Monday, June 30, 2014

Dream Emmy Ballot 2014: Outstanding Writing and Directing in a Drama Series

When a show enters its later years the directing, and writing tends to fall off, or not be fresh as it was in the beginning.  Some shows should probably only last a season or two, but if there is success, why not continue?  The Good Wife and Breaking Bad are examples of shows who have only gotten better with age.

In season 5 The Good Wife had its best season to date, but in all honesty this show has performed well, minus the early stages of season 4, every season.  In season 4 Robert and Michelle King set up the early stages for Alicia (Margulies) and Cary (Czuchry) starting their own firm.  The plot came to a heated point in the one of the best written episodes of television this year entitled "Hitting the Fan."  Fan was so edge of you seat intense it shifted the tone of the season and separated the mentees from their mentors and friends.  The show also tackled a shocking death in Dramatic, Your Honor.  Wife was easily one of the best shows of the year, and most of the credit should go to the writing and directing teams.

Few shows are at their peak in their final season, and while people will argue that this was not the best season of Breaking Bad, it was phenomenal. While most will cite a great series finale, it was was the penultimate episode entitled "Ozymandias" that was the best episode.  Moira Walley-Beckett has written several episodes for the show, and Rian Johnson has directed some too, but this duo provided the most memorable episode in the shows history.  Bad's writing and directing is proof that a show can succeed all the way until the final breaths.

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
Breaking Bad-Ozymandias-Rian Johnson
Hannibal-Mizumono-David Slade
House of Cards-Chapter 14-Carl Franklin
Game of Thrones-The Watchers on the Wall-Neil Marshall
The Good Wife-Dramatics, Your Honor-Brooke Kennedy
Mad Men-Waterloo-Matthew Weiner

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
The Americans-Echo-Joe Fields and Joe Weisberg
Breaking Bad-Ozymandias-Moira Walley-Beckett
Breaking Bad-Felina-Vince Gilligan
The Good Wife-Hitting the Fan-Robert and Michelle King
Masters of Sex-Catherine-Michelle Ashford & Sam Shaw
Orange is the New Black-Can’t Fix Crazy-Jenji Kohan and Tara Hermann

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dream Emmy Ballot 2014: Outstanding Guest Actor and Actress in a Drama Series

In dramas guest arcs have been re-defined, in the past it was those typical one shot hospital visits, or the criminal guest star on a Law & Order type show that took up most of the spots in these categories.  The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences which oversee the Emmy Awards wisely changed this rule, because in both comedic and dramatic television series the "guest star" role has evolved into a a more complicated character along for the ride of the show.

For the sake of the award show purposes sometimes category placement is in the semantics, like Orange is New Black's Uzo Aduba, and Laverne Cox who were not placed in the main credits for the series' first season.  This means both are considered guest stars for their work.  By the way Orange is the New Black should be in the drama categories, but it will and can probably do better in the comedy races, but that's award show bias, I digress.  Both Aduba and Cox gave some of the strongest performances in season one of Black and are incredible worthy of nominations at the Emmy Awards.

Then there are characters who have story arcs like Beau Bridges, Allison Janney, and Julianne Nicholson who clearly have story arcs that will begin and end.  While most of these characters will probably return for episodes in the second season there will be an end to their stories, and this is clear through the way in which the writers have set up their characters.  These are probably three of the strongest guest performances in years, and this show has perfectly intertwined their stories into the show.

A great guest star can sometimes steal the spotlight from the lead, these men and women are often scene stealers like Rigg, Preston, and Fox, but at the end of the day their lights never outshine the stars, and they bring a perfect balance to their show.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Beau Bridges-Masters of Sex
Reg E. Cathey-House of Cards
Raul Esparza-Hannibal
Michael J. Fox-The Good Wife
Harry Hamlin-Mad Men
Pedro Pascal-Game of Thrones

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Uzo Aduba-Orange is the New Black
Laverne Cox-Orange is the New Black
Allison Janney-Masters of Sex*
Julianne Nicholson-Masters of Sex
Carrie Preston-The Good Wife
Diana Rigg-Game of Thrones

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dream Emmy Ballot 2014: Outstanding Comedy Series

