Sunday, October 12, 2014

THE TV TALK BEST OF 2013-14—RESULTS

After months of pondering over which of the following TV series offered us the best in different departments, I have finally made my choice. So as you’ve already begun to enjoy the new seasons of new and returning network shows, take a look back at what really stood out last year in TV drama and comedy. Readers’ choices are indicated.


Best Series – Drama
THE AMERICANS
BREAKING BAD 
(Readers' choice, TIE)
DOWNTON ABBEY
THE GOOD WIFE (Readers' choice, TIE)
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
THE NEWSROOM
PARENTHOOD

Season five was arguably the best season of THE GOOD WIFE, as the showrunners and writers didn’t let the departure of a main actor affect the brilliance of the storytelling. They, in fact, seized the opportunity to take the characters and storylines to a place where we’ve never seen them before. The economy in conveying the changes through compelling moments was nothing short of excellent over the last twenty-two episodes.

Best Series – Comedy/Musical
THE BIG BANG THEORY
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (Readers' choice)
EPISODES
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
MODERN FAMILY
VEEP
No comedy has been as consistent in quality of writing and performances in recent times as MODERN FAMILY has been. The last season especially had some golden moments as the characters prepare for a wedding in the family, move towards bigger things in their lives, and embrace their differences at a whole other level. The one liners and subtle reactions to situations continue to engage and entertain as the show continues to be one of the best on television.  
Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role – Drama
Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings in THE AMERICANS
Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates in BATES MOTEL
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in THE GOOD WIFE (Readers' choice)
Claire Danes as Agent Carrie Matthison in HOMELAND
Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in HOUSE OF CARDS
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olsen in MAD MEN
Lizzie Caplan as Virginia Johnson in MASTERS OF SEX

Julia Margulies’ restraint portraying Alicia Florrick’s composure through desperate moments and then the unimaginable pain of losing the person who was possibly the love of her life, was simply outstanding. She shows brilliant shades even when Alicia’s dealing with being accused of betrayal, and struggling to keep it all together while trying to not fail, taking forward what was possibly the best season of THE GOOD WIFE.

Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role – Drama
Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings in THE AMERICANS
Bryan Cranston as Walter White in BREAKING BAD (Readers' choice)
Kevin Spacey as Vice/President Frank Underwood in HOUSE OF CARDS
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in MAD MEN
Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters in MASTERS OF SEX
Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in THE NEWSROOM
Matthew McConaughey as (Detective) Rust Cohle in TRUE DETECTIVE

Bryan Cranston was a powerhouse of intense and nuanced performance through every moment of BREAKING BAD, and in the show’s final episodes, he somehow managed to top everything he’d done on the show prior to that, and Walter White admits defeat and struggles to do the right thing before succumbing to his impending death.  

Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role – Comedy/Musical
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting as Penny in THE BIG BANG THEORY (Readers' choice)
Wendy McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg in THE GOLDBERGS
Margo Martindale as Carol Miller in THE MILLERS
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice/President Selina Meyer in VEEP
Lisa Kudrow as Fiona Wallice in WEB THERAPY

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is nothing if not consistent with her performance. In the last season of VEEP, as Selina Meyer begins her presidential campaign and becomes president sooner than expected, there are different sides to her that we see, as the pressure she feels are hilariously apparent. Her suppressed reactions to irritants such as her squeaky shoes or attending a book-signing are put forward with comic brilliance.

Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role – Comedy/Musical
Jim Parsons as Dr. Sheldon Cooper in THE BIG BANG THEORY (Readers' choice)
Johnny Galecki as Dr. Leonard Hofstadter in THE BIG BANG THEORY
Andy Samberg as Detective Jake Peralta in BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc in EPISODES
Will Arnett as Nathan Miller in THE MILLERS
Jon Cryer as Alan Harper in TWO AND A HALF MEN

Matt LeBlanc’s brilliance is seen in the most subtle and effective ways on EPISODES, as Matt’s callous ways, and less-than-effective and infrequent attempts at showing compassion, become a strong part of his and the Lincolns’ story. In the last season in particular, LeBlanc was especially effective in storylines where he finds out that he’s slept with his colleague’s daughter, or in the season finale as he’s saying goodbye to his writer friends heading back to England.

Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role – Drama
Anna Gunn as Skyler White in BREAKING BAD
Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham in DOWNTON ABBEY
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart in THE GOOD WIFE
Sandra Oh as Dr. Cristina Yang in GREY’S ANATOMY (Readers' choice)
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris in MAD MEN
Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes in NASHVILLE
Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman in PARENTHOOD

Finally taking a stand against her husband, who had dragged her into a life of crime, to protect her children and family, Anna Gunn’s Skyler White brought out the character’s struggle to move past it all with outstanding delivery at every level.

Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role – Drama
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in BREAKING BAD (Readers' choice, TIE)
Dean Norris as Agent Hank Schrader in BREAKING BAD
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in DOWNTON ABBEY
Josh Charles as Will Gardner in THE GOOD WIFE (Readers' choice, TIE)
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in HOMELAND
John Slattery as Roger Sterling in MAD MEN
Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell in MAD MEN

BREAKING BAD would not have been the same without Jesse Pinkman, especially the last few episodes. After a falling-out with Walter White, Pinkman is forced to work for the enemy, after being trapped. His frustration, angst and desperation could not have been brought to life better than anyone as well as Paul did, as he wrapped up Pinkman’s heart-wrenching story.

Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical
Mayim Bialik as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in THE BIG BANG THEORY (Readers' choice)
Stephanie Beatriz as Detective Rosa Diaz in BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Alyson Hannigan as Lily Aldrin in HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy in MODERN FAMILY
Sofia Vergara as Gloria Pritchett in MODERN FAMILY
Marcia Gay Harden as Dr. Diane Buckley in TROPHY WIFE
Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer in VEEP

Alyson Hannigan brought out several sides to her character in HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER’s final season, as Lily and Marshall’s marriage is tested through them wanting different things. At the same time, she’s as brilliant comically as a confidante to Ted, who’s preparing to see the love of his life marrying his best friend. Hannigan did more than justice to her last outing as Lily Aldrin.

Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical
Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz in THE BIG BANG THEORY
Andre Braugher as Capt. Ray Holt in BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (Readers' choice)
Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson in HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker in MODERN FAMILY
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett in MODERN FAMILY
Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy in MODERN FAMILY
Tony Hale as Gary Walsh in VEEP

Simon Helberg has always been a dark horse among the comedy actors in popular and critically acclaimed shows. In the last season of THE BIG BANG THEORY, he made a particularly strong impression through his physical comedy, his musically-driven performances (remember Howard’s song to Bernadette?), and his character’s attempts at bonding with his father-in-law.

Performance By A Guest Actress – Drama
Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson in DOWNTON ABBEY
Gillian Anderson as Bedelia Du Maurier in HANNIBAL (Readers' choice, TIE)
Allison Janney as Margaret Scully in MASTERS OF SEX (Readers' choice, TIE)
Julianne Nicholson as Dr. Lillian DePaul in MASTERS OF SEX
Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing in THE NEWSROOM (Readers' choice, TIE)
Kate Burton as Vice President Sally Langston in SCANDAL

Allison Janney plays a woman whose husband doesn’t see her as a woman and more like a platonic companion of years. Her desperation through an extramarital affair, while searching for something to soothe her bruised self-esteem is brought to life brilliantly by Janney, who conveys such beauty through despair.

Performance By A Guest Actor – Drama
Matthew Goode as Finn Polmar in THE GOOD WIFE (Readers' choice, TIE)
Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning in THE GOOD WIFE (Readers' choice, TIE)
Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper in MAD MEN (Readers' choice, TIE)
Beau Bridges as Barton Scully in MASTERS OF SEX
Ray Romano as Hank Rizzoli in PARENTHOOD

As a respectable man of society and a provost of a university, Beau Bridges portrayed the conflict and struggle of dealing with suppressed homosexuality, while trying desperately to be a good husband to his wife, was exceptional. There were such poignant moments of guilt and desperation that he infused into his character, lending a beautiful richness to the story being told.

Performance By A Guest Actress – Comedy/Musical
June Squibb as Maggie Banks in GLEE
Frances Conroy as Loretta Stinson in HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (Readers' choice)
Sherri Shepherd as Daphne in HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Meg Ryan as Karen Sharpe in WEB THERAPY
Megan Mullally as Franny Marshall in WEB THERAPY

Frances Conroy played an important role in the final season of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, as mother of the groom, who has trouble getting along with Robin, her daughter-in-law-to-be. Their moments when in disagreement and challenging each others’ guts, and then her coming through to be a mother to Robin were pulled off by Conroy with a hilarious and endearing sincerity.


Performance By A Guest Actor – Comedy/Musical
Bob Newhart as Arthur Jeffries in THE BIG BANG THEORY
Patton Oswalt as Fire Marshall Boone in BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Jesse Eisenberg as Asher in MODERN FAMILY (Readers' choice, TIE)
Nathan Lane as Pepper Saltzman in MODERN FAMILY (Readers' choice, TIE)
Matt LeBlanc as Nick Jericho in WEB THERAPY

Nathan Lane was hilarious as always on MODERN FAMILY. However, last season, with Pepper as Mitch and Cam’s wedding planner with very standards, Lane was given the opportunity to shine all the more, and he did it with flying colors!

Writing
DOWNTON ABBEY
EPISODES
THE GOOD WIFE
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
MODERN FAMILY

The first half of MAD MEN’s final season shows us everything in the show in very different light, and the storytelling opportunities in the scenarios that the writers grabbed and very effectively executed is what made it such an exciting set of episodes. The subtleties in action and economy in dialogue, which are typical of the show, played an even more crucial role last year.

Character Development
THE AMERICANS
BATES MOTEL
DOWNTON ABBEY
THE GOOD WIFE
MAD MEN
PARENTHOOD

Will and Alicia, Alicia and Cary, Alicia and Peter, Diane and Alicia, Cary and Kalinda…season five of THE GOOD WIFE had such richness in its character building and the dynamics of the relationships thereof. From love to betrayal, rivalry to strengthened partnerships, from shared pain to general disgust, it was a tumultuous time for everyone on the show, and the development of the characters through the tumultuous time was what made it the best season the show has had.

Cinematography
BREAKING BAD
HANNIBAL
HOUSE OF CARDS
MASTERS OF SEX
SHERLOCK
TRUE DETECTIVE

Visually stunning in every frame, saying more than a thousand words in every silent moment, BREAKING BAD’s camerawork is extraordinary, whether it’s a depiction of the desert, the snowy hideaway, the suburbs or abandoned buildings where shady dealings are carried out.

Art Direction
THE AMERICANS
BREAKING BAD
HANNIBAL
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
TRUE DETECTIVE

The fifties were an interesting time in design, and things were somewhere in between as far as décor was concerned, as people were recovering from their war hangover and looking forward to even happier times. In MASTERS OF SEX, all the sets, especially those used for the hospital scenes, show a very different view of medical establishments and various premises in the era, all thanks to the excellent art direction.  

Costume Design
THE AMERICANS
DOWNTON ABBEY
THE GOLDBERGS
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
SCANDAL

As we saw the Crawleys embracing the twenties even more in series four of the hit British drama, the transition towards a more relaxed way of dressing, while portraying the hesitation of some characters in doing so, is seen with such effectiveness on DOWNTON ABBEY. The constume designers continue to excel in bringing out the visual best in the characters.

Make-Up And Hairstyling – Prosthetic And Non-Prosthetic
THE AMERICANS
DOWNTON ABBEY
GREY’S ANATOMY
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
TRUE DETECTIVE

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were made to look vastly different in different parts of the show, between the flashback-filled first half and the present-day-set second half, and it achieved so much in giving the final touch to their brilliant performances.

Music – Background Score
THE AMERICANS
DOWNTON ABBEY
THE GOOD WIFE
HOMELAND
SHERLOCK
TRUE DETECTIVE

THE GOOD WIFE team’s classical music approach to scoring dramatic scenes, while also throwing in contemporary bits in those quiet scenes that need to arouse curiosity have become such a significant part of the show’s storytelling. In fact movement and music go hand-in-hand beautifully to accomplish wonders as backdrops to the characters’ actions.

Music – Compilation
GLEE
GREY’S ANATOMY
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
NASHVILLE

In the reflective final season of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, where we saw all the characters through one long weekend and then for over a decade later, music became a big part of the storytelling, and montages were brought to life beautifully with the music that was used.

Titles – Opening And Closing Credits
THE AMERICANS
ELEMENTARY
HOUSE OF CARDS
THE NEWSROOM
SHERLOCK
TRUE DETECTIVE


The haunting track that plays (The Haunting as we see the shadows and silhouettes in the opening credits of HBO’s TRUE DETECTIVE sets the tone perfectly each episode of the mystery drama. Along with it, the imagery makes gruesome look artistic, while rural parts where the show is set are depicted with apt eeriness. 



