tv Archives

September 13, 2006

Rock Star: It's Over

Well, it's a choice.

Not the choice that I would have made, especially after hearing the Glam Hobbit sing the [band to be renamed later] songs that Toby and Magni sang previously. Maybe the lyrics on the Supernova album are so bad that they want a singer who no one can understand?

I don't quite understand Gilby's reason for booting Magni. He seemed like he was too much a member of the band? Um, aren't you looking for a member of your band? Or are you looking for an Axl Rose type?

Perhaps Mark Burnett and CBS should have waited until after announcing the winner to show a promo for Survivor: Racial Tension that used the dreadful "Headspin" as its soundtrack.

Fortunately, we can forget all about [band to be named later] and the supernovices now.

Though I probably will actually buy Throwing it all away and Ladylike when they hit iTunes.

This season went on at least one week too long. Or maybe Burnett needs to license more songs for next season to avoid these retreads in the last few shows. But then the band seemed to have enough of an idea who these singers are to make up their minds a few weeks ago. And according to the rumors floating around the web, it seems like the band did make up their mind a few weeks ago.

For next season, shoud MBP try to find another long-standing band without a singer (I'm looking in your direction, Van Halen) or create another less-than-supergroup to start from scratch? I actually kind of like the blank slate for purposes of the show, even though the band created for the show is probably not going to be any more interesting than this one.

Elsewhere: Like two stars colliding… in a courtroom (Discussing the preliminary injunction granted that prevents this band from using the name "Supernova" in connection with performing rock music. Maybe they should officially go with "Suave Porn.")

September 15, 2006

What's returning to my TV?

These are the television shows that I've been watching and will continue watching in the current season (and discussing here at BRR):

The Amazing Race. This is the 9th race already? Wow. (Even though the series is "The Amazing Race 10," the Family Edition doesn't count. Sorry.) The information that's leaked out about the route makes this season sound like it will visit interesting destinations and the route should induce some killer fatigue. Is the Race be the best reality competition show? Premiers Sunday 9/17 at 8:30.

The Simpsons. If the characters aged, Bart would now be 27 years old, Lisa, 25, and Maggie 18. It probably should have ended years ago. After more than 300 episodes, there isn't much the characters haven't done, and the new shows have become more cartoonish and tied to pop culture. They probably won't age as well as the episodes from the earlier seasons. But the quality is still good relative to most other series and I'm still watching. Just not while it is on opposite TAR. Premiered last Sunday, 9/10. The White Stripes guest voice this week.

Family Guy. No, it's not plot or character driven. The jokes are random. But it's still funny. Premiered last Sunday, 9/10.

Lost. Do the producers have a clue as to where they're going? Will it start to X-Files out? Does it matter? After the season 2 finale, I'm heading back to the island for season 3. Premiers Wednesday 10/4.

My Name is Earl. The high point of the series so far has been the pilot. The episodes suffer the danger of becoming formulaic. But it's entertaining. Premiers Thursday 9/21.

The Office. It's not the British version. But it's developed into the best comedy on network television. The characters are real. It has its own unique rhythm and puts the characters in hilariously uncomfortable situations better than any show since Seinfeld. Premiers Thursday 9/21.

Doctor Who. It's lighter than BSG. It's not as cheesy as the old Doctor Who series.

Battlestar Galactica. The best show on television? Quite possibly. It's also very bleak. Will the characters ever have a good day? The colonists resume the battle against their new (sexy and evil) robot overlords on Friday 10/6. Webisodes are available Tuesday and Thursday at SciFi Pulse.

The Daily Show. With a lot of turnover in correspondents this year, is TDS in danger of losing its edge? Probably not.

The Colbert Report. In its first year, the Report has proven to be more consistently funny than its lead-in. You're on notice.

Mythbusters. This summer's new episodes haven't been all that great, but have filled in admirably during a bleak summer season.

Good Eats. Education and entertaining. Alton Brown is the Food Network's MacGuyver. In a good way.

South Park. Bitingly satirical and funny.

So that's as much as 12 hours of TV per week, which is something like 10 hours of actual viewing per week. And I'm considering adding new shows to watch? Yikes. That's an upcoming post.

October 11, 2006

The Colbert of Personality

New York magazine runs a long interview/profile with Stephen Colbert: Stephen Colbert Has America by the Ballots: “The funny thing is, I knew when we were developing this show, we were doing a show that parodies the cult of personality... And yet, if the show was successful, it would generate a cult of personality. It had to. That means it’s working."

October 15, 2006

TAR: No Begging or Borrowing

Lesson for all future Amazing Racers, courtesy of the Cho brothers: if, while on a train, you pantomime talking on a cell phone to talk to a ticket agent and book tickets, your opponents might actually get on a cell phone and book tickets. Actually, if you give any opposing team the idea of something to do to get ahead, the opposing team will probably do that.

Flight drama! The last few races have been relatively weak on teams actually having to work the airport to get better flights. It's good to see teams working the airports.

The simple juxtaposition of perception diverging from reality is entertaining. For example, "We do not think we're in last" while a "currently in last place" caption is on screen.

And finally, the rules changes for TAR 10 have at least one change for the better. The new NEL penalty is a major improvement. It's a real penalty affecting time-- the most important part of racing. And, it affects teams at the end of the next leg-- so, unlike losing time at the beginning of a leg, the penalty won't be eliminated at a bunch point.

The only drawback of this penalty, as opposed to a time penalty at the beginning of the next leg, is that it is more difficult to explain. The beauty of the Amazing Race is that the rules are all straightforward and easy to understand: Teams of two racing from place to place, solving clues and completing tasks to get the next clue. The last team to arrive is eliminated. That's it. It's a simple formula that is difficult to improve upon. The new NEL penalty, however, is logical, and shouldn't be too confusing to explain in the next episode.

As far as the effect on the tension of finishing the next leg, the NEL penalty could go both ways. If the non-eliminated team arrives in the middle of the pack, with one of the other trailing teams far behind, the trailing team's demise is not certain until that team hits the mat. However, if the non-eliminated team is in a close footrace to the mat with another team to avoid elimination, that could detract from the drama of the situation.

No matter what happens with the finishes on the next leg, this penalty is a major improvement.

October 16, 2006

Studio 60

Studio 60 is perhaps the most talked about new show on television this year. And for good reason-- it may be the best of the new crop, but also the one that fails to live up to its potential.

