Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Personal Emmy Ballot: The Comedies, Part 1

Contain your excitement, I'm back to regular writing from today. Although the return is probably inauspicious.

For, at least in theory, when one wishes to embarrass any award ceremony with showing them how wiser than they, you are, when it comes to choosing nominees you publish your personal choices as early as possible. Still, if I’m making a return to the blogging world – however gradually – I can’t break with tradition. So, late or not I must unveil my personal Emmy ballot. No actual reaction to the nominees this year around, although head around to The Film Experience for some Team Experience Emmy reaction with my, and other's, thoughts on the nominees.

For now, my guest ballots.

- Bobby Cannavale in NURSE JACKIE
- Will Forte in 30 ROCK
- James Marsden in 30 ROCK
- Chris O’Dowd in GIRLS
- David Walton in NEW GIRL
- Patrick Wilson in GIRLS

This has been a particularly good category this past TV year, although it’s a real shame that only two of my choices made it all the way to the Emmys. Will Forte, David Walton and Chris O’Dowd, both of them playing love interests to somewhat high maintenance women were working with arguably the least showy of roles. Forte’s work as Paul on 30 Rock has always filled me with amusement, and his Emmy nomination was such a welcome surprise. O’Dowd’s arc with Jessa was one of the few storylines on this season of Girls that worked completely for me, and Walton’s ability to be so charming with such a character that was sometimes, too often, relegated to mere plot point. Cannavale’s return to Nurse Jackie this season felt neither unearned or unnecessary, but let to a lovely moment of catharsis where – briefly – Jackie could mourn with someone who truly felt what she did. Top 2 honours goes to Marsden and Wilson for supremely different work. I was not especially fond of Girls’ “One Man’s Trash” but Wilson’s work in the episode, almost like a lead in a series of his own, was further proof of what a shame it is that he’s not been given such opportunities on film. Still, Marsden as Mr Liz Lemon is an easy win. Consistently funny, charming and warm amidst his foolishness it’s so unlike the typical image of Marsden we have while never being exaggerated for effect.

(Un-Submitted Gems: Tommy Dewek in THE MINDY PROJECT)

Runners Up: Will Arnett in 30 ROCK; Steve Buscemi in 30 ROCK; Adam Ferrera in NURSE JACKIE; Andrew Rannells in GIRLS

- Ellie Kemper in THE MINDY PROJECT
- Chloe Grace Moretz in 30 ROCK
- Molly Shannon in ENLIGHTENED
- Mary Steenburgen in WILFRED
- Elaine Stritch in 30 ROCK

What a surprise was that Emmy nomination for Shannon’s very understated work on Enlightened. The usually aggressively funny Shannon’s low-key work as a love-interest Tyler was effective in its subtlety. Similarly, playing against type was Moretz returning for another turn on 30 Rock as Jack’s teenage nemesis. Steenburgen and Kemper were both playing degrees of unhinged on Wilfred and The Mindy Project with Kemper in particular being a great charm in a mixed-bag of an episode. The top two are easy choices, though. The final appearance of Elaine Stritch on 30 Rock was as perfect as one could hope, every line-reading a gem and the ultimate is Mullally, who continues to torment the Parks and Rec team as Ron’s evil ex-wife in a performance of such garish hilarity it’s impossible to look away.

(Un-Submitted Gems: Jamie Lee Curtis in NEW GIRL)

Runners Up: Rosanna Arquette in GIRLS; Lucy Lawless in PARKS AND RECREATION; Octavia Spencer in 30 ROCK

...writing and directing favourites for the comedy series below the jump...

“The Ghost is Seen” / ENLIGHTENED
“Episode Nine” / EPISODES
“Hogcock” / 30 ROCK
“Midterms” / VEEP

One of the biggest, and most pleasant, surprises for me last Thursday when the Emmy nominations were announced was this writing nomination for Episodes. I had chalked up its first season nomination as first season congratulations since the show has been somewhat hit and miss with critics (a shame considering how fine this season was). The nomination for the hilariously satirical season finale was a nomination well deserved seeing things come to a head as Merc was forcibly removed from his job. On the point of satire, the opening episode of Veep season two was the best written of the bunch for me. Setting up Selena’s journey with key aplomb and with the wrench of Gary Cole’s character and Amy’s father’s hospitalisation having her briefly distracted made for hilarious gaffes from the Veep’s team.

Less funny in its excellence was the wedding episode of Parks and Recreation and Enlightened’s POV episode for Tyler. The second part of that two-parter for Parks and Rec dealt more with emotion than humour, but was deftly constructed with its sweetness all the same. Enlightened, as a dramedy, has always seemed more drama than comedy and this Tyler episode was at its best when it was at its most heartbreaking. The episode’s view in the issues of Tyler was one of the most searing episodes of television this season. Ultimately I land on the first half of 30 Rock’s finale. Hilariously plotted with key funny and warm moments (the T.I. shout-out, example) made for a gloriously on-point close to an excellently funny series.

(Un-Submitted Gems: “Next” / BUNHEADS and “My Whole Life is Thunder” / 30 ROCK The series finale of Bunheads was a finely written marvel, and the Jenna showcase/Colleen’s death on 30 Rock was my favourite episode of a great final season.)

Runners Up: “Ron and Diane” / PARKS AND RECREATION; “Last Lunch” / 30 ROCK;
“Hostages” / VEEP;

“All I Ever Wanted” / ENLIGHTENED
“Episode Nine” / EPISODES
“Hogcock/Last Lunch” / 30 ROCK
“Running” / VEEP

Two of my writing favourites cross back over for directing mentions. As much as the writing, the set-up of the finale party unfolding on Episodes was a key reason for the climatic hilarity of it all. The shot of Merc standing in the rain as Carol drives off was a particularly nice shot. In "Ron and Diane", Tammy II's return to the show was a brilliantly directed one. The cut from Ron's speech to Mullally motioning to her vagina is still one of the funniest things of the show's last season. Todd Hayne's work on Enlightened this season in a tender middle episode was a beauty using the typical Enlightened cues but making them very Haynes-ish in key ways.
In sending off the cast of TGS there was nothing McCarthy-Miller got wrong. I could have done without the last lunch hysteria, but calling out Lutz's ineptitude seems like nitpicking. Incidentally, "Running" is neither my favourite episode of Veep this season or my favourite work from its lead, but it was expertly directed from that abrupt turn into that glass door. A well written episode, surely, but a perfectly directed one.

(Un-Submitted Gems: “Pilot” / BEN AND KATE; “There’s Nothing Worse than a Pantsuit” / BUNHEADS; “Pawnee Commons” / PARKS AND RECREATION / “My Whole Life is Thunder” / 30 ROCK)

Runners Up: “The Ghost is Seen” / ENLIGHTENED; “21st Birthday” / PARKS AND RECREATION; “A Goon’s Way in a Weary World” / 30 ROCK

The Emmy nominees are history now in Internet time, but were you rooting for any guest performers, writers or directors in the comedy categories that didn't make it? Did any of your favourites succeed?


ca said...

I'm so glad you're back! I was starting to fear that I would have to spend a year without your emmy ballot.

Shane Slater said...

Yay!!! So glad you decided to do this. This time I've actually seen lots of stuff(although you still put me to shame) and can compare with my own ballot.

We both chose Megan Mullally! *high five*