Do you agree with the choices above? Do share your comments below...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

NEW FALL 2014 SHOWS TO LOOK OUT FOR

With the Emmys over, it’s time to look forward, at the new TV season 2014-15, starting September. As we wait for the new seasons of  the network shows to begin, check out these new shows, with their trailers, that you should look out for this fall...


HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER | ABC
Premise: A law professor calls her criminal defense class ‘How to get away with murder’ and encourages her students to do anything it takes to get the job done.
What to look forward to: From Shonda Rhimes (GREY’S ANATOMY, SCANDAL), this one seems to take forward the very grey area that SCANDAL is always in, where very grey characters do very wrong things, but audiences are still expected to root for them. With MURDER, however, the absence of a political angle (and hopefully, that’s the way it’ll remain), the heightened drama might not seem that far-fetched, and the characters might still be relatable. Given Rhimes’ track record, this one will do well no matter how it turns out. It stars Oscar nominee Viola Davis in the lead.
Series Premiere: Thursday, September 25
Trailer: 

STATE OF AFFAIRS | NBC
Premise: A CIA operative, who reports to the President of the United State, must uncover truths about the killing of her boyfriend on foreign soil. The boyfriend was also the president’s son.
What to look forward to: With actresses GREY’S ANATOMY’s Katherine Heigl and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES’ Alfre Woodard taking the lead on this one, I have to consider this as more than just a regular politically-driven mystery drama. The trailer reveals that it will thrive on backstory in a big way, so it’s probably going to be tricky to maintain an appeal, even if it starts well, but I’m going to be open minded about it.
Series Premiere: Monday, November 17
Trailer: 


THE FLASH | The CW
Premise: The origins of DC’s superhero, the Flash. What else could one want to know!
What to look forward to: The trailer hints at a superhero series that will be fun and exciting. It even made me want to watch The CW’s other successful DC superhero show, ARROW. And they even seem to have cast the Flash perfectly. Grant Gustin will be great. However this turns out, it will definitely do well.
Series Premiere: Tuesday, October 7
Trailer: 

GOTHAM | Fox
Premise: Another adaptation of a DC superhero series, this one is a prequel to Batman, with a young Detective Gordon as the protagonist.
What to look forward to: It traces the incident that incited the creation of Batman—young Bruce Wayne’s parents being killed in front of him. With Detective Gordon promising Wayne that he will catch his parents' killer, the series will delve into how Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy, etc. became the iconic Gotham city villains that we know them as. It stars THE O.C.’s Ben McKenzie as Gordon, and Jada Pinkett Smith, among others.
Series Premiere: Monday, September 22
Trailer: 



RED BAND SOCIETY | Fox
Premise: A story of a group of young hospital patients dealing with different medical conditions, who band together to form unlikely friendships
What to look forward to: From executive producer Steven Spielberg, this show is bound to make anyone feel things. It has a lot of heart and there’s something endearing and intriguing about the characters, which is evident even from the trailer. It’s a fresh, new concept and it could turn out to be an excellent series. It stars Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and BROTHERS AND SISTERS' Dave Annable.
Series Premiere: Wednesday, September 17
Trailer: 


A TO Z | NBC
Premise: The comprehensive account of the relationship between Andrew and Zelda from A to Z.
What to look forward to: It’s not the kind of sitcom that does well these days, but this differently-packaged romantic comedy might do well. The characters seem interesting, and it’s cast very well, with MAD MEN’s Ben Feldman and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER’s Cristin Milioti in the lead. It’s got a very fresh appeal about it and I hope it turns out to be as nice as the trailer makes it look.
Series Premiere: Thursday, October 2
Trailer: 

GRACEPOINT | Fox
Premise: An adaptation of British series BROADCHURCH, this is about two detectives who investigate the death of a boy in a small seaside town in California, which affects the entire town in various ways.
What to look forward to: If it’s anything like the British original, this event series will be worth watching. The cast is also brilliant, with David Tennant, who also played the lead in BROADCHURCH, BREAKING BAD’s Emmy winner Anna Gunn, Nick Nolte, Kevin Zegers and Jackie Weaver.
Series Premiere: Thursday, October 2
Trailer: 



MULANEY | Fox
Premise: It’s based on the life of comedian John Mulaney, and tells the coming-of-age story of a young comedian, under the influence of his boss, roommates and neighbors.
What to look forward to: A fresh and strong take on workplace and friendship-based sitcoms, this one is bound to be entertaining, with some interesting, albeit caricature-esque characters. The stand-up comedy bit is bound to remind you of SEINFELD.
Series Premiere: Sunday, October 5
Trailer: 




