Saturday, December 20, 2014

A TRIP TO DOWNTON ABBEY – HIGHCLERE CASTLE, WEST BERKSHIRE. ENGLAND

Ahead of the DOWNTON ABBEY Christmas special episode 2014, and George Clooney’s appearance in the 'DOWNTON...' spin-off sketch for ITV’s annual Text Santa appeal for charity, let’s take a walk around Highclere Castle, the premises that are better known to the world as Downton Abbey. 


Before Oscar-winner George Clooney visited Highclare Castle earlier this year, to film his ITV spin-off sketch, I had the privilege of visiting the grounds of the Castle and taking a walk through the residence of the fictional Crawleys, as seen on ITV and PBS. The structure itself looks a little smaller up-close than it does on television. However, it certainly looks grander in reality. I went to Highclere last year in the summer, which is the best time to visit this attraction in southern England (incidentally, ‘Downton Abbey’ is not in Yorkshire, in northern England, as it is supposed to be in the series). Take a look through these photos that I absolutely loved taking.








Unfortunately, photography inside the Castle was not allowed, so I was unable to capture a lot of the interiors, which are kept exactly the way we see the home in DOWNTON ABBEY, with the exception of the dining room. The large table around which we usually see the Crawleys dining and avoiding awkward topics of conversation, was replaced by a smaller one, more like what we see in the breakfast scenes. When the tour was done, I managed to take a few photos of the rooms downstairs, through the windows, before they closed the wooden shutters for closing time.

The library has real books lining the walls, while the vintage quality of the furniture is more apparent up-close. The fading upholstery and carpets only add to the old-world charm of the very cozy room.





The drawing room, in fact, is much brighter and more spacious than it looks on screen. 



The gentlemen’s cigar room, which we hardly ever see on the show, is the room that connects the library and the drawing room.


The lawns of Highclere are vast and the trees, which look like they could easily be a hundred years old, are massive. 



The steeple of the Castle, which is actually not in the center of the building, is actually where the classrooms for the home-schooled children of the nobles used to be, as opposed to the top of the building being the servants’ quarters, as is shown in the series. Speaking of the servants, their dining room and the Downton Abbey kitchen are not quite in Highclere Castle. I was told that those sets are in a studio in London. 




Whatever I did get to see made for a wonderful experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos!


The DOWNTON ABBEY series 5 Christmas special airs on ITV, Christmas day, 9:00pm, GMT
DOWNTON ABBEY season 5 premieres January 4, 9:00pm ET on MASTERPIECE Classic on PBS 



Thursday, December 18, 2014

5 REASONS WHY 'THE NEWSROOM' SERIES FINALE WAS A FITTING END

HBO's THE NEWSROOM ended its three-season-long run on Sunday last week, and many wrote it off as too sweet, or too much of a farewell party. However, here are five reasons why I felt that it was an apt end for the show. 


1. Charlie Skinner's death and funeral: It was a good way to push the characters into the next phase of their lives and careers, and bring them all together in doing so. I did think that it made the episode too flashback-heavy, with a longing to know more about the present. But while I would have liked more screentime of the characters getting on with their jobs and giving us a glimpse of that next phase, the backstory did inform each character's growth through the series. It brought out key moments of their journeys in clever and effective ways. It did make Skinner out to be the best guy ever and a genius for being the architect of  what News Night should be, but that wasn't way off from the Skinner we've seen for the last three seasons. The high emotional quotient was a bit indulgent, but hardly anything to have an issue with, as far as I'm concerned. 

2. Leona Lansing: Season one put Charlie and Will up against Leona and Reese in massive ways that threatened at least Will's job, and over seasons two and three, that equation was brought a full circle. In the finale, as she explained to Pruit why fighting with one's news directors means that one is doing one's job. The fact that she conveyed it by expressing as articulately as possible that he was a prick was just a brilliant way of getting there. Her character was retired with class, optimism and with all the strength that she had (if not more) as the woman who was in charge. 

3. The couples: It wasn't quite a crucial element of the series. Yes, Will and Mackenzie had a past, and Jim and Maggie have had a will-they-won't-they going on since the first episode, but I didn't see it as such a strong part of the show, until season three. Don and Sloan had just gotten together, and Will and Mackenzie had got engaged, But, honestly, I didn't much care for whether or not Jim and Maggie would get together; just that we all knew that they would. I was more interested in Don and Sloan, the unconventional romance, but not without the commitment or willingness to express feelings. It was a very well written, albeit short, relationship, which was written into the finale maintaining what was good about it, yet keeping with the backdrop and the tone. I was still happy for Jim and Maggie when they talked about what it meant to them to be working apart, and even when Jim implied that he loved her. I thought it wasn't a bad way to end that series-long arc. I was hoping before the finale that Will and Mackenzie wouldn't be pregnant (what a cliché!), but it wasn't as big of a deal to me. 

