Friday, July 20, 2012

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS: 2012 Emmy Nominations

Today I thought I would share some of my initial reactions and thoughts to yesterday morning's Emmy Nominations for 2012. So let's get to it:

Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men
Though I'm surprised that CBS' The Good Wife got eked out of the running, it is in no way a shocker that Cable is dominating this category. So PBS will serve as this category's lone Broadcast network vying for the top prize this year.

The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, Modern Family, 30 Rock, Veep
The biggest shocker here is that NBC's Parks & Recreation, which had one of the funniest seasons of any sitcom this year, was nudged off the list by HBO's triumvirate of Spring hits: returning fave Curb Your Enthusiasm and new critical favorites Girls and Veep. The other three nominees (Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory and 30 Rock) were predicted on every pundits' list.

Kathy Bates, Harry's Law; Glenn Close, Damages; Claire Danes, Homeland; Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife; Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Mostly the usual suspects ended up here. Kathy Bates is kind of a surprise as her series was cancelled by NBC back in May (which is never really a good thing in Emmy's eyes!). As far as snubs go, Sons of Anarchy's Katey Sagal and Revenge's Madeleine Stowe had a lot of fan love behind them, but Emmys tend to ignore what the fans want. As expected, this race will end up as a showdown between Golden Globe winner Claire Danes and last year's Emmy champ Julianna Margulies.

Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey; Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire; Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad; Michael C. Hall, Dexter; John Hamm, Mad Men; Damian Lewis, Homeland
It looks like Hugh Laurie has been replaced by Hugh Bonneville. Bonneville was definitely in the running for his steely reserved role on PBS' lauded series. And Laurie was a long shot for his swan song season of the FOX medical drama. As for the other nominees, they were pretty much as predicted. But why don't we save everyone the trouble and give Bryan Cranston his fourth Emmy Award now?

Zooey Deschanel, New Girl; Lena Dunham, Girls; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep; Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly; Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
Seven nominees!?!?! And all seven ladies extremely deserving on their respective shows. Poehler, Louis-Dreyfus and Fey were pretty much locks for nominations. Deschanel and Dunham have their respective networks campaigning vigorously for them. And previous winners Falco and McCarthy want to ensure their wins were not flukes. In the snub list (though many of them shouldn't be surprised!) include: Laura Dern, Laura Linney, Martha Plimpton, Lea Michele, Mary Louise Parker, Kat Dennings, Kaley Cuoco and Felicity Huffman.

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Don Cheadle, House of Lies; Louis C.K., Louie; Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men; Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm; Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
No surprise that Baldwin, David and Parsons got nominated. As for Louis C.K., though his series got snubbed in the Comedy Series category, he was a favorite for a nod this year (having been nominated last year!). Though House of Lies was not beloved by the critics, Cheadle's performance was. The big shocker here is that Jon Cryer, now submitting himself in the Lead Actor category, got a nod despite his once #1 show's sagging ratings (seriously, Emmy voters still watch Two and a Half Men?!?!).

Christine Baranski, The Good Wife; Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey; Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad; Christina Hendricks, Mad Men; Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife; Dame Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
This is the Dame's category! Maggie Smith, who won Supporting Actress in a Miniseries last year for the show's first season, is the presumed frontrunner in this category. Previous winner Archie Panjabi and previous nominees Christine Baranski and Christina Hendricks were definite locks for a nod each. The two surprises in this category are Smith's co-star Joanne Froggatt (for her strong portrayal of the head housemaid) and Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn, who critics have loved for years but has never received Emmy love until now. Unfortunately, that left out the likes of Boardwalk Empire's phenomenal Kelly MacDonald and Smash's Anjelica Huston for nominations that in any other year they might have received.

Jim Carter, Downton Abbey; Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones; Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad; Jared Harris, Mad Men; Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
No shocker that previous winners Aaron Paul and Peter Dinklage scored nods for their work again. And Giancarlo Esposito got some of the best reviews of any actor on TV last year for Breaking Bad's fourth season, so he was a lock. The surprises here are for Jared Harris' nod for his shocking season on Mad Men (in place of his usually more loved co-star John Slattery!) and Downton Abbey's double nods for British character actors Jim Carter and Brendan Coyle. It seems like Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey are the Dramas that will give Mad Men a run for their money this year.

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory; Julie Bowen, Modern Family; Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives; Sofia Vergara, Modern Family; Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie; Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
With Jane Lynch, Betty White and Jane Krakowski falling off the radar in this category, slots became wide open this year. Kathryn Joosten's death in May ensured her the "venerable veteran" spot in this category over the likes of White and Cloris Leachman. But the greatest surprises were the nods for critical favorites Mayim Bialik and Merritt Wever (of The Big Bang Theory and Nurse Jackie, respectively). They have gotten praise from critics for the past few years but hadn't received well-deserved Emmy nods until now. Modern Family's Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen were both definite nods this year (the latter having won this award last year). And Kristen Wiig's final year on SNL was full of laughs and praise for her work, so she was a lock as well.

