Thursday, July 19, 2012

2011-12 Emmy Award Nominations

emmysIt’s that time of the year again when the annoncement of the Emmy Award nominations signal the start of the run-up to the new TV season. Where has the summer gone. Based on the nominations this has been the worst season ever for broadcast network series – which of course is largely what I write about. Even their grip on comedies is slipping. while the biggest broadcast nomination-getter in the dramatic categories was PBS’s Downton Abbey, a series that had been relegated to the Miniseries and Movies category last year. There are some surprises – like the fact that Harry’s Law got several nominations despite being dumped by NBC – and more than a few snubs including one that is totally inexplicable. I’ll be working out my Emmy Polls shortly (I’m thinking of shaking things up there a little) but for now, here are the nominees and my thoughts on what made it and what didn’t.

Outstanding Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire – HBO
Breaking Bad – AMC
Downton Abbey – PBS
Game Of Thrones – HBO
Homeland – Showtime
Mad Men – AMC

The only show that is on the list that is seen on Broadcast TV is Downton Abbey and that was made in the UK. And the thing is that I don’t blame the Academy. Broadcast TV hasn’t consistently produced programming that deserves an Emmy nomination since The West Wing and NYPD Blue went off the air. I think part of that – though how big a part I don’t really know – is due to the combination of the FCC’s heavy handed regulation and groups like the PTC. Of course a big part of it is the “big tent” philosophy of the broadcast networks who are trying to satisfy the largest possible audience to sell the biggest amount of advertising. No one wants to try anything edgy, either out of fear of the FCC, the pressure groups or just out of plain fear of failure. A show like Homeland could be put on a broadcast network – minus the nudity and any bad language of course – but would people in the volumes that the broadcast networks want to get watch the show? Probably not.
Egregious Omission: Probably Sons of Anarchy which gets no love at all, maybe Revenge or Awake, though I’m really not feeling it for either of those. The Good Wife got a nomination last year too so why not this year. And as always Fringe.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Big Bang Theory – CBS
Curb Your Enthusiasm – HBO
Girls – HBO
Modern Family – ABC
30 Rock – NBC
Veep – HBO

Last year there were no nominations for shows on cable networks in the Comedy Series category and this year there are three. But they’re all from HBO which doesn’t prove that cable is doing comedy better but rather (I think) that HBO is in a cycle where they’re doing comedies. They do seem to go in cycles. Given all of the backlash I’ve heard about Girls (and because I’m not shelling out $14 plus a month to get HBO Canada, the backlash is all I know about this show) and because Curb Your Enthusiasm is an older show, I’m going to say that Veep is their only real shot at the Emmy. I also happen to think it is coming down to a two horse race again between Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. Past winners edge to Modern Family.
Egregious Omission: The various entertainment websites are mentioning shows like Louie, and Community but what about that other critical darling (which I’ve never gotten around to seeing – I’m hanging my head in shame even as I type this) The New Girl on FOX with the adorkable Zooey Deschanel (loved her in that iPhone commercial).

Outstanding Reality-Competition Series
The Amazing Race – CBS
Dancing With The Stars – ABC
Project Runway – Lifetime
So You Think You Can Dance – FOX
Top Chef – Bravo
The Voice – NBC

The usual suspects with The Voice substituting for American Idol. Guess what show I think is going to win? And yeah, that was a rhetorical questions since I hope you’ve all been reading my summer recaps.
Egregious Omission: As usual Survivor doesn’t even get a nomination, and while I wasn’t really impressed with either of last year’s versions it is something that bothers me. I think there’s some deeper reasoning here. Also missing are American Idol and The X-Factor of course but I suppose the voters thought that the gimmick on The Voice was better than the established show and it’s clone.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire – HBO
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad – AMC
Michael C. Hall, Dexter – Showtime
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey – PBS
Damien Lewis, Homeland – Showtime
Jon Hamm, Mad Men – AMC

Kyle Chandler won last year for Friday Night Lights but of course that show is no longer on the air. The field isn’t as wide open as one might think since Bryan Cranston is back in the mix after Breaking Bad’s hiatus last year. Which may be bad for Jon Hamm; if he can’t win with Bryan Cranston out of the equation how can he win with him in. I suspect that Damien Lewis has an outside chance, and maybe even a better chance than Hamm this time around, But Cranston is likely to take it again.
Egregious Omission: Hugh Laurie wasn’t nominated for the final season of House. Come on; Steven Carrell at least got a farewell kiss even if he didn’t get an Emmy. And maybe Kelsey Grammer for Boss unless the Academy only sees him as Dr. Fraser Crane.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama
Glenn Close, Damages – DirecTv
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey – PBS
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (CBS)
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law – NBC
Claire Danes, Homeland – Showtime
Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men – AMC