4. The news people: There was mention of the characters wanting to do a public service of bringing the most useful versions of the news to the viewers of ACN in the episode, and it's that ethical responsibility that is the common factor between them. It's what drove them to do the right thing, taking risks to get the information out there, not compromising on their principles, being ambitious to be able to do it all, despite the differences they had in how they wanted to accomplish that. The news wasn't left behind. Despite a long-awaited union, Maggie still wanted to be a field producer in DC, even if it meant a long-distance relationship with Jim. And Neal came back with an aura and a voice that even Bree, the pompous creator of that stalker app, had to bow his head down to in shame. Don even gave up his promotion to Jim, in order to stick to his goals for ACN's 10:00pm. 

5. The actual news: Telling stories of how the biggest headlines of the last four years reached our TV screens, or how they should have, was obviously the backdrop of everything else that happened on the show. And even in the finale, while there was too much of everything else happening for the news to get in on it, it wasn't completely missing. From Charlie not wanting to see weather reports or Kiefer Sutherland's interview on News Night, to the alert about Mandela going on life support; from the Pope neglecting to comment on the stories of priests molesting boys, to the slight mention of Prop 8, we did still get a slight glimpse of the newsroom. It was all nicely woven in, even though it couldn't be the focus. 

And that, I think, makes it a fitting end to a good show. 


Do share your views on THE NEWSROOM's series finale below.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

TV NOMINEES: 2015 GOLDEN GLOBES & SAG AWARDS

The nominees of the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards and the 2015 Golden Globe Awards were announced earlier this week, delivering a host of surprises, among the predictable set of TV series that were among the mix. While several new names in television entered the comedy and drama categories among the Golden Globe nominees, the SAG Award nominees stayed consistent with the previous years. Take a look at all the major TV nominees and which ones stood out the most.


THE 2015 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD NOMINEES

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
THE AFFAIR – Showtime
DOWNTON ABBEY – PBS
GAME OF THRONES – HBO
THE GOOD WIFE – CBS
HOUSE OF CARDS – Netflix

THE GOOD WIFE being in this list is probably the best thing about the TV nominees this year, especially after it was ignored by the Television Academy at the Emmys. It was probably possible because TRUE DETECTIVE is in the ‘mini-series’ category, where it should be. Even though the CBS drama will most likely not win, it’s still good to see the show getting its due. The new entrant—THE AFFAIR—was ignored by the SAG, but if the reviews are something to go by, it could be a strong contender. What I don’t understand is why MASTERS OF SEX isn’t getting the recognition it deserves! But MAD MEN being left out from here is probably the worst snub.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Claire Danes, HOMELAND
Viola Davis, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
Julianna Margulies, THE GOOD WIFE
Ruth Wilson, THE AFFAIR
Robin Wright, HOUSE OF CARDS

It’s good to see the overacting Kerry Washington off this list. Viola Davis deserves to be here for HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. Danes, Margulies and Wright’s positions here are no surprise. Elisabeth Moss from MAD MEN should’ve been here.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Clive Owen, THE KNICK
Liev Schreiber, RAY DONOVAN
Kevin Spacey, HOUSE OF CARDS
James Spader, THE BLACKLIST
Dominic West, THE AFFAIR

With three of the big nominations, THE AFFAIR might just turn out to be the surprising victor at the Globes this time. Making the list even more adventurous are Owen’s and Spader’s nods. While Owen might deserve to be here, Spader’s pretentious performance as Raymond Reddington on THE BLACKLIST definitely shouldn’t have got any acknowledgement.

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
GIRLS – HBO
JANE THE VIRGIN – The CW
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK – Netflix
SILICON VALLEY – HBO
TRANSPARENT – Amazon

Seeing a CW series in this list is a pleasant surprise. I haven’t watched JANE THE VIRGIN, but I have heard good things about it. Joining Netflix this year is Amazon, with the acclaimed TRANSPARENT. However, while I like the HFPA trying to mix things up a little and recognize newer work, the omission of the extremely brilliant and consistent MODERN FAMILY and THE BIG BANG THEORY from this list is unacceptable, especially if one spot is taken by the highly overrated GIRLS.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES –COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Lena Dunham, GIRLS
Edie Falco, NURSE JACKIE
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, VEEP
Gina Rodriguez, JANE THE VIRGIN
Taylor Schilling, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

This list was largely predictable, except for JANE THE VIRGIN.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Louis C.K., LOUIE
Don Cheadle, HOUSE OF LIES
Ricky Gervais, DEREK
William H. Macy, SHAMELESS
Jeffrey Tambor, TRANSPARENT

Gervais and Tambor mix it up in this category. However, I think the exclusion of Jim Parsons, THE BIG BANG THEORY, and Matt LeBlanc, EPISODES, is a gross oversight.

BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
FARGO – FX
THE MISSING – Starz
THE NORMAL HEART – HBO
OLIVE KITTERIDGE – HBO
TRUE DETECTIVE – HBO

It’s good to see TRUE DETECTIVE in a category that it fits into well. However, that will kill FARGO’s and THE NORMAL HEART’s chances at winning this one.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Maggie Gyllenhaal, THE HONORABLE WOMAN
Jessica Lange, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW
Frances McDormand, OLIVE KITTERIDGE
Frances O’Connor, THE MISSING
Allison Tolman, FARGO 

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Martin Freeman, FARGO
Woody Harrelson, TRUE DETECTIVE
Matthew McConaughey, TRUE DETECTIVE
Mark Ruffalo, THE NORMAL HEART
Billy Bob Thornton, FARGO



BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Uzo Aduba, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
Kathy Bates, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW
Joanne Froggatt, DOWNTON ABBEY
Allison Janney, MOM
Michelle Monaghan, TRUE DETECTIVE

I’m not surprised to see Janney or Froggatt on this list. They’ve both been amazing in their shows. The surprise entrant is Michelle Monaghan, who is good, but I wouldn’t put her performance in TRUE DETECTIVE above so many others’ performances in shows that have been just unfairly ignored (MODERN FAMILY, MAD MEN, THE GOOD WIFE, and so on)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Matt Bomer, THE NORMAL HEART
Alan Cumming, THE GOOD WIFE
Colin Hanks, FARGO
Bill Murray, OLIVE KITTERIDGE
Jon Voight, RAY DONOVAN

I’m thrilled to see Alan Cumming here. I’ve always felt that he deserves some recognition for his work as Eli Gold. Also very deserving of his position here is Matt Bomer. The depth in his performance in THE NORMAL HEART hasn’t been acknowledged enough.


21st SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ENSEMBLE IN A DRAMA SERIES
BOARDWALK EMPIRE
DOWNTON ABBEY
GAME OF THRONES
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS

The members of the SAG love BOARDWALK EMPIRE, so it’s no surprise that the final season has been acknowledged here, as have all its previous seasons.MAD MEN, THE GOOD WIFE, MASTERS OF SEX should’ve been on this list.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY SERIES
THE BIG BANG THEORY
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
MODERN FAMILY
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
VEEP

No surprises here. I’m glad to see GIRLS off this list!

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Steve Buscemi, BOARDWALK EMPIRE
Peter Dinklage, GAME OF THRONES
Woody Harrelson, TRUE DETECTIVE
Matthew McConaughey, TRUE DETECTIVE
Kevin Spacey, HOUSE OF CARDS

TRUE DETECTIVE, which should be in the mini-series category, is depriving deserving people like Jon Hamm, MAD MEN, and Michael Sheen, MASTERS OF SEX, of spots on this list. As usual, the absence of supporting categories in TV at the SAGs leaves little room for good performances in the limited categories that exist. For a set of awards that are only for acting, I would think that they should be the ones getting more specific categories out there than other awards do with their acting categories.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Claire Danes, HOMELAND
Viola Davis, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
Julianna Margulies, THE GOOD WIFE
Tatiana Maslany, ORPHAN BLACK
Maggie Smith, DOWNTON ABBEY
Robin Wright, HOUSE OF CARDS

Tatiana Maslany’s inclusion in this list is surely putting smiles on the faces of many ORPHAN BLACK fans. No real surprises here. Joanne Froggat should have got the ‘DOWNTON ABBEY spot’ on this list though, in my opnion.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ty Burrell, MODERN FAMILY
Louis C.K., LOUIE
William H. Macy, SHAMELESS
Jim Parsons, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Eric Stonestreet, MODERN FAMILY

Matt LeBlanc, EPISODES, should have been up there. It’s good though to see that the SAGs aren’t shutting out MODERN FAMILY and THE BIG BANG THEORY, like the Globes are.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Uzo Aduba, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
Julie Bowen, MODERN FAMILY
Edie Falco, NURSE JACKIE
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, VEEP
Amy Poehler, PARKS AND RECREATION

This list was rather predictable. Again, too few categories for everyone deserving to be acknowledged, but, moving on…

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A TELEVISION MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Adrien Brody, HOUDINI
Mark Ruffalo, THE NORMAL HEART
Benedict Cumberbatch, SHERLOCK
Richard Jenkins, OLIVE KITTERIDGE
Billy Bob Thornton, FARGO

Matt Bomer should’ve been here for THE NORMAL HEART. That’s all.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A TELEVISION MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Ellen Burstyn, FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC
Maggie Gyllenhaal, THE HONORABLE WOMAN
Frances McDormand, OLIVE KITTERIDGE
Julia Roberts, THE NORMAL HEART
Cicely Tyson, THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL

OUTSTANDING ACTION PERFORMANCE BY A STUNT ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY OR DRAMA SERIES
24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY
BOARDWALK EMPIRE
GAME OF THRONES
HOMELAND
SONS OF ANARCHY
THE WALKING DEAD



What did you think of the nominees’ lists this time? Were you surprised by some of the new entrants? Share your views below.

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. 



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