Sunday, September 18, 2011

MTVP 2011 Emmys Coverage: The Players

It’s that time of year again. The Super Bowl for us TV junkies. This Sunday is the Primetime Emmy Awards on FOX. The telecast is due to be hosted by Jane Lynch of “Glee” fame, which is a choice I’m pretty happy about. Lynch is a talented comedienne, even if her role as Sue Sylvester has made her dip into the same well way too many times. Mostly I’m just really glad that FOX didn’t tap Ryan Seacrest to host again like the last time thy broadcast the show. Long time followers here at MTVP (all one…maybe two…of you) know my drill. I’m no Emmys expert, but I love TV, and I’ve picked a few categories where I have an especially strong opinion about who I would like to see win. These aren’t predictions, just my wishes, really. For real Emmys analysis, if you’re into that kind of thing, I highly recommend Gold Derby or the blogs of any of the “real” TV critics like Alan Sepinwall, Dan Fienberg, or Mo Ryan.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Louis C.K. (Louie)
Steve Carrell (The Office)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

My Pick: Jim Parsons

For the third year in a row, I’m rooting for Jim Parsons to take home this trophy. Sure “The Big Bang Theory” has declined in quality somewhat in the past couple years, but Parsons always brings energy and amazing effort to the role of Sheldon Cooper. Parsons submitted “The Agreement Dissection,” which I suppose works in his favor, because there’s plenty of Sheldon acting neurotic, and Emmy voters favor more broadly comedic performances. I think Alec Baldwin or Steve Carrell could be the real upsets here. Baldwin because he’s won the category before and Carrell because Emmy voters might want to thank him for his time on “The Office.” I was very surprised that Johnny Galecki was nominated. While he does an admirable job portraying the hapless Leonard on “The Big Bang Theory,” he often has to play the straight man to the other characters’ antics. That sort of role doesn’t usually get a lot of recognition.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Chris Colfer (Glee)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
Ed O'Neill (Modern Family)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)

My Pick: Chris Colfer

Any of you who have read much of this blog at all can guess that I was pretty darn furious when the nominees for this category were announced this year. I am an unapologetic Neil Patrick Harris fan, and I thought it was ridiculous he wasn’t included on the list. Barney meeting his father gave him some great material to work with this year. Furthermore, I was shocked that four of the six slots were taken up by the guys from “Modern Family.” I understand that “Modern Family” is a positively reviewed show with a lot of fans, but is it really that much better than everything else out there? Spread the love around, people! I picked Chris Colfer here because a lot was asked of him on “Glee” this year, and for the most part, he delivered. He got some sass by the end of the season, which was fun. I don’t think he can win this, though, because Kurt is not at all a broadly comedic character. As long as Jon Cryer doesn’t win again, I won’t be throwing things across the apartment and making my roommates worried. Let’s hope he doesn’t get “he had to deal with the Charlie Sheen mess” sympathy votes.

Outstanding Drama Series

The Nominees:

Boardwalk Empire
Friday Night Lights
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Mad Men

My Pick: Game of Thrones

“Game of Thrones” started off slow, but it ended brilliantly. I deeply cared about many of the characters by about two-thirds of the way through the season. Even before that point, though, the episodes were improving drastically. The real turning point for me was when Tyrion was on trial at the Eyrie, and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. Beyond great characterization, I thought the production values on “Game of Thrones” were amazing. Everyone involved did a wonderful job making the fantastical world of Westeros come to life, from the Wall to King’s Landing. If “Game of Thrones” can’t win it because of the inherently anti-genre bias of these sorts of awards shows, I’d go for “Friday Night Lights.” I haven’t watched season five yet (TV fan fail, I know), but the show has been of excellent quality on a fairly consistent basis. We just won’t talk about season two). I always love a little trip to Dillon, Texas, even if the experience will often be so raw and emotional that it’s painful. My guess is that “Mad Men” will take home the prize, though, just because they seem to be the perennial critical darling. Personally, I couldn’t get past season one. The whole thing was just too dour and the characters all rather hateful.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

The Nominees:

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
Alan Cumming (The Good Wife)
Walton Goggins (Justified)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Andrew Braugher (Men of a Certain Age)

My Pick: Peter Dinklage

Peter Dinklage has the distinction of making Tyrion the only Lannister I can at all stand on “Game of Thrones.” I appreciate that he uses his wit to survive in the world, and Dinklage does a good job of conveying that, always with a sparkle in his eye. His shining moment is really in “A Golden Crown,” the sixth episode of the season, when Tyrion is put on trial for murder and attempted murder. You can see the wheels turning as Tyrion talks his way out of trouble and his glee when his scheming succeeds is infectious. Dinklage instead to submit “Baelor,” the penultimate episode for consideration, which has some great moments as well, with Tyrion leading his mountain men troops into battle. I just like the trial more. For a second choice, I’d go with Josh Charles. I haven’t ever watched “The Good Wife,” but I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin and “Sports Night,” so Josh Charles can have the award for just being awesome in general as far as I’m concerned.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

The Nominees:

Cinema Verite
Downton Abbey
The Kennedys
Mildred Pierce
The Pillars of the Earth
Too Big To Fail

My Pick: Downton Abbey

This is a first for MTVP. I never usually talk about the usually tortuous Miniseries or Movie category here. But thanks to Sarah (yet again), I discovered “Downton Abbey” a few weeks ago. I watched the whole thing in the few days before school started. I’d describe it as “Upstairs, Downstairs” for the twenty-first century, as it chronicles life at an English manor house from both the family and the servants’ perspectives. The atmosphere is transportive, and the costuming is absolutely gorgeous. There were also many great performances delivered in the course of approximately seven hours. The best part of it from an acting perspective was watching two British acting legends, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton battle it out as dueling family matriarchs. How can you not love Professor McGonagall and Harriet Jones (we know who you are!) competing like crazy and driving each other nuts? Smith and Wilton seem to relish those scenes. Finally, I think it’s spectacular that this was an original story and not an adaptation of a novel. I’m really looking forward to the second season, which should be on PBS next year here in the States, but for now I’d be happy if this show could get some Emmy love. It’s a long shot considering the Emmy voters love HBO miniseries and movies more than anything else.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Evan Rachel Wood (Mildred Pierce)
Melissa Leo (Mildred Pierce)
Mare Winningham (Mildred Pierce)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
Eileen Atkins (Upstairs Downstairs)

My Pick: Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is just positively delightful as the Dowager Countess in “Downton Abbey.” It’s a role that is absolutely perfect for her. She gets to be stern, wise, and show a surprising amount of heart. You can tell the Smith loves playing the role, as well. She and Penelope Wilton just seem to radiate joy when on screen. Any time those two ladies were up against each other at the hospital, I knew I would be laughing. Besides excelling at dry comedy, she could also convey a commanding, serious presence when necessary. The scene that really comes to mind for this is when she finds out that her eldest granddaughter has done something incredibly stupid that could dishonor the entire family. Even in a serious situation, she can bring a little lightness, though. I love a scene where the Dowager Countess and her daughter-in-law conspire about what they’re going to do about their dishonored granddaughter/daughter, and they decide that they’ll take her to Rome because Italian men aren’t picky. Seriously, though, the Emmy needs to go to this acting legend.

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