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Premise: Tough-talking surgeon Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) makes enemies wherever she goes. People at work find her domineering. She’s insensitive towards her mother. And, oh yeah – the mob is kind of after her. Specifically, they’re after her brother, whose unspecified dealings have landed the Devlin family in their debt. So, when an enemy of the mob lands himself in Grace’s operating room, they call in a favour. And it’s up to Grace to decide whether or not she wants to take them up on it.
My expectations going in: Low. I’m not a fan of medical dramas (the surgery scenes make me queasy). And while I am a fan of crime dramas when done well, they’re usually pretty hackneyed.
My thoughts: This is a solid if uninspired entry in the network crime drama oeuvre. The problem is that we also have cable shows like Homeland and Breaking Bad that cover similar territory in a much more unique and nuanced way.
Let’s start with the good. Grace is an interesting character. There are layers there that could definitely be developed as the series goes on. And Jordana Spiro is a unique, charismatic actress who’s never really gotten her due, aside from the surprisingly long-lived My Boys. If The Mob Doctor gets the chance to develop, she could definitely go to some interesting places with this character. Even in this pilot, there were some hints of complexity that I wasn’t expecting. None of the other characters feel nearly as well-rounded yet, but I suppose that would come with time.
The writing is decent. It’s nothing great, and there were certainly some clichéd lines of dialogue that wouldn’t fly in a better show. But things moved along at a good pace, and it was all engaging enough. It’s definitely possible that this show pulled out a couple too many stops and surprises (a car chase!) in the first episode. But if they can build on that, it could become a worthy thriller.
It’s also worth noting that this show has a surplus of handsome brunette dudes. One such dude is Zach Gilford. I am a diehard Friday Night Lights fan, so I root for pretty much everyone in that cast to make it in a post-FNL world. And though it is a little strange to see Matt Saracen talking about hymens and strutting around the O.R. in scrubs, Gilford does a nice job playing Grace’s boyfriend. Of course, his character will inevitably find out about her dealings with the mob. And given the morally questionable decision he made in this pilot episode about a patient, I imagine he might be persuaded to come along for the ride. Other handsome brunette dudes in this episode were far less memorable, though I kind of like that the writers only showed us a little bit of Grace’s brother and left us guessing about him.
The Mob Doctor (which has a really stupid name, by the way) was more compelling than I expected. It all feels very competent, and I even felt the suspense that they were going for in certain moments. But pretty much everything about the show, from the acting to the direction, felt just adequate. Not bad, but not great. It even has the standard-issue TV drama score. The pilot occasionally hinted at bigger and better, but ultimately, it just felt like the kind of crime thriller we’ve seen too many times before.
Chances of Survival?: Not great. I give it about ten episodes before it gets cancelled. The public seems to favour star power and/or soapy storylines in their network dramas, and I don’t think this one will keep their interest.
Will I watch again?: Probably not. I enjoyed the pilot well enough, but it’s not really my thing. It seems like it’ll probably maintain a fairly high level of intrigue and suspense, but that it’ll do so in some fairly expected ways.
Premise: David (Justin Bartha, The Hangover) and Bryan (Andrew Rannells, Girls) are a 30-something couple seems to have it all – a loving relationship, successful careers, and a nice house. But when the two decide to have a child through a surrogate mother, things begin to get complicated. They face judgement from several people, they confront their own doubts about their fathering abilities, and they must decide who will be the biological father of the child.
My expectations going in: Medium-low. I’m a big fan of Bartha, and I thought Rannells was great as Hannah’s gay ex on Girls, but the ad campaign put me off. Showing them both as pregnant men was kind of silly and lazy, and it seemed like a cheap tactic to appear “zany”. I half-expected one of them to give birth to a hoagie sandwich in the pilot.
My thoughts: It certainly wasn’t a great pilot, but it was a pretty solid start to the show. They did a good job establishing John and David as a loving, likeable couple with little fuss. Both Bartha and Rannells were charming and funny in the pilot, and they were very convincing as a couple. The fashion-savy, sharp-tongued character of Bryan really walks a fine line in terms stereotype, but I think there’s enough shades in the characterization and Rannell’s performance to duck cliché. Bryan is also strong, confident, and funny – and that’s never a bad thing for a television character to be. Bartha, on the other hand plays a bit more of the straight-man (so to speak), and I already really like his matter-of-fact, slightly neurotic gynecologist character a lot.
I also appreciate the show’s relative frankness (considering it’s on a major network) about gay relationships. These guys aren’t Cam and Mitchell from Modern Family. They kiss, they cuddle in bed, and there’s a palpable sexual attraction between them. It doesn’t feel forced, or like it’s there for “shock value”, and it actually adds to the show’s believability.
And I’d be remised if I didn’t say that this episode had some pretty funny moments. Ryan Murphy is one of the creators, and the pilot at times felt reminiscent of Glee’s edgy-ish first season. Ellen Barkin provides a lot of the humour as the bigoted grandmother of the woman who becomes David and Bryan’s surrogate mother. Who wouldn’t want to watch Ellen Barkin deride someone for his “ridiculous Fozzie Bear impression and self-diagnosed narcolepsy”?
However, the pilot definitely had its problems. Tonally, it was a little bit all over the place. It ranged from broad, over-the-top humour at times (not all of which worked), to attempts at more legitimate drama. I like the fact that the show wants to take a somewhat serious approach to exploring these guys’ relationship, and their doubts and insecurities. And I don’t think that part is bad (though the writing could be a bit stronger). I think they just need to find a way to make those dramatic moments feel a bit more believable with the rest of the show.