Ty Burrell, Modern Family; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family; Max Greenfield, New Girl; Bill Hader,
Saturday Night Live; Ed O'Neill, Modern Family; Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Should one show dominate an entire category? While the men of Modern Family are very deserving, with all four of them submitted in this category (and the seemingly enduring love Emmy seems to have for the show) means that equally deserving men from other shows get snubbed (see Neil Patrick Harris, Nick Offerman, Danny Pudi, Chris Colfer, Simon Helberg or many many more!). The other two spots however went to surprising (yet welcomed) choices. New Girl's Max Greenfield has made his character a popular favorite with critics and Bill Hader has become an integral member of the SNL cast. Maybe one of these two could defeat the Modern Family juggernaut (but that's a very unlikely maybe!).

Tonight's post is dedicated to the Victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado and their families. Let us keep them in our thoughts as we remember that all they wanted to do was enjoy a much-anticipated movie and were subjected to a horrific tragedy. Do not let the act of one madman spoil the things we sometimes take for granted in this world including enjoying the simple pleasures of life (like a Film or a TV Show).

Friday, July 13, 2012

10 FAVORITES (61): Sitcom Siblings

As most of you saw when I listed my Top 60 Sitcoms, some of the best Sitcoms have dealt with family relationships.  And as most of us who have one know that any good family conflict arises between siblings.  When I say conflict, I mean anything from fighting over clothes and toys to suing each other over money (luckily, my own brother and I have only experienced the first two, not the latter...yet!).  TV has given us a plethora of siblings that have displayed good conflict (and even grown from it!).  While Dramas have their range of Waltons, Ewings or Sopranos and Reality TV has given us too many Gosselins, Duggars and Kardashians; it is the Sitcoms that have given some of the best sibling relationships in TV history.  There are even Sitcoms where the whole premise revolved around the relationship between two siblings.  Therefore, this week's 10 FAVORITES is devoted to:


Mitchell Pritchett and Claire Dunphy
Modern Family, ABC
There are many reasons to love ABC's Emmy-winning hit.  One of the things many fans have pointed out as a major positive is the relationship between controlling Mom Claire Dunphy (the delightful Emmy-winner Julie Bowen) and her uptight gay brother Mitchell Pritchett (the hilarious Jesse Tyler Ferguson).

Joe and Brian Hackett
Wings, NBC
The charm of this underrated NBC hit was in the relationship between the two siblings at its forefront,  pilots Joe and Brian Hackett (played by Tim Daly and Steven Weber, respectively).  Joe was straight-laced, meticulous and serious.  Brian was fun-loving, irresponsible and all-over-the-place.  The two couldn't be more different.  Just what siblings should be!

Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker
Designing Women, CBS
Like Joe and Brian Hackett, these sisters were about as different as different can be.  Played to perfection by Delta Burke and the late Dixie Carter, the Sugarbaker sisters made for some of the show's funniest moments.  Usually it was Carter's Julia reacting to the outrageous-ness of Burke's Suzzanne that made the chemistry so great.  It's probably why the show never quite worked once Burke left the show after its fifth season.

Roseanne Connor and Jackie Harris
Roseanne, ABC
Though this was another Sitcom that showcased a family and kids, the sibling relationship that made the show was the one between Roseanne and Jackie.  Both Roseanne and Laurie Metcalf won Emmys for their work and the some of the show's best moments came from the scenes between the two.  What made Metcalf's interpretation so lauded was how she was able to seem so pathetic next to Roseanne.  Who new Roseanne was the sane one in her family?!?!

Alex, Mallory and Jennifer Keaton
Family Ties, NBC
It was no surprise that Elyse and Steven Keaton made it onto the TV Mom and Dad lists.  So it should be no surprise that their children have made it onto this one.  And in this trio, we have a great range of typical kid personalities: conservative know-it-all Alex (the great Michael J. Fox), vain shopaholic Mallory (Justine Bateman) and sarcastic tomboy Jennifer (Tina Yothers).  Yes, young Andy was added later, but only for the standard "we-need-a-cute-kid" factor that TV networks love.

Ross Geller and Monica Geller-Bing
Friends, NBC
Though the scene below may be one of the ickiest, the relationship between Ross and Monica was (most of the time) just a typical sibling relationship.  He was beloved by their parents to the point of being a nerdy Mama's boy.  She got criticized by her mother and had a weight problem in her teens.  But in their adulthood, they were there for each other when they needed.  Monica cared for her brother through his (many) divorces and Ross supported Monica in her relationship and eventual marriage to his best friend, Chandler.  The whole time both David Schwimmer and Courtney Cox gave the characters a great mix of hilarity and heart.

