Friday, September 30, 2011

Bridesmaids Revisited: It's a Fritz Bernaise Ladies!

On my way down to Manhattan I put one DVD in my computer and that was Bridesmaids.  While writing about wedding movies I do not know how I could have forgotten about one of my favorite funny movies.  I asked my friends who have been maid of honor or bridesmaids or even brides if they had similar moments like in the film.

My one friend Emily I work with said she had a similar situation at a wedding a la her being the Annie character (Wiig) and this bridesmaid being the Helen character, the girl who tried to use her connections and step in to wow the bride.

The interesting thing about weddings is how stressful they can become, and that is mostly because of money or family influence.  Obviously in the film it had to do more with money and changing friendship.  When Emily told me her story it made me think about my friends, and the weddings I would going to in the future, and how friendships do change (Helen is more right in the film).  How do we as friends maintain a close relationship as our friends move forward and I move forward in different places?

Wiig's character Annie and Rudolph's character Lillian Rudolph still have a close relationship, but there is a divide that begins.  The move farther a part, they become part of different social classes, they have new friendships, and of course there is the marriage factor.  Once people become part of a couple their single friends often do not lose their place but their role becomes different.  Couples like to do things with other couples for some reason.  Sure, the singles will still be invited, but their role in the other person's life changes somewhat (different degrees with different people).

To be fair the film is not that deep, but it got me thinking deeper, which is a high achievement for a film where the characters shit in a sink, and make people laugh non-stop.  For me this is one of the most entertaining movies of the year, and I hope they don't make a sequel and ruin the effect of the film.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Movies that Center on Weddings

Tomorrow I am heading to Manhattan  to spend time with friends then I am off to Port Washington to stay with my friend Lauren, then off to a wedding in Riverhead to watch my friends Tara Daverna and Brian.  I met Tara her first semester of college at CW Post and we have been friends ever since.  I am so excited to watch these people get married, and it of course made me think about some of the great films that involved weddings.

My personal favorite movie that involves a wedding is My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) which starred Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, and Ruper Evertt.  Julia Roberts plays a food critic who realizes she loves her best friend (Mulroney) and decides she wants to break up his wedding.  This is one of the few movies where I find Cameron Diaz bearable, and Rupert Everett is hilarious.  This film has so much charm, and is incredibly endearing.

Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant rekindle their love as James Stewart and Ruth Hussey look on in a scene from the film 'The Philadelphia Story',
My next favorite movie about a wedding is The Philadelphia Story (1940) with the greats Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and of course Cary Grant.  Hepburn plays Tracy Lord who is about to get remarried, but her ex-husband (Grant) and a tabloid writer (Stewart) show up.  This is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.  The wedding itself has a central role in making Hepburn's character grow and deliver one of her best roles.

There is of course My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Wedding Crashers, and even The Hangover centers around a wedding, but the above two are my favorite.  I am excited watch my friend Tara walk down the aisle, and hopefully her day will be amazing!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Premiere Week Reviews: What Shows Shined and What Fell Flat

I love the Fall for several reasons: pumpkin and apple flavored everything is one of the best reasons.  I went to Brunch this past Sunday and had pumpkin flavored pancakes, and then had apple cider.  The fall is also the time when television shows launch their fall television line ups.  During this time period I test out my returning shows, and try out some new shows also.  This is where I determine what shows to give up on and what shows to add.  At the moment it looks like I will continue with all of my returning shows and add a new show or two, which is not ideal to my night time agenda, but here we go!

Tuesday September 13th

The Ringer (CW) Apart from the terrible green screen shot, this show's camp elements and wonderfully casted Sarah Michelle Gellar had a solid start.  Even after the second episode a week later I was still hooked.  I think this is a show I am going to continue to make sure is part of my weekly agenda. Grade: B

Monday September 19th

How I Met Your Mother (CBS)  This show has lost steam.  I am going to continue to watch, only because I am invested in the characters, and I become more invested in characters in sitcoms, because they tend to stay throughout the run of a show (unlike procedural dramas-see Law & Order: SVU listed below) Grade: C

2 Broke Girls (CBS) I love Kat Dennings but between the first and second weeks this show has lost me.  Dennings is hilarious and this show seemse tailor made for her, but I am not sold that it has lasting premise with a terrible supporting cast. Grade: C- Dennings: B+

Tuesday September 20th

Glee (FOX) The show bounced back mildly from a flat second season.  The story lines were linear, the songs were on key, and they cut excess characters.  The show tends to start things and not finish them, and I hope this season changes that pattern.  I still think they are having a hard time writing for Jane Lynch. Grade: B

The New Girl (FOX)  I loved the show.  Zooey Deschannel is my girl crush and her quirky awkward sense of humor mixed with bro humor is a perfect match.  The shows characters are solid, and the premise works! Grade: A-

Wednesday September 21st

Modern Family (ABC) There were funny moments, but the vacation episode felt more novelty, and that ABC wanted to collaborate with The Middle's vacation theme.  The second episode was solid as well.  This is a well crafted show, and the characters are great. Grade: B

Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit (NBC) This show without Stabler is missing something, and the network should have known that.  No new characters can alleviate the void.  The problem with procedurals is that characters matter!  The show is longer full of as much energy as it used to. Grade: D

Thursday September 22nd

Community (NBC)  I love this show, but the start wasn't not as exciting as it could have been.  I think this show always picks up as the season progresses, and I hope that is the case.  Otherwise, I may be saying goodbye to Greendale! Grade: B-

Parks and Recreation (NBC) Parks and Recreation had a solid start.  The Leslie story had a lot of heart.  Ann being sent penises from members of city hall was a riot, especially with the reaction the Jerry from the doctor.  Ron Swanson was also great as Ron fucking Swanson, and Tammy 1 stole the ending! Grade: B+

Sunday September 25th

The Good Wife (CBS) I have to applaud this show.  Every year this show starts and has a new energy.  The characters are great, and part of me wishes Kelli Giddish stayed with this show instead of SVU, but alas she chose poorly.  I like the courtroom drama, but this new tension between Peter and Alicia, and the chemistry between Alicia and Will is going to be dynamite. Grade:A-

Friday, September 23, 2011

The End of an Era: All My Children Closes Shop on ABC Today

Today I took my lunch late at work.  I usually go at noon because by the time I eat breakfast I am chomping at the bit the get some food in my stomach.  Today was a special day.  After 41 years on the air All My Children (AMC) said goddby with a special tribute episode on The View and then in their normal 1 pm time slot.

In his closing toast legendary AMC and daytime character Tad Martin (Michael E. Knight) stated thre words that the show and Pine Valley were "friends, neighbors, and family."  With his touching words I shed a few tears because I was saying goodbye to characters and a part of television history.  This genre of television represents an interesting marker in the time capsule of popular culture.  The daytime drama or "soap opera" as it often referred was and has been (for the most part) about those three concepts.  With these shows you are invited in 5 days a week for one hour each (again for the most part) into the lives of characters.  I always reference a hilarious Carol Burnett sketch when describing the rapturous fans of this genre.  In the sketch the character Carol plays a woman who is so focused on her "soap opera" that she does not pay attention to the things surrounding her and even can't go of the show as her husband needs her and is having a heart attack.  This sketch always made me laugh so much.

Debbi MorganAs today comes to a close, I am sad because it is an end of an era.  There will be no more Erica Kane; she will not be joining the show online, and AMC without Erica Kane is just not AMC.  Today's episode along with every other episode this past week were touching tributes to those three concepts "friends, family, and neighbors."  The show focused on the remaining families left in Pine Valley the Kanes, the Martins, the Hubbards, the Chandlers, and all the other characters remaining. 

The show ended better than any other "soap opera" I have seen end recently.  The overarching story that brought things to a head was that David Hayward (Vincent Irrizary) was a doctor who could bring people back from the dead.  This story was far-fetched and outlandish, but brought together such great storytelling it never seemed to matter in the end.  For those who are fans of the show watching Dixie come back and reunite with Tad, and Adam get to see his brother Stuart alive, or watching Erica Kane chose between her man and her career.  I was hooked with every moment.  Throughout the last couple of months I found myself watching the show again, and seeing AMC as must see TV.  The ABC series finale ended with a cliffhanger making the audience wonder who got shot, a classic sopa soap opera motif. Even though the show is moving online there will be something different, but I hope the tradition of this show carries on.

The woman who created the show Agnes Nixon was on The View today and her tears signlaed my tears. I was moved and got chills.  I hope to see this show carry on the traditions of "family, friends, and neighbors online, and remember the grand tradition of the wonderful show that is and was All My Children.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Lion King is King Once Again!

On June 24, 1994 Disney brought to the big screen another animated film.  For the the first time in a while Disney took the risk to go beyond the typical princess driven film that brought them success and focused on a film that delved into the nature of animals in the jungles of Africa.  The film was called The Lion King.  The Lion King centered around centered around a lion family and their role as royalty in the jungle. The father, Mufasa,  the mother Sarabi, and the birth of their young lion cub Simba.

As a young child I do not remember this Disney film as much as the others, but I know that begged and pleaded to go this film.  I loved everything Disney when I was a kid, and remember the golden age of Disney during my youth, which started with The Little Mermaid, then Beauty and the Beast then Aladdin, which all lead up to The Lion King.  I went to see The Lion King (in 3-D) tonight and it was like reliving my childhood.  I got goosebumps, and sun began to rise and the music for the song "The Circle of Life" began to play.  The moment when Simba was lifted in the air made giddy like a nine year (I was nine when the film was released).  I have simulated that moment with friends while doing show tunes karaoke in both Chicago and Columbus because of my height and that moment always brings a smile to my face.

This film has so much power and emotional heft whether that be through the sensation score and songs or through the voice actors who provided the emotional context of the characters.  The score by Hans Zimmer is so lasting and memorable.  Elton John reworked three songs along with Tim Rice two of which "The Circle of Life" Can You Feel the Love Tonight"and his versions were not only huge radio hits, but they were just as beautiful as the song versions in the film.