Also, the show takes a pretty moralistic approach to the whole idea of a gay relationship. In the pilot alone, David and Bryan face several people who look down on them because they’re a same-sex couple. And I don’t mean to minimize that inequality. Many gay people do face judgement on a regular basis, of course. But I am also hoping the show will decrease its focus on that negativity. First of all, it already got repetitive in the pilot, because I feel most humour involving ignorant, closed-minded people can really only strike one note. And secondly, I don’t want their “gayness” to become the characters’ defining trait. If the show wants people to accept that this type of relationship is the standard for the “new normal”, they should probably not have other characters constantly point out how strange and unnatural they think that relationship is. I think as long as the show finds a balance in tone, though, it’ll be fine.
Chances of Survival?: I predict it’ll make it to a second season If NBC is still propping up Whitney and Up All Night, they probably won’t just toss a Ryan Murphy comedy to the side. It’s already got complaints against it from certain groups, but I think there’s enough charm to pull it through the season.
Will I watch again?: Yes, I’ll give it at least a couple more episodes. Overall, I thought it was pretty good for a sitcom pilot, and I’m interested to see where the relationship between Bryan and David will go. As well, Justin Bartha is super cute, and I’m loving Ellen Barkin.
The 2012 Emmy nominations will be announced tomorrow, so I thought I’d post some last-minute predictions for the major categories. My predictions are ranked in order of who I think is most likely to receive a nomination. (In other words, just because I have something ranked as #1, it doesn’t necessarily mean I think it will end up winning the category.)
Best Comedy Series
- Modern Family
- Parks and Recreation
- 30 Rock
- The Big Bang Theory
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- New Girl
- Two and a Half Men
Thoughts: I feel pretty confident in the first three. The Big Bang Theory and Curb Your Enthusiasm seem like reliable bets, given their history at the Emmys. (But are people getting tired of either/both?)The sixth spot is more difficult to predict. Will voters go for the trendy cable buzz of Girls, or the broad network comedy of New Girl? I’m betting the former, especially since there are already a lot of network shows in the mix.
Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
- Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
- Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
- Louis C.K., Louie
- Don Cheadle, House of Lies
- Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
- John Cryer, Two and a Half Men
- Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
- Aston Kutcher, Two and a Half Men
- Will Arnett, Up All Night
Thoughts: The first three are basically locked in. Cheadle’s show is very small, but I think he’s respected enough to get in. David and his show have had a strong run with the Emmy’s. But then we have the matter of Two and a Half Men. Will the Emmy’s recognize the reliable veteran of the show (Cryer, who was nominated in the supporting category last year), or its splashy new star (Kutcher)? Or neither? Galecki was nominated last year, so I definitely wouldn’t count him out, either.
Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
- Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
- Tina Fey, 30 Rock
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
- Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
- Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
- Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly
- Laura Dern, Enlightened
- Laura Linney, The Big C
- Lena Dunham, Girls
Thoughts: This is a packed category. The first three ladies are in. Deschanel probably has the right combo of star power and a hit show. The next two spots are honestly a toss-up, and I could see any of the above names getting in.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
- Ty Burrell, Modern Family
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
- Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
- Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
- Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation
- Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
- Chris Colfer, Glee
- Max Greenfield, New Girl
Thoughts: All the Modern Family dudes are in. (Can it be Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s turn to win this year? Please?) I think Offerman will finally get his well-deserved nomination. Sixth spot could go to either Harris or Colfer. I think the fading interest in Glee from both the Emmys and the general population could cost Colfer his nom this year.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
- Julie Bowen, Modern Family
- Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
- Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
- Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
- Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
- Cloris Leachman, Raising Hope
- Jane Lynch, Glee
- Maya Rudolph, Up All Night
- Cheryl Hines, Suburgatory
Thoughts: A bit of a blah category, if you ask me (though I’d love to see Wiig win). The first four are very likely to get in. Betty White always gets nominated for things. I can’t really come up with a compelling sixth name, so I’ll go with veteran actress Leachman. I don’t think Lynch had enough to do this season to get in.
Best Drama Series
- Mad Men
- Breaking Bad
- Game of Thrones
- Boardwalk Empire
- Downton Abbey
- The Good Wife
Thoughts: I feel fairly confident in those six choices. They seem like the hot, critically acclaimed shows right now. However, if the Emmy’s want to include at least one network show, they could go with their beloved Good Wife, or they could send House off with one last nomination.
Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series
- Jon Hamm, Mad Men
- Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
- Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
- Damian Lewis, Homeland
- Hugh Laurie, House
- Kelsey Grammar, Boss
- Michael C. Hall, Dexter
- Timothy Olyphant, Justified
- Dustin Hoffman, Luck
Thoughts: Hamm and Cranston are obviously in. Buscemi and Lewis are also very likely, I think. Laurie, who has been nominated (and lost) for the last six years in a row will probably be recognized for his final season. (Could he even be a dark horse to win?) Will Michael C. Hall’s own nomination streak end in favour of Grammar’s new show? It’s hard to say, but I’m guessing yes.
Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series
- Claire Danes, Homeland
- Juliana Margulies, The Good Wife
- Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
- Mariska Hargitay, Law and Order: SVU
- Glenn Close, Damages
- Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
- Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
- Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
- Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey
Thoughts: The first three are in, and I say the Emmy is Danes’ to lose. Harigtay has been nominated for the past eight years, so why would she stop being nominated now? (She won back in 2006.) Glenn Close also seems likely. Tough call for the sixth spot. Even though Sedgwick missed out on the nomination last year and Bates got in, I’m going with Sedgwick.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
- Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
- Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
- John Slatery, Mad Men
- Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
- Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
- Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
- Walton Goggins, Justified
- Nick Nolte, Luck
- John Goodman, Damages
Thoughts: First three seem like solid bets. I’d say Esposito is likely. Then it gets tough. This is what we call guessing.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
- Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
- Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
- Kelly MacDonald, Boardwalk Empire
- Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
- Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
- Rose Byrne, Damages
- Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
- Michelle Forbes, The Killing
- Angelica Huston, Smash
Thoughts: Well, it seems like there are six spots and seven ladies with a chance at filling them. I could see anyone but Smith or Hendricks missing out, but I’m guessing Gunn right now. I haven’t seen the fourth season of Breaking Bad yet, but based on the first three, she doesn’t really seem Emmy-worthy.
Oh, SNL. Sometimes I wonder why I watch it every week. But then a character like Stefon comes along and makes me fall in love with the show all over again.
I thought this past season was actually a very strong one for the show. It seemed like the writing was a bit tighter, and with standout performers like Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and relative newbie Taran Killam stepping up to the plate, it gave us plenty of memorable moments. Here’s a look at some of the best.
Honorable Mention: “She’s a Rainbow” (Mick Jagger)
I didn’t feel right including it on my list, since this wasn’t a proper sketch and wasn’t supposed to be humorous. However, it was such a lovely send-off for Kristen Wiig that I would be remised not to mention it. Love Mick Jagger and Arcade Fire, love the rest of the cast members’ reaction. Wiig is awesome, and I’m sad to see her go.
Honorable Mention: “The Real Housewives of Disney” (Lindsay Lohan)
Definitely had some great moments (Taran Killam’s snooty Prince Charming laugh, Wiig’s drunken Cinderella), but didn’t quite live up to its potential as an entire comedy bit for me.
Honorable Mention: “J Pop America Funtime Now!” (Anna Faris)
Killam and Vanessa Bayer play two white kids obsessed with Japanese culture who are gleeful in their unintentional racism. At least they have Sudeikis’ exasperated teacher to try and set them straight. Killam’s moony grin kills me.
10. Bein’ Quirky With Zooey Deschanel (Zooey Deschanel)
Sketches that allow the cast to roll out their celebrity impressions are often enjoyable, but rarely noteworthy. But something about this sketch just worked. We may have seen Killam’s pitiable Michael Cera, Wiig’s giggling Bjork (who knits a sweater for an octopus and leaves “one extra hole for its dreams and ideas”), but they’re perfect in this setting. Abby Elliot’s adorkable Zooey Deschanel and Zooey Deschanel’s Mary-Kate Olsen were also nice.
9. Columbus Day Assblast (Ben Stiller)
Ass Dan will never not be funny to me.
8. You Can Do Anything! (Daniel Radcliffe)
Radcliffe was an eager host, so it made sense to give him such a high-energy sketch to work with. It cleverly commented on the obliviousness and delusions of young people today, and Radcliffe’s little jig was just wonderful. It also gave me a phrase to work into conversation: “I tried, and therefore no one should criticize me.” Radcliffe was actually a great host.
7. Someone Like You (Emma Stone)
It’s a simple premise: everyone listens to Adele’s “Someone Like You” and cries uncontrollably. But it’s really funny. Nasim Pedrad gets the Best Crier in Show award from me.
6. B108FM (Lindsay Lohan)
There wasn’t a lot to this sketch, but I just really, really enjoyed it. It was nice to see Killam and Bobby Moynihan get their own sketch. Playing two morning radio DJ’s in the middle of nowhere, Killam and Moynihan’s enthusiasm was infectious. Lohan’s contribution was less than stellar, but even she couldn’t bring down the gleeful mood of this one.
5. Retirement Party (Jason Segel)
This is a bit of a bizarre one, and some would say that it doesn’t go anywhere. I, however, found it increasingly hilarious to watch Wiig exclaim, “I don’t have anything to say!” repeatedly. “I’m not quick on my feet. I’m not Robin William.”
4.Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (Melissa McCarthy)
McCarthy proved countless times that she was a host up for anything. Perhaps this was never more apparent than in this sketch, which revolved around a focus group sampling ranch dressing. McCarthy’s comedic timing and ability to go with the flow are just two reasons why she was one of the best hosts of the season.
3. Coach Bert (Steve Buscemi)
Definitely an edgy one, considering it came right on the heels of the Penn State scandal. Very funny, though, and Buscemi was the perfect host to pull it off. I love when SNL goes dark (see also: Jason Sudeikis as the Devil).
2. Lord Wyndemere (Anna Faris)
Paul Brittain, you shall be missed. His delightful little sweets-loving lord was an inspired character. Jason Sudeikis as the enraptured father and Bill Hader as the footman, Turlington, were almost just as good.
1. Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (Sofia Vergara)
I had never heard of Andy Cohen when I watched this sketch, and I’ve actually still never seen him live in action. But something about Killam’s gleeful self-delusions as Cohen won me over. I laughed. A lot. This was one of Killam’s standout moments of the season, and I still can’t get that image of his face on a dog’s body out of my head.
Other Notable Bits (AKA things that weren’t their own sketch, but still were funny):
- Bobby Moynihan as Drunk Uncle on Weekend Update (“Netflix me! Netflix me!”)
- Justin Timberlake as Bon Iver
- Nicholas Cage appearing in Get in the Cage
- Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Seth Myers sharing the Weekend Update desk. That whole Jimmy Fallon episode was just lovely.