Ray and Robert Barone
Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS
According to Robert, Ray had it all.  Ray had the beautiful wife.  Ray had the three cute kids.  Ray especially had the affection and admiration of their parents.  Robert usually got the leftovers.  Both Ray Romano and Brad Garrett infused Ray and Robert's relationship with their own style and the results were hilarious.  Robert got to needle Ray whenever Ray was in trouble.  And Ray had moments of triumph to (lightly) rub in Robert's face.  I think all siblings can relate to that!

The Huxtable Kids (Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy)
The Cosby Show, NBC
Both Cliff and Clair topped their respective TV Parent lists, so their kids need to be near the top of their list. The Huxtable kids bickered with each other, protected each other and helped each other.  You had Sondra, who was practically an adult off at Princeton.  Then you had Denise, who wavered between fashionable and flaky.  Then there was Theo, the only male who seemed determined to make Cliff's hair go gray.  Then there was Vanessa, whose growth from 12 to 19 was charted in the show's 8 seasons.  And lastly, there was sweet little Rudy, the requisite cute kiddie.

Bart and Lisa Simpson
The Simpsons, FOX
When you think of Sitcom families, you cannot go another second without mentioning The Simpsons.  Bart and Lisa practically personify the typical young sibling relationship.  They hate each other one minute and then the next minute they're best friends.  Lisa is smart and bit of a know-it-all, while Bart is your typical impish slacker.  Yet their relationship defines for many what a good TV sibling relationship is...but there is one more!

Frasier and Niles Crane
Frasier, NBC
While Bart and Lisa may be iconic, Frasier and Niles are the ultimate Sitcom siblings.  First of all, who knew a spin-off could be just as successful as its predecessor?  What put Frasier over the top as a show was the undeniable chemistry between Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce as the two esteemed psychiatrist brothers.  Unlike a lot of the siblings on this list who thrive in their differences, these siblings seemed to celebrate their similarities.  Their love of a good glass of sherry or a night at the opera were so alike that they were often mistaken as the same person.  The two were even lampooned on shows like The Simpsons (where Grammer and Hyde Pierce voiced the roles of Sideshow Bob and his brother Cecil, respectively!).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS: Same Old, Same Old...

Next week, the 2012 Emmy nominations will be announced (Thursday, July 19th at 5:30AM PST to be exact).  And the media will be going crazy trying to give their last minute predictions.  When you look at the potential crop of nominees (particularly for the top two prizes!), it does whittle itself down to the usual suspects with a few new faces in the mix.  Could we be in store for more repeat victories?  Will Mad Men break the record and win a fifth consecutive Best Drama Series Emmy?  Can any Comedy stop Modern Family from dominating the categories?  If you look around the Internet, the virtual "consensus" (with very few people disagreeing) is that this year's Emmy winners may not differ from last year's Awards...and the year before that.  Maybe the question we should be asking is: Are the Emmys in a rut?

The thing about Television and the Emmy Awards is that unlike the Oscars or the Tonys (where there's a different winner every year), the shows that win tend to stay on the radar with the Academy.  That's how Hill Street Blues was able to make that record that L.A. Law and The West Wing tied and that Mad Men is now trying to surpass.  But can Mad Men do it?  To be honest, the series is vulnerable in this category.  It's fifth season premiered in March after a long behind-the-scenes battle that left a bad mojo in the Hollywood air regarding creator Matt Weiner.  And critically speaking, while the season had its standout moments (a resignation, a "prostitution," a suicide and Rory Gilmore's boobs!), most agree that it did not have the caliber of episodes that the last four Emmy-winning seasons did.  To be fair, last year, Mad Men was considered vulnerable to a potential loss at the hands of HBO's Boardwalk Empire and yet still prevailed.  This year, the field is more open.  In addition to Boardwalk Empire, HBO's Game of Thrones is hoping to capitalize on their surprise Emmy nod last year and the fervent love of its fans.  Then there is Showtime.  While most critics agree that Dexter is down for the count in this category after many a disjointed season, the network's new critical darling is the terrorist-themed Homeland (which managed to win the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series back in January).  And pay-cable station Starz wants to get into the running, campaigning heavily for its Kelsey Grammer-led Boss despite lackluster ratings and reviews.  Also, Mad Men's Emmy dreams may be dashed from within their own backyard.  AMC has managed to garner Best Drama nods for Breaking Bad in the past and, after a yearlong hiatus, it returned with what many said was its best season yet.  And AMC is throwing some Emmy campaigning towards their "genre" show: the zombie-themed The Walking Dead (AMC possibly making up for the fact that the network's budget cuts led to the resignation of original showrunner Frank Darabont!).  What you notice about the potential spoilers to Mad Men's party are that (like Mad Men) they come from the world of cable.  Broadcast TV has not had a Best Drama Emmy win since FOX's 24 back in 2007 (the last Drama to win before Mad Men's dominance).  As far as the pundits go, there are only two Broadcast Dramas that even have a chance of making it into the Emmy race (and one that just might...a very limited might).  CBS' The Good Wife is still one of the best shows (if not the best) on the major networks and it definitely gets Emmy love (especially in the acting categories).  While its third season was not on the exact same level as the previous two, it still was riveting Dramatic Television.  And PBS may make its way into the Best Drama race for the first time since 1988.  With the British hit Downton Abbey (which dominated the Miniseries categories last year for its first season) now maneuvering itself into the Drama categories, expect Emmys to take notice.  NBC does have hopes for its highly-anticipated-yet-not-well-loved Musical-Drama series Smash to get into the fold, but its chances are extremely remote.  ABC hopes that fan love could bring Emmy attention to either Once Upon a Time or Revenge, but with all the cable offerings, a nod for either is highly doubtful.  All other Drama shows (including the medically-themed Grey's Anatomy and the last season of House M.D.) will be left out in the cold.  Expect cable to be dominating this category for at least the next five years whether Mad Men wins or not!

