Saturday, August 16, 2014

THE TV TALK BEST OF 2013-14 – NOMINEES

The TV TALK Best of… moves to the beginning of the new fall season this time, recognizing my favorites in television from August 1, 2013 to July 31, 2014. Here are the nominees. Please vote for your favorite shows, actors and actresses in the polls alongside. The results will be declared here, mid-September 2014


Television is at its all-time best currently, with some of the biggest names in Hollywood venturing into TV, believing that television is where the best writing is these days. While Oscar winner Halle Berry stars in the new EXTANT, Matthew McConaughey made waves earlier this year with his performance in TRUE DETECTIVE, fresh off his Oscar win. Major movie stars such as Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Jeff Daniels, Vera Farmiga and Michael Sheen continue to do good work in their various TV series, while others make impressive guest appearances on popular and acclaimed shows.

This time, I have several new nominated series, with slightly revised guidelines. See the fine print below.

Series – Drama
THE AMERICANS
BREAKING BAD
DOWNTON ABBEY
THE GOOD WIFE
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
THE NEWSROOM
PARENTHOOD

Series – Comedy/Musical
THE BIG BANG THEORY
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
EPISODES
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
MODERN FAMILY
VEEP

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
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

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
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

Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role – Comedy/Musical
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting as Penny in THE BIG BANG THEORY
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

Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role – Comedy/Musical
Jim Parsons as Dr. Sheldon Cooper in THE BIG BANG THEORY
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

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
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris in MAD MEN
Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes in NASHVILLE
Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman in PARENTHOOD

Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role – Drama
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in BREAKING BAD
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
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in HOMELAND
John Slattery as Roger Sterling in MAD MEN
Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell in MAD MEN

Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical
Mayim Bialik as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in THE BIG BANG THEORY
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

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
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

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

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

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
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

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
Nathan Lane as Pepper Saltzman in MODERN FAMILY
Matt LeBlanc as Nick Jericho in WEB THERAPY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Fine Print ▪ The eligible series are those that I follow (2 BROKE GIRLS, AMERICAN IDOL, THE AMERICANS, BATES MOTEL, THE BIG BANG THEORY, THE BLACKLIST, BLUE BLOODS, BONES, BREAKING BAD, BROADCHURCH, CASTLE, CHICAGO FIRE, CHICAGO P.D., DALLAS, DEVIOUS MAIDS, DEXTER, DOWNTON ABBEY, ELEMENTARY, EPISODES, THE FOLLOWING, FRANKLIN & BASH, GIRLS, GLEE, THE GOLDBERGS, THE GOOD WIFE, GREY'S ANATOMY, HANNIBAL, HART OF DIXIE, HOMELAND, HOUSE OF CARDS, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, LOOKING, MAD MEN, MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA, MASTERS OF SEX, THE MILLERS, MISTRESSES, MODERN FAMILY, MOM, NASHVILLE, THE NEWSROOM, THE ORIGINALS, PARENTHOOD, PERCEPTION, REVENGE, RIZZOLI & ISLES, SCANDAL, SHERLOCK, SUITS, TRUE DETECTIVE, TWO AND A HALF MEN, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, VEEP, WEB THERAPY, WHITE COLLAR) ▪ The episodes being judged are those that have aired between August 1, 2014 and July 31, 2013 ▪ The maximum number of nominees for Best Series (Drama and Comedy/Musical) is 10 ▪ The minimum number of nominees for Best Series (Drama and Comedy/Musical) is 6 ▪ The maximum number of nominees for all other categories is 7 ▪ The minimum number for all other categories is 5 ▪ The ‘Readers’ Choice’ is based on the polls alongside ▪ The other ‘Best of…’ are according to my judgment ▪ The ‘TV TALK Best Of 2013-14’ is only an expression of what I considered as excellence in television in the years 2013-14 ▪

Thursday, July 10, 2014

EMMY NOMINEES 2014: THE CHEERS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS

The Emmy Award nominations were announced today, and here’s what the Television Academy got perfectly right, and where they lost out on recognizing the best of TV for 2013-14


THE CHEERS

1. THE GOOD WIFE’s ‘big three’ got nominated: Last year, Julianna Margulies was denied an Actress – Drama nomination, despite there being seven nominated actresses. This year, the Academy has got it right by putting her among the six nominees. In addition to that, it’s great to see Josh Charles nominated for his amazing work during his last few episodes on the show. And the Academy love Christine Baranski anyway.

