byrne continued to deliver superb work in what is arguably the lead role on Damages.

Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men - Moving from lead actress to supporting was a smart decision. If she had remained in the lead category, I most likely would not have included Moss in my list. Though seasons one and two focused quite a big on Peggy and her journey through the ad agency, the fantastic third season centered around the Draper family as it fell apart. Moss executed her supporting role exceptionally well and continued to perform excellently in scenes with Jon Hamm and the other men.

Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy - The series has certainly dwindled in quality, but Oh's talent keeps increasing. This season was her strongest yet as she delivered episode after episode the most consistent performance on the show. It's stunning that despite being nominated for every season of Grey's, she has never actually won an Emmy.

Chloƫ Sevigny, Big Love - Say what you want about the fourth season of Big Love, but it's still one of best-acted dramas on television. It's strength lies with its women. Though Ginnifer Goodwin continues to give an excellent performance each year, Sevigny pulled through this rougher season as the star. She took Nicki, my least favorite of Bill's three wives, and made made her my favorite character of the entire series.

Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy - Originally Oh was the only Grey's actress to earn a spot on my ballot. After the intense two hour season finale, it was impossible to omit Wilson. For years, she has given one of the best performances on the show. In that finale she gave the performance of her lifetime as the strong and secure Dr. Baily that we all know and love quaked in fear from a shooter and watched one of her doctors die.

Honorable Mention: Mae Whitman, Parenthood & Amy Brenneman, Private Practice

Coming Soon: My picks for Outstanding Supporting Actors

Currently watching:
Six Feet Under Season 1
Episode 8 - Crossroads

Friday, June 18, 2010

Emmy Wish List: Guest Acting

The Guest Acting categories contain a vast number of possibilities. The comedy ones were especially hard to narrow down to six, but I eventually made a final list. It's difficult to compare one-episode performances to multi-episode arcs, but certain actors leave a greater impression in a single episode than others make in an entire season. Though stunt casting is often criticized, several of the big names are the best in their respective categories. Again, obviously I can't watch everything on television (though I certainly try) so I apologize for any significant omissions.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

James Franco, 30 Rock - He may have been playing himself (sort of), but that doesn't mean he wasn't hilarious! Making fun of yourself is always funny, especially when you squint a lot and have an affair with a Japanese pillow.

Steve Guttenberg, Party Down - Interestingly enough, two actors made it into this category playing caricatures of themselves. Guttenberg was less over the top than Franco but starred in perhaps the funniest episode of Party Down to date.

Neil Patrick Harris, Glee (Bryan Ryan) - The Broadway star strutted his stuff on the hot musical show and performed an excellent rendition of Aerosmith's "Dream On." Thanks to NPH, the episode stands out as one of the best among the season's weaker (in my opinion) second half. His nomination here also makes up for his likely omission from a future Emmy Wish List of mine...

Rob Lowe, Parks & Recreation (Chris Traeger) - Most critics have been praising Adam Scott's guest appearance on Parks, but Rob Lowe is (surprisingly) the funnier of the two. It's refreshing to see him move on from his dramatic work on Brothers & Sisters to something much more enjoyable.

Mike O'Malley, Glee (Burt Hummel) - If it were up to me, I would give him the Emmy right now. His work with Chris Colfer is phenomenal. The only thing working against him is his largely dramatic role forced into a comedic category.

Fred Willard, Modern Family (Frank Dunphy) - The casting here was spot on. His chemistry with Ty Burrell was perfect. Let's hope there's plenty more Willard in Modern Family's future.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory (Beverly Hofstadter) - Playing Leonard's Sheldon-like genius mother was enough to earn Baranski a nomination last year. This year Leonard's Sheldon-like genius mother got drunk.

Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock (Avery Jessup) - All I can say is I hope this season's finale means that Banks will be staying around 3o Rock for a while. I understand that she has a movie career to attend to, but her role as Jack's lover, the right wing political pundit, may be her best yet.

Kristin Chenoweth, Glee (April Rhodes) - Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth (I love saying that) gave yet another Emmy-worthy performance in her first episode of Glee as the washed up ex-show choir star. From boxed wine to Broadway show tunes, her guest appearance was the funniest of the entire season.

Jan Hooks, 3o Rock (Verna Maroney) - For years Elaine Stritch has been the go-to 3o Rock mother for guest actress nominations, but this year we were introduced to Jenna's mother. After a duet with Jenna and a pair of lopsided boobs, I'm ready for Hooks to take her place.

Megan Mullally, Parks & Recreation (Tammy Swanson) - Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally used their off-screen marriage to create onscreen chemistry as ex- husband and wife on Parks. Her evil librarian paired with his deadpan anti-government government official provided great comedy in the show's hilarious second season.