The problem with Studio 60 is that the sketch show (the show within the show) is not funny. It's about as funny as recent Saturday Night Live. That's not good. And that would be fine if the show didn't believe that the sketches were funny. But the Sorkin-penned Studio 60 thinks that his alter-ego's show is the most brilliant comedy writing since the Colbert Report. It's not.

If the show realized that, it would be more believable. The actual show-- the light-hearted drama show-- would live in the reality-based community. And it would be funnier, too.

October 17, 2006

The real world relevance of BSG

In Slate, Spencer Ackerman looks at the real-world context of Battlestar Galactica: Battlestar: Iraqtica: "Like many science-fiction shows before it, BSG concerns itself with the porous membrane between humanity and barbarism. Unlike most of its predecessors, however, it has the benefit of an open-ended, real-life war as its backdrop, making its lessons about barbarism unavoidably resonant."

December 6, 2006

The Office on both sides of the Atlantic

In the New Yorker, Tad Friend meditates on the differences between the British and American versions of The Office: The Paper Chase: Office life in two worlds: "The challenge that faced the American “Office” was to honor the spirit of the original while tweaking the workplace dynamics so that audiences would want to watch more than twelve episodes. The British scabrousness and barely suppressed violence is gone, and the Scranton office—brighter and noisier, with more posters, parties, and pep—is Slough on Zoloft."

The difference in tone between the two was very obvious in "The Convict," the first US episode penned by Ricky Gervais and Steven Marchant. The tone of the episode was more cringeworthy than usual for Scranton. While Steve Carrell and Ricky Gervais are the focal points of their respective shows, Mchael Scott is not David Brent and the jokes that work with one don't necessarily work with the other. Friend explores the distinction in the New Yorker with both depth and elegance.

January 24, 2007

Battlestar Bloopers

The second half of season 3 of Battlestar Galactica began on Sunday night with Rapture. Despite some weaker standalone episodes in the middle of the first half run, the Eye of Jupiter/Rapture cliffhanger didn't disappoint. Welcome home, Mr. President.

The show has already wrapped filming for season 3. The blooper reel has found its way on the the internets:

August 30, 2007

Work's Out for Summer

The Office teases its upcoming season with what Dunder-Mifflin Scranton did on Summer Vacation

February 12, 2008

FNL and the Second Half Collapse

Even with three months of the strike behind us, I'm still almost not quite caught up with Friday Night Lights. I started with the season 1 DVD in the fall and am now only two episodes behind with episodes.

But for everything that the series did right in season 1, season 2 just hasn't clicked in the same way.

The football games have fallen to the background, which seems out of place when season 1 established that the most important thing in Dillon is Dillon HS football.

Or, as usual with most things TV-related, go read Sepinwall:

"I've had lots of problems with "FNL" season two, but none moreso than the way the show has completely lost track of the damn team. We've seen, what, six games in 13 episodes? (With Smash playing terribly in almost all of them, which makes his big college recruiting story seem doubly baffling.) And now there are only three more before the playoffs start? And we spend an entire episode with zero football action or practice, but with a subplot devoted to the girls' volleyball team?

I know the company line is that "FNL" isn't really about football, but that's just a lie to lure in the people who would otherwise refuse to watch a show about football -- and who, based on the ratings for season two, aren't going to watch anyway. Season one was absolutely about football, and that's what made it great. It was about how a town defined itself through this team and how the pressure of being that defining element shaped the lives of the coaches, the players and their friends and family. There was plenty of action that took place away from the gridiron, but the season was always there in the background. We were always aware of how the Panthers were doing, how Saracen and Smash and Riggins were playing, how secure Eric's job was, etc.

Football was the foundation on which everything else was built, and now it's become this obligatory thing that the writers feel like they have to bring up from time to time, when they'd rather be spending time on another romance or crime plot."

The pressure on the coach and the team from the talk radio, boosters, and everyone else in Dillon shaped characters and relationships, but we haven't seen that since Coach returned to Dillon. That's one reason why the characters seem to be in a vacuum. Foorball is what brings everyone in Dillon together, and without it, the characters are all off in little groups doing their own thing without any other context.

If there's going to be no attention to the football details that were the basis of the world of Dillon in season 1, why not keep season 2 in the same school year after the championship? This way, there's no need to fudge that Riggins and Lyla weren't also originally seniors in the same class as Street.

How does the show reboot for season 3 (assuming that there is one)? First, bring in new characters to fill in for Smash and Riggins on the team and maybe add some more non-QB, non-RB characters into the mix. A lineman, a wideout, a backup. At the same time, don't lose Smash or Riggins. Wouldn't The Smash not be quite the big fish in college he is in Dillon? How would Riggins deal with graduating and being stuck in Dillon (besides dating the MILF next door or living with the town Meth dealer)?

April 8, 2008

The Wire, BSG and TV on DVD

All has been quiet on the blog front for me lately, because I've been too absorbed in catching up with the 5 seasons of The Wire that I somehow missed. How I managed to ignore the best and most important show on television is surprising, so I've been trying to catch up.

At this point, I'm up to the beginning of season 3. The first two seasons are full of brilliant little moments, broad strokes of observation about the global economy, modern urban crime environment, the criminal justice system and humanity with an attention to detail and continuity unmatched by another series on television. More than any other series (particularly because of the "naturalistic" approach to using music cues), The Wire feels immediate and real.

Watching TV on DVD is a fundamentally different experience than watching episodes as they first air. Instead of having a week or so to digest the last episode, you can jump right in and binge on a 3 episode marathon. For a hour-long drama on a commercial-free network, that translates to 3 hour viewing session. Sure, the average American television viewer watches 4 and a half hours of television per day, but 3 consecutive hours in a single evening is a lot.

The participatory aspect of talking about TV in person or on the internet is perhaps the main impetus for watching live-- to be part of the community. There aren't many live discussions going about shows that aired five years ago.

In contrast, for shows that are on now, being able to participate without being spoiled, is a major motivation for watching live or slightly delayed.

One of the leading contenders for title of "Best Show Currently on TV" is certainly Battlestar Galactica. (I'd put Lost, 30 Rock and The Office in the mix, too for different reasons.) Some insightful discussion of episode 4.01, "He That Believeth in Me" at Sepinwall and The House Next Door. Galactica composer Bear McCreary discusses the score on his blog.

October 23, 2008

30 Rock is back... next week

But it's streaming on Hulu starting today:

October 30, 2008

Mad Men Simpsons-ized

For Treehouse of Horror XIX:

via Videogum. This is seriously the 19th Treehouse of Horror episode? Is there anything The Simpsons hasn't done yet?

