Monday, September 21, 2015

EMMYS 2015 HIGHLIGHTS – ‘GAME OF THRONES’, ‘VEEP’ WIN BIG, AND MORE

The highlights and not-so-bright moments at the 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards


Jon Hamm finally winning for MAD MEN was the biggest highlight, for me
If there was one thing I was hoping for, with Andy Samberg as the host of this year’s Emmys, was a good, entertaining show. And when the Emmys began, I was excited. The opening was fantastic. From the production value of the audio-visual presentation, to the writing of the song performed, I enjoyed how they made it relevant to shows such as THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, to some extent. It was really funny to see Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington and others in the mix. Taking it forward was the joke about the number of shows that are about a wife or wives. I’ve always been fascinated by our fascination for the stories of ‘wives’ (but I’m not talking about the reality show wives), so it was good to see that there have been other observations about that.


And then the act went off a little, with the Les Misérables act, which made no sense at all, and just as Will Forte’s Inspector Javert fell off the bridge, things began to fall apart as well. Andy Samberg didn’t have much to go on with after that. A few highlights of him as host did include when he joked about how TRUE DETECTIVE ‘was over’ even though it was still on the air. And later, his inappropriate ‘tribute’ to the last season of GIRLS (going down on the large Emmy on stage) was kind of funny, if you got the reference. Another fun moment was when he and Seth Meyers joked about giving an award to the ‘World’s Best Boss’ indicating that it would be their ex-boss, Lorne Michaels, the creator of SNL. What followed was the prize, a lame mug, which was hilarious, especially when they opened the envelope and declared that the winner was actually Shonda Rhimes!
Beyond those moments, there was nothing else that kept the show interesting. In fact, showing Tatianna Maslany and Tony Hale looking for metal on the red carpet, and finding cans of beans, fell completely flat.


GERVAIS’ AND KIMMEL’S PRESENTATIONS TOOK THE CAKE
The presentations were also rather dull. Ricky Gervais was one of only two of the most memorable and entertaining presenters. Him coming up and talking about how people might think that he’s won an Emmy, even though he hasn’t, and how posing with a statuette might perpetuate that even, was hilarious. It was fresh and different from the usual. Also fresh was Jimmy Kimmel, talking about how he could just mention any of the nominees on opening the envelope and no one would know who actually won. That is something I have wondered. And when an event is aired live, if someone were to actually do that, it could really mess things up. Kimmel’s chewing up the envelope bit to keep the true winner of lead actor—comedy a secret was interesting. So even if later Will Forte joked about making out with Kimmel, and then ‘found the chewed envelope bit in his mouth’ to confirm that that Jeffrey Tambor had indeed won, it was still funny.
            Apart from these, there really weren’t any noteworthy presentations, except for maybe Tracy Morgan’s, when he talked about his recovery from the accident he was in. However, when you’re about to announce the big, final award of the evening, I’d really prefer if you’d pick someone who won’t lose focus. Yes, it was good to see Morgan talking about things positively, but I’m sure it would have been just as endearing and nice to hear, earlier in the show—when presenting an award for variety series, perhaps.


THE AWARDS WERE POINTING AT THE HBO SWEEP
Finally, the awards. If there’s one thing the Academy did this year, it was mix things up completely. Well, not completely. Julia Louis-Dreyfus did win again, as expected. Jeffrey Tambor’s win was expected as well. Maybe even Allison Janney’s was predictable (but well deserved). However, MODERN FAMILY didn’t win, and while that was disappointing for me (I really wanted to see them breaking a record), I was happy to see VEEP win. It’s a brilliant show and deserves the victory. Although, with the Emmy for writing, and two acting awards, one should’ve seen outstanding comedy series going to VEEP.
Likewise with GAME OF THRONES. After the writing and directing Emmys and Peter Dinklage’s second Emmy for his role on …THRONES, it wasn’t such a huge surprise that it won outstanding drama series. Viola Davis winning HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER was good. I loved her acceptance speech the most, I think, especially with the mentioning of black actresses who have helped pave the way for others like her. Hers and Jeffrey Tambor’s speeches were the best in my opinion.