Betty White, Saturday Night Live - The woman can't be stopped. She hosted the best episode SNL has seen in years. Sure, it was also thanks to return of several SNL favorites, but it wouldn't have been possible without Betty White.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Henry Ian Cusick, Lost (Desmond Hume) - Desmond is the heart of Lost, there's no doubt about it. In its final season, he brought the castaways together in the flash-sideways world, causing them to remember their previous lives on The Island. Without him, many of the season's greatest scenes would not have been possible.

Ted Danson, Damages (Arthur Frobisher) - Danson has been pretty consistent with the quality he delivers on Damages. When the drama needs comic relief, he can provide it, but when his role demands intensity, he performs just as well.

Zach Gilford, Friday Night Lights (Matt Saracen) - Two words: "The Son." I never expected Gilford to move me in one episode as much as Connie Britton has for three seasons. The man made me cry three times in 45 minutes. He needs an Emmy. Now. There's even a Facebook group.

Jared Harris and Robert Morse, Mad Men (Lane Pryce and Bert Cooper) - I'm lumping the two of them together because I don't really have much to say about either, except that they are great parts of Mad Men's excellent ensemble (it's been almost a year since I saw the third season, so give me a break). Morse's old Cooper keeps me laughing, while it was interesting to see the British Pryce fit into the American world of Sterling Cooper.

John Lithgow, Dexter - Unfortunately, I have not yet gotten to see the fourth season of Dexter. So Lithgow is here out of obligation (and a lack of other strong contenders, which could also be due to unfinished viewings of other series, such as Breaking Bad). He will most likely win the Emmy, so I would feel foolish to leave the much buzzed-about performance off of my list.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Allison Janney, Lost (Mother) - A divisive performance in a controversial episode. I'm on team "'Across the Sea' Was Amazing." I'm also on team "I Love Allison Janney No Matter What She Does." Many argue that the episode relied on Janney's stunt casting, but her portrayal of the mother of the good and evil of The Island was fantastic.

Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost (Juliet Burke) - Her reconnection with Sawyer in the series finale is one of my favorite scenes in the series. Her destruction of the bomb in the season five finale (which was thankfully replayed several times this season) is also one of the best. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Mitchell was overlooked last year as a Supporting Actress, so hopefully that won't happen again this year (unlikely).

Kiernan Shipka, Mad Men (Sally Draper) - Yes, I'm 100% serious. Go back and watch the episode when Gene dies and tell me she doesn't deserve a spot on this list. I dare you.

Sissy Spacek, Big Love (Marilyn Densham) - The Oscar-winner lent her talents to the polygamy drama as the woman who fought against Bill's campaign and casino. Though season four may not be the show's best, Spacek played an excellent villainess for the Henrickson clan.

Lily Tomlin, Damages (Marilyn Tobin) - Damages has great guest stars involved in its season-long mysteries. Lily Tomlin was no exception as the mother who would do anything to protect her family. Anything.

Evan Rachel Wood, True Blood (Sophie-Anne) - "Yahtzee!" The vampire queen of Louisiana will most likely be my only nomination for the series (which I believe is extremely melodramatic and over-acted... but highly addicting), but that's because in just two small appearances she quickly became one of my favorite characters on the show. I can't wait for more Sophie-Anne in season three.

Coming Soon: My picks for Outstanding Supporting Actresses

Currently watching:
Breaking Bad Season 2
Episode 8 - Better Call Saul

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Emmy Wish List: Writing

This is the first year that I've actually taken a close look at the Emmy submissions for writing, and it's interesting to see what epsiodes different shows submit for consideration. For example, Big Love submitted "Blood Atonement," the controversial Mexico episode that was the most prominent example of the show's weakness in its fourth season. Then The Office throws out "Scott's Tots" for consideration, which, in my opinion, may be the worst episode the series has ever aired. When selecting my favorites for the two categories, it pretty much came down to the episodes this TV season that stuck out in my mind the most. Unfortunately, a competitive comedy writing category prevented more than one episode of 3o Rock from making my list, but the one that did make the cut is certainly a standout even among a great season. The comedic strength this year also did not allow better episodes of The Big Bang Theory ("The Adhesive Duck Deficiency") and How I Met Your Mother ("The Playbook") to enter the category, because they come from weaker seasons that were unable to measure up to more powerful newcomers. My only regret is that there was no room for The United States of Tara's "Torando" or an episode from the hilarious second season of Parks & Recreation on my list. Also, it should be noted that I have not seen the fourth seasons of Dexter and Friday Night Lights or the third season of Breaking Bad, hence their absence from this list.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Glee, "Pilot" (Ryan Murhpy, Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan) - Glee has had its ups and downs in its first season, but it started off on the right foot. The pilot episode revealed the heart of the show, entertained us with exciting musical numbers, and introduced us to Sue Sylvester. Only a few episodes have been able to surpass the quality of the very first.

Modern Family, "Pilot" (Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd) - It was either this or "Fizbo." I decided on the pilot episode because I've seen it at least three times, and I still laugh in all the right places. From the very beginning Modern Family has proven that it's just as funny (if not funnier) than comedy champs 30 Rock and The Office.