November 5, 2008

Help me, Wolf Blitzer, you're my only hope

So, during its election coverage last night, CNN debuted its new hologram technology that makes field reporters seem to be in the studio. Here's the clip:

What's the point of the hologram technology (which I assume involves the reporter/interviewee standing in front of a green screen)? If you're sending a reporter into the field, isn't showing what's going on in the background around them providing more useful context to the viewer than just showing more of the studio set?

Maureen Ryan does think that there are some benefits to getting the correspondent out of the scrum and into a cordoned off area to give a more coherent report. But why the hologram? Why not have the correspondent do a voice over over footage of the event that she's reporting?

What I found so aggravating about watching coverage (particularly of the speeches at the end of the night) was the need for the on-air personalities to make sure that there was someone talking at all times (Brian Williams and Katie Couric were the ones I noticed exhibiting this trait, but I just happened to be between NBC and CBS at the time). After Obama's speech, instead of just showing the crowds and letting the viewers listen to their cheering, both Williams and Couric were talking about "what [Obama] must feel" and such.

This is a symptom of the same hubris that led to CNN's expensive hologram. Instead of using the TV medium to show us the news and use visuals to provide useful analysis, the networks seem more obsessed with showing the importance their news teams coverage of events rather than the intrinsic importance of those events. Instead of sending more reporters and crews out in the field to get different opinions from the electorate, CNN spent that money on a hologram booth.

None of the channels I watched had much interesting to discuss during the lulls between reporting results. The exit poll demographics are moderately interesting. Some of the analysis can be useful (especially having someone like CNN's Jeffery Toobin on hand to explain the legal issues of voting that might come up during the night.) But much of it is no more than pundits being in love with their own voices.

Fred Armisen playing with the touchscreen map on SNL's Weekend Update may be one of the more perceptive media critiques of this campaign.

(The obvious headline shamelessly borrowed from Sepinwall)

January 17, 2009

Welcome to Earth

I haven't been so excited by a week of television in a while, and it is kind of sad. But to welcome Battlestar Galactica back for its final episodes, well, it's exciting because the writers, producers, cast and crew have done a wonderful job in creating a show that isn't afraid to challenge its viewers. Or to fail. And while it is a show that has its bad episodes, the good stuff is powerful.

But Galactica is also a show that's inspired great commentary, criticism and community. And while I probably won't blog much about the episodes, I will be reading the commentaries online.

Alan Sepinwall has a usually thorough review along with a critical mass of smart and engaged commenters. Battlestar Galactica, "Sometimes a Great Notion": I can't fight this feeling anymore

Todd VanDerWeff's reviews at The House Next Door are generally very insightful. This one is no exception, BSG Saturdays: Season 4, Episode 11, "Sometimes a Great Notion": "Battlestar Galactica gets a reputation for being a dark show, and some of that is well-deserved. It's a show that examines some of the worst things human beings can do to each other, and it's often unflinching in its gaze."

VanDerWeff also interviewed BSG director Michael Nankin.

Time's James Poniewozik tunes in with BSG Watch: Pleased to Meet Me.

But the winner of this week's online criticism is the Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan, who interviewed Moore, Nankin, and writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle. 'Battlestar Galactica's' Ron Moore addresses the shocking developments of 'Sometimes a Great Notion'

And here's Moore's commentary:

January 21, 2009

This year's surprise: It's a peninsula, not an island

Lost comes back for its penultimate season tomorrow today. And I'm excited.

The New York Times profiled the show's script supervisor, who is responsible for maintaining the continuity of the show. , Television - Gregg Nations’s Job - Keeping ‘Lost’ on Track: "With 34 episodes to go in its two final seasons, the stories of nearly 100 characters to wrap up, several Dharma stations to keep track of and a whole lot of time traveling going on, the writers of ‘Lost’ are doing anything but winding down. Yet their task — untangling the seemingly impenetrable mass of plotlines that have become addictive to some viewers of the show and alienating to others — is relatively simple compared with that of Gregg Nations."

Alan Sepinwall interviewed producer Damon Lindelof, What's Alan Watching?: 'Lost' goes time traveling for season five: "We spoke at length last week about last season, this season, and how the worst episode in 'Lost' history may also have been the most important episode in 'Lost' history (from a production standpoint, anyway)."

Sepinwall also has a cheat sheet of where all of the characters are at the beginning of season 5

And A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago's Isaac Spaceman (no relation to 30 Rock's Dr. Spaceman?) offers the single best summary of Lost to date. Previously on Lost, "JACK: Well, we lived on the beach, mostly, except for the time we lived in the cave with the skeletons and the time we lived in the secret underground bunker with the lending library and the time we lived in the village built by the scientists that the people who don’t age gassed to death with the help of their leader, my third nemesis, the nebbishy con man with spine cancer, which we took over when the freighter people came to kill everybody."

March 13, 2009

What I'm watching

Have I mentioned lately how much I've been enjoying television? Inspired by Patton Oswalt's blog post about Watchmen and the new silver age of television, this is as good a time as any to go through and review what I'm watching these days.

Battlestar Galatica. The bleakest show on TV? While it may not be quite as sad and tragic as The Wire, the level of abstraction that involves space ships, replicants and sexy robots also allows for comments about society in a way that the realistic Baltimore of The Wire couldn't. Only 3 hours left over 2 weeks (plus another 2 hour film airing sometime around the release of season 4.5 DVD's, I assume.) In the last couple of seasons, Bear McCreary's score has become an unexpected highlight.

Lost. Like Battlestar Galactica, Lost was helped tremendously by the producers and network agreeing to a set end date for the series. Since then, the show has moved forward with momentum. While not every episode is brilliant, there's enough brilliance in the time-skipping adventures of the castaways.

Chuck. In its second season, all of the elements of the show are coming together and clicking. It's both funny, acknowledges the ridiculousness of its world and adds in actual emotional resonance in a way that evokes the best seasons of Buffy. Plus, one of the best theme songs of any show on TV (Cake's "Short Skirt, Long Jacket") and Jeffster!

The Daily Show. Media critics who wondered if The Daily Show with Jon Stewart would remain relevant in the Obama administration obviously never quite understood the show. TDS focuses in on the ridiculous in the news. And even if the Obama administration is distinguished from its predecessor by a sad absence of man-sized safes in the Vice President's office, there is enough fodder for ridicule from the media. See e.g. TDS discussing CNBC and Stewart interviewing Jim Cramer.

