Sunday, August 24, 2014

MTVP Emmys Coverage 2014: The Players

So the Emmys seem a bit early this year, which is seriously throwing me off. Oh, and they’re on a Monday this year, too. Nevertheless, MTVP wouldn’t be a TV blog if we didn’t provide you with some Emmy coverage! This year the telecast is on NBC, and it will be hosted by “Late Night” host Seth Meyers. I am not all that familiar with Meyers’ work (he’s a “Saturday Night Live” vet, as all NBC late night hosts tend to be these days), so I’m not really sure what to expect. I know I’m a Jimmy Fallon fan, but I really have no opinion on Seth Meyers. I hope he’ll bring the needed combo of gravitas and humor that keeps an awards show entertaining. The only other thing I know about the telecast going in is that there is a plan to do a special memorial for Robin Williams, led by Billy Crystal. I know we all complained about the “death” theme created by the multiple special memorials in last year’s telecast, but hopefully just one special memorial won’t be too bad. And Robin Williams meant a lot to my generation, so I’m willing to allow it.

As I do every year at Emmy time here at MTVP, I’m putting together a round-up of the categories and nominees that intrigue me the most. My usual disclaimer: I am by no means an Emmy expert. Leave that to the paid critics and the folks at Gold Derby. I approach this as a TV fan. This is basically going to be a cataloguing of where shows and actors I like happen to be nominated for big awards. If you like what we cover at MTVP, you will probably find this relevant to your interests. I’ve been following this long enough that I usually have some commentary to add about my choice’s chances of winning, but like I said, I am by no means an expert. This is a (sometimes all-consuming) hobby for me, not how I make my living. And with that, on with the show!

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

The Nominees:

Breaking Bad – “Ozmandias”
Breaking Bad – “Felina”
Game of Thrones – “The Children”
House of Cards – “Chapter 14”
True Detective – “The Secret Fate of All Life”

My Pick: Game of Thrones – “The Children”

This year’s “Game of Thrones” finale, written by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, was pretty spectacular. Since I’m a terrible TV fan who has never seen “Breaking Bad” (the premise just doesn’t appeal to me), my choice is this powerful episode of “Game of Thrones.” Unlike most “Game of Thrones” season finales, “The Children” did more than serve as the season’s denouement. There was a lot of action. We went on a hugely emotional journey with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) as he dealt with the fall-out of his second trial for murder, and we saw the conclusions of several other emotionally powerful storylines, too. It’s a winner in my book, at least.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black)
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Anna Chlumsky (Veep)

My Pick: Kate Mulgrew

I’ve got to give this one to Captain Janeway, albeit in a new, equally iconic role. Kate Mulgrew is a real standout in “Orange is the New Black.” Red is no-nonsense, and her sense of discipline is necessary in the chaos of Litchfield. Mulgrew plays both Red’s stern moments and her more vulnerable moments with equal expertise. Her pain at being left out of the Russian Mafia wife in-crowd was as palpable as her disappointment in several of her Litchfield surrogate daughters. She is an actor’s actor, and it would be wonderful for her to finally be recognized.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The Nominees:

Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Fred Armisen (Portlandia)
Adam Driver (Girls)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
Tony Hale (Veep)

My Pick: Andre Braugher

I can’t begin to express how happy I am that this category is no longer “the entire male cast of Modern Family and one other guy” category. Yes, there are still two “Modern Family” guys, but there is a really interesting mix of other shows represented here too. I’m going with Andre Braugher, who plays Captain Ray Holt on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Braugher is most well-known for his more dramatic work on “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Men of a Certain Age,” so I have really come to appreciate his comedic chops on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He is excellent at playing the straight man (with his own particular brand of quirk…oh and I mean straight in the comedy sense only…his character is actually gay) to the more broadly comedic officers he commands.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

The Nominees:

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing on the Edge)
Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Martin Freeman (Fargo)
Idris Elba (Luther)
Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart)

My Pick: Benedict Cumberbatch

There is a lot of talent in this list. The Joss Whedon fan in me appreciates perennial award nominee Chiwetel Ejofor for his turn in “Serenity.” Billy Bob Thornton is an Academy Award winner. Martin Freeman is one of my all-time favorite actors (more on him in a bit). Idris Elba was fantastic as Stringer Bell on “The Wire.” I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s take on the Hulk in “The Avengers.” I’ve got to give this one to Benedict Cumberbatch, though, because “Sherock” is the only one of these TV movies or mini-series that I have seen, and he is spectacular in it. The brand of quirk Cumberbatch brings to Sherlock Holmes just can’t be matched, and watching him work is always a delight.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

The Nominees:

Colin Hanks (Fargo)
Jim Parsons (The Normal Heart)
Alfred Molina (The Normal Heart)
Martin Freeman (Sherlock)
Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart)
Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart)

My Pick: Martin Freeman

Like I said in my discussion of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini Series or Movie, Martin Freeman is one of my all-time favorite actors. He brings both warmth and a no-nonsense sensibility to many of his roles, from Arthur Dent in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” to Frodo in the “Hobbit” trilogy, to Dr. Watson on “Sherlock.” I had to choose between picking him for the lead or supporting category, and I decided to pick him as my favorite here because I have not yet seen “Fargo.” Freeman’s performance in this past season of “Sherlock” was admirable, as he had to adjust to realizing his best friend is actually still alive and to married life. He is really the audience touchstone in “Sherlock” because of that everyman quality he brings to the screen, and all of his work is the better for it.

I’ll admit, putting this together made me want to dive into a whole bunch of TV that I don’t have time to watch right now. “Fargo,” “The Normal Heart,” and more than the three episodes of “Veep” that I’ve seen are all worth my time. Hopefully I’ll have time to discover them some day. Until then, I’m still planning to enjoy tomorrow’s annual celebration of television. The Emmys are my Super Bowl (except for when my Baltimore Ravens are in the actual Super Bowl…XLVII champions!) after all!

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