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of three shows in its first season to make the list.  Nine-Nine makes this list because every cog in the ensemble work together perfectly.  In most shows there is a weak link, and in the beginning that seemed to be Terry Crews, but once his character some great material the show was off like a rocket.  Singling out one person is tough because each character moves this show in the perfect way.  As a young kid I remember watching re-runs of Barney Miller, and this show takes the funny of police and ups the ante mixing in the heart and cynicism.  Whether it be fighting or battling with other precincts, the fire department, hackers, other criminals, or even a classic doughnut joke.  This show and its creative team did a great job hooking me from episode one.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Best Episodes: "The Party" and "Sal's Pizza"

Broad City (Comedy Central)

I watched the entire season of Broad City in one day, and have not laughed this hard in a long time, literal belly laughs in each episode.  People will compare this show to Girls on HBO, and while this is a fair comparison, namely because of the type of character, but Broad City is just plain funny, never taking itself too seriously.  Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer wrote most of the episodes, and star in all of them, their chemistry is perfect they fit together and make of the most dynamic duos in television today.  Jacobson is more the "straight woman" getting and showing most people humor through what happens to her and what she says.  Glazer's talent with physical humor is a force to be reckoned, and while she is more in your face, the balance between the two leading ladies is perfect.  This is the first series from Comedy Central to make it into my personal Comedy Series nominees ever.

Best Broad City episodes "Pussy Weed" and "Stolen Phone"

Enlisted (FOX)

Shows that are cancelled rarely make this list, unless they are shows cancelled before their time, which would include Sports Night, Freaks and Geeks, and The Comeback.  Imagine joining the list of these shows, well Enlisted deserves to be still on the air, but in a sense its in good company.  Enlisted did a great job taking a serious subject matter, and turning into something hilarious, and sometimes heartfelt.  3 brothers enlisted in the Army who are stationed in the Rear D, a place filled with rejects.  Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, and Parker Young are the three brothers and their chemistry is great, they made it feel as though they were real brothers.  The secondary cast of soldiers in their platoon rounded out one of the most talented ensembles of the year.  Through in Keith David as the Sergeant Major and Angelique Cabral as another Sergeant, and you have a winner, too bad this show was cancelled before its time.

Best Enlisted Episodes: "Alive Day" and "Randy Get Your Gun"

Louie (F/X)

Probably the least funny show on the list, but that is no knock to this season of Louie.  Louie evolved into something deeper, something more meaningful.  The show addressed a lot of things addressing relationships.  Through the Elevator series you watched Louis C.K. attempt to carry on his most adult relationship on camera, and it worked, part of the humor in this situation is that it worked because they did not talk.  Louie tends to have verbal diarrhea, and without his words he was able to meet a stable woman.  Louie's relationship with Pamela also into play along with the connection with his first wife, and the impact it has on his daughters.  Louie confronted the prejudice of dating, and not dating the ideal through Sarah Baker's character, and her speech on men with fat women.  Louie also punched a model in the face on a one night stand.  Louie always gives you a complete arc, and this season while deeper than usual was still genius.

Best Louie episodes "Model" and and "Elevator Part 3"

Modern Family (ABC)

For the first time in two years Modern Family deserves to be back on this list.  After season three and four dipped in quality, season five which was centered around Cam and Mitchell's wedding showed a ton of growth in most of their characters.  The final three episodes including "Message Received" push the show into area it rarely goes.  Modern Family usually ties things up with a polished ribbon, but in "Message Received" things final reached a tipping point with Mitch and Jay.  The wedding was also both touching, and hilarious.  Modern Family always does a travel episode, and this year they went to two places, while Australia was alright, Las Vegas was one of the best directed episodes, and funniest in the shows history.  There as also some tremendous growth with Haley, and the addition of recurring guest star Adam DeVine as Andy.  The show hit it out of the park this season.

Best Episodes of the Season: "Las Vegas" and "Message Received" 

Veep (HBO)

Like a good wine this show only gets better as it ages.  Selina started out the season with a book tour a la Hillary Clinton, and within moments of that ending her bid for the Presidency began.  Watching a botched Presidential campaign unfold in real life is frightening, (Herman Cain, Rick Perry etc), but watching Selina and her team navigate politics is hilarious.  Should Selina be pro-life or pro-choice, watching her skirt religious officials in and out was brilliant.  Having her navigate  foreign affairs, with awkwardness was also great. Armano Ianucci  and his team of writers are the funniest working people in television.  I loved watching candidates fall apart in that awkward debate as well.  This is the most talented ensemble on television, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh, Timothy Simmons, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole, and last but not least Sufe Bradshaw.  I dare you to watch the smartest comedy on television, and not laugh.