I’m just glad that none of the AMY SCHUMERs and KEY & PEELEs won. It’s bad enough that the Academy gives them spots in mainstream acting categories, which I don’t understand, since there is a separate set for variety and talk categories. The Academy should really include a couple of performance categories in that set itself, which would also help in recognizing others who are deserving as well.


JON HAMM FINALLY WON!
But the best thing was to see Jon Hamm winning. It was a win that’s been long overdue. Even though I was convinced that the Television Academy wouldn’t let the leading man of their once loved and cherished series go unrecognized for a role he’s excelled at for eight years, and has been nominated for eight times. He looked great and his going up to accept, by dragging himself onto the stage, was heartwarming. It was like he could finally take a sigh of relief. Whatever it actually was, it kind of felt like it signified the end of a long wait.





And here are all the major awards.

Outstanding Drama Series
BETTER CALL SAUL
DOWNTON ABBEY
GAME OF THRONES
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Outstanding Comedy Series
LOUIE
MODERN FAMILY
PARKS AND RECREATION
SILICON VALLEY
TRANSPARENT
UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT
VEEP

Lead Actor, Drama
Bob Odenkirk, BETTER CALL SAUL
Kyle Chandler, BLOODLINE
Kevin Spacey, HOUSE OF CARDS
Jon Hamm, MAD MEN
Jeff Daniels, THE NEWSROOM
Liev Schreiber, RAY DONOVAN

Lead Actress, Drama
Taraji P. Henson, EMPIRE
Claire Danes, HOMELAND
Viola Davis, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
Tatiana Maslany, ORPHAN BLACK
Elisabeth Moss, MAD MEN
Robin Wright, HOUSE OF CARDS

Lead Actor, Comedy
Anthony Anderson, BLACK-ISH
Matt LeBlanc, EPISODES
Don Cheadle, HOUSE OF LIES
Will Forte, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
Louis C.K., LOUIE
William H. Macy, SHAMELESS
Jeffrey Tambor, TRANSPARENT

Lead Actress, Comedy
Lisa Kudrow, THE COMEBACK
Lily Tomlin, GRACE AND FRANKIE
Amy Schumer, INSIDE AMY SCHUMER
Edie Falco, NURSE JACKIE
Amy Poehler, PARKS AND RECREATION
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, VEEP

Supporting Actor, Drama
Jonathan Banks, BETTER CALL SAUL
Ben Mendelsohn, BLOODLINE
Jim Carter, DOWNTON ABBEY
Peter Dinklage, GAME OF THRONES
Alan Cumming, THE GOOD WIFE
Michael Kelly, HOUSE OF CARDS

Supporting Actress, Drama
Joanne Froggatt, DOWNTON ABBEY
Lena Headey, GAME OF THRONES
Emilia Clarke, GAME OF THRONES
Christine Baranski, THE GOOD WIFE
Christina Hendricks, MAD MEN
Uzo Aduba, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Supporting Actor, Comedy
Andre Braugher, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Adam Driver, GIRLS
Keegan-Michael Key, KEY & PEELE
Ty Burrell, MODERN FAMILY
Tituss Burgess, UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT
Tony Hale, VEEP

Supporting Actress, Comedy
Mayim Bialik, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Niecy Nash, GETTING ON
Julie Bowen, MODERN FAMILY
Allison Janney, MOM
Kate McKinnon, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Gaby Hoffmann, TRANSPARENT
Jane Krakowski, UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT
Anna Chlumsky, VEEP

Writing For A Drama Series
Joshua Brand for THE AMERICANS, ‘Do Mail Robots Dream Of Electric Sheep?’
Gordon Smith for BETTER CALL SAUL, ‘Five-O’
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for GAME OF THRONES, ‘Mother’s Mercy’
Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner for MAD MEN, ‘Lost Horizon’
Matthew Weiner for MAD MEN, ‘Person To Person’

Directing For A Drama Series
Tim Van Patten for BOARDWALK EMPIRE, ‘Eldorado’
David Nutter for GAME OF THRONES, ‘Mother’s Mercy’
Jeremy Podeswa for GAME OF THRONES, ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’
Lesli Linka Glatter for HOMELAND, ‘From A To B And Back Again’
Steven Soderbergh for THE KNICK, ‘Method And Madness’