The Colbert Report might lose its edge and relevance when there are no longer any cult of personality pundit shows on cable news or talk radio. Considering that Rush (the blowhard, not the awesome prog band) is the leading voice of the conservative movement (or just the loudest), there's no imminent danger of the show losing its relevance.

Friday Night Lights. All the cool kids watched this season in the fall on DirecTV, but even if it's not as good as the wonderful first season, this season is much better than the show's sophomore slump. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!

30 Rock. At its best, fast-moving farcical hilarity. At its worst, mildly amusing. Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan get the attention, but the unmentioned highlight of the show is Jeff Richmond's title theme song and score.

The Office. Perhaps the comedy that best blends in drama in a realistic and natural way. The deep supporting cast makes it possible for Creed to have only one line per week and still be consistently hilarious.

The Amazing Race. While some of the last few seasons have become formulaic, the formula works. This season has featured mostly well-designed legs, distinguishable teams, interesting locations and the usual great editing. I understand the reasoning, given the difficult of production, but still wonder why this is not filmed in HD. No other show on network TV would benefit as much from filming in HD.

How I Met Your Mother rarely rises to a level of greatness. But as a show focusing on the lives of 30 year olds in NYC, I find it relevant and reflective as much as-- if not more than-- I find it funny.

Important Things with Demetri Martin. Funny and clever comedy.

South Park. There's always going to be famous or important people doing stupid things for Parker and Stone to make fun of. It works often enough that they're still relevant, more than ten years in.

American Idol. It would be unwatchable without fast-forwarding through everything but the performances and Cowell's critiques. Actually, this fragment of the show is barely watchable, but it's still big enough to talk about. And it's always nice to see how your own personal taste compares to aggregate taste of the American public. Or the subset of the American public that votes for Idol.

The Simpsons. At this point, the new episodes are doing little except for chipping away at the legacy of the brilliant first 8 seasons. But now it's doing that in HD and-- perhaps surprisingly, The Simpsons look better in HD. While not up to the standard of brilliance, this incarnation of The Simpsons is still a good TV show, even while it tarnishes the goodwill of those earlier seasons.

Burn Notice. Its season just ended, but it's worth nothing, because for a show that is deliberately not intellectual, it is smart and fun with an emotional core. Other , the Miami scenery, Bruce Campbell and hundreds of ways to turn ordinary everyday objects into bombs, projectiles, or other deadly devices,

Considering: Kings (which would require foregoing the new episodes of The Simpsons), Breaking Bad.

On hiatus: Mad Men, Mythbusters, Top Chef.

Looking forward to: Parks and Recreation.

January 19, 2010

Heavy Indicia

Igot invited to see a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater last night. And aside from Dave being more engaged and energized by another situation involving the Tonight Show and Jay Leno over at NBC, this was incredibly worthwhile to attend, because The Heavy were the musical guest and rocked the house. As soon as the show wrapped, I was looking for their tour schedule to see if they were playing a full set later. Unfortunately, the Late Show wrapped up their US tour.

How often does Dave ask the musical guest to keep playing the song for another go round with the CBS Orchestra then vamping on the riff after the band finishes?

According to the Late Show website, it was "unprecedented." They also have the full and complete encore performance

But sometimes when a band is just setting up, you get a feeling that you're going to like them. If they've set up a four piece Gretsch drum set, Rickenbacker bass, Telecaster guitar through a Fender amp, baritone sax, tenor sax and trumpet, you get a sense of the sound they're going to have. Combine with a British flag and before the band is even on stage, that's a pretty solid indicator of the kind of sound they're going to have. Borrow the Dap Kings horn section and execute well and there you go: a recipe for awesome.

The Heavy []

WXPN: The Heavy, Recorded Live In Concert (Jan. 15, 2010)

NPR: The Heavy: Dirty Basement Soul "Like the early White Stripes, The Heavy sometimes threatens to cross the line between reviving and archiving. Also like the early White Stripes, it's good enough to get away with a lot, and smart enough to take full advantage."

The House That Dirt Built: Vinyl CD MP3

February 3, 2010

Return to Craphole Island

Lost may not be the most popular show on television, but it may the most popular show with the highest percentage of extremely engaged fans. In other words, the product of the size of Lost's fan base and their intensity has to be the largest for any television show. Dollhouse or Breaking Bad may have a higher percentage of extremely engaged fans, but a smaller audience. American Idol or CSI might have a larger audience, but their fans are less likely to know who the showrunners and producers are.

Is there any other show (aside from perhaps NBC's promotion of The Marriage Ref from Executive Producer Jerry Seinfeld) where the showrunners would be giving interviews on late night television instead of anyone from the cast?

Or that EW refers to by their first names only? Doc Jensen, EW PopWatch, Confused by the 'Lost' premiere? Never fear! Damon and Carlton explain a few things about the start of Season 6 (SPOILERS AHEAD)

Lost may be the most thoroughly analyzed show on TV. Here is an incomplete collection of some of the reviews and analysis of the season 6 premier, LA X, parts 1 and 2: Alan Sepinwall Doc Jensen (EW), jOpinionated, Televisionary Mike Hale (NY Times), Noel Murray (AV Club), Drew McWeeny (HitFix), Mary McNamara (LA Times), Todd VanDerWerff (LA Times), Myles McNutt (Cultural Learnings), Isaac Spaceman (A List of Things Thrown 5 Minutes Ago), Maureen Ryan (Chicago Tribune), James Poniewozik (Time), Linda Holmes (NPR).

March 3, 2010

Smoke in the temple, fire in the sky

109 episodes in, and only now am I going to start trying to write about individual episodes:

Lost, "Sundown" (season 6 episode 6)

"Sundown" certainly did not lack for action (or body count.) Sayid and Dogen fought in Dogen's office, Smokey had some issues with the temple Others, Sayid settled some differences with Dogen and Lennon, while Ilana, Ben, Sun and Lapidus made it to the temple to save Miles from Smokey.

Spoilers continue after the break


Continue reading "Smoke in the temple, fire in the sky" »

March 8, 2010

Monday TV

Chuck vs. the Beard

Chuck is a fundamentally silly show. Its version of international espionage involves many more "missions," "secrets" and "being a spy" in 44 minutes than actual undercover operatives might use in their entire careers. But as the closest spiritual successor to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it uses spy movie tropes to set the stage for stories that are allegorical. Buffy brought vampires, monsters and hellmouths to high school; Chuck brings James Bond to mid-20's malaise.