2. MASTERS OF SEX performances nominated: Lizzy Caplan delivered quite a performance in the freshman series. The Academy loves restraint and economy in performance, so it’s not really a surprise, but it’s good to see her name among the Actress – Drama nominees. Also, with Beau Bridges and Allison Janney among the Drama Guest Actor and Actress nominees, it’s good to know that good performances that may not be spoken about much still get recognized. Janney especially was excellent in the first season of the show.

3. GIRLS is not nominated for Outstanding Series – Comedy: This is a relief. Given its last two nominations in the category and a win at the Golden Globes, it unfortunately seemed like the show would stick around in these categories while other shows that are actually good are denied a spot. This year, however, it’s good to see that GIRLS is off that list.

4. Allison Janney got nominated for MOM: This wasn’t the kind of show that would be nominated for anything, and this is probably one of the only nominations it’ll ever get at the Emmys, but Allison Janney deserves this nod. She absolutely nails Bonnie’s one liners and callous attitude.

5. DOWNTON ABBEY is still going strong: Many felt that season four of DOWNTON ABBEY was not as good, and a few even said that the show should probably end, but I, in fact, felt like the writing was particularly strong in the most recent season. I’m happy to see that the Academy thinks so too, and has given it an Outstanding Series – Drama nomination this year as well. It’s also great to see the regulars like Michelle Dockery and Jim Carter in the acting mix, and of course, it would’ve been unfair to leave out Joanne Froggatt, given her outstanding portrayal of Anna dealing with being raped.


THE DISAPPOINTMENTS

1. THE GOOD WIFE was denied an Outstanding Series – Drama nomination: Season five has arguably been the best season of the show, and it is undoubtedly the best network drama. Everyone who watched season five of THE GOOD WIFE would agree that it deserved to be on the list, except for the Academy. Sad.

2. BROOKLYN NINE-NINE didn’t make it to the Outstanding Series – Comedy list: It won the Golden Globe for Best Series – Comedy this year, and even though I didn’t agree with the HFPA’s choice at first, I grew to love this show, as I recognized how amazing it really is. I definitely think that it’s one of the best new comedies of the season that just ended, and it certainly should’ve got a spot among the six best comedy series of the season, overall.

3. MASTERS OF SEX and Michael Sheen lose out on nominations: A few episodes in, and I could see this show filling the void that MAD MEN will leave next year when it ends. It really did deserve a nod, and Michael Sheen’s excellent portrayal of the cold, yet deep and heavily layered William Masters definitely deserved some recognition.

4. Overacting performances from SCANDAL got undue credit: While the Academy does love restraint, it also tends to consider overacting as good acting, as is evident from them nominating Kerry Washington for a second time. Worse is that performers like Vera Farmiga (BATES MOTEL) and Elisabeth Moss (MAD MEN) have been left out of this year’s Actress – Drama list, while Washington’s over-the-top histrionics have made it. And if anyone has overacted as much, or more than her on the show, it would have to be Joe Morton, who plays Rowan Pope, and sadly, he’s been nominated for Guest Actor – Drama.

5. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE hog Guest Actress – Comedy: I’m sure ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK has some great performances, but the nominee list suggests that these two shows are the only ones that had good performances by female guest stars. Also, I never understand how sketch performances on SNL outweigh performances by actors and actresses who put so much into building recurring guest characters. I don’t see how SNL fits into the regular fiction categories anyway.

So that’s that. Below is the list of all the acting and series nominations. If you wish to see all the technical nominations as well, click here. Do share your thoughts on what was well deserved, and who was unjustly denied a place in this list.

Outstanding Drama Series
BREAKING BAD
DOWNTON ABBEY
GAME OF THRONES
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN
TRUE DETECTIVE

Outstanding Comedy Series
THE BIG BANG THEORY
LOUIE
MODERN FAMILY
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
SILICON VALLEY
VEEP

Lead Actor in a Drama
Bryan Cranston, BREAKING BAD
Jeff Daniels, THE NEWSROOM
Jon Hamm, MAD MEN
Woody Harrelson, TRUE DETECTIVE
Matthew McConaughey, TRUE DETECTIVE
Kevin Spacey, HOUSE OF CARDS

Lead Actress in a Drama
Lizzy Caplan, MASTERS OF SEX
Claire Danes, HOMELAND
Michelle Dockery, DOWNTON ABBEY
Julianna Marguiles, THE GOOD WIFE
Kerry Washington, SCANDAL
Robin Wright, HOUSE OF CARDS

Lead Actor in a Comedy
Louis C.K., LOUIE
Don Cheadle, HOUSE OF LIES
Ricky Gervais, DEREK
Matt LeBlanc, EPISODES
William H. Macy, SHAMELESS
Jim Parsons, THE BIG BANG THEORY

Lead Actress in a Comedy
Lena Dunham, GIRLS
Edie Falco, NURSE JACKIE
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, VEEP
Melissa McCarthy, MIKE & MOLLY
Amy Poehler, PARKS & RECREATION
Taylor Schilling, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Supporting Actor in a Drama
Aaron Paul, BREAKING BAD
Jim Carter, DOWNTON ABBEY
Peter Dinklage, GAME OF THRONES
Josh Charles, THE GOOD WIFE
Mandy Patinkin, HOMELAND
Jon Voight, RAY DONOVAN

Supporting Actress in a Drama
Anna Gunn, BREAKING BAD
Maggie Smith, DOWNTON ABBEY
Joanne Froggatt, DOWNTON ABBEY
Lena Headey, GAME OF THRONES
Christine Baranski, THE GOOD WIFE
Christina Hendricks, MAD MEN

Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Andre Braugher, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Adam Driver, GIRLS
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, MODERN FAMILY
Ty Burrell, MODERN FAMILY
Fred Armisen, PORTLANDIA
Tony Hale, VEEP

Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Mayim Bialik, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Julie Bowen, MODERN FAMILY
Allison Janney, MOM
Kate Mulgrew, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
Kate McKinnon, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Anna Chlumsky, VEEP

Guest Actor in a Drama
Paul Giamatti, DOWNTON ABBEY
Dylan Baker, THE GOOD WIFE
Reg E. Cathey, HOUSE OF CARDS
Robert Morse, MAD MEN
Beau Bridges, MASTERS OF SEX
Joe Morton, SCANDAL

Guest Actress in a Drama
Margo Martindale, THE AMERICANS
Diana Rigg, GAME OF THRONES
Kate Mara, HOUSE OF CARDS
Allison Janney, MASTERS OF SEX
Jane Fonda, THE NEWSROOM
Kate Burton, SCANDAL

Guest Actor in a Comedy
Bob Newhart, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Nathan Lane, MODERN FAMILY
Steve Buscemi, PORTLANDIA
Jimmy Fallon, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Louis C.K., SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Gary Cole, VEEP

Guest Actress in a Comedy
Natasha Lyonne, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
Uzo Aduba, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
Laverne Cox, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
Tina Fey, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Melissa McCarthy, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series
BOARDWALK EMPIRE ("Farewell Daddy Blues"), Tim Van Patten
BREAKING BAD ("Felina"), Vince Gilligan
DOWNTON ABBEY ("Episode 1"), David Evans
GAME OF THRONES ("The Watchers on the Wall"), Neil Marshall
HOUSE OF CARDS ("Chapter 14"), Carl Franklin
TRUE DETECTIVE ("Who Goes There"), Cary Joji Fukunaga


Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
EPISODES ("Episode 309"), Iain B. MacDonald
GLEE ("100"), Paris Barclay
LOUIS ("Elevator, Part 6"), Louis C.K.
MODERN FAMILY ("Vegas"), Gail Mancuso
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK ("Lesbian Request Denied"), Jodie Foster
SILICON VALLEY ("Minimum Viable Product"), Mike Judge


Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series
BREAKING BAD ("Ozymandias"), Moira Walley-Beckett
BREAKING BAD ("Felina"), Vince Gilligan
GAME OF THRONES ("The Children"), David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
HOUSE OF CARDS ("Chapter 14"), Beau Willimon
TRUE DETECTIVE ("The Secret Fate of All Life"), Nic Pizzolatto


Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
EPISODES ("Episode 305"), David Crane
LOUIS ("So Did The Fat Lady"), Louis C.K.
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK ("I Wasn't Ready"), Jenji Kohan and Liz Friedman
SILICON VALLEY ("Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency"), Alec Berg
VEEP ("Special Relationship"), Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, and Armando Iannucci
 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

‘MAD MEN’: HALFWAY THROUGH THE FINAL SEASON

AMC’s MAD MEN completed half of its final season last Sunday, and a lot has changed, but it’s still so hard to gauge where it’ll all end up. Let’s take a look at where these characters are at this point…


DON DRAPER
At the end of last season, Don Draper hit a certain realization. After years of keeping Dick Whitman hidden from the world, he finally let it all out. Accepting his ‘impoverished childhood’ (as Jim Cutler puts it in last Sunday’s mid-season finale), and how it affected him, was the only way he could remotely be happy, or probably simply be at peace with himself. Returning after a considerable amount of time, we saw Don keeping himself sober, leading a solitary life, doing his work. As much as I’ve hated his complete lack of commitment to relationships in the past and his extreme arrogance at work, I couldn’t help but find my heart going out to him. Yes, at heart, Don was always a loner—an onion that couldn’t be peeled. And stripped down to his bare reality, he seemed much more vulnerable, but still stronger than before. He did lose it a couple of times, when he got wasted again at the office, but he rose out of it almost instantly, again accepting where he was, with his new position at SC&P. He even goes on to gracefully accept that Peggy was his equal, and despite Lou Avery’s disregard, and Jim Cutler’s dismissive attitude, Don held his own. This almost Zen quality, to me, commanded a considerable amount of respect. However, the newfound attitude was not without emotion. The depth in Don Draper’s character has always been a driving force of MAD MEN, and that depth is probably at its most intense, currently, through the final season.

PEGGY OLSEN
I don’t see anyone drawing a parallel, but I’ve definitely thought of Peggy as becoming so much like Pete, as far as his cantankerousness is concerned. She’s been short, snappy, complaining about everything, and generally whiny. While it’s mostly hilarious in Pete’s case, I really feel for Peggy’s state. I don’t blame her for it, despite seeing her through her career high. (Remember the days when she was just Don’s assistant?) I get the angst of an unsatisfied person, unhappy in her personal life, being abandoned by everyone she cares for, including the neighbor boy who hangs out in her apartment. At the same time, despite having accomplished a lot by the age of 30, professionally, she still has this deep insecurity, especially when it comes to Don’s return. She became a big deal in his absence and she was threatened with his comeback, but she was soon to realize that Don could never have been a threat. He was her mentor, and while he might have used tough love to groom her over the years, his admiration for the long journey she’s made to this point is like that of a proud father. Yet, in her times of frustration, he won’t molly-coddle her. Their slow dance in his old office was one of the most endearing moments of the season.

ROGER STERLING
Roger Sterling has seemed to me as quite the vagabond since his divorce from Jane. He’s tried to be a father figure for Joan’s and his son, whom she’s raising as Greg’s, but he hasn’t been able to do what it takes for Joan to give in to anything he’s asked for. This season, embracing the energy of the late ’60s, he’s done things that aren’t really surprising for us, but just show us how he’s still nowhere close to being a guy who’ll actually grow up and have someone by his side in his golden years. Despite all of that, he tried to be a good father to his daughter, urging her to be a responsible mother, but that too backfired, and ended with him in a puddle of wet mud. His grief on Bert Cooper’s death was touching, despite the minimum expression. And at the end, despite all that’s not right and happy in his life, he’s adamant to keep the agency as it is, and his unwillingness to lose Don was expected, but still endearing.

PETE CAMPBELL
The angry, young man, who’s growing old, but still has nothing other than his work. His new look and his affectionate attitude (remember him hugging Don?) may have showed how happy he was in California, but even his hot, new relationship there didn’t last, because of his dead marriage, and his denail of it. It’s not even a bad romance anymore, but he doesn’t think once about how his attitude towards Trudy could jeopardize his chance to even remotely be happy with someone. He’s still a fan of Don’s work, and cheers him on through the Burger Chef pitch, and that’s really endearing, especially when, at the end of that episode when Don and Peggy take him to Burger Chef, and they sit to understand the family dining concept that they’re going to pitch. In a strange way, they are the strongest version of a family any of them have. And not in a mushy, “aww” kind of way, but in a very practical, symbiotic way.