The voice actors for the film were wonderful.  James Earl Jones, who has one of the most recognizable voices ever played Mufasa (the first king) and his fatherly love and voice is so heartwarming.  Jeremy Irons does the voice for Scar, Mufasa's brother, and malicious tones and classically trained acting helps makes this more than a cartoon.  Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella voice Timon and Pumba and steal the second half of the film.  Other actors who did voice work for the film were Matthew Broderick (adult Simba) Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi-a hyena), and many more.

Watching this film tonight was like going back in time.  I sat in the theatre wearing my 3-D glasses singing and saying the lines in the film like I were a nine year old kid again.  This was one of the most fun times I have had at the movies in a long time and it did what film should do, capture an element of time and make you feel as though you are have a completely magical experience.  I felt the love tonight!

Drive Races into a World of its own and Creates a World so Subtlely with a Hard Gritty Edge

Drive (4 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by: Hossein Amini
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perelman, and Albert Brooks
This film takes the audience on a journey centered around a character (nameless) who is referred to as Driver (Ryan Gosling) is both a a stunt driver in movies, and a hired driver for illegal activity.  Gosling meets and starts to get his next door neighbor Irene (Mulligan) who has a child from a husband in jail.  Gosling also works for Shannon an automechanic who connects Driver with the darker side of his life, and some mob connections namely two men named Bernie and Nino (Brooks and Perelman).

Without giving the entire plot away this film's pacing had me hooked.  Amini's script used more action, emotional context, and facial expressions than dialogue to convey the heft and gravity of this film.  Gosling did a great job showing that through using his face to explain the story rather than conveying things through words.  In regards to acting Albert Brooks stepped up his game play a funny yet dark mob boss.  Brooks  great one liners helped balance out his loathesome qualities to make this character more than just one dimensional.

The director, Nicolas Winding Refn, is the star of this film his use of style and gritty drama helps bring this film to a much deeper level than the more recent care dramas.  Refn knows how to use the sceneary of Los Angeles as the back drop, and it almost feels like a character within the film.  Refn was named Best Director at the Cannes film festival for a good reason; his craftsmenship carries this film to deeper more gripping levels.  Newton Thomas Sigel the cinematographer also knows how to shoot LA, and makes it look ominous and beautiful to create the tone of the film.  Cliff Martinez who put together the score and music for the film gave this film a classic, and by classic I mean 80s tone that suits the film brilliantly and quote that Brooks has in the film "I made action movies in the 80s everyone said were great I thought they were shit."

I think the film could have developed more with the love interest characteristics between Irene and Driver, and I would have liked to seen more Christina Hendricks, but I think the pacing of the film allowed a gripping build-up towards the gripping and winding conclusion.  This film is not typical so do not go in expecting the normal popcorn fair, and thats what makes this movie better than others.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Emmys Awards Go with the Shock and Snooze, While Jane Lynch brings the laughs

The 63rd Emmy Awards were a mixed bag.  Jane Lynch is honestly one funny lady, her opening segment (which was taped); she was not meant to sing and dance, which they joked about, but she still should not have done it.  My favorite joke of the night was "The reason I knew I was a lesbian, the cast of Entourage."  Lynch proves that simple works, and it worked best when she was telling jokes (take not award show producers).

Jane Lynch hosting the Emmy awards

The production value of the show along with the sound etc was just plain awful. The rag tag band of glee club members singing to introduce the songs was terrible, and just pointless.  The highlight of the Michael Bolton number was funny, but pointless.  Mark Burnett is clearly a reality television show producer and if award shows continue down this terribly produced track, count me out (I say that now).  I am glad Lynch was the host her emcee skills made this far more watchable than it could have been.  The pacing of the show started strong with the Emmy awards in the comedy categories (I will discuss the winners in a few), but then chose to take an odd placement letting the miniseries/movie category be last.  I was thoroughly bored the presentation of these awards, and I think they could cut down the awards presented in these categories.  I would not block off the announcement into blocks.  I would go supporting then variety then writing and directing categories than lead than close with series (like they used to.)

The comedy winners were overall pretty interesting.  The wins for Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen were deserved.  Bowen's win was more of a surprise because people talk about Vergara more (like in the show), but she is a truly great comedienne.  Melissa McCarthy winning was the biggest shock I have ever seen at this award show, especially in this category; she can thank Bridesmaids for her win.  Parson's repeating was something i feared, as this is category the Academy gets lazy in, and now the Emmys are the idiots who did not award Steve Carell and Martin Sheen with Emmys for playing the best bosses. Modern Family won in the writing and directing categories, and also for best series.  The show took home five awards tonight, making it the most honored show of the night.

The drama categories were basically all surprises tonight, except for lead actress and supporting actress.  Many people predicted Julianna Marguilles, Margo Martindale, and Martin Scorsese for directing to win.  Friday Night Lights took home two trophies for Best Writing (the series finale) and Kyle Chandler won the best actor category, which I was surprised about both.  Supporting Actor was also a shock, I thoroughly expected John Slattery to finally win, but Game of thrones reaped a major award with Peter Dinklage.  Mad Men winning in the best drama series category was surprising for several reasons, it lost every award tonight, and only won one other award at the Creative Arts Emmys in Hairstyling this year.