Guaranteed a Nomination: Mad Men
Definitely in the Running: Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Homeland
On the Radar: Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife
Long Shots: Boss, Dexter, Grey's Anatomy, House M.D., Once Upon a Time, RevengeSmash, The Walking Dead

In the Comedy Series race, we have a similar yet different story.  Modern Family is a juggernaut that just doesn't seem to be beatable.  The ABC hit is still a critical darling (despite a few missteps) and does really well in its Wednesday time slot (even in reruns!).  Most pundits are hard press to think of a show that can take it down...but they are out there and they are circling Modern Family like vultures.  The previous tenant of the Best Comedy frontrunner spot (before Modern Family came along) was NBC's 30 Rock (which won 3 years in row).  Tina Fey's backstage sitcom managed to put out some of its funniest episodes this year and officially announced that next season will be its last.  Emmy will not want to forget one of their staples.  NBC's other comedy that had a spectacular season was Parks and Recreation.  The Amy Poehler-led mockumentary-styled series has great fans with both audiences and critics alike.  It is positioning itself to be a top contender.  And CBS will not be denied with its most popular (critically-wise) sitcom: The Big Bang Theory.  The show is definitely on the radar as lead Jim Parsons has managed to win two Emmys for his role as Dr. Sheldon Cooper.  And HBO (not to be left out of the party!) saw the return of their extremely popular Curb Your Enthusiasm after a yearlong hiatus.  Larry David and company were critically hailed as very refreshing and just as funny as in previous years.  FX would love for its critically popular series Louie to garner top praise from Emmy.  After receiving a Best Actor nod last year for Louis C.K., the cable network is throwing itself into a campaign.  But four new female-led Comedies could make their way into to the race.  HBO scored many fans with three new shows this season (all starring potential Best Actress nominees): Enlightened (starring Golden Globe winner Laura Dern), Girls (created and starring the breakout star Lena Dunham) and Veep (starring the ever-popular Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus).  Each of them could be a dark horse in the race should one be lucky enough to be nominated.  And FOX had some great success with their adorkable new star of their new show titled New Girl.  Zooey Deschanel has won many fans and critics just love her as the quirky teacher living (platonically) with 3 guys.  And FOX is no stranger to popularity.  However, Glee's extremely disjointed third season may have "jumped the shark" and turned Emmy voters away from it (putting the once popular hit into the long shot category).  And NBC's fan-beloved-yet-ratings-challenged Community may be deserving of a nomination, but after many a backstage scuffle that leaked to the public resulting in the firing of creator Dan Harmon and NBC's choice to move the show to the "dead zone" that is Friday come the fall, the show may join network cohort The Office in long shot territory.  The Office suffered a major blow thanks to last year's exit of original lead Steve Carell.  Emmy may chose to ignore the once loved series (the show won Best Comedy Series back in 2006!).  And Showtime's critically-acclaimed female-led shows, particularly The Big C and Nurse Jackie, are also slowly falling off the Emmy radar (even though both Laura Linney and Edie Falco garnered Best Actress nods last year!).  All this said, it looks like Modern Family may be adding a third Best Comedy win to their "mantle."

Guaranteed a Nomination: Modern Family
Definitely in the Running: 30 RockThe Big Bang TheoryParks and Recreation
On the Radar: Curb Your EnthusiasmEnlightenedGirls, LouieNew Girl, Veep
Long Shots: The Big CCommunityGlee, Nurse Jackie, The Office