Best Episodes of Veep: "Alicia" and Debate"

Dream Emmy Ballot 2014: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Louis C.K. as Himself in Louie

Louie has always been on the search for love, finding someone who fits within his world, and makes sense. During the six part Elevator series C.K.'s relationship with Amia showed so much growth, was heartwarming, and at times hilarious watching Ellen Burstyn try to translate Amia's words for Louie because Amia did not speak English.  While that story arc was on the heartwarming side, my favorite Louie moment involved him accidentally punching the model in the face he picked up at the event he worked for Jerry Seinfeld.  The episode entitled "Model" was traditional Louie, and showed the funnier side of of things.  C.K. has grown as an actor, and this season has been his best work.

Best Louis C.K. Quote ""Okay. Fine. Well, you guys... are pretty solid. And the girls love him and he seems like a great guy. And... your relationship has brought a lot of stability to their lives that they lost when we broke up. So. Yeah. He smells like kale."

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory

For a character who rarely evolves Sheldon had tremendous growth this past season.  During season seven of this show, Sheldon realized he had gotten nowhere with his work on string theory and quite his job, and decided to move away.  Who knows how long he will be gone, probably not long, but this showed tremendous growth with his character.  His willingness to get physical with Amy was also a huge step, and pretty damn funny.  Parsons owns this show, and he is the reason I laugh on a weekly basis; he is probably the most talented man in this category.

Best Sheldon Cooper Quote "I thought that subject had run its course so I changed it. It's called reading the room, Amy."

Jonathan Groff as Patrick Murray in Looking
There are many points in my life where I have been Patrick.  I have questioned things, over thought every aspect of a moment, a relationship, what my family thinks.  Groff captures the insecurities of work, relationships, and everyday life perfectly.  Patrick spent most of his time, looking, pun intended, for what he wanted at work, and in love.  Does he want Richie who has his life together in one way or Kevin who has his life together in another way.  Sometimes a dilemma like this can be maddening, but at the end, Patrick still needs to find what he wants for himself.  There is one scene with his mother, at his sisters wedding that felt so real, and heartbreaking, Patrick had this false sense of ownership on his family.  Heartbreaking.  While most of this description sounds more dramatic, some of it was, but Groff's adorable awkward moments make are what sold his performance.

Best Patrick Murray Quote "I'm gonna get myself a Mexican fuckbuddy" 

Andy Samberg as Detective Jake Peralta in Brooklyn Nine
I just re-watched the episode entitled "Sal's Pizza" last night and while Jake is sometimes overly goofy, there is something endearing about the character.  Giving Jake feelings for Amy at the end of the season made him more full formed, and Samberg did such a great as these feelings came to forefront making Jake more deep than most expected.  Jake's back story with Gina, and their childhood connection was also great.  At the end of the the day Samberg is just plain funny in this role, and he has proven he has the chops.

Best Detective Jake Peralta Quote "-Nine "This whole place reeks of bacon. Well guess what? I'm going kosher. Cause Jakey don't dig on swine!"

Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation
I do not believe in fate or destiny, but can a television show change your mind?  It appears even more through this year that Ben Wyatt was made for Leslie Knope and vice avers a. Whether its Ben find his place as City Manager, or battling to prove he created the game Cones of Dunshire, these two were clearly molded as a perfect fit for one another.  While Ben and Leslie's connection has always been his best quality, Ben trying to surprise Leslie for their anniversary, and then spending the whole time with Gerry/Larry was straight up comedic genius.  Scott is one of the funniest men on television.

Best Ben Wyatt Quote "No, that's Buckingham Palace. Hogwarts is fictional. You do know that, don't you? It's important to me that you know that. 

Robin Williams as Simon Roberts in The Crazy Ones
While The Crazy Ones did not push any boundaries outside of a traditional sitcom, the acting was great, and the laughs were non-stop.  Robin William's was at his best in this show; he played to his strengths as a rapid fire comedienne, while also showing his softer side as a dad and mentor to the folks who worked for his agency.  Simon Roberts was a great character, and whether he was trying to live down his fear of playing for the company baseball team, battling with Brad Garrett's character, or bro-ing out with Zach, Williams was just too funny, and great in this role.