Mad Men's win is proof that within the major series categories there is a flaw, while great surprising wins happened in every other category.  Mad Men picked up a fourth trophy meanwhile other shows should have potentially dethroned it this year.  I love Mad Men, and would never begrudge this show, but I think its win proves that there may be a flaw in the series category.

Overall this was an interesting night, and i love this award show because I can be surprised about the winners and not know them pretty much a month in advance like with the Oscars.  While the production value of the show was not the best Lynch was great, and the winners provided some surprise, and made the show worth watching.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Emmy Winner Predictions

Tomorrow at 8 pm in the Nokia Theatre Jane Lynch will take the stage as the host of the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, and here is my list of predictions for tomorrow:

Outstanding Comedy Series

Modern Family

The years most nominated comedy series will repeat as this years winner.  No other shows mounts much of challenge.  Glee or Parks and Recreation have the closest shot, but are off in the distance.  The Big Bang Theory is the highest rated show and got more nominations than ever, but still lacks writing and directing nomination.  NBCs The Office and 30 Rock had their time and are done.

Outstanding Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire

I know many people have stated that Mad Men will repeat for a fourth year (it has the most nominations) but Boardwalk Empire is that new kid on the street, and will win for its first year. The Good Wife had the same number of nominations, but has a lot of support with numerous acting nominations. Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Game of Thrones are either too dark, just happy to be at the show, or just don't have a broad appeal.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Steve Carell-The Office

This is finally the year!  Carell will win for his last and final season.  Jim Parsons could repeat and spoil, but I think his win was a one hit wonder.  Alec Baldwin is out of the game as is Matt LeBlanc and Johnny Galecki whose nominations were the reward.  Louis CK could potentially spoil only if the Emmys decide to be hip like when they honored Ricky Gervais for Extras.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

John Hamm-Mad Men

This is finally the year of Don Draper!  Hamm is the most sympathetic in his episode "The Suitcase" and is brilliant in this episode.  Buscemi is a VERY close second, he won all the other awards, but that has proven not to matter, especially in this category, for example other other nominees, Michael C. Hall and Hugh Laurie have won other accolades but not this award (and they have no shot this year).  Kyle Chandler was lucky to be invited.  Timothy Olyphant is third in this race, and if they love his show could honor him as well.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Laura Linney-The Big C

Linney's episode is great and she is great in it!  I think the Emmys will continue their trend of awarding the ladies of Showtime.  Poehler is in second and if they were basing this award on pure laughs she would win.  Last years winner Edie Falco is out, as is the previous winner Tina Fey.  First time nominees Melissa McCarthy and Martha Plimpton (in this category) could be spoilers because they are well liked, but these are only major nominations for their show, and the nomination is the reward.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Julianna Marguilles-The Good Wife

This a tough category for me to predict.  This race is between Elisabeth Moss and Julianna Marguilles.  I think Marguilles has the edge her tape is amazing.  Moss is so close she is nipping on her heels.  Hargitay had her time, Connie Britton is spectacular, but this is her goodbye gift, and Mireille Enos is strong, but not the best part of her show.  The real spoiler is Kathy Bates for Harry's Law; she is in a David E. Kelley show and they reward his actors frequently, she is also a past Oscar winner (Glen Close and Sally Field most recently)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Ty Burrell-Modern Family

Another close race.  This is between Ty Burrell and Ed O'Neil with Chris Colfer as a spoiler.  Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, and Jon Cryer are not in this race this year.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

John Slattery-Mad Men

This is the year Mad Men wins for acting!  Slattery has his best tape, and is the most like able he has ever been like Hamm.  Look out for both of the The Good Wife men, Alan Cumming and Josh Charles they are solid.  Braugher is out, and so is Peter Dinklage.  Goggins is great (and is finally honored with a nomination) but his tape didn't get hi the trophy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Jane Lynch-Glee

This award will either go to Lynch or Betty White (Julie Bowen as the spoiler).  Lynch's tape is great, but she did not have much great material this year.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Margo Martindale-Justified

Martindale is brilliant in this show, she submitted well, and has been a hard working character actress for years, I think this is hers for the taking.

Other Winners:

Directing in a Comedy Serie: Modern Family-Halloween-Michael Allan Spiller
Directing in a Drama Series:Boardwalk Empire-Pilot-Martin Scorsese
Writing in a Comedy Series:Modern Family-Caught in the Act-Steve Levitan, and Jeffrey Richman
Writing in a Drama Series:Mad Men-The Suitcase-Matthew Weiner

Miniseries/Movie: Mildred Pierce
Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Edgar Ramirez-Carlos
Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Kate Winslet-Mildred Pierce
Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Tom Wilkinson-The Kennedys
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Maggie Smith-Downton Abbey
Directing Miniseries/Movie: Toddy Haynes-Mildred Pierce
Writing Miniseries/Movie-Todd Haynes-Mildred Pierce

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Daily Show
Outstanding Directing in a Variety, Music or Comedy Series: Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Daily Show

Outstanding Reality Competition Program: Top Chef

The Emmys Lack Diversity

While looking at the list Emmy nominees the number people nominated of a different race or ethnic background are incredibly slim.  There is a slim margin of actors who play LGBTQ characters, or have a disability, but this is one place where old white men and women do well.

