Sunday, October 12, 2014

THE TV TALK BEST OF 2013-14—RESULTS

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

No comments:

Post a Comment