The Office, "Niagara" (Greg Daniels, Mindy Kaling) - I'm not just including this episode because I would love to hear the phrase "Emmy winner Mindy Kaling" in more than just my dreams. The hour-long wedding episode was the one highlight from the worst season The Office has ever endured. This great episode reminds us of everything we love about this show, even though it was part of such a poor season.

30 Rock, "Anna Howard Shaw Day" (Matt Hubbard) - I almost included the Tina Fey-penned "Lee Marvin Vs. Derek Jeter" but decided that although I have an undying love for Tina, this was a funnier episode. This Valentine's Day special had me laughing from beginning to end and sticks out as one of my favorite 30 Rock episodes of all time.

Ugly Betty, "Hello Goodbye" (Silvio Horta) - This is probably the only atypical spot on my ballot. All of the other episodes/series have a chance of getting noticed, while Ugly Betty will go unrewarded. Unfortunately, the series finale ("Hello Goodbye") was not even the creatively resurged fourth season's strongest episode, but I would still consider it one of the best. It tied together several dangling plot lines and the brought forth the laughter and emotions that one can expect from Betty. Afterward I felt emotionally satisfied but realized I was going to miss this show very much.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Damages, "The Next One's Gonna Go In Your Throat" (Todd Kessler, Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman) - Damages finales are usually the best episode of the season, and the third season was no exception. As always, the future and present stories came together and solved the mysteries with several shocking twists along the way. The fact that this may be the last episode of Damages ever is upsetting, but at least the series went out with a bang.

Grey's Anatomy, "Sanctuary" (Shonda Rhimes) - No matter how much any given season of Grey's Anatomy disappoints its viewers, Shonda Rhimes never fails to deliver on her finales. This finale especially. It was probably the most intense two hours of my life; I sat on the edge of my seat and was shaking the entire time as many characters' lives hung in the balance. Definitely the best finale of the year that had everyone (even non-Grey's viewers) talking.

Lost, "The Substitute" (Elizabeth Sarnoff, Melinda Hsu Taylor) - The series finale was too divisive to make my list. Though it delivered emotionally, "The End" lacked several mythological details that fans desired. Instead, I included "The Substitute," which was probably my favorite episode of the show's final season. Locke-centric episodes ("Walkabout" for example) are always among the strongest in any season. This episode revealed the secret behind The Numbers and showed an interesting juxtaposition of the on-island and off-island forms of John Locke.

Mad Men, "Shut the Door. Have a Seat." (Matthew Weiner, Erin Levy) - Mad Men is the only series to earn multiple spots on my list, and it's deservedly so. The third season surpassed all high expectations and produced one of the strongest dramatic seasons I have ever seen. All the drama came to a head in the season finale when Betty left Don, and Don created his own advertising agency. It left us all wanting more and eagerly anticipating season four.

Mad Men, "The Gypsy and the Hobo" (Marti Noxon, Cathryn Humphris, Matthew Weiner) - Without a doubt, this was the best episode of the season. Jon Hamm and January Jones delivered the performances of their lifetimes. And of course there was the infamous incident of Joan and the vase...

Coming Soon: My picks for the Guest Acting categories

Currently watching:
Breaking Bad Season 1
Episode 4 - Cancer Man

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The official Emmy ballots were posted last night, and in just over a month this year's nominees will be revealed. Emmy season is in full swing at last! This means my Twitter feed will be full of #Emmy commentary, and my blog is finally back in business (but only because I need a place to post all my brilliant Emmy thoughts). Maybe the constant Emmy blogging will inspire me to update more consistently, and we'll even see an non-Emmy-related post or two (possible, but highly doubtful).

My mind has been nonstop thinking about the awards. After downloading the nomination ballots last night, I promptly examined them for approximately two hours, comparing them to the wish lists and predictions that I've been working on since September. I'm currently trying to finish Friday Night Lights and the second season of The United States of Tara, so I can factor them into my Emmy lists in time. I hope to watch the first two seasons of Breaking Bad when those are completed, but I will probably be unable to find a legal way to watch the third season before nominations are announced. I can't watch every single show in consideration, but I sure can try! However, this does mean that certain shows such as House, Community, and Cougar Town will be left off of my lists (mainly due to their inabilities to hold my interest for more than one episode, though I have heard great things about all three).

In the next few weeks, you can expect to see several posts depicting my "Emmy Wish Lists" that include all of my personal nominees for their respective categories, as well as my official predictions, which will be posted shortly before nomination day (July 8, 2010). In the meantime, I have a DVD calling my name, and I don't have much time left to watch. May your Emmy season be as merry as mine!

Coming Soon: My picks for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy and Drama Series

Currently watching:
Friday Night Lights Season 3
Episode 2 - Tami Knows Best