Looking at this years breakdown of nominees in the major categories there are only three who actors who would be considered non-white, and they are all nominated in the supporting categories.  They are:

Sofia Vergara-nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in Comedy Series (the actress was born in Colombia)
Archie Panjabi nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category (she was born in England and is Indian)
Andre Braugher nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category (African American)

There are also only four actors who play LGBTQ (two of which are on the same show, and two who are heterosexual in real life, and three of which are male)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson-Modern Family, nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in Comedy Series (gay male in real life-gay male on the show)
Eric Stonestreet-Modern Family, nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in Comedy Series (straight male in real life-gay male on the show)
Chris Colfer-Glee, nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in Comedy Series (gay male in real life-gay male on the show)
Archie Panjabi nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category (straight female in real life-has never been defined but appears to be bi-sexual)

Ironically CBS the network often cited by GLAAD as the least diverse for LGBT characters, and often cited as one of the least diverse networks has a character that has multiple identities that are not portrayed regularly in television.  Modern Family appears to be one of the best shows that both highlights diversity and is quality programming.

Two things spring to my mind: Television today lacks diversity in general, and why does television do such a poor job of consistently highlighting different communities.  People will state that reality television is the place that helps make up for this, but that is a scary thought.  Reality television displays the worst characteristics in different groups and people in general.

There are shows out there with incredibly diverse casts like Grey's Anatomy which provide a window into so many different worlds  I applaud Grey's and always have thought they always explored multicultural topics in their show with their main cast and the patients they bring into Seattle Grace.  Grey's Anatomy's executive producer is Shondra Rhimes and happens to be a black female.  Does her identity shape the fact that she includes a wider variety of different stories?

Rimes stated in an interview with New York Times  that when she "wrote the pilot, she didn't specify the characters' ethnicities, so her casting process was wide open: Mr. Washington, who once played a gay Republican in Spike Lee's "Get on the Bus," was nearly cast in the role played by Patrick Dempsey, who is white; his Dr. Burke was to be played by a white actor who was forced to drop out at the last moment. Ms. Rhimes imagined "The Nazi" as a "tiny, adorable blond person with lots of ringlets," until Chandra Wilson walked through the door ("I thought it was endearing," Ms. Wilson said of her part. "Endearing as the word 'Nazi' can be."). And even though some network executives assumed Ms. Oh's hypercompetitive character would be white, Ms. Rhimes did not - in the pilot's script she wasn't even given a last name - so all it took was one "fabulous" audition from the "Sideways" star to christen the character Cristina Yang."

Using color blind casting is more and more common today, and this is great because it allows for more opportunities to cast a diverse array of actors, but this can also be incredibly problematic.  Where are the shows that focus on the issues?  Grey's using this colorblind casting has made set a trend of using generic characterization without getting into the issues and provides television shows with an easy out.  At one point in time shows talked about things and issues were present.  I want more shows to talk about the issues.  I realize television is meant to be an escape but shows can make an impact, and bring about relevant cultural issues as well.  I hope that television gets bolder, and the Emmys begin to recognize a wider variety of individuals for their hard work.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who Should Win at the Emmys (Emmy Week)

To win an Emmy Award, shows and actors submit episodes to be viewed by a panel.  Television shows must submit six episodes while actors submit one.  This system has been different throughout the history of the Emmy Awards, but I think the awards have a good balance with this.  Based on the nominees (and not taking into consideration their episodes submitted) here is who should the at this years Emmy Awards.

Best Comedy Series

Parks and Recreation

Other Nominees
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
The Office 
30 Rock 

The best comedy of the year!  This shows third season did not have a bad episode, the humor and storytelling were consistent.  The other nominee that could be seen as deserving is Modern Family, but its second season was not as good as its first.

Best Performance by Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Louis CK-Louie

The comedian has created a new name for himself and with this show I think he proves to be on track to becoming one of the few comedians who creates a successful show.  Carell deserved to win in season two, Baldwin is great but not this year, and Parsons schtick is still funny but this is the year of Louis CK.

Other nominees
Alec Baldwin-30 Rock
Steve Carell-The Office
Johnny Galecki-The Big Bang Theory
Matt LeBlannc-Episodes
Jim Parsons-The Big Bang Theory

Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Amy Poehler-Parks and Recreation

Other nominees
Edie Falco-Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey-30 Rock
Laura Linney-The Big C
Melissa McCarthy-Mike and Molly
Martha Plimpton-Raising Hope

Like Tina Fey, Poehler is just so damn like able, talented, and funny.  With an even better season she deserves to win!  Linney is a talented actress and unlike her other Showtime counterparts her show is actually funny, but I am just not into this as much.

