Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Alterna-Emmys

Actual nominees: The Big Bang Theory, Glee, Modern Family, The Office, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock

Alterna-ballot: Community, Louie, Modern Family, The Office, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock
My winner: Community
Predicted actual winner: Modern Family

The only question in regards to the best comedy category is how long it will take the Emmy voters to burn out on Modern Family. Obviously their love affair with the show is still going strong, as indicated by the acting nominations, and I'd say we're in for at least two more years of MF winning everything in sight. This isn't an uncommon thing, since before last year '30 Rock' had won the previous three Best Comedy awards, but you could make the argument that 30 Rock actually was the best comedy for probably two of those three years. I like Modern Family, but even I have to admit it's not quite in the top tier of TV comedies. Hell, I almost replaced it with "Eastbound & Down" or "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" on my alternate ballot.

The actual funniest show on TV is 'Community,' which was inexplicably completely snubbed for the second straight year. I can get why the show isn't every voter's cup of tea, but when I say it was completely snubbed, I'm not kidding. Community received ZERO nominations. Like, not even for technical awards, which is perhaps even more crazy given how innovative the show can get with its specialty episodes. P&R is also great (and my favourite of the actual nominees), Office and 30 Rock had good comeback seasons, but Community was certainly the most consistently interesting show on TV this year, drama or comedy.

Actual nominees: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Steve Carell (The Office), Louis CK (Louie), Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory), Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

Alterna-ballot: Baldwin, Carell, Louis CK, Joel McHale (Community), Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down), David Mitchell (Peep Show)

My winner: Steve Carell
Predicted actual winner: Alec Baldwin

Here's where the 'my winner' idea gets dicey, since in 'my Emmys,' Carell would already have a couple of awards and thus wouldn't necessarily need one for his final season of The Office. In reality, however, Carell has never won an Emmy and it would seem wrong for his great work to go unrecognized....even though if I was voting in a vacuum, I'd vote for Louis CK. Now, "Louie" is one of the great hidden gems of television, less an ongoing show than it is a chance for Louis CK to do basically whatever he wants on any given week, be it comedy sketches, short films, or treatises on religion. I'm not sure I'd call it a comedy, per se, even though obviously every episode features Louis CK's standup act and I dunno where else the Emmys would slot it. Even though Louis CK is sort of playing himself on the show, there's more acting involved in what he's doing than, say, freakin' Johnny Galecki.

TV critic Alan Sepinwall believes it'll be another Alec Baldwin win just because Baldwin is submitting 30 Rock's 100th episode where he played multiple parts and Emmy voters are suckers for that sort of thing. I hope Sepinwall is wrong, but that's the kind of typical Emmy logic that would deny everyone their Steve Carell happy ending.

Actual nominees: Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Hugh Laurie (House), Timothy Olyphant (Justified)

Alterna-ballot: Chandler, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Hall, Hamm, Laurie, Olyphant

My winner: Jon Hamm
Predicted actual winner: Jon Hamm

As usual, this category is deep as hell, and suddenly wide open since Bryan Cranston is out of the running due to Breaking Bad's late start date this season. I still haven't seen Boardwalk Empire, Friday Night Lights or anything of Justified besides the pilot, so I really have no basis for omitting Buscemi over Chandler or Olyphant to insert the awesomely-named Benedict Cumberbatch. Maybe it's just because Buscemi would be the more 'boring' winner of the group --- yet another film actor is immediately awarded for joining a TV show, as is per Emmy tradition. Chandler winning would be a great thank-you to FNL for its critically-acclaimed run and at least Olyphant winning would both recognize 'Justified' and also perhaps as a late thanks to 'Deadwood.' Laurie and Hall are staples of this category but barring a Kyra Sedgewick-esque upset like last year, I think the windows of opportunity for both men to actually win have closed.

This leaves just Jon Hamm. I mentioned earlier about Alec Baldwin's submitted episode, so let me note that the way the Emmys work is that every nominee can submit individual episodes so that voters unfamiliar with the show can get a feel for the nominees' work. This is certainly an imperfect system since it tends to reward people who have one big showcase episode rather than a season's worth of subtle work. This might be a reason (besides Bryan Cranston's awesomeness) why Hamm has yet to win for playing Don Draper since the character's arc over a season or the whole series has to be seen as a whole to be fully appreciated. That said, this year Hamm submitted 'The Suitcase.' The episode is a tour de force acting duel between Hamm and Elisabeth Moss and it was arguably the best episode of any series this season. Even if Cranston had been in the running, I still feel like this episode was great enough to finally push Hamm into the winner's circle.