Chuck's second season paralleled stories in spy world with stories in Buy Moria, but the best episodes brought the two together. Just as Joyce Summer eventually learned about her daughter being the Slayer, this episode serves to further integrate Chuck's spy life with his real life. While Chuck has become more of an ass as he's used the Intersect 2.0 to become more of a spy (in particular, breaking up with Hannah), he's fundamentally still a good person, who needs to talk about things with his friends and family. Unlike Sarah, Chuck has people close to him from whom he doesn't want to keep big secrets (there's that word again.)

One of the things that the show fixed from its first to second seasons was the character of Morgan. Josh Gomez dialed his performance down closer to human. Unfortunately, Morgan largely reverts to some of the overbearing nerd. Perhaps this was a conscious choice by first-time director Zachary Levi, or perhaps this was the character just freaking out when he learns that the Buy More is a cover for a joint CIA-NSA task force.

Although Office Space alumnus Diedrich Bader plays a twisted version of The Bobs and gives Chuck and Morgan a chance to have their biggest bromantic moment of the third season, it also plays against Jeffster performing CCR's "Fortunate Son," hand to hand combat and a Buy Moria take Iwo Jima.

How I Met Your Mother, "Of Course"

The second act of "Of Course" may have been this show's single best act of the entire series. Realizing that breaking up Barney and Robin couldn't just be a return to the status quo, HIMYM finally realized that the relationship did have an effect on the characters and that they couldn't just go back to hanging out at McLaren's together without consequences.

Fully integrated the heart and the funny. The emotional beats were cut properly with laughs, like Marshall's song getting more involved each time we revisit it. And how can you not like an episode where Marshall punches the head off of a Stormtrooper and adds, "frankly, I'm still angry at the Empire"

March 9, 2010

What do you call Russian Roulette played with dynamite?

or Able was I ere I saw Elba

Lost - "Dr. Linus"
(season 6, episode 7)

What would Lost be without Michael Emerson? The man has a talent to deliver any line with a creepy smarminess (See him in a 1992 prison guard training video), but also for conveying deep and genuine emotion. Benjamin Linus killed his father and let his adopted daughter be killed in service of Jacob and the Island. And what for? Why did he make those sacrifices?

More questions and spoilers after the break


Continue reading "What do you call Russian Roulette played with dynamite?" »

March 17, 2010

Search and Destroy

Lost, "Recon" (season 6 episode 8)

How much a particular episode of Lost is enjoyable depends more than anything else, on who is the featured character. If it's a Locke episode or a Ben episode, it's likely to be good. If it's a Jack episode or a Kate episode, I would lower my expectations -- but not expect all of their feature episodes to be subpar. Matthew Fox is very good when he's working with Terry O'Quinn, but Jack is less likely to be effective paired with other characters. (However, the Richard-Jack scene in last week's "Dr. Linus" was wonderful.) Actually, pretty much every actor on Lost gives a good performance when paired with O'Quinn. He tends to bring out the best in his fellow actors. So the fact that O'Quinn's Smokey the Locke is at the center of this season is good.

Break out your copy of Raw Power and continue on to spoiler country after the break


Continue reading "Search and Destroy" »

April 7, 2010

See you in another life, brotha

Continuing the trend of Desmond-centric episodes being great, "Happily Ever After" brought a whole side of the family to dinner who we hadn't seen much of this season.

Grab a glass of 60 year scotch and set sail to the spoilers coming up for "Happily Ever After" (Lost Season 6, Episode 11)


Continue reading "See you in another life, brotha" »

April 13, 2010


Not waiting long after the show's debut on Sunday, HBO announced that it picked up a second season of Treme today.

Just as the inside of a flooded house is the ideal breeding ground for mold, post-Katrina New Orleans seems to be the ideal subject for a David Simon series.

On the one hand, Treme is a very different show than The Wire. Despite Wire fans wanting more, Treme isn't centered around a police task force running a long investigation on one crime syndicate per season. Treme follows a disparate mix of musicians and citizens. But, it shares a definite thematic link with The Wire in the opportunity to tell stories that focus on institutions and how institutions can fail people.

If Deadwood told the story of a society coming together and developing institutions, and The Wire is the story of institutions having grown up and having their own inertia, Treme looks to be the story of rebuilding a society after it has been catastrophically failed by its institutions. It shows how civil society has broken down in some ways, developed its own norms in others, and continues in accordance with tradition in other ways.

Upon returning to the city in October 2005 (two months after Katrina, and one month before the first episode of Treme), Ernie The Attorney blogged, New Orleans - Returning home:

New Orleans will never be the same. And yet, at the same time, it will always be the same. Is that a contradiction? Probably, but then so is this city. If you lived here and you understood the city then you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't lived here and want to understand then come see what's going on. It's pretty amazing, but unfortunately I don't even have an image to describe it. All I can say is that it's worth being close to.

New Orleans is coming back to life. Have you ever witnessed the rebirth of a city? Creation of any kind is very hard to explain, especially when it happens to an entire community. So I won't try. But if you are interested you should come here and see what's going on. If you stand perfectly still and close your eyes you can feel the magic flowing in and saturating everything from the deepest soil to the tallest limbs.

Treme may be a more personal series than The Wire and focus on people as people rather than as members of their institutions, but this will be a show about society and how it rebuilds. And I expect David Simon, Eric Overmeyer and the producers, cast and crew of Treme to tell those stories well.


HBO's 'Treme' creator David Simon explains it all for you

Dave Walker, The Times-Picayune, HBO's 'Treme' finally gets New Orleans right, "This is the screen depiction that New Orleans deserves, has always desired, but has been denied."

Walker is also running a blog post after each episode to explain the local references and traditions to the rest of us, HBO's 'Treme' explained: 'Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?'

James Poniewozik, Time Magazine, HBO's Treme: "New Orleans is not Baltimore, but it's a great and troubled city whose flood pointed out the failings of government--heckuva job, Brownie--and the lingering racial imbalances in America."

Alan Sepinwall, Treme, "Do You Know What It Means": The 'n' is for 'nuance': "It helps that we start off with a somewhat more famous cast this time around. You see, for instance, John Goodman's Creighton going all Walter Sobchek on the British camera crew and you have many of the fine points of that character."

Ben Collins, MTV News 'Treme' Music Recap: Death, Resilience And Broken Hearts

April 19, 2010

Casting Cars

Breaking Bad is undoubtedly one of the best acted shows on television; led by two-time Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris and Bob Odenkirk give some of the best performance on the small screen. The show is one of the best looking with its use of vistas of New Mexico -- different enough from Southern California, Vancouver or New York to be striking. But one of the best, least heralded aspects of the show is how well the production team selects the cars that its characters drive.

Someone's car can say a lot about their personality. A BMW driver is likely to be a bit arrogant, but less so than a Porsche driver. A Volvo owner is concerned with safety. A Prius owner wants to save the environment, while a Hummer owner wants to exhibit his dominion over the environment. A Toyota Camry owner doesn't enjoy driving. Someone who lives in Brooklyn is likely to drive a Subaru or a Mini. Someone from Detroit, something American.

Each of Breaking Bad's characters' choice of cars says something about that character. Walt's Pontiac Aztec was the ugliest car of the early 21st Century. As such, he was probably able to buy it relatively inexpensively (because who really ever wanted n Aztec?) But he likely saw the sense in the practical style of the car. The sound mix of the four cylinder engine and slushbox that the show used, especially in the first season, carries a distinctive sense of patheticness.

Saul Goodman drives a Cadillac, Marie a New Beetle, Hank a new Jeep, and Skyler a classic Jeep. Each of these cars fits the characters perfectly. Of course Gus drives a Volvo. And the Winnebago Meth Lab is as much of a character in the show as any of the other locations or actors.

From tonight's episode, Jesse pulls out of a parking lot in his Toyota wagon with its single windshield wiper is a perfect vehicle for where the character is by the end of this episode.


May 23, 2010

You All Everybody

Tonight's Lost-related festivities lack the amount of "Previously on Lost" rocking out as desired (that sold out incredibly quickly), so instead it kicked off here at BRR World HQ with a relatively Island-inspired dinner. (With less wild boar than a truly Island-inspired feast might have.)


Teriyaki marinated wild salmon with mango, onion, tomato and avocado. Served with asparagus, rice and salad. OK, salmon isn't all that Island-specific, but it paired nicely with the Dharma Initiative branded Merlot.

Watching the clip show, it's pretty clear that Lost is particularly unique in television history. Since having the most expensive pilot in broadcast television history, Lost is one of the last shows to film on 35mm film, rather than HD digital video, and may be the end of an era in large scale production for network television. Aside from The Simpsons, does any other show use a full orchestra score as much? Is anything else on broadcast as ambitious as Lost? On HBO and AMC, Breaking Bad, mad Men, Treme, as well as the forthcoming Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones may have comparable levels of ambition. But will any of these ever be as widely watched as Lost?

But what makes Lost so special is the breadth of the depth of the fandom. While it may not be the most watched show on television, it must be the most popular show that has such a high percentage of devoted fans.

After the jump, 10 Favorite Lost episodes (inspired by Todd VanDerWerff's ranking of all 110 episodes at the LA Times.

Continue reading "You All Everybody" »

May 24, 2010

Farewell, Craphole Island

Some brief thoughts on the series finale of Lost coming up just as soon as I re-read Cat's Cradle


Continue reading "Farewell, Craphole Island" »

June 14, 2010

Breaking Baddest

With "Full Measures," Breaking Bad wrapped up its third season confident of its place as the best drama on television all year. With one of the most focused and intense episodes, season three concluded with a bang.


Check the temperature of your tea and enter spoiler country after the break...

Continue reading "Breaking Baddest" »

June 29, 2010

Fixing Lost's Final Season

Lost's sixth season felt more aimless than previous ones. in large part, this was probably because the show is far better at raising questions than doing anything else. But the need to preserve a sense of mystery made the pacing of the whole season feel off. Parts of the plot felt completely stagnant, while other elements felt rushed and glossed over. And even though the season contained many good story elements, another pass might have made everything fit together better so that all of the pieces mattered.

And before we get into the details, I'll reiterate that Lost remains one of my favorite shows of all time. So here are a few thoughts about the overall structure of the sixth season and questions the series left unanswered, slapped together after the jump...

Continue reading "Fixing Lost's Final Season" »

November 19, 2010

TiVo Triage Time

For someone who watches way too much television, a full week of having a vague semblance of a life results in using a lazy Friday night in for a major TV catchup day/weekend. And I might as well blog the binge watching.

How major is this undertaking? Pretty much the only show I've kept up on is The Daily Show and Colbert Report. A quick look through what's sitting unwatched on my TiVo:

30 Rock
30 for 30 (x3)
Boardwalk Empire (x7)
Bored to Death
Burn Notice (x2)
How I Met Your Mother (x2)
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Modern Family
Sherlock (x3)
Rubicon (x9)
Sons of Anarchy (x23 yes, 23: some of those aren't on the TiVo itself, but I just finished season 1 and started season 2 on Blu-Ray and recorded so far all of this season)
South Park (x3)
Terriers (x2)
The Amazing Race
The Office (x3)
The Walking Dead (x3)

Community - "Conspiracy Theories and Soft Defenses"
Community continues its run as one of the strongest comedies of the year. And while not quite as epic as Epidemiology 206 or Modern Warfare, it was as effective of a parody of the conspiracy thriller genre while also managing to focus on the characters and be hilariously funny. By making some things small scale, such as with the miniature car bomb, setting the big chase scene in a blanket fortress, and making the conspiracy about a single credit, Community manages to poke fun at the tropes of the conspiracy genre without losing focus on the characters and, in this episode, the relationship between Jeff and Annie and how they relate to rules. In the absence of Parks and Recreation, Community has effectively become the overall best comedy on television right now.

30 Rock - "College"
In part, having the hilarious Community as a lead-in really does help putting 30 Rock in a more positive light, just like a stand-up comic is always funnier after a great warm-up act. But this season has been a return to form. This season has focused more on Liz and Jack and used Jenna and Kenneth sparingly.

Terriers - "Asunder"
Wow, this show is simply great. Hank and Britt are two very human characters, well acted by Donal Logue and Michael Raymond James. Theirs is the epic bromance of this TV season. But the show is also wonderfully Lebowski-esque, with Hank and Britt out of their depth in noir-ish plots. But what makes the show effective is that Hank is not The Dude. He's actually competent at being a detective. He wants to be a better person, despite realize the shortcomings that led him to where he is. Having Britt and Katie's most important conversation happen off camera was an especially effective way to making the moment more powerful than even the best dialogue and acting could have been. This is not only the best new show of the season, but may be the top show of the season to date.

Bored to Death - "Super Ray is Mortal"
Does enjoyment of Bored to Death decrease the further you are from Grand Army Plaza? There's no show that's more Brooklyn than Bored to Death. The trio of Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifinakis are perfect as the leads and John Hodgman is always enjoyable as Jonathan's nemesis. It's a shame that the season is so short.

Modern Family - "Manny Get Your Gun"
This is the first Modern Family episode of the season that really clicked for me, probably because it centered around Manny acting like a ten year old going into a midlife crisis.

South Park - "Creme Fraiche"
South Park taking on America's obsession with food television and the shake weight may not have been their most effective episode ever, but it was decently funny.

How I Met Your Mother - "Natural History"
Bob Odenkirk is always enjoyable whenever he shows up on TV. And while Marshall's boss at GNB isn't quite as complete of a character as Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman, his HIMYM character is fine in small doses. More effective was the Barney story and revelation. It nicely subverted the expectation that the whale story was something that Barney simply made up and paid the guard to find in the files, but completely subverted the levity of that storyline. While the show is obviously best when it is succeeds at being funny, like The Office, I'm fine with an episode of HIMYM that advances the story and connects emotionally with the characters without being all that funny.

And that's it for the night. Wow, was that a big concentrated dose of television, without even delving too deeply into the heavier material in Boardwalk Empire or Sons of Anarchy. Or even accounting for the second half of Justified's first season that's been sitting around for months. To be continued....

November 22, 2010

Top Gear USA: Lost in Translation?

Britain and the US are often called two nations divided by a common language. British culture, particularly television doesn't always click with American audiences and adaptations of British series for US television often lose much of the charm of the original in attempting to broaden appeal for us Yanks. (The Office is one of the rare exceptions where the adaptation is worth watching.)

Top Gear has a huge following worldwide because it completely reinvented the way of making a show about cars. Instead of simply reviewing cars, like PBS's Motorweek, the BBC's Top Gear aims to make an entertaining show that involves cars and occasionally actually reviews cars.

The strong personality of lead presenter Jeremy Clarkson dominates Top Gear. He's big, loud, brash and has his own iconoclastic point of view. Any adapatation of Top Gear is going to come up short in finding a host as fitting for the role as Clarkson and also in replicating the chemistry between Clarkson and his co-presenters. The curmudgeonly and vaguely artsy James May represents the opposite brained approach to Clarkson's while Richard Hammond is the affable everyman, usually standing in as the voice of reason.

Because Top Gear is on public broadcaster, it is not beholden to advertisers and the show isn't afraid to review cars poorly. In fact, the show relishes in trashing cars (both critically and literally.) Top Gear is so far off-brand (and expensive) for American PBS, it might have to be watered down for broadcast or basic cable to appease advertisers.

But as great and as British Top Gear is, an American Top Gear could be even better. Clarkson, Hammond, May and The Stig revel in speed, power and destruction -- all things that we do better in America. America has a rich car culture to draw on. While Britain's nanny state mentality towards auto regulation and congestion pricing provide targets for Clarkson to demonize and rail against, there's enough of that in America to use as a scapegoat, but there's also a freer spirit of American motoring.

From the sizzle reel showed at the top of the show, it looks like the History Channel's Top Gear is going to be borrowing liberally from the BBC's archive of challenges. The big film of the first episode pitted a Dodge Viper against a Cobra attack helicopter, in a film inspired by Clarkson's review of the Lotus Exige pitted against a Apache helicopter gunship. Top Gear USA will subject some of Detroit's finest creations to the British Leyland water challenge. And that could be a good thing, because the American iteration of the challenges may well be bigger than the British originals. But although this one was nicely filmed, it didn't really bring anything new to the table. And while the British version highlighted how nimble the Exige is, the US take showed that the Dodge Viper is powerful and clumsy. It might be that the US version may be trying to force square pegs into round holes in order to fit into the Top Gear template rather than create films and challenges that are truly American.

But that's the nature of the adaptation process. The pilot episode of the US Office was a near line for line rehash of the UK Office's pilot. And the reason that the US version is a success is because of how quickly it stepped away from that. Steve Carrell plays with Michael Scott a naivete that runs counter to David Brent's malicious streak. Top Gear US will have to find its own identity. It will retain the lavish cinematography that makes it identifiably Top Gear, but hopefully find a viewpoint that reflects its place in American car culture.

A big part of that is developing the hosts' on-screen personas. It took some time for Top Gear to develop the chemistry between its three presenters; James May didn't even come in to the show until the second season. Fortunately, the US hosts aren't simply aping the personalities of the British hosts. In fact, they're going for a completely different paradigm, which gives me hope that Top Gear USA can find its way.

But what does Top Gear have to do with history? Given that one of the other History Channel shows advertised during Top Gear was Ice Road Truckers, does the History Channel show any programming that's related to history in any way whatsoever? If Top Gear is a breakout success, how long will it be before the History Channel goes through some kind of SyFy-like rebranding?

To adapt a beloved, original show is always a challenge between maintaining the elements that work and not simply copying for the sake of copying. There has to be a reason for making the adaptation. The US version can in fact have a reason for existing and after the first episode is not a complete embarassment. Which is probably a passing grade.

Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter, Top Gear -- TV Review "The two most important things to know about History Channel's American import of the British sensation 'Top Gear': First, no, it's not as good as the original. Second, the new version does not -- in the parlance of those worried souls who keep asking -- suck."

Jalopnik, First Drive: Top Gear USA "It's stretching the capabilities of understatement to say that the domestic edition of Top Gear has a great deal of work cut out for it. The original BBC production is a bona-fide sensation, a hit with people who don't even like cars. At its best, it's pitch-perfect, with the casual banter between the hosts, the high production values, and the obvious love of everything automotive combining into something really magic. It's lightning in a bottle, and there's really nothing else like it. Except now, of course, the History Channel is trying to make something just like it. And judging from the three episodes we saw, they certainly have their work cut out for them."

September 15, 2011

2011 Emmy Picks

I started to do a post on who I'd nominate for Emmy awards back in the spring, but never completed it before the Emmys released the actual nominations. So, here are my picks for who I think should win (rather than will win) the awards as well as who I would have nominated for the category.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama

NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
  • Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)
  • Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
  • Hugh Laurie (House)
  • Timothy Olyphant (Justified)
  • Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
  • Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
  • Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
  • Donal Logue (Terriers)
  • Timothy Olyphant (Justified)

  • Should win: Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

    You know that Jon Hamm doesn't have an Emmy for Mad Men, right? (He's lost 3 years consecutively to Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad.) He should. And in this season of Mad Men, Hamm got to play Don Draper as he's struggling through a difficult period after his divorce. The Suitcase is perhaps the best highlight reel of an episode possible for the show's lead actors.

    The world has forgotten about Terriers, so Donal Logue was not nominated for an Emmy for Terriers, but his was one of the standout performances on TV of the year. Kyle Chandler as Coach Taylor is one of the iconic performances of the last decade, but Don Draper is the iconic performance. Buscemi plays intimidating and powerful control without having the physical presence of the real-life Nucky Johnson.

    Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law)
  • Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)
  • Mireille Enos (The Killing)
  • Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
  • Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
  • Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
  • Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)
  • Melissa Leo (Treme)
  • Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
  • Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
  • Katey Sagal (Sons Of Anarchy)
  • Should win: Connie Britton

    This is a toss-up between Britton's cumulative excellence and Moss's emergence as lead with a brilliant period of self-discovery for her character culminating in a confrontation with her mentor. The Suitcase was Moss's best moment so far on the show, and not yet having finished season 5 of Friday Night Lights, I don't know if this season provided Britton with anything comparable, like the first four seasons.

    Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
  • Steve Carell (The Office)
  • Louis C.K. (Louie)
  • Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
  • Louis C.K. (Louie)
  • Steve Carell (The Office)
  • Rob Lowe (Parks And Recreation)
  • Joel McHale (Community)
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Should win: Steve Carrell

    Steve Carrell has never won an Emmy for his work on The Office. Let me repeat: Steve Carrell has never won an Emmy for The Office. He brings a mix of egocentrism, weirdness and humanity to the character. He's not nearly as mean as Ricky Gervais's David Brent, but manages to create awkwardness through generosity and self-delusion.

    Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock)
  • Laura Linney (The Big C)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
  • Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope)
  • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock)
  • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
  • Should win: Amy Poehler Poehler plays the right mix of grounded and crazy, optimism and cynicism as Leslie Knope on Parks & Rec. She is the catalyst for the action, gets some of the biggest laughs, but also gives the supporting cast the ability to out-weird and out-funny her. As a result, Parks has not only one of the strongest ensembles in comedy, but a true female lead in a comedy (rather than a half-hour dramedy.)

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age)
  • Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
  • Alan Cumming (The Good Wife)
  • Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
  • Walton Goggins (Justified)
  • John Slattery (Mad Men)
  • Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones)
  • Walton Goggins (Justified)
  • Wendell Pierce (Treme)
  • Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire)
  • Michael Raymond-James (Terriers)
  • John Slattery (Mad Men)
  • Should win: Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)

    In the thousands of pages of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion Lannister stands out as the most interesting character. He is smart, underestimated, ostracized, drunk, cynical and horny. Dinklage captures all of those elements and manages to let the character be as interesting as possible. His portrayal of the character is as fun, layered and complex as the character himself. Walton Goggins is electrifying and captivating in every moment on screen. He makes Justified more engaging and dynamic whenever he's on screen and elevates the show as a supporting character. This is one of the most competitive categories, with many good options.

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Christine Baranski (The Good Wife)
  • Michelle Forbes (The Killing)
  • Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
  • Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)
  • Margo Martindale (Justified)
  • Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)
  • Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
  • Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
  • Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)
  • Margo Martindale (Justified)
  • Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)
  • Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)
  • Should win: Margo Martindale (Justified). As the tragic villian of Justified, Martindale's Mags Bennett got to play maternal, mean, sweet, controlling and lost all within the span of a season. A brilliant performance of a unique character.

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
  • Chris Colfer (Glee)
  • Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
  • Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)
  • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
  • Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
  • Ted Danson (Bored to Death)
  • Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia)
  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
  • Nick Offerman (Parks And Recreation)
  • Danny Pudi (Community)
  • Should win: Ty Burrell (Modern Family). My choice to run away with the category would be Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson. He makes this ridiculous libertarian character working in local government human and completely insane at the same time. But then this category could justifiably be made up of the entire supporting cast of Modern Family. Replacing Colfer and Cryer with Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez would make it a stronger category. Even though I think that Offerman, Day and Pudi are the class of this field, the Modern Family ensemble works so perfectly and Burrell's character was dialed in to the right balance of buffoonery and believability. But the Academy can't go wrong with any of the Modern Family cast.

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
  • Jane Krakowski (30 Rock)
  • Jane Lynch (Glee)
  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)
  • Betty White (Hot in Cleveland)
  • Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)
  • Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
  • Alison Brie (Community)
  • Jane Lynch (Glee)
  • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation)
  • Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck)
  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)
  • Should win: Sofia Vergara (Modern Family). Sure, she's beautiful and has an exaggerated accent. But Vergara's timing is perfect. She takes what could be a terrible hackneyed character and manages to be consistently hilarious.

    Outstanding Comedy Series

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • 30 Rock

  • The Big Bang Theory

  • Glee

  • Modern Family

  • The Office

  • Parks and Recreation

  • 30 Rock

  • Community

  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

  • Louie

  • Modern Family

  • Parks and Recreation
  • Should win: Parks and Recreation

    It isn't as inventive as Community, as relatable as Modern Family, as introspective as Louie, or as fully committed as Always Sunny, but Parks and Recreation put together a tremendous string of funny episodes that have biting criticism of society and still managed to be warm and engaging. A brilliant series of episodes and performances, including Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Rob Lowe, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott and Li'l Sebastian.

    Outstanding Drama Series

    NomineesIdeal nominations
  • Boardwalk Empire

  • Dexter

  • Friday Night Lights

  • Game of Thrones

  • The Good Wife

  • Mad Men
  • Boardwalk Empire

  • Friday Night Lights

  • Game of Thrones

  • Justified

  • Mad Men

  • Terriers
  • Who should win? Mad Men

    There are some very solid choices for best drama this year, even while television's current best drama, Breaking Bad, fell through the cracks to not air any episodes during the eligibility year. Friday Night Lights is a unique, special show in its last season. Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire came out of the gates with solid seasons -- the last stretch of Game of Thrones was epic. But Mad Men had one of its best seasons to date, with Don Draper experiencing a trying time and falling to a personal low. Looking back just at the episode titles and summaries, more of the Mad Men episodes worked well and distinctly compared with the two HBO shows.

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