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Ed O'Neil-Modern Family

The only Modern Family actor snubbed last year (bad form) should be the winner this year; he is one of the funniest actors ever and had some great stories this season on Modern Family.

Other nominees
Ty Burrell-Modern Family
Chris Colfer-Glee
Jon Cryer-Two and a Half Men
Eric Stonestreet-Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson-Modern Family

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Sofia Vergera-Modern Family

Vergara is a scene stealer like no other on her show; she is more than a bomb shell she is one great comedienne.   Lynch got stale, White is White, the next closest nominee that could or should win is Julie Bowen for playing the straight woman role  so well.

Best Drama Series

The Good Wife

The show that mixes story and procedural so well, did it even better in the second season.  In a year when HBO and AMC had so many quality shows this network television program made the classic drama look effortless.

Other nominees

Boardwalk Empire
Game of Thrones
Friday Night Lights
Mad Men

Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Drama Series

John Hamm-Mad Men

Other nominees:
Steve Buscemi-Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler-Friday Night Lights
Michael C. Hall-Dexter
Hugh Laurie-House
Timothy Olyphant-Justified

Hamm had one of the best seasons this year, we saw more to Don Draper when he wasn't attached to his evil shrew of a wife Betty.  Buscemi was good, but Hamm is just great!

Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Elisabeth Moss-Mad Men

Other nominees
Kathy Bates-Harry's Law
Connie Britton- Friday Night Lights
Mirelle Enos-The Killing
Mariska Hargitay-Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit
Julianna Marguilles-The Good Wife

Moss's portrayal of Peggy was great this year; she grew as person within that show and her connection with Don was done so well.  We saw a more confident Peggy than ever before, and that is some great acting to transform that character.  Marguiles is a close second for me but Moss shined.

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Alan Cumming-The Good Wife

Other nominees:
Andre Braugher: Men of a Certain Age
Josh Charles-The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage-Game of Thrones
Walter Goggins-Justified
John Slattery-Mad Men

Michelle and Robert King did the best thing by giving Allan Cumming a role as a series regular.  Eli Gould is a great character and Alan Cumming is brilliant!

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Margo Martindale-Justified

Martindale's dark and twisted matriarch is better than portrayal in this category this year, enough said!

Other nominees:
Christine Baranski-The Good Wife
Michelle Forbes-The
Christina Hendricks-Mad Men
Kelly McDonald-Boardwalk Empire
Archie Panjabi-The Good Wife

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Television Writing: The Best Emmy Category (Emmy Week)

Freaks and GeeksIn the previous days blog I talked about shows that Emmy forgot, but also cited two shows that were
honored in the writing categories: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Wire.  After a meeting with my boss today we started briefly talking about our excitement for the Emmy Awards, and she asked me my favorite part of a show, and my clear answer was the writing.  The writing is the glue to the show, some shows have decent actors, or good directors and good production value, but if the writing is not there they often suffer in quality.

When the writers strike happened a few years ago I had two emotions, anger, and empathy.  I understood why the writers wanted more.  Quality writing is hard to find, and without good writing there is no show.  There are of course a a few (a very few shows) that use a more improvisational style like Curb Your Enthusiasm, but the writing makes the show.  Bad writing is very easy to spot, check every reality show.  Even reality television has writing or a script supervisor, and usually those shows are proof that bad "writing" exists.

At the Emmy Awards members of the academy vote to determine the nominations in their craft, hence writers determine the writing nominees.  Within the late 90s and early 2000s (when I can remember most shows) the writing categories have included the shows like Buffy and The Wire, Freaks and Geeks as nominees while they were ignored by both the the actors and for the major drama and comedy series awards.

So why do the writers tend to honor the obscure shows, or the forgotten shows?  Writers often appreciate material that is well written hence they tend to honor better shows or more quality work than within the other major categories.  Here are some previous examples of shows that were honored in the writing categories (both comedy and drama) that were not ever nominated in any of the other major categories, or got very little recognition:

Just Shoot Me
Sports Night
Freaks and Geeks
Andy Richter Controls the Universe
The Bernie Mac Show
Pushing Daisies
Flight of the Conchords

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Shield
Battlestar Gallactica
The Wire

The noticeable trend is that the writers in the 2000s honored about one show (give or take) a year that was not considered a mainstream candidate.   The problem is that most of these shows recieved only one perspective nomination.  Many of these shows (not all) would be considered some of the best shows in the 2000s (and early 90s). Yet most of them received little to no attention in other categories.  There is however a negative trend with this branch of  Television Academy.  The trend tends to prove that  the writers got together, picked a "hip" show and honored the show with one Emmy nomination in that perspective year.  I will still sing the praises of one of the hardest working people in the entertainment business, the writers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Biggest Emmy Snubs of All Time (Emmy Week)

This upcoming Sunday the 64th annual Emmy Awards will be held on FOX and hosted by Glee star Jane Lynch.  Throughout the shows history they have awarded some of the best shows history, they have also forgot some of the best shows in television history.  I am going to start my Emmy week blogothan by talking about the shows and actors the Emmy's have forgotten as both nominees and winners.

