Sunday, December 26, 2010

TV TALK BEST OF 2010 – NOMINEES

Happy Holidays to you all! As another year ends, I select the best of television in the year gone by. This list is special, as it gives credit to a lot of people and shows that don’t get their due at all the big awards, and I know that many of you will be more familiar with these shows than those. Read on, and let me know what you liked most on television during 2010

As the year comes to an end, I look back at all that I’ve watched on television, and I can safely say that television has had a major role to play in my life this year. Besides having started TV TALK, I also started watching a few extraordinary shows, and a few that may not have been extraordinary, but have touched me at some level. I started watching House MD, which exceeded every expectation I had from the show, and it showed me what a fantastic actor Hugh Laurie is. I also started Modern Family, which has certainly broken new ground in comedy, with fabulous writing. I saw a major part of Dexter’s last few seasons, and the thriller had me hooked and gripped throughout. And then there was Glee, which was just such a feel-good show, with music that always lifts my spirits.

It was the year Ugly Betty came to an end, which was bittersweet, and it was also the year Damages outdid itself in ways no one could have thought was possible. While Brothers & Sisters saw new levels of intensity, another family drama Parenthood had me in awe of how well every aspect of families and relationships could be portrayed on screen. I also started watching a few rather entertaining crime shows like Castle and White Collar, and I even began watching the very interesting Mad Men, which I’d wanted to do ever since the show started sweeping away every TV award that exists.

Over and above all of that, my favourite shows—Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy, which I’ve grown with, over the last six-plus years, had me falling in love with them all over again. It’s been a great year for television, so I wanted to pick out the best of everything that matters to me in a show. I decided to do it with nominees and all, because I feel that even those shows and performances that come close to being the best deserve some mention here. 


So here are my nominees for the TV TALK BEST OF 2010...

Best Series – Drama
Brothers & Sisters
Damages
Desperate Housewives
Dexter
Grey’s Anatomy
House MD

Best Series – Musical or Comedy
The Big Bang Theory
Glee
How I Met Your Mother
Modern Family
Ugly Betty

Performance by an Actress in A Leading Role – Drama
Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
Glenn Close, Damages
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
Rose Byrne, Damages
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters

Performance by an Actor in A Leading Role – Drama
Hugh Laurie, House MD
John Hamm, Mad Men
Michael C Hall, Dexter
Patrick Dempsey, Grey’s Anatomy
Peter Krause, Parenthood

Performance by an Actress in A Leading Role – Musical or Comedy
America Ferreira, Ugly Betty
Courtney Cox, Cougar Town
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Lea Michele, Glee

Performance by an Actor in A Leading Role – Musical or Comedy
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Josh Radnor, How I Met Your Mother
Matthew Morrison, Glee
Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Drama
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Drea de Matteo, Desperate Housewives
Jennifer Carpenter, Dexter
Julia Stiles, Dexter
Lisa Edelstein, House MD
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Drama
Ed Westwick, Gossip Girl
James Pickens Jr, Grey’s Anatomy
Johnny Lee Miller, Dexter
Justin Chambers, Grey’s Anatomy
Matthew Rhys, Brothers & Sisters
Omar Epps, House MD

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Musical or Comedy
Alyson Hannigan, How I Met Your Mother
Becki Newton, Ugly Betty
Jane Lynch, Glee
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical or Comedy
Chris Colfer, Glee
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Fergusson, Modern Family
Michael Urie, Ugly Betty
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother

Writing – Storylines & Dialogues
Damages
Desperate Housewives
Dexter
Grey’s Anatomy
House MD
Modern Family

Character Development
Damages
Dexter
Grey’s Anatomy
House MD

Art Direction
Desperate Housewives
Dexter
Gossip Girl
Mad Men
Modern Family

Costume Design
Desperate Housewives
Glee
Gossip Girl
Mad Men
Ugly Betty

Make-up
Damages
Dexter
Glee
Grey’s Anatomy
House MD
Mad Men

Music – Background Score
Desperate Housewives
Dexter
Glee
House MD
Ugly Betty

Music – Compilation
Brothers & Sisters
Glee
Gossip Girl
Grey’s Anatomy
Private Practice

Titles – Opening & Closing Credits
Damages
Dexter
House MD
How I Met Your Mother
Mad Men

Please feel free to copy and paste the list in a comment, with only your picks in each category. If you just want to vote for the main categories, you can do so in the polls alongside. Either way, I’d love to know what you guys think, so I look forward to your comments. And before I go, I’d like to wish you all the best for 2011!