Even though Margulies won last year, she’s not a lock for this season, or even the favourite. That expectation would go to Claire Danes for her extremely complex role as mentally disturbed agent Carrie Mathison in the Showtime series Homeland. Oh, and joy of joys, Mariska Hargitay wasn’t nominated!
Egregious Omission: As always Anna Torv, as Olivia Dunham (both versions) in Fringe. Hate to say it, but Fringe will be remembered when something like Harry’s Law is long forgotten. Kyra Sedgwick and Emmy Rossum are also not on the list. I suppose the voters figured that Sedgwick’s 2010 Emmy victory was enough. And of course there’s the regular snub of Katey Segal from Sons of Anarchy.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory – CBS
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm – HBO
Don Cheadle, House Of Lies – Showtime
Louie C.K., Louie – FX
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock – NBC
John Cryer, Two And A Half Men – CBS

No brainer in who I think is going to win. Jim Parsons never fails to get me howling with laughter. Certainly the best of the OTA network nominees, and they’re the only ones I get a chance to see.
Egregious Omission: Well if you’re going to throw a nomination to Jon Cryer, shouldn’t Ashton Kutcher also get one? I mean just on general principle? Or principal since he’s one of the principal players on the show?

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy
Lena Dunham, Girls – HBO
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly – CBS
Zooey Deschanel, The New Girl – FOX
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie – Showtime
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation – NBC
Tina Fey, 30 Rock – NBC
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep – HBO

Seven people in this category means that the voting was probably close because as I understand the TV Academy rules it is six people per category unless the difference between the sixth and seventh highest vote getters is within a certain percentage. What this means for the category I don’t know, but I think they’ve got a great list here. We’ll be seeing if McCarthy’s win last year was due in part to her role in Bridesmaids, which did after all get her an Oscar Nomination. Or will Edie Falco rebound after losing last year? Or even Tina Fey? If I’m guessing though for someone other than McCarthy, I’d say that Julia Louis-Dreyfus may have the good shot because the Emmy voters love their former honourees coming back in new roles. And of  course the new “flavour of the month” the adorkable Zooey Deschanel.
Egregious Ommission: Remember when Laura Linney got a nomination in this category last year for The Big C? Well she didn’t this year.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad – AMC
Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad – AMC
Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey – PBS
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey – PBS
Peter Dinklage, Game Of Thrones – HBO
Jared Harris, Mad Men – AMC

Another case where Downton Abbey is the only broadcast show nominated. Not that I think it matters because I’m pretty sure it will come down to last year’s winner Peter Dinlage versus Breaking Bad ’s Aaron Paul, with Jared Harris from Mad Men having an outside shot based on the quality of his last episodes.
Egregious Omission: John Noble of Fringe of course, but we all know that the show will never be nominated for anything ever. John Slattery of Mad Men got drowned in the Downton Abbey-Breaking Bad wave. And there’s Mandy Patinkin for Homeland, but at least with him there might just be a reason in the fact that he has a long history of dropping out of TV shows where he’s created compelling characters. That could have created just a touch of animosity.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad – AMC
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey – PBS
Joan Froggat, Downton Abbey – PBS
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife – CBS
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife – CBS
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men – AMC

Last year’s winner Margo Martindale from Justified was obviously not going to repeat in this category. I personally want to see Christina Hendrick take the Emmy home but I suspect it will go to Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith because she didn’t win it last year when the show was considered a Miniseries.
Egregious Omission: I guess Jessica Pare from Mad Men. I really can’t think of a great supporting role for a woman on broadcast TV this year. Well except for Pauley Perrete on NCIS. And if you think I’m kidding I’ll have you know that she’s probably the most popular actress on the highest rated series on network TV. That at least deserves a little recognition.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family – ABC
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family – ABC
Ty Burrell, Modern Family – ABC
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family – ABC
Max Greenfield, The New Girl – FOX
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live – NBC

I sometimes get the feeling when dealing with this category that the people at Modern Family sit around and say “now whose turn is it to win for Supporting Actor?” Stonestreet won in 2010 and Burrell won in 2011. Logically it is either Ed O’Neill or Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s turn. I’ll say O’Neill because I basically like him… even when he was doing the remake of Dragnet.
Egregious Omission: They tell me to say Nick Offerman for Parks & Recreation so I will but I don’t watch the show so I can’t speak from experience. I don’t know that much about comedies, particularly those that aren’t on broadcast networks but I like Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayar from Big Bang Theory. Oh, and the guy who plays Han on 2 Broke Girls…..JOKING!