- Jason Sudeikis playing both the Devil and Jesus over the course of the season
- The entire Maya Rudolph episode. Seriously. There wasn’t one super standout sketch for me, but it was just an all-around fantastic episode.
Actress in a Comedy Series
Laura Linney – The Big C
Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
Melissa McCarthy – Mike and Molly
Martha Plimpton – Raising Hope
Tina Fey – 30 Rock
- Obvious Picks: Fey, Falco, Linney
- Snubbed: Lea Michele (but I’m not that sad about it, to be honest. She was grating this season on Glee)
- It’s great to see Poehler nominated for the second year running. I think she could be a darkhorse to win the category.
- Plimpton is great on Raising Hope, and I’m pleasantly surprised by her nomination
- I don’t watch Mike and Molly, but McCarthy seems like the biggest surprise in this category. She was hilarious in Bridesmaids, though, so I’m sure she’s deserving.
Actor in a Comedy Series
Matt Le Blanc – Episodes
Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
Steve Carell – The Office
Johnny Galecki – The Big Bang Theory
Louie C.K. – Louie
Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock
- Obvious Picks: Baldwin, Carell, Parsons
- Snubbed: Matthew Morrison, I guess? (Though I was never sure why he got nominated last year)
- LeBlanc and especially Louie C.K. are slightly surprising since their shows are pretty under-the-radar
- I like that Galecki finally got some recognition, too.
- Since it was his last season on The Office and he’s never won, this will probably be Carell’s year. It’s a bit of a weak year for this category, so he doesn’t have a lot of competition.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Jane Lynch – Glee
Betty White – Hot in Cleveland
Julie Bowen – Modern Family
Kristen Wiig – Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowski – 30 Rock
Sofia Vergara – Modern Family
- This was a fairly predictable category, but pretty deserving all around (But Hot in Cleveland? Really?)
- I think this category is actually pretty wide open. Lynch wasn’t featured as much on this season of Glee, and they turned her character into more of a caricature. Plus, the show is obviously losing traction with the Emmy’s. No one else has won before, so it could be anyone. Forced to predict a winner, I’d go with Vergara. (I don’t particularly like her on Modern Family, but other people seem to.)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
John Cryer – Two and a Half Men
Chris Colfer – Glee
Jesse Tyler Ferguson – Modern Family
Ed O’Neill – Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family
Ty Burrell – Modern Family
- Obvious Picks: Colfer, Stonestreet, Burrell
- Snubs: Neil Patrick Harris, Nick Offerman (Whyyyy! He’s so good!)
- Ugh, I have some beefs with this category. Are we seriously still nominating Two and a Half Men for stuff? Is this some kind of pity nomination for Cryer because he had to work with Charlie Sheen all of these years? He’s funny on the show, but that show is way past its “prime”, and he already has his Emmy.
- I’m happy to see Ferguson, Stonestreet, and Burrell all get nominated, but I was fine with snubbing O’Neill last year. I really don’t like him on the show.
- If Burrell, Ferguson, or Colfer win, I will be a very happy camper. They are all fantastic.
- I’m going to predict Burrell for the win (wishful thinking?), but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Colfer won.
Parks and Recreation
The Big Bang Theory
- I LOVE that Parks and Recreation got recognized. It was on fire this season.
- I understand nominating Steve Carell, but The Office totally doesn’t deserve this nomination. I didn’t watch much of it this year, but I was extremely unimpressed from what I did see. It’s been on the decline for a few seasons now, and it hit a new low this year IMO.
- Community may have been a bit inconsistent this year, but it would have been a way more deserving nomination. I’m not that surprised that it got snubbed, but I’m sure all the fanboys are fuming right now.
Random thoughts on the other nominations (because I am uncultured and don’t watch any fancy drama shows):
- Big thumbs up to Matt Damon getting nominated for Guest Comedy Actor on 30 Rock. Zach Galifianakis is also deserving for his hosting stint on SNL.
- Mad Men is definitely deserving of its mountain of nominations. All four nominated actors are great!
- It’s great to see Friday Night Lights finally get nominated for Best Drama Series (I’m only at the third season, though, so I can’t say whether or not it deserved its nomination this year. But I’m going to guess yes.) Any chance Kyle Chandler and/or Connie Britton can beat out all the Emmy vets and win for their last season?
- CAT DEELY for Best Reality Host!!! Yay! She was long, long overdue. Jesse Tyler Ferguson (who was a lovely, hilarious judge last night on So You Think You Can Dance) was saying that he hoped she’d be nominated, so I imagine there will be much shoulder-patting on tonight’s show.
- And speaking of SYTYCD, they picked some great routines in the choreography category. Stacey Tookey’s “Mad World”, Tabitha and Napoleon’s “Outta Your Mind”, and Travis Wall’s “Fix You” were all very memorable.
- Nice to see Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon in the variety series category (Colbert, too, but that was less surprising)
- I really enjoy the fact that the “Jack Sparrow” song from SNL is nominated in the Original Music and Lyrics category (as is “I Just Had Sex” and “3-Way”)
The Emmy nominees are announced tomorrow, so here’s a list of the eligible shows that I watch, and which nominations I hope they’ll receive. It’s mainly for my own reference, but here goes.
Names marked with an asterisk are the ones who I predict will be nominated.