The TV TALK BEST OF 2010 will be declared soon (watch this space)!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

AWARD FEVER!!

The Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild announced their nominees this week. Here’s what I thought of them. Do let me know what you think

So Award Season 2010-11 has begun! The 68th annual Golden Globe Awards and 17th annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards nominees were announced on December 14 and 16, respectively. Even though there weren’t too many surprises, the Globes seem to have become a little adventurous, nominating people they hadn’t before, while the SAGs stuck with several former nominees, however, neglecting to recognise a few brilliant performances. One of the greatest challenges that the SAG faces is that they don’t have supporting cast categories in primetime television, therefore, they end up not doing justice in their nominees, trying to squeeze all the right performances in a list just five nominees in the limited categories. And now, let’s break down the categories...

Series/Ensemble Cast—Drama and Comedy
With three Globe wins, two SAG wins and victory at the Emmys earlier this year, Mad Men is probably going to take away the awards in the Drama categories this year as well. As mentioned here before, the show is highly overrated. While it is very well made, does the jury not consider the content before deciding on Best Series? And even though the performances of the Ensemble are quite intense, none of them make any real powerful impact. I can only hope that the show doesn’t win yet again; for whatever they are worth, they’ve had their share of victory. While I’d give the awards to Dexter, I feel that in case Mad Men doesn’t win, this year, we might see Boardwalk Empire or The Good Wife taking it away.

30 Rock, another overrated show has won too many awards in these categories. Thankfully, Glee broke that pattern last year at the Globes and SAGs, and I even thought they would walk away with the Emmy. Unfortunately for them, before they could see an Emmy win, Modern Family outshone them, and rightfully so. While Glee is rather entertaining, and well made, owing to the fabulous, well-compiled music, Modern Family is the smarter and more superior show. Besides, the second season has proven to be disappointing; in comparison to the first season and the magic it created. So I’d say that Modern Family deserves to win at least the Globe. But Glee does have some fantastic performances (thanks to the singing and dancing), from the cast as a whole, so I’d probably give them the SAG ensemble.

Actress—Drama/Comedy
Here’s an area where the Globes have disappointed me, by not nominating Glenn Close for Damages. She may have won before, but she still deserves to be nominated every year, till the show ends! The SAGs have recognised her though, and I hope they give it to her. I think they might just, because they’re sometimes better at awarding the right people, having honoured the very deserving Sally Field for Brothers & Sisters two years ago. However, with Julianna Margulies’ Globe-and-SAG victory last year for The Good Wife, she stands a greater chance, or maybe they’ll recognise the latest Emmy winner, Kyra Sedgwick’s work in The Closer. Of course, I’d want the SAGs to at least consider Mariska Hargitay for her work in Law & Order – Special Victims Unit, but sadly, as always, she’ll probably just remain a nominee.

Where it comes to actresses in the SAGs, they face a real challenge having no categories for supporting cast. Fine actresses like Jane Lynch (Glee) and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) might not stand a chance against the award hog Tina Fey (30 Rock), and the latest Emmy winner Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie). Betty White’s nomination for Hot in Cleveland really seems like a forced courtesy extended to the senior actress (they already gave her the special achievement award last year!), depriving some more deserving women of a chance to win! The Globes, might honour the fabulous Toni Collette (United States of Tara) again, but Fey and Falco will provide stiff competition!