The Nominees who Never Won

Steve Carell's Michael Scott belongs on this list.  As a six time nominee Carell has never won for his portrayal of The Office's boss, and this is a crime!  Love or hate him Carell is hilarious in this role and he has helped create one of the most memorable characters in television history.  Carell has one last shot (and a good one) to rectify the past losses this year.

Another nominee that never became a winner was Jason Alexander's George Costanza in Seinfeld.  Alexander played a version of Larry David better than Larry David could; he was sharp, witty, and often the butt of the joke.  Michael Richards was awarded twice for his role as Kramer; he was more like able while George was far more dislike able, but Alexander played him so well!

Six Feet Under (and the actors).  What a terrific existential show.  It made me think, cry and laugh.  I loved this show, and it should have won for its first season.  The actors from the show Rachel Griffiths, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, and Peter Krause should all have statues above their mantle, but this show was too dark for the Emmy voters.

The Shows and Actors that Never got Invited 

The Wire season oneWhile everyone was talking about either The Sopranos or Six Feet Under (in regards to HBO) the critics always sang the praises of the HBO cop drama The Wire.  The Wire is one of the most under appreciated shows in television history.  The Wire only received two writing nominations in its entire run about the Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of the drug dealers and the cops.  The show deserved so much more!
Buffy and Giles talking in 'Tabula Rasa'

Buffy the Vampire, and its star Sarah Michelle Gellar were passed over throughout the shows entire seven season run.  The only somewhat major nomination the show received was one writing nomination for an episode entitled "Hush" where most of the cast did not even speak.  This show fell pray to the curse of being on less respected networks the WB and UPN, and also being a campy silly vampire show.  This show was so much more and deserved at least to be nominated as did Sarah Michelle Gellar.  Gellar's portrayal of the heroin Buffy Summers was so brutal and honest that the campy vampire fighting was often hidden by the realism of the struggles in everyday life.

Gilmore Girls (including Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop).  Was it a drama or comedy?  The category placement of this show was always murky, but that should not have prevented voters from honoring one of the best television shows ever!  Graham was full of grace and charm as Lorelai Gilmore, while Kelly Bishop was irrevrent with wonderful comic timing as her mother Emily Gilmore.  The fast paced dialogue was so wonderful.  This may be one of the smartest shows ever.  I hate that they did not even honor it in the writing category, the one category at the Emmy Awards that seems to reward different shows.

There are so many shows and actors who should have won or been nominated for these awards, but this is the list that bothers me the most.  Many of these shows do not need the rewards they have their fan base that will honor and remember how great these performances and shows were.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NBC does Comedy Right with Parks and Recreation and Community

This past week two of NBC's best comedies were released on DVD, Parks and Recreation and Community.  These are some of the best comedies NBC has ever produced, and their commitment to these shows displays a commitment to quality programming.  In my down time this week I was able to watch both season three of Parks and Recreation (two times), and season two of Community.

Parks and Recreation had one of the best seasons in television history.  The show started out as a copy of The Office.  Greg Daniels the creator of The Office started another show in 2009 which would star Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope the bumbling boss of a parks department in Pawnee Indiana.  Daniel's surrounded Knope with a group of bumbling office workers, and the show sounded too familiar.  The show soon found its own niche within season two and evolved added a few new characters and formed a show that is in my opinion much better than The Office.


Leslie Knope stopped being like Michael Scott, and moved toward having more heart.  I think the problem with Michael Scott is that he often appears more unsympathetic.  When the central character of your show can be incredibly polarizing this can often leave even loyal viewers (like myself) cringing at awkward moments.  Parks used its supporting cast in less gimmicky ways.  Ron Swanson is one of the best characters in television history; he is an abrupt honest, meat loving Libertarian who shakes things up.  Aubrey Plaza (April) and Chris Pratt (Andy) play a Jim and Pam like couple but there relationship steers away from the cute and allows more laughs because their characters are unconventional.  Rob Lowe has never been funnier, and he is "literally" such a great comedic actor.

Community is a show that like Arrested Development will gain more respect from people when its off the air.  The show filled with wonderful pop culture references to Cougartown, a hatred towards Glee, and numerous D list movies, and of course Pulp Fiction is great in my book.  The show like Parks started out slow, but soon found its path with obscure pop culture references with style and wit.  This rag tag ensemble with Joel McHale (The Soup), Alison Brie, Danny Puddi, Donald Glover, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong, and (shockingly as the weakest link) Chevy Chase.  The creator of Community, Dan Harmon used the Arrested Development brains Anthony and Joe Russo to add that quirky flare to make this one of the best shows on television.


