Thursday, 5 July 2012

Encore’s Emmy Ballot: The Comedies, Part 2 (The Supporting Players)

There are a few days to go until the Emmy nominations are announced and I’m trying to ensure that my ballot is submitted before then. Will I be able to complete it? Improbable, maybe, but I’m trying nonetheless with my typically painstakingly chosen ballot for the supporting players in a comedy series.

As per Emmy rules my ballot consists of actors in the categories they submitted, so there are some traditionally “supporting” performers who appear in lead. There are also some fine performers not on my ballot because they didn’t submit themselves in any category – I’ll include them after my ballots in the respective categories.

The top 6 performers are listed in alphabetical order with their finest episode (or, what I think should be their Emmy submission if they’re nominated) in brackets. Onwards….

- Peter Facinelli in Nurse Jackie (for “Are Those Feathers”)
- Jason Gann in Wilfred (for “Identity”)
- Nick Offerman in Parks and Recreation (for “Operation Ann”)
- Oliver Platt in The Big C (for “Boo!”)
- Chris Pratt in Parks and Recreation (for “Meet n Greet”)
- Damon Wayans in Happy Endings (for “You Snooze, You Bruise”)

It’s been a good year for the supporting categories on TV this year, and in a way I feel a bit badly about some of the performers who are neither on my ballot nor my list of runners-up below. The two performers most in danger of being left off the ballot were Wayans and Wayans (they saw heavy competition from Reid Scott and John Benjamin Hickey) – what managed to tip them over into “top 6” material was a lack of fearlessness in their portrayals of their respective characters. Gann has the not simple job of playing the rather supercilious and oftentimes offensively annoying Wilfred. Gann’s constant determination to push boundaries with Wilfred’s behaviour becomes a key element to the success of the show. For Wayans, the constant personalities of Brad – kept husband, awkward jokester, vaguely effeminate man, zany adolescent – and the way he manages make them coalesce to a holistic person makes for some of the most effective comedy of the show. And even as he doesn’t have the A plot in the episode I single out, his line reading of the “Hey bitch, your hair is g-lowing. Where did you get that deep conditioner, I swear to god?” is worth the price of admission.

If there is anything which distinguishes season four of Parks and Recreation from its predecessors it’s the way that the season has been headed towards a single thing – Leslie’s campaign. For Offerman it turned into this odd thing where the back half of the season didn’t seem to find him as interesting. It wasn’t a deal-breaker, though. Throughout Offerman has managed to carve the idiosyncrasies of Ron Swanson so meticulously that when new facets are revealed, like his love for scavenger hunts in “Operation Ann” it’s just that much more rewarding (and funny) to behold. For Andy, the campaign worked especially well for him giving him things to do where he wasn’t just the usual man-child. I ended up choosing a non-campaign episode for him, though, because the rapport between Andy and Ben throughout the season – especially at that Halloween party was such an especially warm but funny bit for the show and so well performed by Pratt.
Finally, I turn to Facinelli and Platt. Of the six performers on my ballot, maybe of the entire 13, Facinelli is the one who suffers the most from having little too do. That, Coop still manages to emerge as one of the most effective, funny and rewarding parts of Nurse Jackie is only proof of how much he’s putting in. His ridiculous ecstatic response to finding out about O’Hara’s donor is such an effective piece of comedy I couldn’t not choose the episode for him. Finally, there is Platt, the top entry in the category for me. I generally prefer the entire cadence of Platt, and the show, in season 2 because of the lack of familial drama which ensues. It’s also the season where Platt gets to be funniest, and he’s much better at being comedic than he is at being dramatic. True, “Boo!” ends with that unfortunate firing, but even as the dramatic events of the episode build up Platt still manages to play it true to the seriousness while still managing to bring the humour.

Runners Up: Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family; Max Greenfield in New Girl: John Benjamin Hickey in The Big C; Adam Pally in Happy Endings; Jim Rash in Community; Jeremy Piven in Entourage; Reid Scott in Veep

Un-submitted Gems: Dan Byrd of Cougar Town didn’t submit himself in any category, and he’d appear either in my ballot or in my list of runners-up for his fine work on the show – easily one of the highlights of the show’s third season.

My supporting actress ballot after the jump...a doctor, an actress, an assistant, a nurse and more

- Eve Best in Nurse Jackie (for “No-Kimono-Zone”)
- Anna Chlumsky in Veep (for “Full Disclosure”)
- Jane Krakowski in 30 Rock (for “Hey Baby, What’s Wrong?”)
- Zosia Mamet in Girls (for “Hannah’s Diary”)
- Busy Philipps in Cougar Town (for “Ways to be Wicked”)
- Merritt Wever in Nurse Jackie (for “One-Armed Jacks”)

So, let’s raise our glasses to the uncontrollably zany girls – specifically Laurie of Cougar Town and Shoshanna of Girls. Mamet and Philipps are too significantly different performers with significantly different characters but they both do a common thing on their show – comic relief to shows that are already funny. Admittedly, I could have done with a little less of Laurie’s machinations with Wade this season but her cake baking was a nice arc and came to head beautifully in “Ways to be Wicked” where Laurie reacts somewhat outlandishly to the oven Grayson buys for her. And, in the scheme of outlandish things Shoshanna’s almost sex-scene in “Hannah’s Diary” is a thing of beauty. Even as I’m occasionally moved to think that the writing for Shoshanna in its broadness seems at odds with the tone of the rest of the show, Mamet’s performance eschews any real criticism I could lodge – also “I’m a very unattached bleeder, a truly brilliant line-reading.”

Despite her youth, Anna Chlumsky isn’t playing someone as youthful as her fellow nominees and Veep sometimes tread a bit too lightly with the dramatic stuff making the “resolution” of Selina’s pregnancy scandal with Amy as the scapegoat seemed as if it needed just a bit more sensitivity. Chlumsky manages to make it tender, while still being cognisant of the specific humour the show is trying to achieve. Toeing the line between humour and drama is usually something HBO comedic actors have to do quite often, but this season of Nurse Jackie – even when things were at their most intense – was particularly focused on the comedic than the dramatic. It was a bit odd, initially, seeing O’Hara’s pregnancy issues being played only for laughs but it provides us with a nice view of the usually composed O’Hara and allows for some key comedic moments between Facinelli and Best – both of who shone particularly bright this season even with truncated screen time.

Which leaves me with my top 2 comedic supporting ladies – Merritt Wever and Jane Krakowski. Both win points for being the MVP’s of their respective shows last season. The finest thing about this season of Nurse Jackie is the way it allowed for new relationships between the cast members – Zoe and Jackie under one roof? Easily the best thing this season giving Wever some significant moments of humour and drama. More of this. Ultimately, though, there’s no doubt that Jane Krakowski dominates this category. Episode after episode (after episode) played out like a submission episode for Krakowski with her arc this season paying special attention to her sexual walk-about and ultimate reunion with her one true love. Somebody Emmy her, now.

Runners Up: Julie Bowen in Modern Family; Alison Brie in Community; Kristin Chenoweth in GCB; Eliza Coupe for Happy Endings; Rashida Jones in Parks and Recreation; Jemima Kirke in Girls; Anna Deveare Smith in Nurse Jackie

Un-submitted Gems: Christa Miller of Cougar Town did not submit, but she’d give Wever and Krakowski a run for their money in my top 3.

What would your ballot look like the supporting categories for comedies last TV season?


Colin Biggs said...

My vote is for anyone in Parks & Rec for supporting actor. That show hit a lot of peaks this year.

BTW how long have you been voting in the Emmys?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

colin parks and rec surely did have a great year. alas, this is just a dream ballot - i'm not actually an emmy voter. yet. :)

Colin Biggs said...

Ah, my mistake. Though with your talent, it won't take long.