Actor—Drama/Comedy
In Drama, I’d definitely want to give it to Hugh Laurie, for the way he’s brilliantly portrayed his character development in House MD, this year, but since he’s already won several times at the Globes and SAGs, I don’t think they’ll give it to him. Last year’s Globe-and-SAG winner Michael C Hall (Dexter) does stand a chance, but given Bryan Cranston’s heavily acclaimed and Emmy-winning performance in Breaking Bad, I think he’ll sweep both this year. Whatever the result, I’m quite sure that John Hamm (Mad Men) doesn’t stand a chance this year!

This is where the SAGs have really missed out on getting it right! While I agree that Chris Colfer (Glee) and Ty Burrell (Modern Family) deserve the nods, and while Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) and Steve Carell (The Office) being nominated is no surprise, Ed O’Neil (Modern Family) certainly doesn’t deserve to be among these performers, especially since Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) have been completely ignored! So I wouldn’t be surprised if SAG gives it to Alec Baldwin again (sadly, a fifth consecutive time)! On the other hand, it would be disappointing if the Globes make the same blunder, after giving Parsons his deserved nomination. I hope he wins, like he did the Emmy this year.

Supporting Cast (Globes only)
The Globes generally love giving the supporting awards to performances in mini-series and TV-movies, but this year, there are definitely two very strong contenders from mainstream TV—Jane Lynch and Eric Stonestreet.

Of course, the Emmy went to Lynch, hands down, but that was probably because they can afford to, given that they have separate supporting cast categories for drama and comedy. The Globes, on the other hand, are slightly partial to drama (maybe because they try so hard to be like the Oscars), so I think Hope Davis (The Special Relationship) and Kelly MacDonald (Boardwalk Empire) might be strongly considered as well. I wouldn’t be surprised, and I certainly wouldn’t mind, if they gave it to the brilliant Julia Stiles for Dexter, as they did honour John Lithgow last year for his work on the show. A surprise win would be Sofia Vergara, but it’d still be a deserving win.

There hasn’t been any real pattern in the supporting actor category at the Globes these last few years, so the chances of any of the performers is quite strong. Since I haven’t seen any of the drama performances, I can only comment on the comedy. Chris Colfer being nominated is fine, but I seriously think his performances are a little overdone, hence, I think Eric Stonestreet deserves it, hands down! 

So that’s what I thought of the Globe and SAG’s TV nominees. For me, this is the most exciting time of the year. Besides winter being my favourite season, I get to enjoy all the awards fever that goes around... So pass on the fever, and share your views here, ’cause I’d love to know what you think of the nominees.

To see the complete lists of nominees, click the links below:

(Coming Soon: The TV TALK Best of 2010 List)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

THE THING ABOUT DAMAGES

Season 3 of Damages further solidifies its position as one of the best dramas on television. Read on



The thing about Damages is that it’s the one show that has no flaws; nothing that is not plausible, nothing that is unreal. That’s what makes it brilliant. The writing is fantastic and clever. It stays completely true to its genre, i.e. a legal thriller. The first season put the show on the map of quality television. It has always been an underrated show, and definitely not spoken about or written about enough. This show is one that deserves all the critical acclaim that it gets, and certainly deserves the awards that it receives. I would like to see it winning the Emmy for Outstanding Drama, a category that has been swept by an overrated show like Mad Men these last few years. However, Glenn Close winning Emmys and a Golden Globe for Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama is good consolation for that, because she hits the nail on the head with her portrayal of the ruthless Patty Hewes. The character is so complex, with so many shades, and only a brilliant performer like Glenn Close could have done justice to it. On the other hand, Rose Byrne is equally exceptional, while playing the wronged Ellen Parsons, who then grows stronger, and learns to stand up to Patty. That brings me to S3.

To say it in one sentence, it was the best season of the show yet! We can’t really take away from the brilliance of S1, which had the Frobisher case as the backdrop. That was indeed fantastic, especially since it was the season when Byrne’s character enters the big bad world of Patty Hewes and her cases. However, this season brought out sides to the characters that had not been revealed earlier. And as long as the complicated and twisted Arthur Frobisher is still around, I’m certainly loving it, especially after a rather lukewarm S2.  

