Monday, 27 June 2011

My Dream Emmy Nomination Wish List

We're still a couple of weeks away from the announcement of this year's Primetime Emmy Nominations on 14 July, but lots of TV sites I follow have been posting their nomination wish lists, so I got excited. Here is my dream list of nominations in a few of the categories, with some categories including only a few, or in one case, a single nominee, and a couple categories with way too many nominees (I couldn't choose!). I have no idea what categories people actually submitted themselves for this year (except for Rob Lowe, who famously [and a little pretentiously?] went for a Best Actor nomination this year), so I've put them in the categories I'd like to see them in, again, in a dream world. What do you think? Anyone you're cheering for this year?

Big Love
Friday Night Lights

30 Rock
Cougar Town
Happy Endings
Parks and Recreation

Big Love: "Exorcism"
Friday Night Lights: "Kingdom"
Fringe: "Olivia"
Fringe: "The Plateau"
Private Practice: "Did You Hear What Happened to Charlotte King?"
Southland: "Code 4"
The Good Wife: "Breaking Up"

30 Rock: "TGS Hates Women"
Chuck: "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger"
Glee: "Britney/Brittany"
Parks and Recreation: "Harvest Festival"
Parks and Recreation: "The Flu"

Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Mirielle Enos, The Killing
Lauren Graham, Parenthood
Regina King, Southland
Julianna Marguilies, The Good Wife
Anna Torv, Fringe
Jeanne Tripplehorn, Big Love

Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Michael Cudlitz, Southland
Shawn Hatosy, Southland
Joel Kinnaman, The Killing
Peter Krause, Parenthood
Bill Paxton, Big Love
Tom Selleck, Blue Bloods

Lisa Edelstein, House
Chloe Sevigny, Big Love
KaDee Strickland, Private Practice
Mae Whitman, Parenthood
Grace Zabriskie, Big Love

Kevin Alejandro, Southland
Michael B. Jordan, Friday Night Lights
John Noble, Fringe
Dax Shepherd, Parenthood
Donnie Wahlberg, Blue Bloods

Courtney Cox, Cougar Town
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Patricia Heaton, The Middle
Lea Michele, Glee
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Rashida Jones, Parks and Recreation
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Heather Morris, Glee
Busy Phillips, Cougar Town
Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live


Ian Gomez, Cougar Town
Ed Helms, The Office
Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation


Mamie Gummer, The Good Wife
Jennifer Love Hewitt, Law & Order: SVU
Martha Plimpton, The Good Wife
Leelee Sobieski, The Good Wife
Evan Rachel Wood, True Blood


Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife
Seth Gabel, Fringe
Chris Noth, The Good Wife

Jennifer Aniston, Cougar Town
Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock
Mo ("Joan Calamezzo runs this town") Collins, Parks and Recreation
Ruby Jerins, Nurse Jackie
Gwyneth Paltrow, Glee


Darren Criss, Glee
Matt Damon, 30 Rock
John Hamm, 30 Rock
Mike O’Malley, Glee

American Idol
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance

Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance**

**Not a category I’ve ever been too invested in, except when it excludes the wonderful Cat Deeley without cause every year.

Monday, 20 June 2011

'The Killing''s Terrible Season Finale

Maybe "terrible" is a little harsh, but it wasn't good. Have you been watching The Killing this season? [SPOILER WARNING!!] The first few episodes of its debut season were all kinds of fantastic: an atmospheric, anti-procedural slow-burn, with that amazing actress from Big Love (Mireille Enos -- I'm still haunted by visions of Kathy Marquart's fatal braid-in-car-door encounter) brooding up the screen.

Then the show got a little annoying. I'm actually okay with the idea of not knowing who killed Rosie Larson until the finale. In some ways, it's an interesting experiment in measuring expectations. But we didn't actually find out who killed Rosie in the finale! Fail! And, for that matter, did there have to be so many red herrings? I think the idea was that in a police investigation, there would be lots of false leads, persons of interest who turned out to be innocent, and "clues" that would turn out to not be connected to the crime. From a deconstructive standpoint, I like that the show attempted to depart from the Law & Order cop show formula that gets so tired, but from a narrative standpoint, the story turned out to be just a jumbled bag of annoyances ranging from the slightly irritating (Mr Ahmed was merely helping a teenage girl escape an arranged marriage? Huh?) to the straight-up WTH?? (we learn about "Beau Soleil" ELEVEN EPISODES INTO A THIRTEEN EPISODE SEASON?! Girl, please!).

It shouldn't have been a shock that the finale was so lame, then, but the early promise of the show made me want to hope that the show knew where it was going. After the finale, I'm feeling a little misled. (E.g.: Richmond killed Rosie -- no wait, maybe he didn't -- wait, did he? -- now I don't care!) Even if Richmond was the killer, why did Linden tell him they were onto him? And for that matter, why did Richmond have his computer open (with audible alerts!) to the email account with his killer misnomer? Andy Greenwald at Vulture expresses my finale frustration the best (and most dramatically): "But the finale was just the last in a long, frustrating, and soggy line of cheap fake-outs, preposterous 180s, and colossal storytelling disappointments. By last night’s episode, we were Rosie Larsen: huddled, miserable in the dark woods waiting for the killer to reveal himself. And, unlike Rosie, we were denied even that."