Best Simon Roberts Quote "I'm ready to pitch them the truth. "Australia: it's so hot not even the Nazis wanted it". 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dream Emmy Ballot 2014: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Malin Akerman as Kate Harrison in Trophy Wife

Aw Kate, she has such good intentions and wants to be the best wife and step mom, but imagine imagine two crazy ex-wives in the picture.  Akerman was fantastic as Kate, she played the character with such heart, but there was also some wonderful self-deprecating moments.  Akerman has mostly played smaller roles, or less shiny ones in film, but I loved getting to watch her do some great work here.  Kate was not always the most loud or obvious comedienne, but she was great all the things that counted, and that made her role and her acting shine through. Akerman needs more vehicles to show off her talent.

Best Kate Quote "How do you not know who Iron Man is? He was in like every movie this summer."

Ilana Glazer as Ilana in Broad City 

Ilana is pure joy, pure hilarity, and just plain awesome at physical humor.  From calling out Abbie on her white privilege, to stuff weed in her vagina, to stealing lotion in bags from Bed Bath and Beyond. Broad City is funnier off shoot of Girls.  While Girls tackles the hard line "reality" of life Broad City and Ilana herself make fun of the everyday aspects of life in New York City.  Ilana Glazer is one of the funniest women on television, it was hard to pick between her and her co-star, but Ilana and her character Ilana just prove that making fun of hipsters in New York City is too easy.

Best Ilana Quote "Who would you rather have go down on you, Janet Jackson or Michael Buble?" tied with "Damn that penis is pink!"

Mindy Kailing as Mindy Lahiri in The Mindy Project

Mindy is the person we all pretend we are not; she loves rom-coms, and wants the moments in life to be perfect.  This season Mindy continued her journey to find love, but it was her connection with Danny that seemed inevitable, and written in the stars.  Kailing is great within this role; she tries to take control of her world, manufacturing every moment to look and feel perfect, but as this season and especially the last episode goes, sometimes you need to let surprises take hold.   Kailing never over sells the hopeless romantic aspects of her character, she is genuine, and that is the best part about her character, and her acting.

Best Mindy Quote "The only downside of being a woman who can make her own decisions is that you have to make good decisions."

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President/President Selina Meyers in Veep

What Seinfeld curse?  Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the queen of comedic television comedy, from Elaine to Selina Meyer, you just know this woman is going to bring her A-game every time.  Selina started out hoping the President would fade away, and as we watched Selena start working on her campaign, battling between pro-life, and pro-choice, dealing with a VERY hands on personal trainer, you couldn't help but laugh at her cursing at everyone.  Selena then gets the seat she has always wanted after an awkward debate, and while its gratifying it was even more exciting to watch things crumble.  Hilarious!

Best Selina Meyer Quote "God, there's so many people in here. It's like a Mormon orgy."

Abbi Jacobson as Abbi in Broad City

Abbi is often the one along for the ride, but her antics along Ilana are something special.  I think my favorite running joke throughout the show is goal of being a personal trainer yet she spends no time working out, and that her boss at the gym makes her constantly snake the toilet at the gym.  Abbi's addiction to Bed Bath and Beyond is priceless along with her chemistry with her roommate's boyfriend, Bevers.  The fights between Abbi and Bevers are some of the funniest moments on the show.  My favorite Abbi moment is thinking that that her art they hang in a Vegan Sandwich shop is an actual art show.  Abbi is the embodiment of hope in hopeless world, and its a riot.

Best Abbi Quote "I really don't feel like going to work today"

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation 

Amy Poehler continues to be the heart and center of this show, and one of the funniest women working in television today.  Leslie Knope went through a recall, losing her best friend to a move, and then ultimate a new career path, and triplets in a time jump.  Poehler finally won her first award for this show at the Golden Globes this past January, and its time for her to earn some recognition at the Emmy Awards this August.  Poehler has grown so much in this characters, and I have loved getting to watch her character become more than she was intended to be, that's Leslie Knope!

Best Leslie Knope Quote " Good, I hate paperwork. I hardly ever do it in my bed on a Saturday night listening to old Spice Girls CDs.