It was unfortunate to see Tom Shayes die, since Tate Donovan was such an effective actor in the role, really matured since his earlier days of acting. Your heart had to go out to him seeing him suffer because of others’ mistakes, and because of the way Patty treated him. His end was tragic and brutal. It kept me at the edge of my seat throughout the season, as they make that revelation right in the beginning, thanks to the enticing format of flash forwards of the season finale throughout. Now right from the beginning of the season, it was thrilling to just see Ellen working at the District Attorney’s office and the friction that that brought about between her and Patty. It was so poetic, even though it came only in small doses. Later, when they team up to fight the Tobins, seeing Ellen and Patty on the same level, with Ellen looking her in the eye and being upfront with her, is something that we’ve all been waiting for since S1. When Ellen tells Tom to let her take the blame for his indiscretions, in front of Patty, and says, “What’s she going to do? Fire me?” it was just so exciting!

As for the case, the Tobin case was simple, but complex, with so many levels and so much opportunity to dig out dirt and drama from the family concerned. Campbell Scott did a phenomenal job as Joe Tobin, who got dragged into a financial and lethal mess of betrayal, left by his father. Other actors this season, like Lily Tomlin and Martin Short also played a big role in ensuring a strong cast. The secrets within the family and the lies and betrayal revealed one after the other, ensured that I was hooked till the end. Almost every episode had some deadly cliffhanger, even with the main cast. When patty’s relationship with her son reaches another low, it brings out their darkest sides. Ellen grows stronger as a character, as she makes peace with her past losses. Tom deals with a deteriorating marriage, with financial problems, and Arthur is in a conflict between his past and present, fighting his dark side. Eventually, a lot of things go wrong, and the writers have left us in the lurch, more than at the end of S2, with a shocking end to a phenomenal season. Will Patty and her son call a truce? Will Arthur’s arrest make him the focus of S4? Will Ellen come back and work with Patty? These are all the questions that I’m waiting to get answers for!

It’s a pity that FX had to give the show up because of poor ratings. But the good thing is that DirecTV has made a deal with Sony to buy two more seasons that they will exclusively air starting January 5, 2011. Just a month to go, and I cannot wait for it to come! I’m just thrilled that this show won’t die for another two years at least!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

BREAKING DOWN THE SEASON

So the new seasons of all the shows have kept me busy off late. Here’s what I think of how they’re getting along... (Please leave your comments telling me what you’re liking or disliking about the current seasons; I’d love to know what you think)


WHAT I LOVE With the new season, of course there’s the whole thing about the shootout that ended the previous season, and I’m loving everything about how most characters are recovering from the devastation. However, what I’m loving most is combined evolution of the characters. They have all been to hell and back, together, so their bond appears deeper, and that’s been brought out really well. Even the former Mercy West residents, Jackson and April seem to be more a part of the group, and I’m liking their evolution together.  

WHAT I DON’T The road that Christina Yang has gone down after the incident; I just feel like there isn’t enough consistency. Agreed that there had to be a lot of darkness that came with her being held at gunpoint, while she was trying to save Derek Shepherd’s life. But since then, even as she has been scared in the OR, detached from medicine, and had issues with being called a hero, she seemed fine work-wise when she finally seemed more like a doctor during the documentary episode, and then working beautifully on a case after that. A recovery seemed to be taking place, but her quitting after that seems to make no sense. We all know that she’ll be back, so her quitting seems to be just something shock-worthy, gasp-inducing and gimmicky. I hope they deal with it well.


