Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Let's Emmy-ulate

[Really excited he won!]

Increasingly more interesting year after year are the stories and characters created for television. The 2013 Emmy nominations, while not completely forward thinking, chose to honor quite an array of bold choices, from new and old talent.

Even with the wide variety of nominees, there are many TV fans out there that will always feel that award shows never get it right, and cry fowl on the internet about who got snubbed.

It sure is nice to see the stuff you yourself enjoy get pointed out as the best of the best, but with so much top notch entertainment out there it would be impossible for it all to be singled out.

Of course we all still have a few epic snubs that we can't let go, but let's not worry about that right now and stick to some notable inclusions as we get closer to the awards season kicking off once again.

House Of Cards 

Television executives are still all a flutter with the ever changing platform of how people are consuming their shows. Mind boggling of all is the Netflix model, which, even though it is not a traditional television network, now includes not just the streaming of shows and movies, but also creating new series.

Their biggest critical hit, receiving 9 Emmy nominations, is House Of Cards. The fact that they dragged two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and his intensity out of London to star in this series couldn't hurt, and boosted the appeal. Really, who doesn't love K.Space?

It doens't matter whether or not Netflix is considered a "real" network (even though it can stream to television just like any other network), if a show is good, it doesn't matter the platform.

Jeff Daniels - The Newsroom

Echoing Flavorwire, there really is only one word that expresses my reaction to season one of The Newsroom - disappointment.

Before you think this is just another person ranting, I don't hate the show, but just found certain issues intolerable coming from a dude like Aaron Sorkin. That guy is capable of the exquisite storytelling and banter of The West Wing, Sports Night, and The Social Network, and we simply can't let him get away with creating off-putting love triangles and episodes with throw away, nonsensical story progression.

Each episode felt too rushed (and not in the witty, Sorkin-y way) and choppy, some of the characters are too pompous, and overall the stories were frequently annoying, ridiculous, and simply not well crafted. As a news junky and aspiring journalist, I wanted so much from this show - maybe too much.

Thankfully what the show got right held together the messy parts in between. Sorkin in many ways brilliantly captured the main point of the show - what it is like in the hectic life of a newsroom.

Using current events was exciting and with a main character like Will McAvoy, portrayed by the always terrific Jeff Daniels, it would be hard to have a complete failure on your hands. With the critical masses so adamantly against the show, I was surprised to see a Best Actor nomination for Daniels, but glad at the same time.

Now in its second season, having only seen the first episode, I can already tell that Sorkin has worked to reign it in. Seeing that alone makes me think The Newsroom still has a shot at being one of TV's greats, just like we dreamed.

Drama Lead Actress

It seemed like I'd been rolling my eyes for the last 10 years over Julianna Margulies always dominating the other actresses with her work on that Good Wife show. That was why I was thrilled to find her not nominated this year, so that her oppressive reign in the Drama category could finally end. 

To my surprise Margulies only won once back in 2011, so I need to stop being overly dramatic.

Either way, her absence is refreshing and has lead to quite the strangely terrific list of  seven actresses being nominated. I have yet to see Verma Farmiga in Bates Motel or Kerry Washington in Scandal, but if they are comparable to the other five women (Elizabeth Moss, Connie Britton, Michelle Dockery, Robin Wright, and Claire Danes) this could be the toughest decision of the night.

Year of the Miniseries

Elizabeth Moss is my front runner in the Best Actress in a Drama category, but if that one doesn't work out at least she has a fall back; her work in Sundance channel's, Top Of The Lake, got her a second nomination

That miniseries has some stiff competition though, as each nominee in the best "Miniseries or Movie" category seems like a must see.

All you need is one glamorous glimpse of Helen Mirren and Al Pacino in Spector and that will be your next favorite made for TV movie. If those two aren't your taste, then check out Michael Douglas in Behind The Candelabra - from his smile to the crested piano, no other movie has donned as much sparkle.  Looking for something drastically different? The History Channels' 10-hour series, The Bible, is also getting Emmy love.

If these were all on Netflix right now, I would stay home from work and crank through each one. (Although, two of the nominees are: Top Of The Lake and Political Animals.)

Getting Some Love

Not necessarily character actors, but a couple outstanding people who generally play side roles are getting some attention this awards season. Who needs to be the lead in a show when the supporting actor/guest star categories are full of memorable characters as well.

From Linda Cardellini, playing the most admirable of Don's string of mistresses on Mad Men (maybe just because we're all sick of Megan!), to Will Forte, whose Jenna impersonator won our hearts on 30 Rock, and to Tony Hale, who has thankfully found more work after Buster (check him out on VEEP) -  each one is lighting up the screen with brilliant material one short scene at a time.

One of the nominees in this category stands out solely based on tackling the craziest material this year on television; there is reason to believe that Sarah Paulson from American Horror Story: Asylum has her award in the bag.

Where the series can be cast off as campy and extreme a lot of the time, Paulson kept it from completely driving off the edge, Thelma and Louise style. She displayed more believable terror, anger, and mental breakdowns, as a journalist turned wrongly imprisoned mental patient, than most can say they'd seen before. Paulson is key to American Horror Story and I can't wait to see which character she plays in next season's new creation.

Write That Drama

Surprise can not be duplicated, but the suspense that lead to that surprise can be relished over and over again. The skilled writers of Breaking Bad know how this works, and are nominated for one of the greatest episodes to come out of the series.

No other episode of TV had viewers biting their nails and hearts combusting like "Dead Freight". The entire episode followed Walt and his crew as they pulled off a tricky heist - stealing an "ocean" of Methylamine from a freight train. All of this had to be done undetected, and they hit many obstacles over the duration of the episode. Each character's movement was so intense, it felt like it was unfolding in real time, right before our eyes beaming out from living room's across the country.

As the episode drew to an end, I couldn't believe how good TV can be, and as I think back on it fondly, it still makes me excited.

These are only a few elements making me excited, what about you? What is most thrilling about the 2013 Emmy Awards? For a full list of Emmy Nominees, look no further.

Until next time. 

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