Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Encore Emmy Ballot: Dramas (Pt. 2)

You thought you’d gotten away from me? Nope, I know I haven’t completed my Emmy ballot which of course accounts for the snubs at last week’s nominee announcement. So, yes, I’m liable for those snubs in the drama category. Here’s my ballot, and yes I have United States of Tara in drama which makes me wonder feel even worse about the snub it got – a whopping zero nods. But, television’s so weird now. Sometimes True Blood comes off comedic. Ah, well.


OUTSTANDING WRITING
Nominees:
-Big Love / Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa for “Exorcism”
-Boardwalk Empire / Terrence Winter for “Pilot”
-Dexter / Wendy West for “Everything Is IlLumenatyed”
-The Good Wife / Keith Eisner for “Ham Sandwich”
-True Blood / Alan Ball for “I Got A Right to Sing the Blues”
-United States of Tara / Dave Finkel and Brett Baer for “The Good Parts”

This is a ridiculously strong line-up of nominees. Sometimes I do think the Emmy’s are a bit over infatuated with dramas but it’s been a good year for television dramas – these six shows in particular. I wasn’t sure about this choice of episode for The Good Wife, the main case was a bit of a sleeper but the episode is filled with brilliant beats especially Kalinda’s hearing. The show does do well with its writing. At its best True Blood is a ridiculous supernatural romp and I have a penchant for what Alan Ball does when he gets into the writer’s chair. It sort of functions as the middle episode of the season and it does what the show does best – each character gets their important moments as Sookie finally meets Russell. The episode where Lumen finally gets into the grit of Dexter's madness is excellently done, both dark and comedic and just a perfect point for Stiles to do fine work. The same goes for Big Love and its penultimate episode, that faceoff with Alby, the craziness with Nikki was all adeptly handled. Sometimes Boardwalk Empire got a little gratuitous during the season, but the pilot was beautifully written. No one can touch the United States of Tara series finale, though, absolutely perfect – just the good parts.
Runners-Up: Dexter for “The Big One” / Mad Men for “The Good Parts / The Good Wife for “Getting Off” / Big Love “When Mountains Meet Men” / Boardwalk Empire for “The Ivory Tower” / The Closer “Living Proof”

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING
Nominees:
-Big Love / Adam Davidson for “Exorcism”
-Boardwalk Empire / Martin Scorsese for “Pilot”
-Dexter / John Dahl for “Hop A Freighter”
-The Killing / Patty Jenkins for “Pilot”
-True Blood / Michael Lehman for “I Got A Right to Sing the Blues”
-United States of Tara / Adam Bernstein for “Bryce Will Play”

I love The Killing most for that atmosphere which envelopes the story at times and that depends on the directing. The pilot episode set the tone excellently for the episodes to come. The penultimate Big Love episode felt so short, even as the script dealt with so much issues. It was directed as more as a closer than the actual final episode. True Blood. The madness of Bryce was probably the darkest theme the show has covered and it was his offing (not literally) of Dr. Hatiras that depended on the superb direction of the show. Dexter and Boardwalk Empire top the list both of them keeping a close watch on the protagonists and amping up the suspense. I’m not even sure that Scorsese completely steamrolls Dahl, it’s a bit of a tie.
Runners-Up: Dexter for “The Big One” / Big Love for “When Mountains Meet Men” / Boardwalk Empire for “The Ivory Tower” / The Good Wife for “Getting Off” / The Closer for “Living Proof” / Mad Men for “The Suitcase”

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR
Nominees:
-Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empirefor “Pilot”
-John Corbett in United States of Tara for “The Electrifying and Magnanimous Return of Beverlamp”
-Michael C. Hall in Dexter for “Circle Us”
-John Hamm in Mad Men for “The Summer Man”
-Bill Paxton in Big Love for “When Mountains Meet Men”
-Michael Pitt in Boardwalk Empire for “The Ivory Tower”