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory – CBS
Katherine Joosten, Desperate Housewives – ABC
Julie Bowen, Modern Family – ABC
Sophia Vergara, Modern Family – ABC
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie – Showtime
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live – NBC

Either of the two actresses from Modern Family are the obvious front-runners in this category and they might give it to Vergara because Bowen won it last year; that is if you believe that the Emmy voters sometimes switch off between actors in shows, and we have seen that in the Supporting Actor in a Comedy category in the past few years. My personal preference would be for Mayim Bialik in The Big Bang Theory, who is the second funniest person on that show after Jim Parsons – I love the way Bialik plays Amy’s homoerotic attachment to Penny. On the other hand I wouldn’t be unhappy if Katherine Joosten won a posthumous Emmy for playing Mrs. McCluskey in Desperate Housewives because even though her screen time this season was smaller this year than in the past it was choice.
Egregious Omissions: I don’t watch enough comedies to come up with a name. But because someone was so insistent about it on the Deadline Hollywood comments section – to the point of claiming that the only candidate who was a “legitimate” Supporting Actress was Sophia Vergara – Kristen Bell from House Of Lies. For the record I think he’s full of crap.

Outstanding Reality or Reality-Competition Host
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race – CBS
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol – FOX
Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers – NBC
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars – ABC
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance – FOX
Egregious Omission: Jeff Probst, Survivor. Look, this is Jeff F’ing Probst you’re dissing. The man has won this category every time it has been available. He’s the standard by which the other reality hosts are measured against and usually found wanting. Personally I think only Bergeron and Keoghan measure up to him. And besides the fact that virtually every other category has six nominees and this one only has five, look who is replacing him: Betty White. And she’s nominated for a show which is basically Ashton Kutcher’s old series Punk’d using seniors to pull the practical jokes. Is that justice? Is that sanity?

Okay with Probst out of the way (unjustly) I think the category really comes down to Keoghan and Bergeron. I don’t like Seacrest and I think that while both he and Bergeron usually work live Bergeron has the tougher job…and not just because he has to work with Brooke Burke-Charvet. He’s had to deal with wardrobe malfunctions, fainting stars, injured stars, getting smacked on the butt, and Bruno Tonioli. But I still think  it should go to Phil Keoghan simply because he has the toughest job of any of these hosts. He is essentially doing everything that the contestants on The Amazing Race are doing except for most of the challenges. He has to get to destinations before the racers to do stand-up explanations of their tasks, he has to make it to the mat before they arrive and wait for them as they arrive and throughout it all he has to look fresh and lively. When Probst isn’t on camera he’s back at base camp kicking back with a beer. When Keoghan isn’t on camera he’s racing to stay ahead of the contestants, and according to him he doesn’t always succeed..

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama
Mark Margolis, Breaking Bad – AMC
Dylan Baker, The Good Wife – CBS
Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife – CBS
Jeremy Davies, Justified – FX
Ben Feldman, Mad Men – AMC
Jason Ritter, Parenthood – NBC
I don’t know any of these shows well enough to predict a winner.
Egregious Omissions: See above.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama
Martha Plympton, The Good Wife – CBS
Loretta Devine, Grey’s Anatomy – ABC
Jean Smart, Harry’s Law – NBC
Julia Ormond, Mad Men – AMC
Joan Cusack, Shameless – Showtime
Uma Thurman, Smash – NBC

It’s not often that you see the winner of this category nominated a second time for the same role in the same series. For most of her time on the Grey’s Anatomy Devine would probably have been categorized as a Supporting Actress, but unlike last year when Cloris Leachman was nominated as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy for a role that she played in every single episode of Raising Hope, Devine’s portrayal of Adele Webber as she sinks deeper and deeper into autism is both a true acting tour de force and a true guest starring role. In what I consider to be an otherwise very weak field I think she could, and should repeat.
Egregious Omission: None that I can really think of.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy
Michael J. Fox, Curb Your Enthusiasm – HBO
Greg Kinnear, Modern Family – ABC
Bobby Cannavale, Nurse Jackie – Showtime
Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live – NBC
Will Arnett, 30 Rock – NBC
John Hamm, 30 Rock – NBC

I think the Emmy should go to John Hamm because it seems obvious that there is no way in Hell that he is going to win an Emmy as Outstanding Actor In Drama even though he damned well deserves it.
Egregious Omission: Nothing I can think of.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy
Dot-Marie Jones, Glee – FOX
Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live – NBC
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live – NBC
Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock – NBC
Margaret Cho, 30 Rock – NBC
Kathy Bates, Two And A Half Men – CBS

It will probably go to Rudolph or McCarthy, but you’ve got to admit that Kathy Bates as Charlie Harper has to be one of the two great ideas of the TV season. And if Margaret Cho playing Kim Jung-Il in any way shortened the life of Beloved Leader Kim Jung-Il, well that alone is deserving of an Emmy.
Egregious Omissions: Nothing I can think of.

The 64th Emmy Awards will air on September 23rd on ABC.

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