The list of plot holes and poor storytelling devices has been discussed better and at length elsewhere, so I won't go on. The thing that I found the most annoying about the finale was that the show has a lot of great things going on for it (you know, atmosphere, rain, creepiness, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman), but it squandered its potential with gimmicky, red herring crap that belongs on lesser shows on lesser networks. The finale did nothing to bring together all the missing and broken pieces of the story that we were led, as viewers, to believe were important. And, frankly, at the end of the day, a show that centers on solving a murder needs to solve the murder.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

'Nurse Jackie': Episode 10, "F*** the Lemers"

I've recently been catching up on episodes of Nurse Jackie that have been sitting dormant for a long time on my TiVo. The show is usually a little bleak for my taste, and I don't feel much compulsion to keep up with it from week to week. (I like high drama, melancholic, and sad, but bleak bums me out. That's why I stopped watching The Big C and The United States of Tara. I digress.) That said, the acting is good and the characters are at least interesting. Jackie (Edie Falco) is the classic anti-hero: you genuinely want her to lose her job, but you still feel invested in her well-being.

In last week's episode, "F*** the Lemers", they dove a little more deeply into Jackie's daughter Grace's (Ruby Jerins, kid actor extraordinaire [sidebar: she was one of the Laeddis kids in Shutter Island! Creepy.]) psychological issues, specifically the nature of the anxiety she experiences. One of the most heartbreaking moments of the season (maybe the series) is the scene in this episode where Grace explains to her parents why she thinks she needs medication, and then later when she tries to tell Jackie how she feels medication helping her:

GRACE: "It’s like I’m on the edge of having ten ideas, all at once, only maybe I don’t have to have them. Like I could say “freeze” and walk right up to them and see if I want to let them in or not. I don’t think they’re ever going to go away, but if I don’t want to think them, I don’t have to.

JACKIE: "No, you don’t.

GRACE: "My heart is moving a little slower. I can tell. But it’s okay, it’s just for now."

This piece of dialogue is so beautifully scripted that only Jerins' absolutely note-perfect delivery does it justice. In fact, after this episode, it's amazing Jerins' name hasn't come up on Emmy wish-lists for guest star performances.

This whole storyline has, from the beginning, been one of the most compelling of the series. Grace's psychological imbalance wasn't caused by her parents' marital issues or her mother's addiction, but it was probably escalated by those things. It's not often we get to see on TV the drawn-out causal effects of parental misbehavior on their children. I like how this has played out, thus far.

Monday, 13 June 2011


We're now standing on the cusp of the summer TV season, and, unlike the bleak rerun crap we were stuck with when I was in high school, summer TV isn't nearly so dismal anymore! Media like TV on DVD, iTunes, and internet viewing have made reruns too accessible for viewers so that networks have been smarter to avoid boring us with stuff we've already seen. Ergo, they've been busting out, if not the big guns, certainly the li'ler, more playful guns between June and August. Don't get me wrong: I'd much rather have A-game shows like Fringe and Parks and Recreation than solid B shows like Rookie Blue, but after years of TV coming to a sudden halt after nine months of fairly regular new programing, it's nice to see some variety during the months when not all of us get to go on vacations to strange and exotic and apparently TV-less places!

So, for you, friends, I have compiled an alphabetical list of shows I plan to watch this summer, not including ones that are still going because they awkwardly began their late-season runs in March/April (like The Killing and Friday Night Lights, both of which are levels of awesome that are too high for summer TV, proper). Feel free to peruse at will. What are you watching this summer? Does anyone have any idea when Project Runway is coming back?

Covert Affairs (USA, currently airing): Less angsty Alias-knockoff? Perhaps, but I can't help it: I think this show's a blast! I always enjoy seeing capable people tackle tough situations with superhero-like abilities (which is why the Bourne movies are so much fun), while still maintaining a humanity we can all relate to (and that is the formula for a good action TV show, my friends). In short, Annie Walker (played by Golden Globe nominee Piper Perabo, who is no longer the poor woman's Amanda Peet) is a fun lead to follow on this occasionally formulaic, but never boring spy show.

In Plain Sight (USA, currently airing): I don't know why I like this show so much. It's a fairly run of the mill procedural, with a case of the week type of formula. Yet, there's something kind of hypnotizing about Mary McCormack's performance, as well as her chemistry with co-star Fred Weller. [SPOILER ALERT!] This season, it will be most interesting to see how McCormack's Mary Shannon tackles maternity, and whether it causes her to lighten up a little bit.

Love in the Wild (NBC, 29 June): Granted, this looks a little stupid, and there's about a 60% chance I'll watch one episode, turn it off, and never look back, but as dating shows go, it looks kind of fun. Couples testing their relationships (or going on first dates? I don't know: the ads are vague) through jungle adventures in Costa Rica? Well, why not?