WHAT I LOVE Paul Young’s return! In a very obvious way, the show’s gone back to its roots—the story of the Youngs, which got all us fans hooked onto the show in S1. And I’m enjoying Mark Moses back on Wisteria Lane. He does such a fabulous job with the character, and he brings out the eeriness in Paul in an almost chilling way. I do have an idea as to what his plan is, for which he’s going around trying to buy everyone’s houses on the street, but I’ll just keep the suspense alive here. I know I’m holding my breath to see him executing his plan.

WHAT I DON’T Again, I’m going to go with the gimmicks here. When the season began, Felicia Tillman was put away in prison, and she said she had a plan for Paul, and that she had a street full of friends to help her execute it. I just hope they do something with that, and don’t just leave it as a gimmick. I really want to see them have a major face-off; she was the reason he spent ten years in prison. I also want to see Zach Young come back. We all know that Paul has major unfinished business there!






WHAT I LOVE The execution and evolution of House and Cuddy’s relationship. What began with them becoming each other’s weakness on the professional front went on to them confronting each other, on how they could let each other into their lives. Of course, his ways of working include lying to her and going behind her back, doing unethical stuff. That had to come in the way of their relationship, and it has! That’s what I’m loving. I want to see what kind of a challenge that will pose for them.

WHAT I DON’T The way they’re dealing with Olivia Wilde’s absence from the show. First of all, I don’t see why they have to have a fourth person on the team (House worked with a team of three for the first three seasons). Second of all, I’m not liking this hiring and firing of temps one bit, especially the last episode I watched, where Amber Tamblyn was being hired and fired as quickly as House was breathing in and out! That was not even funny, so it was rather pointless!


WHAT I LOVE A strong central storyline this season. While Juliet Sharpe seemed like a rather inconsequential character in the beginning, she got interesting when she went to meet her brother Ben in prison, and even more interesting, when she took money from Colin Forrester. I’m hooked on this season to find out her what she and Ben have against Serena Van der Woodsen. I just hope they don’t disappoint. I was afraid the storyline would fall flat after the (fantastic) taking down of Juliet, by the four Upper-Eastsiders, S, B, Chuck and Nate, but her new alliance with Vanessa and Little J is keeping me hooked!





WHAT I DON’T The Blair and Chuck drama. It started with some massive intensity in Paris, Chuck became a changed person, then he declared war on her, and then they called a truce. Till then, it was interesting. After that, not so much! They call a truce, they sign a treaty, then they suspect each other, then they start having meaningless sex, then they decide to be friends, and then they kiss and go upstairs to have passionate sex, and then I was rolling my eyes! I mean, they have taken the characters’ vulnerability to a level, where I’m not even interested in knowing what those two do with each other. I really don’t care what Chuck and Blair decide to be to each other anymore!


WHAT I LOVE The unfolding of the characters’ stories after the accident. I was a little uncertain about the one-year leap, but the writers played that out really well, bringing a whole new meaning to the characters. From Sarah’s insecurity of her relationship, to Kitty finding a way to let Robert go, to Nora trying to find a purpose in life, to Justin growing up emotionally, to Holly’s illness, and to Kevin and Scotty’s relationship evolving; this season has a lot of substance in terms of character development.

WHAT I DON’T Now I love that Sarah and Luc are engaged and all, but for him to just drop his modelling career, seems a little too convenient. It’s as though, they wrote a modelling career for the character just to make Sarah insecure, and for them to make a commitment. If they had decided to make him a model, the least they could have done was played it out for it to have made a difference to the show; I mean there are simpler ways of making a couple realise that they want to make a commitment! And with Kevin and Scotty, I do like the new angle to their relationship—Scotty being unfaithful—it brought out some intense drama and brilliance in Matthew Rhys’ performance even. But a part of me thinks it was just to give them more of a story this season; they really could have played out the matter of them trying to have children a little more before forcing this angle in!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

BETTY

The Ugly Betty series finale was bittersweet for me, because even though I didn’t think very highly of the show, I did enjoy watching it through its four-season run, so for whatever it was worth, it saddened me to see it end. Read on...