SECRETS AND LIES | ABC
Premise: A man finds a neighborhood kid dead and is suspected of having murdered the kid. As things unfold, a lot of secrets and lies will be uncovered.
What to look forward to: The trailer has me feeling intrigued, because of the mystery. There could be some gripping storytelling that can come out of the premise, or it could fall flat like CBS’ ill-fated HOSTAGES last season. With Ryan Philippe, Juliette Lewis, PRIVATE PRACTICE’s KaDee Strickland starring, I hope it turns out to be good. But either way, the premise doesn’t offer the promise of longevity.
Series Premiere: mid-season
Trailer: 


EMPIRE | Fox
Premise: The patriarch of a music and drugs empire must choose which of his sons will succeed him, when he’s diagnosed with ALS. About the same time, his ex-wife is released from prison, and she claims her share of the empire.
What to look forward to: Starring Oscar nominees Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, this soapy drama will feature original and current music from the likes of Timbaland. It also offers the promise of some intense storylines and good character development.
Series Premiere: mid-season
Trailer: 


MADAM SECRETARY | CBS
Premise: A former CIA agent is offered the position of the Secretary of State of the United States and she takes it, following which, she encounters several challenges while playing the part.
What to look forward to: I’m not so convinced that the premise of the show is strong enough for it to do well. But it does keep things rather open for various storytelling opportunities. From the trailer, it seems like the writing is crisp, but one can only wait to know for sure. The cast is pretty impressive, including Tea Leoni, PRIVATE PRACTICE’s Tim Daly and Željko Ivanek.
Series Premiere: Sunday, September 21
Trailer: 

THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA | NBC
Premise: Laura is an NYPD homicide detective and a single mom. The way she works and parents her kids gives rise to various comedic situations.
What to look forward to: WILL AND GRACE’s Debra Messing gets a chance at another sitcom success. If the one liners are anything to go by, this show could be quite a laugh riot. Hopefully, it lives up to its trailer.
Series Premiere: Wednesday, September 24
Trailer:

AMERICAN CRIME | ABC
Premise: A couple is murdered, which triggers a series of events and revelations, drama and violence
What to look forward to: This show looks quite regular, in terms of its premise and theme—interracial tension, drug dealing, etc. However, I’d still give it a shot, mainly because it stars DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES’ Felicity Huffman.
Series Premiere: mid-season
Trailer: 

BATTLE CREEK | CBS
Premise: Despite their different world views, a detective and an FBI agent seek to clean up the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, Michigan.
What to look forward to: A trailer hasn’t been released for this show yet. However, despite the fact that its premise isn’t groundbreaking, it’s still worth looking out for, because it’s from BREAKING BAD’s Vince Gilligan and HOUSE M.D.’s David Shore. BATTLE CREEK’s cast, including Josh Duhamel, Dean Winters and Kal Penn, is also quite impressive.
Series Premiere: mid-season
Trailer: not released yet





THE ODD COUPLE | CBS
Premise: A modern take on the 1965 Broadway comedy about polar opposite roommates.
What to look forward to: It stars FRIENDS’ Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon. The trailer is not out yet, but I hope this one is good and stays around for a while, especially since Perry has not had even one of his three shows since FRIENDS go beyond a first season.
Series Premiere: mid-season
Trailer: not released yet







ONE BIG HAPPY NBC
Premise: A gay woman and her straight male best friend decide to have a baby together, and things get complicated when one of them finds the love of their life.
What to look forward to: It’s from executive producers Ellen DeGeneres and Liz Feldman. It stars HAPPY ENDINGS’ Elisha Curthbert and Nick Zano in the lead. The trailer is not out yet, but it sounds promising for sure.
Series Premiere: mid-season
Trailer: not released yet



WEIRD LONERS | Fox
Premise: A bunch of misfits living together in a townhouse.
What to look forward to: The premise sounds like one that could make for a really funny and endearing comedy. The cast, comprising HAPPY ENDINGS’ Zach Knighton, UGLY BETTY’s Becki Newton, Meeri Khumbhani, and MR. SUNSHINE’s Nate Torrence, leads me to believe that the execution would also have  a good outcome.
Series Premiere: mid-season
Trailer: not released yet





Which of these shows are you putting on your must-watch calendars. Share your views on the trailers you've just seen...