Outstanding Comedy Series*
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Alec Baldwin*
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – Tina Fey*
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Jane Krakowski*
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – Matt Damon (“Double-Edged Sword”)*
The Big Bang Theory
Outstanding Comedy Series*
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Jim Parsons*
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Kaley Cuoco
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Joel McHale
Friday Night Lights
Outstanding Drama Series*
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – Kyle Chandler*
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – Connie Britton*
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Chris Colfer*
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Jane Lynch*
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – Mike O’Malley – Glee (“Furt”)*
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series – Dot-Marie Jones (“Never Been Kissed”)*
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series – Kristen Chenowith (“Rumours”)*
Outstanding Drama Series*
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – Jon Hamm*
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – Elizabeth Moss*
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – John Slattery*
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Christina Hendricks* (She really came on strong this season)
Outstanding Comedy Series*
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Ty Burrell* (I love so many of the guys in this very tough category, but Burrell is my choice to win. His physical comedy is unmatched.)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Eric Stonestreet*
Parks and Recreation
Outstanding Comedy Series*
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – Amy Poehler*
Outstanding Supporting Actor in Comedy Series – Nick Offerman* (I really, really hope he gets nominated)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Aubrey Plaza
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Will Forte (“Time Capsule”)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Mo Collins (“Harvest Festival”)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Megan Mullally (“Ron and Tammy: Part Two”)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Pamela Reed (“The Bubble”)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Garrett Dillahunt
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – Martha Plimpton
Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Bill Hader (He’s not going to be nominated because this category is overstuffed, but he would be completely deserving for his “Stefon” character alone)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Kristen Wiig*
Here’s a new feature that I’m calling The Friday Five. It’s basically just a list of five things that I’ve been into the past week. I think it’ll be a good chance for me to talk about things that I might not otherwise discuss on here (and some things that I definitely would). I’m hoping to make it a weekly thing, so here’s the first one!
1. Friday Night Lights Season 2
(*SOME SPOILERS ABOUT SEASON 2 AHEAD*)
From what I understand, some Friday Night Lights fans have a beef with the show’s second season, but at the halfway point, I’m enjoying it so far. The whole murder (or manslaughter, I guess?) storyline is kind of ridiculous, but to me, FNL has walked a fine line between drama and melodrama several times before. And while it’s not where I would have wanted Landry’s character to go, at least he’s getting more screen time.
Julie’s storyline seems pretty natural to me. She was always a self-involved brat, so I’m totally not surprised to see her “acting out” more this season. I’ve never really liked that character (and I don’t Aimee Teegarden is a very good actress), so at least it’s something more interesting for her this season.
I also have to give them a lot of credit for where they’re going with Jason’s character. Because literally just at this point (I’m at the point in the season where he just got back from Mexico) I’m starting to care about his character. I’m not exactly sure why, but I never connected with him much before. But whenever you throw Jason Street and Tim Riggins together, I’m probably going to like it. Actually scratch that – whenever you put Tim Riggins with ANYONE, I’m bound to like it.
My hopes for the rest of the season are that they focus more on Matt, and that they find more excuses to put Coach Taylor in a suit.
2. The Head and the Heart by The Head and the Heart
Hey, do you know what the world needs? Another bearded folk-rock group from Seattle on the Sub Pop label.
Seriously, though, these guys are good. The lead single from the album, “Lost in My Mind“, is a hushed, harmonized stunner, and the rest of the album lives up to it. If you like bands like Mumford & Sons, and yes, Fleet Foxes, be sure to check these guys out. They released this debut album independently at first, but it was recently reissued on Sub Pop.
3. Taran Killam on Saturday Night Live
All four of this season’s SNL newbies (Paul Brittain, Vanessa Bayer, and Jay Pharoah are the others) have had really funny moments, but for me, the one that’s really standing out is Taran Killam. He was woefully underused at first, but after shining in the Unstoppable trailer spoof, delivering a spot-on Eminem impression on Weekend Update, and writing the off-beat-but-strangely-awesome “Les Jeunes de Paris” sketches, he’s getting more airtime (especially in the last two weeks). His best moment yet was in the Elton John episode, when Killam and John played a gay couple hosting their own show on the LOGO network. It’s a fine line to play a stereotypically gay character, but Killam’s performance was entirely sweet and affectionate. He played off Elton John perfectly.
4. “Fragile Bird” by City and Colour
Dallas Green used to be best known as the guy who sings the melodies in Alexisonfire, but thanks to two solid albums, he’s getting tons of praise for his solo work, too. Three years after his last album, we finally get to hear some new material, and it doesn’t disappoint. “Fragile Bird” is one of his strongest melodies yet, and Green’s voice sounds prettier than ever. There’s an electric element that might not sit well with some fans of his usually acoustic fare, but I personally really like the evolution in sound. It sits nicely between Alexisonfire and his earlier solo stuff. The only downside is that we have to wait until June 7 for his next album, Little Hell.
5. Modern Family
I know I’m late to the game on this one, but isn’t Modern Family such a nice little show? I’m halfway through the first season, and it’s totally living up to my expectations. I loved the episode where they throw a birthday party for Luke, and the one after that, where the Dunphys cancel Christmas.
Everyone is good on the show, but the immediate standouts for me were Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell. Ferguson plays Mitchell (half of the show’s same-sex couple), and aside from the fact that I can relate to that character to an extent that slightly frightens me, Ferguson just has such an easy, wry sense of humour. As for Burrell (who plays bumbling father of three Phil Dunphy), his physical comedy is absolutely fantastic AND he’s totally charming. He’s like some wonderful Chris Farley/Robert Downey Jr. hybrid. And he’s not bad to look at, either.
Last night on Idol, the contestants sang songs from the movies. And didn’t they choose the most random movies? I mean, I get that they just picked whatever song they wanted, and then found a movie that featured said song. But it didn’t seem like any of them had even seen the movies that they picked the song from.
