Saturday, 27 July 2013

Personal Emmy Ballot: The Comedies, Part 2

I am still (yes, still) acclimating to blogging life - more output in the new week, but meanwhile - continuing my Emmy catch-up.

More on my favourites in the last TV season. I’m using the Emmy submissions to create my ballots which means un-submitted, or wrongly submitted, performers go where they chose to, and not where I think they ought to be.

- Jason Gann in WILFRED for “Control”
- Max Greenfield in NEW GIRL for “Tin-Finity”
- Tony Hale in VEEP for “Shutdown”
- Stephen Mangan in EPISODES for “Episode Eight”
- Reid Scott in VEEP for “Helsinki”
- Mike White in ENLIGHTENED for “The Ghost Is Seen”

Gann and White, in addition to doing fine supporting work on their respective shows, also function as the creators of their respective series. Gann’s Wilfred is a much more showy beast than White’s Tyler but both turn in good performances. Tyler’s point-of-view episode in Enlightened was an especially profound moment of the show’s second season. What Mangan and the two Veep gentlemen have in common, is the potentiality of being overshadowed by a showier lead and yet the three offer some of my favourite performances of the season. Hale and Mangan in particular are adept at facial reactions. The consistent discomfort Gary feels throughout “Shutdown” (high-point searching through garbage) makes for great comedy. Scott, working with a more difficult character, is just as invaluable to the show. “Helsinki” sees him in the usual position of being uncomfortable, forced to do Mike’s job in Europe which goes a long way in stretching his comedy legs. I was uncertain if Greenfield would actually be my favourite of the lot considering that the writing for Schmidt has been significantly hit and miss this season, but it’s proof of how excellent an actor he is that he manages to turn sketchy arcs into legitimately hilarious gaps. His overzealous happiness at his and Nick’s anniversary and then the harsh revelation of Cece’s engagement offers him more to do than the typical season 2 episode and he thrives.

Runners Up: Adam Driver in GIRLS; Peter Facinelli in NURSE JACKIE; Chris Messina in THE MINDY PROJECT; Nick Offerman in PARKS AND RECREATION; Chris Pratt in PARKS AND RECREATION; Damon Wayans Jr in HAPPY ENDINGS

- Anna Chlumsky in VEEP for “Andrew”
- Eliza Coupe in HAPPY ENDINGS for “Sabado Free-Gante”
- Jane Krakowski in 30 ROCK for “My Whole Life is Thunder”
- Tamsin Greig in EPISODES for “Episode Three”
- Kathleen Rose Perkins in EPISODES for “Episode Nine”
- Merritt Wever in NURSE JACKIE for “Heart”

(Un-submitted GemS: Bailey Buntain and Kelly Bishop in BUNHEADS and Lucy Punch in BEN AND KATE could knock Perkins, Wever and Greig off of my top six. Foster is excellent on the show, but her supporting cast is inestimable, too. And Punch is the only supporting performer who could give Jane a run for her money. A shame her show was prematurely cancelled.)

Episodes is a show which seems to be significantly under-watched and usually remembered for LeBlanc only, but the ensemble cast is a strong one. Greig playing one half of the British writing duo serves up Emma Thompson realness in her subtle comedic way. In “Episode Three” she owns the episode reacting to her boss’ death, American funeral traditions all the while managing to stay humorous amidst the potential angst. Perkins’ Carol is a less but not less enjoyable performance. The entire train wreck of a party in “Episode Nine” offers prime opportunities for the entire cast but Perkins in particular is a beauty to watch. Merritt Wever continues to be as delightful as always this season on Nurse Jackie, the funniest thing in a show that is sometimes funny and sometimes dramatic. Watching Zoey mature over the years, especially in “Heart” while not losing her comedic edge was a joy to watch this season. As the single character playing a straight-man on the main cast Chlumsky has her work cut out for her but she’s been excellent over and over and a high point was watching her navigate through Selena’s unfortunate issues with her ex-husband. Which leaves us with two high maintenance blondes. Coupe’s persuasive skills in Penny’s car purchase is exceptional top tier work from her. But this category is easily Krakowski. Seven seasons through and she still offers so much excellence to Jenna Maroney. Her work in the final season is arguably her strongest yet and she had no better showcase than “My Whole Life is Thunder”.

Runners Up: Rashida Jones in PARKS AND RECREATION; Jemima Kirke in GIRLS; Christa Miller in COUGAR TOWN; Busy Philipps in COUGAR TOWN; Aubrey Plaza in PARKS AND RECREATION; Casey Wilson in HAPPY ENDINGS

...Lead performers and series choices below the jump...