MEGAN DRAPER
It was probably the most indiscreet end of a marriage, but there was something so poignant about the way things ended for Megan and Don. This had been a long time coming. Since season six, when Don promises to Megan that they’ll move to California, and then decides to stay, and she leaves anyway, most of us probably thought that it was going to end. But despite all that was wrong in that relationship, I really thought that Megan was good for Don. Initially she had seemed like just a pretty young thing, who would enjoy being Mrs. Don Draper, but over time, with her decision to get back to acting and other moves to establish her independence, it became clearer that she wasn’t going to be just someone who would feed Don’s ego. In the beginning of this season, we saw her at her independent best, not willing to even let Don buy her a TV set. It became clearer that not only was their relationship too complicated to last too long, but even Megan was not in a place where she needed him. Still, seeing a new side of humility in Don, in the episodes that followed, made me want to see them stay together. But even though he was ready to be more for her, and probably even needed her, she’d already moved on, and that final conversation was just so beautiful and heart-breaking at the same time. I hope this doesn’t mean that we won’t see Megan anymore. They’ve developed Betty’s character significantly even after she left Don, and I hope the same happens with Megan too, even if there are just seven more episodes to go.

BETTY FRANCIS & SALLY DRAPER
Betty has been one of my favorite characters since the beginning of MAD MEN. She was always strong-willed, never took any nonsense from anyone, and I was happy to see her standing up for herself when she left Don. Since their marriage ended, I found her spiraling out of control, and she became a tad annoying, but it showed us a more vulnerable side of her, and soon enough, she was back to being the Betty I loved. Her snark and sarcasm have been at their best in the last two seasons, especially with her daughter. Sally has grown into a fine young lady, much like her mother, with her general demeanor and the tough exterior. The friction between mother and daughter has layers under the entertaining surface, and I see it as both of them being in denial of the fact that Sally is growing up to be just like Betty, and them fighting against that, but quite in vain. Betty’s marriage to Henry Francis has been almost perfect up until now. While they, most unnaturally, have ignored issues, and have stayed away from any confrontation, this season, it was quite apparent that he sees her as something of a trophy wife, and she was not going to stand for it. I never thought their marriage was completely solid, especially with Betty finding it completely fine to sleep with Don last season. And now, I doubt Betty will stay with Henry. I don’t really see her ending up with anyone. She and Don could have a dalliance in the final part of the show, and that would be fun to watch, but I don’t see them getting back together.

JOAN HARRIS
I feel for Joan when she tells Bob Benson that she deserves true love, and wasn’t going to settle for anything less. It was a time when Bob couldn’t be who he was, but Joan wouldn’t have him be untrue to himself or present a farce in the name of stability. Joan might be too strong for her own good at times, but I like that about her. I want to see her get her due, at work and otherwise. Yes, she’s a partner, but I still don’t see her shining through as much I would want to. In a strange way, I would really like to see her and Roger Sterling make a go for it, but she’s too much of a woman for him and I think they’d only work together if Roger really grows up now. Can that happen? Maybe. But then again, I don’t see the show ending with definitive happy endings with all loose ends being tied up for everyone.


And that’s not the way it should be either. While we have seen a strong character arc through the first half of the final season, for everyone, especially Don, I still can’t say where this will go over the last seven episodes. What’s the big end-game for creator and showrunner, Matt Weiner, if he has any? It’s still too soon to tell. But whether or not there’ll be a big closing chapter for MAD MEN, I am absolutely certain that however it ends, it’ll leave a lot of food for thought for us. With intriguing revelations at every level, it’ll all be done without the sensationalism, but definitely with the show’s typical quiet mysticism. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

'THE GOOD WIFE' SEASON 5 FINALE: ALICIA FORRICK FOR STATE’S ATTORNEY?