Writing For A Comedy Series
David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik for EPISODES, ‘Episode 409’
Will Forte for THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, ‘Alive In Tucson’
Louis C.K. for LOUIE, ‘Bobby’s House’
Alec Berg for SILICON VALLEY, ‘Two Days Of The Condor’
Jill Soloway for TRANSPARENT, ‘Pilot’
Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche for VEEP, ‘Election Night’ from HBO

Directing For A Comedy Series
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller for THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, ‘Alive In Tucson’
Louis C.K. for LOUIE, ‘Sleepover’
Mike Judge for SILICON VALLEY, ‘Sand Hill Shuffle’
Jill Soloway for TRANSPARENT, ‘Best New Girl’
Armando Iannucci for VEEP, ‘Testimony’

Guest Actor, Drama (announced the week before at the Creative Arts Emmys)
Alan Alda, THE BLACKLIST
Michael J. Fox, THE GOOD WIFE
F. Murray Abraham, HOMELAND
Reg E. Cathey, HOUSE OF CARDS
Beau Bridges, MASTERS OF SEX
Pablo Schreiber, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Guest Actress, Drama (announced the week before at the Creative Arts Emmys)
Margo Martindale, THE AMERICANS
Diana Rigg, GAME OF THRONES
Rachel Brosnahan, HOUSE OF CARDS
Cicely Tyson, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
Allison Janney, MASTERS OF SEX
Khandi Alexander, SCANDAL

Guest Actor, Comedy (announced the week before at the Creative Arts Emmys)
Mel Brooks, THE COMEDIANS
Paul Giamatti, INSIDE AMY SCHUMER
Bill Hader, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Louis C.K., SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Bradley Whitford, TRANSPARENT
Jon Hamm, UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT

Guest Actress, Comedy (announced the week before at the Creative Arts Emmys)
Christine Baranski, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Gaby Hoffmann, GIRLS
Pamela Adlon, LOUIE
Elizabeth Banks, MODERN FAMILY
Joan Cusack, SHAMELESS

Tina Fey, UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT

Sunday, September 20, 2015

THE TV TALK BEST OF 2014-15 – RESULTS

Series – Drama
BETTER CALL SAUL
DOWNTON ABBEY
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
THE NEWSROOM

Arguably the best season since HOMELAND’s first, season four put everyone on edge, with its gripping suspense, engaging and terrifying action sequences and very powerful character stories being told alongside. It was a phenomenal season that brought back the brilliance that made it such an extraordinary series when it began.


Series – Comedy/Musical
THE BIG BANG THEORY
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
EPISODES
GRACE AND FRANKIE
MODERN FAMILY
TRANSPARENT
VEEP

Brilliant writing, excellent character development and a very fresh premise came together to form GRACE AND FRANKI—a highly underrated show. With witty dialogue and rich characters and a very comfortable and effective narrative, there is probably nothing in the show that I could find faulty.


Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role – Drama
Ruth Wilson as Alison Bailey, THE AFFAIR
Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller, BROADCHURCH
Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyons, EMPIRE
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick, THE GOOD WIFE
Claire Danes as Carrie Matthison, HOMELAND
Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, HOUSE OF CARDS
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olsen, MAD MEN

As the drone queen and the seductress, who will go to any lengths to complete a mission, Claire Danes brought out the very best of her performing abilities through a fantastic fourth season of HOMELAND.


Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role – Drama
Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, BETTER CALL SAUL
David Tennant as Alec Hardy, BROADCHURCH
Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, DOWNTON ABBEY
Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, HOUSE OF CARDS
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, MAD MEN
Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy, THE NEWSROOM
Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, TRUE DETECTIVE

Jon Hamm was consistently good on MAD MEN. But especially during the last few episodes, as Don Draper searches for himself, and looks beyond what his profession or his agency’s takeover, Hamm brings out a certain vulnerability in Don like we haven’t seen before.


Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role – Comedy/Musical
Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish, THE COMEBACK
Wendy McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg, THE GOLDBERGS
Jane Fonda as Grace Hanson, GRACE AND FRANKIE
Lily Tomlin as Frankie Bergstein, GRACE AND FRANKIE
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, VEEP
Lisa Kudrow as Fiona Wallice, WEB THERAPY

Lisa Kudrow was perfect as the endearing, yet annoying Valerie Cherish. Her dealing with not being able to catch a break, and then making things work with her old showrunner, and finally getting the recognition she craved was all brought to life really well, and she stayed true to the character’s growth over time between the two seasons.


Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role – Comedy/Musical
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc, EPISODES
Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman,TRANSPARENT
Jon Cryer as Alan Harper, TWO AND A HALF MEN

Bringing a very realistic level of comfort to his cross-dressing character was Jeffrey Tambor, who took on the transgender role and gave it just the right amount for perfect impact.


Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role – Drama
Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, DOWNTON ABBEY
Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, DOWNTON ABBEY
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, THE GOOD WIFE
Archie Punjabi as Kalinda Sharma, THE GOOD WIFE
Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, GOTHAM
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris, MAD MEN
January Jones as Betty Francis, MAD MEN

Hendricks was brilliant when her character is dealing with the sexism at McCann, after the takeover. The restraint in physical acting, coupled with her intense eyes conveyed volumes about her frustration. Taking that forward was her work through the collapse of Joan’s relationship, because of wanting to make a go of a solo career. Christina Hendricks was one of the best things about the last few episodes of MAD MEN.


Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role – Drama
Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, BETTER CALL SAUL
Jim Carter as Charles Carson, DOWNTON ABBEY
Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, GOTHAM
Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn, HOMELAND
Michael Kelly as Douglas Stamper, HOUSE OF CARDS
John Slattery as Roger Sterling, MAD MEN
Taylor Kitsch as Paul Woodrugh, TRUE DETECTIVE

Nuance and intensity could not have been put together with more impact than Jonathan Banks did on BETTER CALL SAUL season one, especially when we learn about his past and discover his relationship with his daughter-in-law and granddaughter.


Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical
Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Melissa Rauch as Bernadette Rostenkowski, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Stephanie Beatriz as Rosa Diaz, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy, MODERN FAMILY
Sofia Vergara as Gloria Pritchett, MODERN FAMILY
Allison Janney as Bonnie, MOM
Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer, VEEP

Allison Janney is the life of MOM. Her chemistry with all her costars is exceptional, and she does an extraordinary job of playing Bonnie. In season two especially, from being the building’s super to dealing with loss in weird ways, and stealing from a funeral, Janney did a marvelous job with her character.


Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical
Andre Braugher as Ray Holt, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Robert Michael Morris as Mickey Deane, THE COMEBACK
Ty Burrell as Phil DunphyMODERN FAMILY
Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker, MODERN FAMILY
Adam Driver as Adam Sackler, GIRLS
Sam Waterston as Sol Bergstein, GRACE AND FRANKIE

As Cameron coaches the football team, and dotes on his new husband, and tries to sing ‘Memories’ from Cats, Eric Stonestreet’s performance in the last season of MODERN FAMILY was especially good, even outdoing his work in previous seasons.


Performance By A Guest Actress – Drama
Margo Martindale as Claudia, THE AMERICANS
Nimrat Kaur as Tasneem Qureshi, HOMELAND
Marcia Gay Harden as Hannah Keating, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
Allison Janney as Margaret Scully, MASTERS OF SEX
Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing, THE NEWSROOM

Jane Fonda was excellent in the final season of THE NEWSROOM, as the woman in-charge, who was trying to save the network and be there for her people, especially in the series finale.


Performance By A Guest Actor – Drama
Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney, THE GOOD WIFE
Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning, THE GOOD WIFE
David Hyde Pierce as Frank Prady, THE GOOD WIFE
F. Murray Abraham as Dar Adal, HOMELAND
Mark Moses as Dennis Boyd, HOMELAND
Beau Bridges as Barton Scully, MASTERS OF SEX

Dylan Baker was exceptional on THE GOOD WIFE season 6, especially because of how effectively he tackled the double role—of Colin Sweeny as well as the actor who is supposedly playing a character based on Sweney.