But anyways, they probably should have just renamed last night’s show “‘Isn’t Jimmy Iovine an Idiot?’ Night” because no one had any love for the show’s creepy mentor. Even Will.i.am (did I miss the part where he became a permanent fixture on American Idol?) shot down most of Jimmy’s suggestions. When Jimmy told Paul that he should add beatboxing to the middle of “Old Time Rock and Roll”, Will was quick to (correctly) point out that drum machines and “old time rock and roll” don’t mix. Then when Jimmy told Lauren that she should try and “steal” votes from ex-Pia fans, Mr. I.am made Jimmy look like a heartless bastard, and suggested that Lauren should rather “invite” the new votes. Jimmy got all huffy, grumbling about “semantics”.
But Jimmy’s biggest trouble didn’t come for a Black Eyed Pea this week. Rather, it was the idols that got lippy on more than one occasion. And I can’t really blame them, because Jimmy seemed completely out of touch when making suggestions for what songs they should sing. Granted, he was probably right about Jacob, who originally planned to sing “Impossible Dream”, and was instead given the much less dreary “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.
But I was ready to hurl things at the television during Casey’s pre-performance package when Jimmy tried to stop him from singing “Nature Boy”. Because while Jacob’s original song was quiet in a boring, old fashioned way, “Nature Boy” is the kind of quiet song that someone with Casey’s chops can kill (more on that in a second). Wisely, Casey defied his mentor, as did James and Scotty. Stephen Tyler seemed to love the rebellion, and it was one of the few things that perked him up during the telecast. (The other thing was Haley Reinhart’s outfit).
Here’s my ranking of the performances:
1. Casey James (“Nature Boy”)
I’m so glad Casey stuck to his guns on this one. It was the closest to his original style from the auditions that we’ve seen on the live shows, and he nailed the cool, jazzy feel. The bass was awesome, and thanks to the stripped-down arrangement, we could hear it loud and clear, unlike last week. The vocal was not perfect, but there were some beautiful moments (the first “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn…” refrain and the second-to-last run in the song were the highlights for me). After a shaky start to the live shows, it seems like Casey is finally finding himself again. (And even though it’s crazy that Pia went home last week, I’m still really glad that they used the save for Casey.)
2. James Durbin (“Heavy Metal”)
James also gave Jimmy Iovine the (figurative) finger, and stuck to his roots with a song from the aptly titled film, Heavy Metal. And this was probably the best performance James has ever given on the show. He seemed completely comfortable, and he was clearly just having a blast. He slipped in some requisite screams that were nice, and he always kept the energy level high. He does have some obvious similarities to Adam Lambert vocally, but it’s when he gives these kind of high-octane performances that he really stands out on his own.
3. Scotty McCreery (“I Cross My Heart”)
Scotty is always reliable, and this week was no different. To me, it sounded like most of his other performances, so I don’t have much to say about it. Just get this guy a record deal already.
4. Haley Reinhart (“Call Me”)
Her take on the Blondie tune wasn’t up to par with her past two performances, but I thought the judges were unnecessarily harsh on her. (Actually, they probably were suitably harsh. But when they give zero negative comments to anyone else, Haley’s critiques become disproportionate.) It was a fun performance that lost a bit of steam in the middle section, but Haley’s proving that she still deserves to be there (and she toned down the growling this week!). I never thought I’d be saying this three weeks ago, but I really hope she sticks around, and that a guy finally goes home.
5. Paul McDonald (“Old Time Rock and Roll”)
Paul broke out the tambourine and his finest bedazzled rose-covered suit for this song from Risky Business. It was fine, but it seems like Paul has been favouring “fun” over “singing” for the past two weeks. Because even though it seems like he’s gotten most of his pitch issues under control, it might only be because he’s picking songs that require very little actual singing. There’s lots of speak-singing and hopping around, but I miss performances like “Tracks of My Tears” that were actually vocally dynamic.
6. Lauren Alaina (“The Climb”)
Ugh, I guess this was a really good song choice for Lauren, but her performance was just so boring. Call me crazy, but I like it better when Miley does it. Sure, Lauren sang it well, but despite talking about how much she connected to the song, there didn’t seem to be much gravitas behind what she was singing.
7. Jacob Lusk (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”)
Judging by his stint in the bottom three last week, America seems to be getting sick of Jacob Lusk’s gospel stylings (and were probably confused by his possibly arrogant comments last week). And I have to say, I kind of agree. I mean, I was never a huge fan to begin with, but what used to seem impressive now seems standard. His performance last night was mostly nice (though not without some pitch troubles), but it didn’t leave me with much.
8. Stefano Langone (“End of the Road”)
Can this guy just go home, please? He’s technically proficient, but there is never any genuine emotion. And singing a Boyz II Men song might not have been his smartest move, because it only reminded me of how perfect this lil’ guy would be in a boyband.
Bottom Three Prediction: I’ll guess Paul, Stefano, and Haley, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jacob there, either.
I just finished the first season of Party Down, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a pretty fantastic show. This kind of offbeat, often crude, sometimes mean-spirited humour would never make it onto network television, so I have to give Starz a lot of credit for allowing a show like this to exist. It’s got really distinct, funny characters, and the humour is so consistently sharp.