The fifth season of THE GOOD WIFE has been quite the tumultuous ride, with Alicia and Cary starting their own firm, Will Gardner’s death, and now Eli’s big question to Alicia. Here’s a look at where things could go from here…


When THE GOOD WIFE began almost five years ago, there were clear parallels between Peter and Alicia Florrick and Bill and Hillary Clinton. She stayed by his side when he was coming out of a sex scandal. She was the good wife. Alicia made the decision to support her husband, despite his massive betrayal, and that worked wonders for Peter when he continued his political career after getting out of jail. However, their marriage never went back to being perfect, despite a few good moments between the two over the years. In fact, Alicia even embraced the opportunity to be happy with Will Gardner (albeit shortly), when she found out about some more of Peter’s indiscretions from the past. It was then when it became clearer to us that she, who had been the victim all along, was not going to sit back and continue to be one. But even then, she had no intention of leaving her husband. On the contrary, she made the most of his (and hers, by extension) political clout.

Meanwhile, her rise at Lockhart-Gardner saw Alicia becoming an equity partner in the previous season, and she was settling into becoming increasingly ambitious. Even when it was time for her to define her relationship with Will and take that forward, at the cost of her marriage to the governor-elect, Alicia had her eyes set on taking her career forward, deciding to leave Lockhart-Gardner with Cary Agos. While initially, it may have been hard to see the gray in her character, over the last two seasons, she has unabashedly made the most of her position as Peter Florrick’s (and subsequently, Governor Florrick’s) wife. Without abusing the position, which she wouldn’t, being a woman of integrity, she continued to accept what came her way, and why shouldn’t she! She was the victim earlier, and something had to come out of her being resilient through her husband’s betrayal. If she endured the looks of pity from everyone when she was the victim, why shouldn’t she get something out of the looks of awe that people give her when they realize she’s the governor’s wife?

When I started watching the show, and saw the similarities between the Clintons and the Florricks, and I thought about the name of the series, I figured that there had to be a bigger purpose of Alicia Florrick being ‘the good wife’. As in the case of Hillary and Bill, I imagined Alicia emerging as the stronger component of her marriage with Peter—naturally on a moral high-ground, but even politically. Over the years, with the rise of Peter’s political career and him becoming the governor of Illinois, I’ve recalled some of my thoughts from back in the beginning, and I've been even more convinced that Alicia was headed for political greatness. However, with Alicia and Cary leaving Lockhart-Gardner, and all the drama that followed, Alicia’s potential political career took a backseat in my mind, and then Will died.

Will’s death came as a huge shock to everyone who watches the show, and we all knew that THE GOOD WIFE would never be the same again. That was quite unsettling for some, because who likes change! I had similar concerns when Alicia and Cary were starting their own firm, but that turn of events gave us what are possibly some of the best episodes of the series so far. And the fact is that even Will’s death would throw all the characters into places where we’ve never seen them, giving rise to storylines that we would’ve never imagined. And the episodes that have followed Will’s death have given us just that. Will’s death threw Diane into a losing battle to retain her position as Managing Partner at Lockhart-Gardner, and that has made her knock on the doors of Florrick, Agos & Associates, making them an offer they can’t refuse. Will’s death also made Alicia bond with Finn Polmar, leading to her urging him to run for state’s attorney. Eventually, following from that, Eli Gold asks Alicia the question of the season: “Alicia, would you want to run for state’s attorney?”


And that brings me right back to what I’ve thought of all along: Alicia making it in politics. I’ve felt that, sooner or later, Alicia would go down the same road as her husband, and the series would end with her becoming the governor of Illinois. And now, it seems like that journey is finally going to begin for her. It makes me wonder obviously, what all of that means for everyone else, and for the episodic storytelling. Even with Alicia leaving Lockhart-Gardner, the legal drama could continue and characters like Diane and Cary and Kalinda could still be a big part of the show. With Alicia (potentially) as the state’s attorney, that seems a little more difficult. I’m sure her new position would create a conflict of interest with her being a partner of a law firm full of people that her office would be up against in court all the time. Of course, it would also change the procedural quality of the show considerably. However, with all that has happened in the last year—the new firm and Will’s death—the writers have still managed to keep all the important characters extremely relevant to the larger picture, and I doubt that that will change even if Alicia does become state’s attorney. And while I may be convinced that it will eventually happen, it may not even happen now. Maybe she’ll decide to run, but will lose the election. Maybe she’ll win in her second attempt. A lot can happen, and if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that change is inevitable, but I’m sure that we can all rest assured that the characters and storylines will continue to be compelling, engaging and extremely relevant to the larger picture, the series as a whole.