I must admit that sometimes I underestimate Paxton and Hamm, the latter especially – but I just don’t care for Hamm. Still, they’re both doing fine work in shows with luminous women, and sometimes they get lost in the shuffle. Bill Hendrickson’s swan song depended on Paxton’s excellence and as little as I care for Don Draper Hamm did good work with his development this past season. I wish that Corbett could get half the notices that Paxton and Hamm get. True, Collette is fabulous on United States of Tara, but Corbett’s quiet intensity is not to be ignored and with the series’ end he’s stepped up and turned into a true lead actor (category submissions, be damned). Honestly, I don’t understand in what universe Buscemi is the lead actor on Boardwalk Empire and Pitt is supporting. The show is a tentative back and forth between the young and the old and the two are the leads – the show reaches some of its strongest beats when Nucky and Jimmy have their conversations. The first two episodes are priceless, and though Pitt wins in the showdown they’re both outstanding. But, it’s still Michael C. Hall that I look to when it comes to the lead actors. Year after year (for five years) he’s been turning in superb work on Dexter.

Runners-Up: Peter Krause in Parenthood; Stephen Moyer in True Blood; Matthew Rhys in Brothers and Sisters

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS
Nominees:
-Toni Collette in United States of Tara for “Bryce Will Play”
-Mireille Enos in The Killing for “Missing”
-Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife for “In Sickness”
-Elizabeth Moss in Mad Men for “The Suitcase”
-Kyra Sydgwick in The Closer for “Help Wanted”
-Jeanne Tripplehorn in Big Love for “A Seat at the Table”

Once again, this is a solid line-up and I sort of don’t know who to start with first. True, Sevigny is who I think of first when I turn to Big Love, but the journey towards the end was significant for Barb trying to find her way and Tripplehorn was beautiful watch, oftentimes upstaging Paxton but at her best when working opposite her sister wives. Margulies and Moss are the actors that might face-off for the Emmy, who knows? Margulies exudes a coldness that makes it difficult for me to love her, but it’s that same coldness she uses to her advantage when she finds out about her husband’s affair and Moss is just brilliant holding down “The Suitcase”. Enos is a true find on The Killing. Her sombreness amuses me, but she never overdoes. Still, it’s the brilliance of “Missing” where I find her most interesting. She never gets hysterical, and her work opposite Kinnaman is golden. But, it’s about Collette and Sedgwick for me. One battled the LAPD, the other her demons. It’s not quite a tie, because Sedgwick carries her show on her shoulder more than any actor I can think of, but they’re both excellent. Naturally, neither of the two earned Emmy nominations this year.
Runners-Up: Anna Pquin in True Blood / Lauren Graham in Parenthood / January Jones in Mad Men

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Nominees:
-Boardwalk Empire
-The Closer
-Dexter
-The Good Wife
-True Blood
-United States of Tara
All ten of the shows above and below are excellent, and they’ve all had fine seasons. Of the six above The Closer probably seems like an odd one out, but the show had an excellent season last year and even as it develops as a typical procedural it’s an excellent one. Boardwalk Empire is brilliant new show and yet it’s my fifth favourite of the nominees which goes to show how much goodness we're working with here. I don't know how to rank the top 4. United States of Tara has been almost pitch perfect in its final season, and True Blood thrilled me, humoured me and thrilled me in its third season. The Good Wife and Dexter both focus on protagonists trying to do good, some better than other - one has a killer supporting cast the other has a killer lead - literally. It probably comes down to those two at the end, and I refuse to choose. But, wouldn't a Dexter/Kalinda face-off be brilliant?
Runners-Up: The Killing / Big Love / Mad Men / Parenthood
     
Previously: Comedies: Part One, Comedies: Part Two, Dramas: Part One
           
What would your drama ballot have looked like?

1 comment:

Luke said...

Ugh. We are so on the same page here. Even though Elisabeth Moss was so underused this past season, she deserved the recognition for that one episode alone. Oh, and how awesome was Tripplehorn this season?? She's totally carried the show the last two seasons.