- Laura Dern in ENLIGHTENED for “All I Ever Wanted”
- Edie Falco in NURSE JACKIE for “Forget It”
- Tina Fey in 30 ROCK for “Mazel Tov, Dummies”
- Sutton Foster in BUNHEADS for “Next”
- Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in VEEP for “Midterms”
- Amy Poehler in PARKS AND RECREATION for “Pawnee Commons”

This is a brilliant slate of leading so much that I hate to have to siphon them off to choose a winner. Consider, last year’s winner – Amy Poehler – has been just as excellent on this season of Parks and Recreation and still she and Edie Falco would be tied in fifth position of the lot. Considering the ace field the choice for number one comes easily. Tina Fey’s work this season on 30 Rock ranks among her best work on the show for me. From her romance with Kris to a surprise marriage and then adoption and the end of TGS she’s been in excellent form. Whether or not you think Fey is more writer than actor, Liz Lemon has been a great TV character and this final season is proof of that. Defending winner Julia Louis-Dreyfuss improved a good season one by turning in an even more excellent performance in season 2. In key areas Selena has moved from petty and broadly comedic to a fuller and richer character. Leaving us with too ladies of shows cancelled too soon. Watching Dern’s Amy Jellicoe develop and regress like only such a multilayered character could was thrilling to watch. Sutton Foster’s performance on Bunheads is a marvel of comedic timing and charm and even if the show around her wasn’t delightful she’d be an easy winner, but the excellent writing on the show turns a good performance into something great.

Runners Up: Courtney Cox in COUGAR TOWN; Zooey Deschanel in NEW GIRL; Dakota Johnson in BEN AND KATE; Mindy Kaling in THE MINDY PROJECT; Martha Plimpton in RAISING HOPE

- Alec Baldwin in 30 ROCK for “My Whole Life is Thunder”
- Jake Johnson in NEW GIRL for “Fluffer”
- Matt LeBlanc in EPISODES for “Episode Six”
- Andrew Rannells in THE NEW NORMAL for “Pilot”
- Adam Scott in PARKS AND RECREATION for “Correspondent’s Lunch”
- Elijah Wood in WILFRED for “Progress”

(Un-submitted Gem: Nat Faxon on BEN AND KATE who would win this category in a heartbeat.)

At first only four of these men would have made my ballot. It’s no slight to Johnson and Rannells, but the other four men are consistently better on their respective shows. Still, The New Normal was not often excellent, but the cast – Rannells in particular – were always ready to do fine work and even though I’ve not been as enamoured with the season of Nick Miller as most, Johnson did good work. Onward from there, LeBlanc’s subtle mockery of himself episode after episode on Episodes, Episode 6 which he tries trying to recruit a cast member from Friends for an appearance on his show is both hilarious and sad to watch. Watching comedic actors go through awkwardness tends to be amusing – consider, for example, Ben’s discomfort having to genuflect while working at the Sweetum’s Factory is continuously hilarious. Wood keeps turning in the most underrated comedic performance episode after episode on Wilfred playing elements of high-farce, a bit of drama and even occasional horror. Still, on the last season on Alec Baldwin has been exceptional on 30 Rock. Jack Donaghy has not become a rote character and that’s both to the show’s writing and Baldwin’s ability.

Runners-Up: Justin Bartha in THE NEW NORMAL; Garrett Dillahunt in RAISING HOPE; Rob Lowe in PARKS AND RECREATION

- 30 ROCK

(Un-submitted Gem: BUNHEADS)


Up next: the dramas.


Shane Slater said...

Very unique choices. Had no idea that Episodes had anyone noteworthy besides Matt LeBlanc. Glad we agreed on Max Greenfield.

Would have loved to see more support for GIRLS though.

Btw, you repeated Max Greenfield and Andrew Rannells in the runners-up sections.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Rannells almost didn't make the top 6. Supporting Actor for me is a toss-up, though - those six + Offerman and Facinelli are all on fairly similar footing.

When/if you get times I think EPISODES would be a good investment. I'd even argue that of the main immediate main cast LeBlanc is the weakest, but he's the biggest name and thus gets the most mention, a shame really.

Kirke was my #7, she did good work this season but the show hardly seemed interested in her. Granted, I never loved GIRLS, but I liked it significantly more in season 1 before it became "The Hannah Show" (1 Girl + 3 and a guy).

(Thanks for pointing out that error.)

Jennifer Aguiar said...

Selina Meyer is finally back in Veep‘s not-so-oval office this spring, and we have a first look at the hijinks that await her in the HBO comedy’s first full-length — and not at all suitable for work! — Season 2 trailer.

Anonymous said...

That's a whole lotta white people.