Actual nominees: Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), Michelle Forbes (The Killing), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), Margo Martindale (Justified), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)

Alterna-ballot: Baranski, Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), Hendricks, Macdonald, Martindale, Panjabi

My winner: Margo Martindale
Predicted actual winner: Archie Panjabi

While I've been tardy in catching up on Justified, it's worth noting that pretty much every pundit, TV critic and fan of television had Martindale's nomination as one of their pros, or thumbs up, or positives, or whatever gimmick they used to describe this year's ballot. I can get behind this kind of positive support and I have no trouble believing that a very good actress like Martindale hit one out of the park. Of course, since Emmy voters are lazy, I'll just presume they'll vote Panjabi to win again. Seriously, has ANYONE out there seen The Good Wife? Is it deserving of all these nominations? Inquiring minds need to know. Hendricks did her usual good work on Mad Men this season, but methinks that next season is the one where she'll really have some meaty material to work with (no spoilers) and may garner some awards notice.

Actual nominees: Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Jane Lynch (Glee), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Betty White (Hot In Cleveland), Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)

Alterna-ballot: Jenna Fischer (The Office), Gillian Jacobs (Community), Krakowski, Kaitlin Olson (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia), Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreation), Vergara

My winner: Gillian Jacobs
Predicted actual winner: Betty White

It's been quite a ride for the Britta Perry character on Community, who went from being the most underwritten character on the show in the first half of the first season (basically not much more than 'obvious love interest for Jeff') to being the funniest character on the show pretty much from the moment she dressed like a squirrel for Halloween. Jacobs was one of those hands-down winners in my book, which makes her total omission from the list of nominees even sadder. You can make a case for Jane Lynch winning again but what the hell, I'll predict that the Betty White Revival Era finally peaks with White getting another Emmy award.

Actual nominees: Andre Braugher (Men Of A Certain Age), Josh Charles (The Good Wife), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones), Walton Goggins (Justified), John Slattery (Mad Men)

Alterna-ballot: Braugher, Dinklage, Martin Freeman (Sherlock), Goggins, Slattery, Michael K. Williams (Boardwalk Empire)

My winner: Peter Dinklage
Predicted actual winner: Andre Braugher

I can't believe I'm not putting Vincent Kartheiser's name here again but since Pete Campbell got so little to do on Mad Men this season, this is the way it is. Again, I haven't seen Game Of Thrones yet, but I have no trouble believing that Dinklage steals the show. If this guy was of average height, I seriously think he'd be regarded as one of the best actors in the world --- not to say that people don't know he's great already, but Dinklage is inevitably pigeonholed as "the dwarf" and his talent is underrated. A win for him would be a nice way to award Game Of Thrones as a whole even if the series likely won't win any other majors Emmys. Anyway, it's anyone's damn guess as to who will win this award since defending champ Aaron Paul wasn't eligible. This is Slattery's fourth attempt and Braugher's second for his MOACA role, but Goggins and the Good Wife guys are newcomers, though I think society realizes Goggins was owed some Emmy love after never getting nominated for 'The Shield.' I'll pick Braugher for the hell of it, and also because his show probably hits a lot of middle-aged Academy voters right in their wheelhouse.

Actual nominees: Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Chris Colfer (Glee), Jon Cryer (Two And A Half Men), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Ed O'Neill (Modern Family), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

Alterna-ballot: Donald Glover (Community), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Rob Lowe (Parks & Recreation), Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation), Chris Pratt (Parks & Recreation), Danny Pudi (Community)

My winner: Donald Glover
Predicted actual winner: Jon Cryer

You might notice that my ballot is entirely different from the actual list of nominees, possibly because I'm not in the bag for Modern Family. I mean come on, the MF cast does good work, but FOUR guys from the same cast?! This is a tough category to predict since the MF guys will no doubt split the vote. Stonestreet is probably out since he won last year and voters will want to spread the wealth and Colfer is out since voters won't want to give an Emmy to a guy with no teeth. Ferguson has a good chance since I feel Stonestreet's win last year was basically a dual win for the Mitchell & Cameron comedy team, so voters will want to reward the other half of the duo. Burrell is probably the pound-for-pound funniest guy on the show and O'Neill is not only great, but it's Ed O'Neill, comedy legend. All of this means the award will probably end up in the hands of....Jon Cryer. The Emmy is 10 percent for his acting and 90 percent for putting up with the Charlie Sheen fiasco.