For those who don’t know, the show follows the lives of six people who work for a catering company in Hollywood called Party Down. The boss, Ron (Ken Marino), is a reformed party animal with aspirations of owning a “Soup R Crackers” franchise. So when his old friend, Henry (Adam Scott), comes looking for a job after his acting career permanently stalls, Ron hires him on. The other employees include an aspiring comedienne (Lizzy Caplan), a struggling actress (Jane Lynch), a delusional young actor (Ryan Hansen), and a sci-fi writer (Martin Starr). Each episode takes Party Down to a new location, and increasingly ridiculous and irreverent situations ensue.
With the different locations of each episode, it makes each instalment somewhat self-contained. Of course, there are character arcs that develop over the season and running jokes throughout, but it all happens in front of ever-changing backdrops. Since there were only ten episodes in the first season, let’s break the season down one episode at a time (Spoilers ahead, obviously, so if you haven’t watched the season, I don’t recommend reading this).
Episode 1 – Willow Canyon Homeowners Annual Party
The catering crew works a party in a repressive housing subdivision. As in most television pilots, the plot here takes a backseat to introducing the characters. But this pilot did succeed in making me laugh out loud twice (a rare thing). The “helpful gay pirate” exchange between Henry and Casey (Caplan) got me, as did this:
Casey: Thanks, new guy…I totally forgot your name.
Henry: That funny, because people usually remember it.
Casey: Why’s that?
Henry: It’s Scrotum Phillips.
Episode 2 – California College Conservative Union Caucus
While hosting a young republicans convention, Ron learns that Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to appear, and that he is in charge of the gift they plan to give him. Unsurprisingly, things go horribly wrong with said gift. Things got a little bit too manic and over-the-top for my liking in episode two. Ron’s desperate need (and failure) to be perfect is a running theme, but here the series of unfortunate events during the party (ending with the utter desecration of an American flag) seemed a little too crazy for a show that can pull off some truly witty low-key humour.
Episode 3 – Pepper McMasters Singles Seminar
The crew works at a seniors self-help seminar where Constance (Lynch) runs into an old flame (Ed Begley Jr.). It’s not the most memorable episode overall, but the whole subplot of smoking weed in the bathroom was pretty hilarious (“Pot made his foot fall off?”). We also get the beginnings of the Henry/Casey romance in an unexpectedly unromantic way.
Episode 4 – Investors Dinner
This is definitely one of my favourite episodes. While working a party for potential big-wig investors, the crew realises that the host is planning to swindle all of his guests, and Ron. The way that they discover this is really clever, and the resolution is silly without going too over-the-top. I also really like the storyline with Kyle (Hansen), who ditches his newfound friend after seeing him being rude to Constance. The characters on Party Down can be pretty unlikeable, but it’s the little moments like this and the friendships between them that make you care about them in the end.
Episode 5 – Sin Say Shun Awards After Party
This episode relied a bit too heavily on its premise – catering the after party for an adult entertainment awards show. Ron getting caught up in some skeevy porn deal was kind of funny, but I mostly felt bad for him. I think that’s my problem with some of these episodes. Ron is a character who is relentlessly beaten down, and unless he gets some kind of vindication (which he does in some situations), I have trouble finding his humiliation funny.
Episode 6 – Taylor Stiltskin Sweet Sixteen
Probably the best episode of the season. There’s a lot going on here, but it all works, somehow. You have J.K. Simmons guest starring as an abrasively foul-mouthed father, Henry’s awkward dancing, Breckin Meyer (I really liked Josie and the Pussycats back in the day, alright?), and even a warm-hearted message about being popular (which, in true Party Down style, gets dashed by the end of the episode). Ron finally finds some friends in pot-smoking rappers, and Henry and Kyle both miss out on acting opportunities, but it all comes together and makes the Party Down crew an even more likeable rag-tag group.
Episode 7 – Brandix Corporate Retreat
It’s trouble in semi-paradise for Henry and Casey thanks to a surprisingly funny Rick Fox playing himself (is it sad that I only know who he is because of Dancing With the Stars?). We finally see Roman’s (Starr’s) crush on Casey reach a boiling point, and he teams up with Henry to get to the bottom of her possible fling with Rick Fox. Her and Henry’s affair is revealed to the rest of the crew, making things awkward between her, Henry, and Roman. It’s not the funniest episode, but it does offer some nice character development.
Episode 8 – Celebrate Rick Sargulesh
The plot here is a bit similar to “Investor’s Dinner”, but it works nicely. The crew discovers that the man whose party they are catering has been acquitted for murder, but suspect that he might have a hit out on one of the other guests. Meanwhile, Constance finds her one and only fan in the possible victim, while Henry tries to avoid ruffling feathers after making out with the murderer’s girlfriend. I really like how Henry and Casey semi-resolve their issues, and all of the storylines work together really nicely.
Episode 9 – James Rolf High School Twentieth Reunion
It turns out that Ron is both catering and attending his high school reunion, which faces him to come to terms with some memories and friends from his past. One friend, Donnie (Joe Lo Truglio, who is hilarious here) also serves as a cautionary tale for Henry, who is thinking about moving back in with his parents. I loved the Casey/Henry stuff her, and the way that she asked him to stay felt very realistic for their relationship. But this episode also featured a lot of Ron-beating, and his explosive return to drinking at the end was mighty uncomfortable to watch. I understand that’s partially the goal, and watching the other crew members react to the debacle was surprisingly sweet, but it’s still not my favourite direction for the show to take.