Performance By A Guest Actress – Comedy/Musical
Christine Baranski as Beverly Hofstadter, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Kyra Sedgwick as Madeline Wuntch, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Kristen Johnston as Brenda, MODERN FAMILY
Octavia Spencer as Regina, MOM
Calista Flockhart as April Keating, WEB THERAPY
Lily Tomlin as Putsy Hodge, WEB THERAPY

Christine Baranski was spectacular as Leonard’s mother in the last season of THE BIG BANG THEORY. Her emotionally stingy character’s indifference could not have been portrayed better.


Performance By A Guest Actor – Comedy/Musical
Billy Bob Thornton as Oliver Lorvis, THE BIG BANG THEORY
Seth Rogen as Seth Rogen, THE COMEBACK
Hugh Laurie as Tom James, VEEP
Jon Hamm as Jeb Masters, WEB THERAPY
Matthew Perry as Tyler Bishop, WEB THERAPY

Hugh Laurie is a good actor, whether he does drama or comedy, as he steps into characters well. On VEEP, his portrayal of Selina Meyer’s vice presidential candidate was smart, genuine and impactful. Yet, his delivery was well moderated.


Writing
THE AFFAIR
BETTER CALL SAUL
DOWNTON ABBEY
THE GOOD WIFE
GRACE AND FRANKIE
HOMELAND
MAD MEN

The narrative structure of BETTER CALL SAUL, with the storytelling taking into consideration various perspectives, and the effective portrayal of different times in the chronological timeline of the story was brilliant. The characters were developed as complete individuals, even for a viewer who may have not watched BREAKING BAD, making it quite commendable.


Cinematography
THE AFFAIR
BETTER CALL SAUL
BROADCHURCH
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS
TRUE DETECTIVE

The camerawork and the usage of foreground and background, to effectively create a mood was exemplary in BETTER CALL SAUL. Visually rich from the very first scene onwards, the cinematography essentially was the voice of even the quiet moments of the show.


Production Design
THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB
BETTER CALL SAUL
EMPIRE
GOTHAM
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN

The production design and art direction team of GOTHAM did a fantastic job of modifying New York City to look like the fictional Gotham City. From the post-production on the skylines and rooftops, to the creation of the GCPD precinct and Barbara’s gorgeous penthouse, to Fish Mooney’s bar and the dungeon she was kept in—everything perfectly created a world for the stories of GOTHAM to take place in.


Costume Design
THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB
DOWNTON ABBEY
EMPIRE
GOTHAM
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX

MAD MEN beautifully reflected the turn of the decade, as the ’60s were ending, through the costumes in the last few episodes of the series. From Peggy’s bolder colors and patterns to Joan’s more sophisticated look, and even the clothes worn by Sally, and the men, every outfit was thoughtfully put together and represented the characters well.


Make-Up And Hairstyling – Prosthetic/Non-Prosthetic
THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB
DOWNTON ABBEY
GOTHAM
GREY’S ANATOMY
MAD MEN
TRANSPARENT

Spanning several years of the lives of the women in THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB, as their husbands explore outer space, the show reflected the passage of time rather well with changing hairstyles and make-up. The variation in the look of each character, while maintaining the essence of their style, was quite impressive.


Music – Score
THE GOOD WIFE
GOTHAM
HOMELAND
HOUSE OF CARDS
SCANDAL

HOMELAND’s score in the fourth season was extraordinary, perfectly complementing the rising dramatic tension in those nail-biting moments. Yet, music was used with economy. It was never over-used or over-the-top.




Music – Songs (Compilation/Original)
EMPIRE
GLEE
GREY’S ANATOMY
MAD MEN
NASHVILLE

EMPIRE had to win this one, because of the amazing music, and the choice of songs in every situation. From ‘You’re So Beautiful’ to ‘Drip Drop’, every song and performance essentially reflects the characters and forms a big part of representing the world of EMPIRE.


Titles – Opening And Closing Credits
BETTER CALL SAUL
GRACE AND FRANKIE
MASTERS OF SEX
TRANSPARENT
TRUE DETECTIVE

Just the concept of GRACE AND FRANKIE’s opening credits is incredibly effective. It’s simple, yet fresh, and very nicely executed with the animation, the editing and the music track.