One thing is for certain these shows are not something everyone will enjoy.  They both have a specific brand of humor.  While cashing out at Best Buy (which I will no longer be going to-another story), the cashier had told me she had never heard of either of these shows.  I was both stunned and saddened.  I know both shows have low ratings, but thought their cult status would have hit employees at a chain electronic store.  She asked if the shows were similar to Glee, I laughed and said "They are for sure nothing like that show, and I am grateful their sarcasm will be around for another year.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Susan Lucci and Daytime Television

When I was a young kid I used to watch soap operas with my mom; she worked late nights and my dad worked days.  My parents set up this schedule so they always could be with me and I would not need a babysitter.  I watched The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and As the World Turns with my mom.  After a while my mom started working days and my time was split between both sets of my grandparents.  My one grandmother was not into the soap operas as much as my other.

I did not start watching All My Children till later, but I remember everyone talking about Susan Lucci's, Erica Kane.  I watched around the time Erica dealt with the story of her daughter Bianca's anorexia.  Now I have to admit, Ms. Lucci is not one of the best actors, but she created one of the most memorable characters in all of television history.  Lucci was primarily known for losing at the Daytime Emmy's but after 19 nominations Lucci finally won.  The moment (in the the clip below) was incredibly emotional.  All of daytime television was on their feet screaming.  I have never seen so much excitement in one room at award show.  This moment proves that there was an entire industry that was ready for this moment, in honoring and rewarding this woman for creating an iconic character.

Lucci has tackled numerous story lines in daytime television that were firsts; she was the first character to have an abortion (this was later undone and ruined a classic moment in television), battled a mountain lion, coped with her daughter being and anorexic and a lesbian, she was married so many times, arrested for insider trading, murder people and went to jail and so on.

I cannot fathom the world of daytime without Erica Kane, it is like Sesame Street without Elmo and Big Bird,  there will be a tremendous loss when the curtain comes down on All My Children when it leaves ABC.  The show was picked up by Prospect Park to be viewed online come January, but with Lucci declining her offer I do not think All My Children can survive without Erica Kane; she has been a cultural icon that will be missed.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rises to the Occasion

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist)
Written by: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
Starring: James Franco, Frieda Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, and Andy Serkis

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Caesar 
Ten years ago Time Burton re imagined the concept of the original concept of the original Planet of the Apes which was released in 1968.  The 1968 film was made most famous by its twist ending.  The original version of these films starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut who crashed landed on "on a strange plant" to find man enslaved by apes was done effectively.  Then in 2001 Burton's remake looked appealing but was left an awful taste in my mouth.

Now in 2011 Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver constructed an origin story. Will (James Franco) works for a lab and creates an experimental drug that will help cure Alzheimer's, a disease Will's father (John Lithgow) suffer from.  The original test goes badly and Will is left with Caesar (Serkis).  Caesar is far advanced, but soon the distinction between man and animal become apparent and how their behaviors divided them.

The films screenplay is the highlight of this film.  The story that writers Jaffa and Silver constructed is so fascinating.  The film delves into testing on animals for the sake of humans, and can a drug that changes animals have an effect on humans.  This film took away aspects of previous films that were campy and silly and made a realistic representation of science gone haywire.

Unlike the other films this film used CGI to create the actions of the apes.  Relatively unknown director Rupert Wyatt used actors to create the emotional context of the apes like Peter Jackson did with his version of King Kong (2005).  Using actors like Andy Serkis to create an visual on screen of actual animals with human emotions was brilliant and took this film to a whole new level.  The film suggests the differences between humans and animals, but also insinuates their similarities, and in a world filled with evolution when does animal end and man begin, or does that ever happen?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Andy Serkis: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes
While sitting in the theatre and watching one of the two worthwhile films released in August, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the performance that I noticed most was Andy Serkis.  Serkis played Caesar the chimpanzee that James Franco's character adopts in order to help cure his father's Alzheimer's disease.  In the film Serkis takes Caesar from sheltered chimp to an enraged almost human creature.  Serkis has been in other films where we get to him like 13 Going on 30,  and The Prestige, but most people would know him from his work where we never get to see him.

Serkis is most famous for his work as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  This role should have potentially landed him an Academy Award nomination for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  Even though Serkis himself is clouded in CGI his acting is beyond stellar; he proves that even with more and more CGI being used that the actor is still important.  Serkis also played Kong in Peter Jackson's adaptation of King Kong (2005); he brought humanity to the "beast."

When I watched him on screen as Gollum, Kong, and Caesar I was amazed at the humanity he gave to each of these characters.  Gollum is the closest thing he has played in this form that was somewhat human, and even then he adds nuances to the character development.  Playing an animal or Gollum and giving them human characteristics has to be a challenge, but Serkis appears to be up to the challenge and tackles these characters with finesse.  Every time I watch any of the Lord of the Rings films I am blown away by how Gollum was portrayed, and how it seems as though no one but Serkis could have done played that role.

Serkis will of course reprise his role in both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again.  He will also be lending his voice to the animated film directed by Steven Spielberg The Adventures of Tin Tin.  I hope in the near future he is rewarded for immense talent.  I doubt the Oscars will pay attention to his work as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  Just like with Gollum the Academy does not understand this evolution of acting.  Serkis brings things to a new level, and I am excited to see where he goes next.