Episode 10 – Stennheiser-Pong Wedding Reception
With Ron off the wagon, Henry has to take charge at a gay wedding run by a rival catering crew. Adam Scott has some great acting moments here, and he’s proven to be a very capable dramatic actor during brief moments all season. When Casey leaves at the end of the episode, you feel Henry’s pain. But that pain is eased by Kristen Bell, who guest stars as the leader of the rival crew. I’ve never been 100% convinced about Bell, but I guess the fact that Craig Ferguson likes her should have been my hint. Because she is hilarious here. I hope she comes back in the second season.
And so ends season one. Despite a few quibbles, it was a really strong ten episodes of comedy television. I’m starting season two soon, and even though I know there are some changes (Megan Mullaly replaces Jane Lynch – who, to be honest, never totally worked for me in the first season, anyways – Henry’s in charge, and Lizzy Caplan gets a bad hair cut), but I’ve heard that it’s just as good as season one. Are we having fun yet?
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame night usually goes over well on Idol, and last night’s show was no exception. There wasn’t a bad performance in the bunch. That said, there wasn’t really a stand out performance either, but since this season is just working its way back up to being entertaining, I’ll take what I can get. Here’s my ranking of the performances:
1. James Durbin (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”)
It was rock n’ roll week on Idol, and James, the show’s resident rocker sang…a ballad! Nonetheless, I think that James made a wise choice to slow things down. As he himself pointed out, he’s done three big rock songs in a row (I would have thought it was more than that, to be honest). It was a tender performance that showed his vulnerable side, and the Durbs reminded us of what a great voice he has. Yes, he still seems like the poor man’s version of Adam Lambert, but that’s still not bad.
2. Haley Reinhart (“Piece of My Heart”)
Upside-down world continues, because I thought Haley was great last night. I don’t know what incited this change in her, but it’s become clear that this gal is a fighter. I may still find her personality annoying, but somehow that…um, vivacity…has translated well to the stage lately. And not to mention the vocals. I still wish she would reign back the growling on the lower notes, but she did a Janis Joplin song justice, which, like, never happens on Idol, unless your name is Crystal Bowersox. Some of those notes were incredible.
3. Pia Toscano (“River Deep Mountain High”)
Pia chose a sort of uptempo song this week, and she was going to have fun, dammit! The whole thing felt a bit forced and contrived (“pageant hand for emphasis here, point at the camera there”), but it was a flawless, professional vocal performance, as usual. Your white swan is perfect, Pia!
4. Paul McDonald (“Folsom Prison Blues”)
I think Paul McDonald has cracked the Idol code. If you do as little actual singing as you can, you’re chances of being off-key are significantly reduced. And amidst the guitar solos and audience banter, the actual singing was relatively in tune. Congratulations, buddy, that’s a step up from last week! And while it wasn’t a hugely impressive vocal performance (the last note was really nice, though!), it was a lot of fun, and strangely memorable. After a solid performance and the coveted last spot of the night, I think (and hope) that Paul will live to sing another song on the Idol stage. (His adorable dancing with Lauren at the end of the show won’t hurt him, either. Twirl, Paul, twirl!)
5. Scotty McCreery (“That’s All Right Mama”)
I…I just…this was weird. But in a kind of wonderful way. In some ways it was totally Scotty, and in other ways…it wasn’t. I liked his “high” singing that he did this week, and he looked like he was having fun. That said, some of the stage movements were a bit awkward, and the higher register showed some of his limitations, but overall, it was nice to see something a bit different from him.
6. Casey Abrams (“Have You Ever Seen the Rain”)
This was a cool performance, and Casey sang it very nicely, but I don’t remember much else, to be honest.
7. Stefano Langone (“When a Man Loves a Woman”)
After his Elton John debacle last week, I expected Stefano to once again prove why he doesn’t deserve to still be on the show. But he was actually pretty good this week. Darn. I mean, it was still sappy (leave it to Stefano to find the cheesiest song ever written by an artist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and over-the-top, but his vocal was really impressive. It was probably his best performance to date. But he’s still mad inconsistent, and hopefully that will be enough to get him sent home.
8. Lauren Alaina (“[You Make Me Feel Like] A Natural Woman”)
I guess Lauren thinks pretty highly of herself, because she took on quite the song this week. And while she sang it competently, it still managed to be boring and emotionless. This might have something to do with her utter lack of life experience. I dunno, just a theory.
9. Jacob Lusk (“Man in the Mirror”)
I still have no idea what Jacob was talking about in the video package before his performance. He said (and I am paraphrasing from memory here), “If I end up in the bottom three this week, it won’t be because I sang the song badly. It will be because America is afraid to look at themselves in the mirror.” Huh? Now, I’m a fan of existentialist, vague bullshit (I am an English major, after all!), but this literally made no sense. Nonetheless, Jacob did not sing the song badly, but he also didn’t sing it phenomenally. I don’t know, maybe I’m just afraid to look at myself in the mirror.
It’s a tough call this week, because it was a pretty even playing field in terms of performances. I’ll predict that Stefano, Lauren, and Paul will be the bottom three, with Stefano going home. Stefano has been in the bottom before, and I feel most of the other expendable contestants are gone at this point. You can only coast for so long. As for Paul, he got the fewest votes last week out of anyone who’s left. The potential rebound voting and “pimp spot” placement last night should be enough to save him from going home, but it might not be enough to keep him completely safe. And even though Lauren’s never been in the bottom before, I think her performance was underwhelming enough to get her there this week. Perhaps I am underestimating her appeal, but it seems like she’s still not quite living up to her early frontrunner potential.
The other two in possible danger are Casey and Haley. I think Casey is still riding the wave of goodwill from the save (and a strong performance last week) and Haley is gaining momentum, but given their past troubles in the voting, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see either of them in the bottom.