Actual nominees: Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Laura Linney (The Big C), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope), Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation)

Alterna-ballot: Same as this, I guess

My winner: Amy Poehler
Predicted actual winner: Laura Linney

Gosh, who the hell knows. It's safe to call this the most unpredictable category at the Emmys year after year. Best Actress used to be dynastic (Candice Bergen won a bunch, then Helen Hunt) but since Patricia Heaton's back-to-back wins in 2000 and 2001, we've seen a different woman capture the trophy in every subsequent year. With that trend in mind plus the aforementioned Emmy habit of awarding movie stars working in TV, I'll predict Laura Linney takes it home. Now, this is yet another case of slam-dunk winner since Amy Poehler should win this one in a walk, but I'm guessing it might take another year or two before P&R really sinks in with Emmy voters. The show stepped up for a best comedy nomination, but the fact that Nick goddamn Offerman was snubbed again is a sign that P&R still has a ways to go. Hopefully we're not looking at Poehler as another oft-nominated snub like Carell in a few years, but the lack of depth in the Best Actress category gives Poehler a clearer path to Emmy gold.

Actual nominees: Kathy Bates (Harry's Law), Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Mirelle Enos (The Killing), Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order SVU), Julianne Margulies (The Good Wife), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)

Alterna-ballot: Bates, Britton, Enos, Margulies, Moss, Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy)

My winner: Elisabeth Moss
Predicted actual winner: Julianne Margulies

I've never seen Sons Of Anarchy, but I have no problem believing that Sagal was at least better than damn Mariska Hargitay. This category has offered its share of surprises over the years but I think we can safely cross Hargitay, Britton and Enos off the list of contenders. Moss has "The Suitcase" carrying her into battle against two bigger-name actresses in Margulies and Bates. Margulies was heavily picked to win last year but didn't, and Bates may be hurt by the fact that "Harry's Law" is a pretty terrible show. It'll be one of those three women who wins the Emmy, and I'll pick Margulies just because in the minds of Emmy voters, she's overdue. Of course, Moss has now been nominated several times for playing Peggy Olson and never won, but Emmy voters....well, they're dumb.

Actual nominees: Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Game Of Thrones, The Good Wife, Mad Men

Alterna-ballot: Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Game Of Thrones, Mad Men, Sherlock

My winner: Mad Men
Predicted actual winner: Mad Men

This is another case where my shameful tardiness in catching up on TV dramas hurts me. Dexter and Mad Men are the only nominees I watch, so I can't openly state that any of the others deserve to be omitted to make way for Sherlock (or Justified, or Treme, or any other great shows that I need to get watching). That said, I feel confident that Mad Men will make it four wins in a row since the other options all have baggage. Dexter and FNL obviously have no chance, Game Of Thrones' nomination was a nice surprise but it's hard to see the Emmys awarding a fantasy show, and Boardwalk Empire was a bit underwhelming --- I think everyone expected Amazing and all they got was Pretty Good. The nominee with the best chance of knocking off Mad Men is actually The Good Wife, which flies under the radar since nobody under the age of 40 watches it, but it's clearly got a lot of sway with Emmy voters.

A note about Sherlock. Under Emmy rules, it technically qualifies just as a miniseries, but screw it, I'm considering it to be a show so I can include it on my ballot. If you haven't already seen the BBC's new 'modern' version of Sherlock Holmes, it is absolutely fantastic for both casual viewers and for longtime fans of the Holmes stories. It ran a close second to Mad Men on my ballot. Viva Britain!


Hal Incandenza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hal Incandenza said...

hey, I watch The Good Wife...and it's actually pretty good. I'm not in the bag for Panjabi though (unlike everyone's a running joke between Carrie and I that every man, woman, and child in the show is inexplicably desperately in love with Panjabi's character).

No love for Allison Brie? I'm worried about you.

Great call on Sherlock--fantastic series. Same for Community (which is why it's IMPOSSIBLE to take the Emmys seriously. The faux clip-show alone deserved a dozen noms). Agreed re: Hamm (it's his year) and "The Suitcase" (best ep of any show last year...I routinely shout out "THAT'S what the money is for" to no one in particular).