When the opening credits of the Ugly Betty series finale rolled, I rewound the track, and watched it a couple of times before watching on. That was the last time I would watch the panels with the eyes, nose and mouth of Betty Suarez slide alongside those of other models, on a new episode of the show. And then it began. The last few episodes had already begun the of the end of the show, with each character’s story coming to a close, and even Betty getting some closure about her past failed romances with Henry and Gio. I actually liked seeing Betty towards the end. Finally she wasn’t cribbing about wanting to do something meaningful, while having stayed with a fashion magazine for four years. Instead she embraced whatever she had, saying, “Fashion has been good to me!” That was probably one of the only times I’d respected her character, and even though she did walk away from fashion eventually, she did it with grace, acknowledging the role fashion played in shaping her journalism career. 


The Suarez Family

Seeing Hilda settling down with Bobby was a good thing, as he seemed most apt for her from among the other guys she’d dated on the show. It was good, especially because he got along famously with Justin and became his step-son’s confidante even. I liked seeing the two bond, as Justin struggled to discover himself. Justin’s gradual move from denial to acknowledgement of his sexual orientation was very well played out, as was best understood by Marc, who knew that he needed to take his time to understand and accept himself, playing a big role in helping ease the family into confronting reality. On the other hand, there was Ignacio Suarez, who seemed to have done a fine job of seeing his daughters moving on and making lives for themselves. And even though the return of his girlfriend seemed rather abrupt, it made sense for his character.


Mode
One of the things I’ll miss most about the show is the humour that Marc and Amanda brought about with almost everything they said. It was fulfilling to see them evolve into characters that weren’t just plain nasty and unrealistic, but also people who had dreams and ambitions of their own, with their own securities and reservations. I liked seeing Betty actually being almost friends with them, especially with Amanda being a part of her trip to London for Hilda’s bachelorette party, and Marc becoming like a support system for Justin and the other Suarezes.

Wilhelmina Slater will also be missed (even though Vanessa Williams is now on Desperate Housewives)! I loved how she was shown to be human towards the end, and even though she did eventually get what she’d been scheming for all along (sole editorship of Mode), she did realise the unhealthy nature of her obsession with the Meades, even seeing what truly mattered. Yes, her final union with Connor seemed unreal and abrupt, but I guess they just wanted her to find happiness from all corners.  Claire Meade never had a major role to play on the show, but I really liked her. It was nice to see Judith Light on TV after Who’s the Boss. I think she played the role of the dignified Meade matriarch with much grace. 


Daniel Meade
What I’d heard all along, since Ugly Betty came to an end on ABC, was that Betty ends up with Daniel. Of course, that seemed quite unimaginable, and like a very bad idea, at that, especially when, right till the third-last episode, there was no inclination towards it. Later, I just realised that to say that they ended up together was an exaggerated assumption and it was a relief to learn that them being together was actually just implied in the end. As I neared the end, it seemed right for Daniel to be upset with Betty’s departure from Mode, having relied on her so much since the beginning. Obviously, with her leaving, their relationship had to be defined as being something other than boss and employee. That they had become friends over the years was a given, but discovering that there was probably more to it than that would be a natural thing to happen, when two people come to a crossroad as they both did. Even so, that was just an implication, and what happens after she runs into him in London is actually just left to our interpretation. Beyond that, even as Daniel Meade wasn’t one of the strong characters on the show, I liked the characterisation, because of the evolution. Seeing him turn into a sensitive, caring and responsible person, from being a callous Casanova in the beginning was one of the best things on the show.



And as Betty drove off in her car to the airport, away from Queens, her house and her family, it was a little emotional to see the old Betty reflected in the rear windscreen. What I loved about the end was the gorgeous montage of London, as they show her going about her new life. In the last few frames, as she walks away from Daniel, and the camera zooms out, the words ‘Ugly Betty’ appear, and ‘Ugly’ fades away slowly.  Betty wasn’t ugly anymore (the gradual change that they showed in her this season was done nicely and naturally), and the song in the end beautifully captured that, concluding the series.