The ugly step sister categories at the Emmy Awards are some of the most fun to dream about. We often remember our favorite shows regular players, but sometimes the guest stars, or recurring players are the glue to the story line. The same can be said for the writers and directors. I love when a television series goes through their opening credits and informs me who directed, and who wrote the episode I am about to watch. As a fan of the series this is important information. Writers and directors are behind the scenes players who put the words to page the actors read, while the directors set the stage for the actors action. Together these three elements make up some of the most important elements of a regular series.
This year's guest nominees made the audience feel as though they were a part of the thread work of their series. If you are a fan of The Good Wife think about Michael J. Fox and his character Louis Canning, Canning is not a series regular but people know him within connection with the show. Lucy Lui and Fiona Shaw did something similar but different they created characters for short one season arcs, and even though we knew they might not last long they became an incredible part of the worlds of Southland and True Blood. They carried a tremendous burden to make them memorable in a short span of time. In years past these categories did allow people to submit in this category who were in more than five episodes. The rules were changed, and now they can be recognized in the proper category.
None of these terrific guest acting performances could be possibly without the directors and writers. Game of Thrones proved that direction in a television series could create an hour that rivals most film direction. Can you imagine watching "Blackwater" on a giant screen? This is some of the most impressive direction I have ever seen on television. The simplicity is also welcome and televisions Mad Men knew exactly how to construct the beauty of the obscure in their episode, "The Phantom." The direction in this episode created one of the most inedible images in the shows history with the camera focused on the backs of the five partners as they stare outside the window of their new office.
Just as the director's set the action in motion, with well, their direction, the writers put the words and actions to the page of the script. Can you imagine the cat and mouse action of Homeland's episode "The Weekend" not being this interestingly complicated,sexy, and twisted without the words of Merdith Stiehm? This was one of the best episodes of the season, and writing hits with a punch at every corner. Vince Gilligan wrote (and directed) the season finale of Breaking Bad entitled "Box Cutter." Throughout the season the writing had built to this ultimate nail biting conclusion, and Gilligan masterfully ends things with this dark and deadly action. What a season finale, and what a well written piece of television.
Together these three elements contribute and make a drama series an incredibly strong viable piece of work. Shows often misuse guest actors, and waste talented directors/writers. When a series uses all of these elements properly they make shows rise to a level of excellence that is unmatched.
Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Michael J. Fox-The Good Wife
Matthew Perry-The Good Wife
Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Loretta Devine-Grey’s Anatomy
Carrie Preston-The Good Wife
Anika Noni Rose-The Good Wife
Fiona Shaw-True Blood
Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
Breaking Bad– Crawl Space- Scott Winant
Breaking Bad– Face Off- Vince Gilligan
Downton Abbey–Series 2: Episode 7-by Brian Percival
Game of Thrones –Blackwater- Neil Marshall
Homeland –Pilot- Michael Cuesta
Mad Men-The Phantom-Matthew Weiner
Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
Breaking Bad-Box Cutter-Vince Gilligan
Downton Abbey-Series 2: Episode 7- Julian Fellowes
Game of Thrones-Blackwater-George R.R. Martin
Homeland-The Weekend-Meredith Stiehm
Justified-Harlan Roulette-Dave Andron
Mad Men-The Other Woman- Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner