Monday, September 23, 2013

‘MODERN FAMILY’ CONTINUES WINNING SPREE; ‘BREAKING BAD’ FINALLY WINS

The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards: A night of shocks and surprises, with some of the most unpredictable results in recent years, but not without several repeat wins. The show itself was rather disappointing, but not only because of the presentation. Here’s why…


When the Primetime Emmys began this year, it was disappointing to see host Neil Patrick Harris just sitting and talking to a bunch of TV screens that had clips from shows over the year gone by. After his outstanding musical performance at the Tony Awards earlier this year, everyone was expecting a number. That always helps set the tone, with everyone feeling entertained and upbeat. Good humor can also get the audience hooked instantly, but unfortunately, the jokes barely made lips curve. When Emmy hosts from the recent past interrupted his opening, I thought that it would build up to something. However, beyond seeing big names like Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien up there, there was nothing that hooked me, until Kevin Spacey went all Frank Underwood (HOUSE OF CARDS) and spoke directly to the audience, with the past and present hosts fighting in the background. That was hilarious. But…such moments were rather rare over the next three hours.

Emmys hosts past and present, arguing
THE HOST
When it was announced earlier this year that Neil Patrick Harris would be returning to host the Emmys, I was excited, because I remembered what a great job he had done the last time he had hosted the show. However, his bits during the show, especially the opening, were poorly written, and even he looked a little bored with what he was doing. The decision to have a musical number midway through the show wasn’t a bad one, because by that point, we really needed some nice, peppy entertainment. However, the performance was nothing more than ordinary, and seemed pointless, because it didn’t say anything about television; instead, it went on and on about being a midway number!

The midway musical number
THE PERFORMANCES
To be fair, NPH did give us some great moves in the choreography presentation number, which did pay tribute to some of the big shows. It was entertaining, because of the sheer talent, and because of the way the dancers got into costume to represent characters from shows like BREAKING BAD, THE BIG BANG THEORY, GAME OF THRONES, etc. The producers really should have expanded this performance and scrapped the midway number. The choreography bit could have even been a good opening number, and presenting the Emmy for that category wouldn’t have been a bad way to start the show, especially given how it actually began. The performances by Sir Elton John and Carrie Underwood were nice, but didn’t quite wow the audience.

Emily & Zooey Deschanel presenting
THE PRESENTERS
After the disappointing opening (except for Kevin Spacey’s bit), Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took the stage to present the first award. But after seeing those two doing such an excellent job at the Golden Globes earlier this year, the material they worked with at the Emmys fell completely flat. In fact, the producers could’ve just asked anyone off the street to say their bits and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Other presentations were also disappointing, especially those by sisters Emily and Zooey Deschanel, Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington, Claire Danes and Bryan Cranston, to name a few. Will Ferrell’s appearance, with those kids, to present the Outstanding Series awards at the end, was probably the worst of the evening. It was not funny, he has very little to do with comedy and drama series, and the bits where he was telling the kids not to blow it because ‘it’s the Emmys’ was just trying too hard.



Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes her acceptance 

speech with Tony Hale present
THE ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES
Soon after the show began, we were thrown into the first shocker of the evening—Merritt Weaver’s win for supporting actress, comedy. While a lot of people think that her speech was the best, I thought that her “Oh my god! Thank you so much… Umm, I gotta go. Bye!” was just terrible, especially as the first acceptance speech of the evening. I personally think that if you’re getting a chance to say something on winning, the least you can do is give the audience something that’ll make them think, laugh, feel good about, or move them. But anyway, moving on from that, I felt that most of the other speeches too were boring and uninspired. Maybe that happened because most of the people that won were completely unprepared for their victories, since they were all so unexpected. The best acceptance speeches had to be those by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Lead Actress—Comedy, VEEP) and Michael Douglas (Lead Actor—Miniseries/TV Movie, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA). With Tony Hale standing behind Louis-Dreyfus, feeding her lines as she made her speech, thus recreating what is one of the funniest character dynamics on VEEP, was absolute genius. And Douglas telling costar Matt Damon, “This award is half yours. So what do you want? The top or the bottom?” was probably the line of the evening, and one that no one will forget about anytime soon. 

Jane Lynch paying tribute to her former GLEE costar,
the late Cory Monteith
THE PRESENTATION
I understand that it’s best if the two biggest awards—outstanding series, comedy and drama—are saved for the end. However, if that is preceded by like an hour of variety show and miniseries/TV movie award presentations, it’s bound to get rather boring, because by that point, most people are just waiting for the final two awards. Moreover, the presentation didn’t even follow a pattern wherein all the comedy categories were done first, and then the drama, and so on. So it probably would have been best to evenly pace out the main series awards with the variety show, etc awards, so as to sustain the audience’s attention. What made it especially tedious was what seemed like unending tributes to people who died over the last year. While ‘In Memoriam’ is a segment of the show that needs to be there, individualized tributes didn’t make sense, not just because of the very random selection of deceased artists, but also because (with all due respect to the dear departed) of how boring it became.

The cast of BREAKING BAD celebrates the big win
THE RESULTS
Unlike last year, when HOMELAND swept the main categories, this year’s Emmys gave us quite a mixed bag of results, a lot of which were unexpected. While MODERN FAMILY might have won its fourth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Series, Comedy, it still didn’t make a clean sweep. None of the actors from the show won this year; instead, there were surprise wins for Tony Hale (VEEP) and Merritt Weaver (NURSE JACKIE) in the comedy acting categories. Additionally, while many saw HOMELAND’s first-time nominees Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin as frontrunners in drama, Bobby Cannavale unexpectedly took away the prize for supporting actor, drama. Even Anna Gunn’s win for BREAKING BAD was not what many saw coming, especially since the other actors from the show didn’t win. And while Jeff Daniels’ win for THE NEWSROOM took Bryan Cranston supporters by surprise, BREAKING BAD did win Outstanding Series, Drama, which most people did expect to happen. Other results that were expected were Claire Danes’ win for HOMELAND, Jim Parsons’ for THE BIG BANG THEORY and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ win for VEEP. The awards for writing and directing in comedy and drama were also evenly distributed over 30 ROCK, MODERN FAMILY, HOUSE OF CARDS and HOMELAND, further preventing a clean sweep. Here are some of the results:

Outstanding Drama
BREAKING BAD 
DOWNTON ABBEY
GAME OF THRONES
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN

Outstanding Actress In A Drama
Connie Britton, NASHVILLE
Claire Danes, HOMELAND
Michelle Dockery, DOWNTON ABBEY
Vera Farmiga, BATES MOTEL
Elisabeth Moss, MAD MEN
Kerry Washington, SCANDAL
Robin Wright, HOUSE OF CARDS

Outstanding Actor In A Drama
Hugh Bonneville, DOWNTON ABBEY
Bryan Cranston, BREAKING BAD
Jeff Daniels, THE NEWSROOM
Jon Hamm, MAD MEN
Damian Lewis, HOMELAND
Kevin Spacey, HOUSE OF CARDS

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama
Anna Gunn, BREAKING BAD
Maggie Smith, DOWNTON ABBEY
Emilia Clarke, GAME OF THRONES
Christine Baranski, THE GOOD WIFE
Morena Baccarin, HOMELAND
Christina Hendricks, MAD MEN

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama
Bobby Cannavale, BOARDWALK EMPIRE
Jonathan Banks, BREAKING BAD
Aaron Paul, BREAKING BAD
Jim Carter, DOWNTON ABBEY
Peter Dinklage, GAME OF THRONES
Mandy Patinkin, HOMELAND

Outstanding Directing For a Drama Series
BOARDWALK EMPIRE
BREAKING BAD
DOWNTON ABBEY
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS

Outstanding Writing For a Drama Series
BREAKING BAD
DOWNTON ABBEY
GAME OF THRONES
HOMELAND

Outstanding Comedy
30 ROCK
THE BIG BANG THEORY
GIRLS
LOUIE
MODERN FAMILY
VEEP

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy
Laura Dern, ENLIGHTENED
Lena Dunham, GIRLS
Edie Falco, NURSE JACKIE
Tina Fey, 30 ROCK
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, VEEP
Amy Poehler, PARKS AND RECREATION

Outstanding Actor In A Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 ROCK
Jason Bateman, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
Louis CK, LOUIE
Don Cheadle, HOUSE OF LIES
Matt LeBlanc, EPISODES
Jim Parsons, THE BIG BANG THEORY

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy
Mayim Bialik, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Jane Lynch, GLEE
Julie Bowen, MODERN FAMILY
Merritt Wever, NURSE JACKIE
Jane Krakowski, 30 ROCK
Sofia Vergara, MODERN FAMILY
Anna Chlumsky, VEEP

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy
Adam Driver, GIRLS
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, MODERN FAMILY
Ed O’Neill, MODERN FAMILY
Ty Burrell, MODERN FAMILY
Bill Hader, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Tony Hale, VEEP

Outstanding Directing For a Comedy Series
30 ROCK
GIRLS
GLEE
LOUIE
MODERN FAMILY

Outstanding Writing For a Comedy Series
30 ROCK
EPISODES
LOUIE
THE OFFICE

Outstanding TV Miniseries Or Movie
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA
THE BIBLE
PHIL SPECTOR
POLITICAL ANIMALS
TOP OF THE LAKE

Lead Actress In A TV Miniseries Or Movie
Jessica Lange, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM
Laura Linney, THE BIG C: HEREAFTER
Helen Mirren, PHIL SPECTOR
Sigourney Weaver, POLITICAL ANIMALS
Elisabeth Moss, TOP OF THE LAKE

Lead Actor In A TV Miniseries Or Movie
Michael Douglas, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA
Matt Damon, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA
Toby Jones, THE GIRL
Benedict Cumberbatch, PARADE’S END
Al Pacino, PHIL SPECTOR

A lot of things didn’t quite work for the Emmys this year, from the hosting to the presenters, from the performances to the presentation, and so on. But the awards itself were rather satisfactory. I was surprised when a few of the winners’ names were announced, but I didn’t think that any of them were undeserving of the awards that they won. I look forward to next year’s Emmys, when all eyes will be on MAD MEN as it heads into its final season, while BREAKING BAD will still be eligible, even though it is ending in a week.



What did you think of the 65th Primetime Emmys? Were you as disappointed as I was? Do share your views…

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