Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Emmy Ballot

Emmy nominations get announced tomorrow, and before we get into the inevitable crushing disappointment, I figure I'd give you all a vision of a brighter day. A day when I am given a say in one of the entertainment industry's least-respected honors.

You'll note I kind of made up my own mind with regard to lead/supporting designations, and I didn't bother differentiating reality shows at all. But I did adhere to the Emmys' eligibility period, which was roughly last June through this May.

Battlestar Galactica
Gossip Girl
John From Cincinnati
Mad Men

Runners-Up: Friday Night Lights; Damages; Dirty Sexy Money.

Before you start yelling at me, yes, I included Gossip Girl. There is always going to be room in my Top 5 for the most purely enjoyable and entertaining show on TV, and as the season sped to its conclusion, there were few shows that I enjoyed more. Honestly, if Friday Night Lights hadn't stumbled so much in its second season, that would be here instead, but here we are.

I'm pretty sure I've made my case for Battlestar and Lost many times on this blog. Both shows saw significant upswings in quality -- and they were starting from a pretty strong position to begin with. Mad Men made a strong debut and has the advantage of being able to deliver a full season before the strike happened. John From Cincinnati didn't have a problem getting a full season in, seeing as this is a holdover from last summer. It was getting a second season that proved unattainable, which isn't surprising since I'm one of like six people who loved the thing.

Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights
Michael C. Hall - Dexter
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Edward James Olmos - Battlestar Galactica
Brian Van Holt - John From Cincinnati

Runners-Up: Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone); Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment).

It's an unexpectedly shallow pool in this category, much as it was last year. And this year I didn't have such easy pencil-ins like Ian McShane and James Gandolfini. As ever, Michael C. Hall, Kyle Chandler, and Edward James Olmos are the class of television. (The subpar seasons of FNL and Dexter were certainly not the fault of their lead performers, and Battlestar's ass-kickery only enhanced Olmos's position.) Jon Hamm made an inscrutable man awfully deep in his first season, and the fact that no one's going to be talking about Brian Van Holt at all this Emmy season makes me indescribably sad.

Connie Britton - Friday Night Lights
Minnie Driver - The Riches
Ginnifer Goodwin - Big Love
Mary McDonnell - Battlestar Galactica
Jeanne Tripplehorn - Big Love

Runners-Up: Glenn Close (Damages); Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters); Chloe Sevigny (Big Love).

So, yes, last year Connie Britton campaigned as a lead and I put her in supporting; this year she campaigned in supporting and I put her in as a lead. But between me and the actual Emmys, only one of us is actually nominating her, so who would you go with? Besides, she was actually given a lead actress's share of the load this time, and she was still the most compelling thing onscreen.

The mere fact that Glenn Close's performance -- one that fashioned a golden statue of Patty Hewes with the words "tour-de-force" etched on it -- didn't make my Top 5 shows how stacked this category is. Much like Season 1 of Big Love belonged to Nicki, Season 2 belonged to Margene, and Ginnifer Goodwin stepped to the front of the line; trying to measure her performance against Jeanne Tripplehorn's Barb is the best kind of dilemma. The Riches suffered in its second season by scattering the family too far away from each other, but Minnie Driver got to the core of Dahlia's peculiar morality. And what more can I say about Mary McDonnell at this point? Lady can rock a wig.

James Callis - Battlestar Galactica
Michael Emerson - Lost
Glenn Fitzgerald - Dirty Sexy Money
Michael Hogan - Battlestar Galactica
Donald Sutherland - Dirty Sexy Money

Runners-Up: Victor Garber (Eli Stone); Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters); Zeljko Ivanek (Damages); Ed O'Neill (John From Cincinnati).

I could nominate five men from Battlestar easily, which should give you an indication of just how great Callis and Hogan were this season. Similarly, Sutherland and Fitzgerald rose to the top of a hearty and accomplished ensemble to deliver hilarious and moving performances. And then there's wee little Michael Emerson, all alone without a co-star. With the way he's made Ben the most watchable character on a very watchable show, something tells me he'll do just fine.

Tricia Helfer - Battlestar Galactica
Christina Hendricks - Mad Men
Yunjin Kim - Lost
Margo Martindale - The Riches
Patricia Wettig - Brothers & Sisters

Runners-Up: Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica); Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters); Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy); Dianne Wiest (In Treatment).

No one on this list was on the list last year, simply because the pool of worthy actresses here is so deep. Nothing against women like Sackhoff and Oh and Chandra Wilson and Elizabeth Mitchell, but with such a crowded field, it doesn't take much to get leapfrogged. Martindale would have been listed last year if I'd have watched Season 1 of The Riches in real time. She was far too scarce during much of Season 2, but she got some great episodes at the end. Helfer had her best season yet as the different iterations of Number Six we finally got to see really allowed her to delve into different aspects of Cylon personality. Hendricks was a sniper from the Mad Men sidelines, and Yunjin Kim upped her already significant game in the all of three episodes in which she was featured. And I've been stumping for Wettig since the first episodes of this season. I don't know how I would have survived that accursed Rebecca/Justin storyline without her.

30 Rock
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
The Office
Pushing Daisies
Ugly Betty

Runners-Up: Weeds; Flight of the Conchords; How I Met Your Mother.

Not a whole lot of new crowding out the old here, save for Pushing Daisies, which, after an incredibly abbreviated first season, is here on promise more than anything. Next season will tell the full tale. Philly and The Office both rebounded from slow starts to finish up strong, while Ugly Betty got better as its universe expanded (beefing up Judith Light to a regular was a big step up), and 30 Rock remains the funniest show on television. That Carrie Fisher episode (and probably the "Gay for Jamie" one too) should go in a time capsule.

Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Steve Carell - The Office
Charlie Day - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
John Krasinski - The Office
Lee Pace - Pushing Daisies

Runners-Up: Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords); Zachary Levi (Chuck); Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords).

Again, not a lot of turnover here, though Lee Pace makes the nominee list a whole lot more attractive, physically. Otherwise, things look a whole lot similar to last year. For the record, Alec Baldwin somehow managed to make himself more award-worthy with that whole Good Times insanity.

Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Jenna Fischer - The Office
Kaitlin Olson - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Mary-Louise Parker - Weeds
Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live

Runners-Up: Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?); America Ferrera (Ugly Betty).

Yes, I know the SNL cast submitted themselves as supporting performers, but you try telling me Amy Poehler hasn't become the above-title star of that show. Anyway, MLP was great even if Weeds started a downturn last season, and Jenna Fischer didn't get enough to do. There are no such caveats for the ever-improving Kaitlin Olson and the world-beating Tina Fey.

Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother
Jack McBrayer - 30 Rock
Michael Urie - Ugly Betty
Rainn Wilson - The Office
Ray Wise - Reaper

Runners-Up: Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother); Adam Baldwin (Chuck); Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords).

Wow, not one, not two, but THREE office weirdos! Plus Barney, who can't be a picnic to work with either. Though, I guess Ugly Betty's Marc isn't strictly a weirdo so much as a colorful nemesis, but still. Sad to see even Ray Wise couldn't break the Emmys' embargo on CW/WB/UPN programming, but he was wonderful.

Kristin Chenoweth - Pushing Daisies
Melora Hardin - The Office
Judith Light - Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins - Weeds
Kristen Wiig - Saturday Night Live

Runners-Up: Jean Smart (Samantha Who?); Melissa McCarthy (Samantha Who?); Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty).

Man, what a tough cut-off point in this category. At the beginning of the season, I thought Ana Ortiz would be a shoo-in, but she disappeared for the middle of the season and got lapped by co-star Light. And who doesn't love Jean Smart and Melissa McCarthy? No one with a modicum of good taste. But they just got edged out by the continued excellence of Perkins (Celia was really put through the ringer in Season 3), the misery-incarnate performance of Hardin, and the human mood-enhancer that is Kristin Chenoweth. And then there is Kristen Wiig, who took this season of SNL, strapped it to her Suze Orman shoulderpads, and ran away with it.

Celebrity Rehab w/ Dr. Drew
The Paper
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance

Runner-Up: The Amazing Race.

This lineup is rather blah (ho-hum, Survivor and Project Runway have some more watchable-but-not-jaw-dropping seasons) if not for a pair of the least likely reality obsessions on cable. Actually, I take that back, because the second I heard about the premise of The Paper, I knew it would be awesome. The fact that it was even more awesome than I could have hoped, with a perfectly articulated microcosm of the social politics of high school, was what made it into one of the best shows of the year. Celebrity Rehab actually was a surprise to me, though I should have trusted Dr. Drew to deliver hard truths and empathy when tawdry voyeurism would have probably been just as well for VH1. And then there's last summer's So You Think You Can Dance, which I watched in marathon form this year. No matter, it still easily ranks as the best reality competition of the year.


OleNelson said...

Yeah! I love it when you do these sorts of posts, Joe R.

I think I'm with you on everything I've seen except John From Cincinnati and, oddly, Jack McBrayer -- who I liked much more when his part was more of an extended cameo. I particularly like the recognition for the Dirty Sexy Money dudes and Celebrity Rehab (and C. Hendricks) (and Y. Kim) (and T. Helfer) (and... well, lots more).

My quandary, though, is whether I should actually give in and watch Damages. I've resisted, but it keeps popping up for you and others. Perhaps it's not as boring as I fear?

StinkyLulu said...

When are your Emmys?

I'd watch this show.

Joe Reid said...

They'll be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and Cat Deeley.

Deirdre said...

On the comedy side I'm with you on almost everything (of the stuff I've seen - I'd probably take Levi over Day because I've never seen Sunny and because Levi's a cutie).

The only other replacement I might make is switching out Michael Urie for Chi McBride. I adore Urie, but he was stuck out in the hinterlands with Wili too much this season. Whereas McBride was not only the funniest part of Pushing Daisies, Emerson's barbs kept the whole thing from overwhelming tweeness.

I don't think I watch any of the dramas listed, so I can't say about those.

Joe Reid said...

re: Jack McBrayer -- I saw the "Sandwich Day" episode the other day, and for the "Hill People Milk -- it's on, y'all!" line alone he deserves a nomination. (Though I do see what you're saying.)

re: Michael Urie -- I thought he was instrumental in keeping the Wili-in-exile scenes interesting. Plus the whole subplot with Cliff? Have you no heart?

Mathan said...

Joe, your snub of The Wire is balanced out by your love for John From Cincinnati, but just barely.

I'm also echoing your love for Mad Men and In Treatment. But I do think that Mia Wasikowska deserves a nod for her turn as Sophie. For me, her episodes were some of the best for the season.

On a side note, did you ever give Brotherhood a shot?

Joe Reid said...

I actually just started watching In Treatment this week on On Demand, so I probably don't have as full as assessment for that show as I should. But I'm totally with you on Mia so far, she's great.

Haven't watched Brotherhood. I don't make nearly enough of my Showtime subscription -- it's really just a big, pricey way to watch Weeds. I haven't even watched all of The Tudors yet, which even surprises me.

adam k. said...

Interesting call on Helfer. I've always considered her rather limited in range; I didn't quite buy "Gina" in Season 2 being all vulnerable and tortured, and much preferred her being sexy and scary (I do think she's always rocked as Caprica Six and Baltar's Six). But I do think she's improved this season. I still can't quite buy her dying, etc... any kind of truly raw, visceral emotion from her usually seems a bit forced. Perhaps I'm biased against her as a former model... I just think she's so SO much better when being threatening, ethereal and not quite human (as most gorgeous models naturally are).

I don't think I agree that she's better than Sackhoff, but I guess this hasn't been Starbuck's strongest season, whereas Six really got to step it up a notch. Actually, I'd argue that Sackhoff is kind of a lead this year. And she's not better than McDonnell by any means, so a snub in lead is okay.

I'd also argue that Callis is a lead this year and also was last year. The whole top five (Olmos, McDonnell, Sackhoff, Bamber, Callis) have always been rather borderline, but logistically it's obviously easiest to leave the lead categories to the Admiral and the President, who also happen to be oscar-nominated veteran actors. Still, I think Callis can really stake a claim as the true lead of the show, dramaturgically speaking. He's the lynchpin of the drama, and his journey is most representative of humanity's as a whole. I love Adama and Roslin as much as anyone, and they are leads as well, but I really think Callis gets short shrift for his contribution. Particularly in season 3, when he was President, then anchored all the cylon stuff, then was tortured, put on trial, etc... I think he was a total lead that season, and deserved a nomination.

Everyone I know HATES Gaius, SO MUCH. But I think he's the heart of the show. Sigh...

deirdre said...

You're right about the Cliff subplot, it was wonderful... and then it disappeared. And I didn't find the Wili-in-exile stuff interesting at all, despite the fact that it involved the show's two strongest players. Plus, I love Marc with Wili, but I need my Marc-and-'Mandy scenes.

jessica said...

The Low Resolution Emmys hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and Cat Deeley!? Oh, what I wouldn't give for this on my DVR.