Necessary Roughness (USA, 29 June): Apparently, this is based on a true story, and not, apparently, on the Scott Bakula classic film of the same name from 1991. How fun is that?! I love the idea of pursuing a "sports drama" through psychiatry, because as any athlete will tell you, the mind is sometimes harder to tame than the body.

Platinum Hit (Bravo, currently airing): I posted a little pre-show expectations summary about this show a couple of weeks ago, and I'm happy to report that this show is working for me thus far. It demystifies the songwriting process, which in itself is an interesting thing to see, while maintaining that the writers all need to bring pieces of themselves to the songs they write. Fascinating! The songs they've come up with haven't been half-bad, either. Plus, Kara DioGuardi has been nothing but insightful, previews for upcoming episodes hint at a showmance, and at least two of the contestants seem to be bona fide douchebags (I'll let you figure out whom). I love a show where creativity reigns supreme!

Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, 14 June): While I'm sad to lose Make It or Break It for a few months, I welcome the return of PLL, a show with such an addictive quality to it that I've forgotten I'm supposed to be embarrassed to like it. Like with The Vampire Diaries, I constantly find myself questioning the long-term viability of the mystery plot-line it pursues, but also like TVD, the show has yet to let me down. I'm looking forward to seeing what it can dish out in season 2!

Rizzoli and Isles (TNT, 11 July): The moment this show won me over last season was when Rizzoli and Isles were running a Boston Marathon-type marathon in Boston, but they had to stop to solve a crime. While I would never stop running a marathon to solve a crime, I like that they were running it in the first place.

Rookie Blue (ABC, 23 June): I hated this show at first, but it grew on me in a major way last season to the point that I was more than a little annoyed to have to wait 10 months for new episodes when the season ended. It's a little like a police version of Grey's Anatomy set in Toronto. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, and if you ever appreciated Gregory Smith on Everwood or Missy Peregrym on life as we know it, you should tune into this one.

So You Think You Can Dance (FOX, currently airing): While I enjoy the madness of American Idol and the creative punch of Project Runway, SYTYCD is in my opinion the best competition reality show on TV. Unlike Idol, the contestants chosen are always extremely talented. The show recognizes that the kind of skill involved in dancing is something that must be attained through a combination of years of hard work, good body type, natural ability, and artistic sensibility, and it's always nice to see contestants critiqued with these things in mind. On top of all that, back-stories only really matter when the contestant has the dancing chops to accompany their sob story. I love the routines, the gaggle of talented choreographers, the personalities of the dancers, and the apparently encouraging atmosphere among the dancers themselves. I. Love. This. Show.

Suits (USA, 23 June): USA is where it's at this summer, y'all! I like the idea of an ambitious scrapper with a Will Hunting brain and no law degree working for a high powered law firm. Could be fun, right?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

NBC's 'Smash'

Have you guys seen the preview for NBC's new fall series Smash? Check it out:

My initial reaction to that five minutes of fun is that it might make a better movie than TV series, even though it looks like they've packed the pilot with plenty of long-term potential. I always get a little nervous watching pilots with expiration date concepts (see: Prison Break). Granted, I'm pretty sure a Broadway musical takes a lot longer to produce from the ground up than any of us can fully understand, but I'm just wondering how long in TV time they'll take to get the show on its feet. Debra Messing's character tells us lowly non-theatre folk "it takes years to develop a musical". Still, it can often get quite annoying to watch a show build towards a singular goal that you know they're not going to reach until the show is finally canceled (just tell us who the Mother is on How I Met Your Mother, already! My patience has worn rather thin). Smash looks like a really interesting concept, though, and it could perhaps find an audience with the same kind of people who liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, that is, people who get a kick out of metatelevision/theatre for grownups. (For the record, I'm definitely one of those people.) Conceptual worries aside, I like the stark contrasts with Glee (no disrespect to Glee, y'all!) and the slightly more cynical, yet American dream-like tone that I gleaned from that preview. Yeah, it looks a little predictable, but it's a story I'm happy to hear again from these people. In a word, it's interesting.

I also like the cast. Katharine McPhee (who lost to Taylor freaking Hicks) appears to make a believable lead, and, in spite of her pretentious or possibly ironic "And Introducing" credit at the end of the trailer, it's not her first time to the acting rodeo. Anyone see The House Bunny? (If not, you need to Netflix that junk. It's comic gold!) Obviously, her voice is fantastic, too.** I also appreciated the tongue-in-cheek tag to one of McPhee's trademark Idol performances (that breath control!) at the beginning of the preview. Need I even mention Debra Messing, Angelica Houston (for crying out loud!), and Jack Davenport (who stood out in last year's now debunk Flash Forward)?

Any thoughts on the trailer?

**Ever heard her duet with Zachary Levi (from Chuck!) on the Kara DioGuardi and Jason Reeves-penned song "Terrified"? Listen to it and wait to be sucked into a harmonious sound cave of adorable.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Haley Reprise!

Check out Haley Reinhart making Live with Regis and Kelly momentarily awesome: