Saturday Night Live Review (Chris Pratt / Ariana Grande)


chris pratt

Yay! So, after taking a year off from writing regular reviews, I have decided to come back. I guess I just missed reviewing this crazy show. However, if you missed it, you can still read a list of my favorite sketches from season 39. 

First things first – let’s discuss some of the big changes this year. Four of the new featured players from last year were let go. I saw potential in all the new cast members and I was hoping that they would be given another chance. However, after Lorne Michaels made that not-so-cryptic announcement that there would be some changes for the new season last summer, I pretty much knew that the underused Noel Wells and John Milhiser would be sacked. Brooks Whelan was also let go, along with (surprisingly IMO) Mike O’Brien (however, he is still a writer so…he’s employed!) Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett staying was a no-brainer (however, I knew they wouldn’t be upgraded to main cast member yet). And Sasheer simply deserved a full year so I knew she wouldn’t be taken out either (although considering how little she had to do in this episode, I’m already worried).

I’ll discuss the new cast members later in this recap but I just want to point out that there are a couple new writers I’m excited for. It’s good to see Nick Rutherford finally join the SNL family after being snubbed last year despite the fact that the other members of Good Neighbor (Mooney and Beckett) were hired. I’m also very excited that CollegeHumor’s Streeter Seidell was hired. I love CollegeHumor and (although it’s sad seeing many of the older comedians leave the site behind) it’s nice seeing writers and performers on that site move on to “bigger and, well, bigger” things.

So…I’m not going to necessarily discuss EVERY sketch from the night (esp. since this is a longer than usual introduction), but I’ll highlight my favorite (and maybe my least favorite) sketches of the night and other notable moments. Welcome back! Season 40!

New Opening Sequence: Y’know…I didn’t realize how much I missed the “scenes from New York city” opening. But after a couple seasons of just head shots, I really love this new opening…even if some/most of the fake smiles from the cast members seem a little much. When I first watched this episode on television, I could barely hear Darell Hammond. He’s a little clearer on my computer download. Hopefully he develops a more commanding sound like Don Pardo…but I can’t think of someone more suited for this job.

chris pratt snl

Alive Toys: Honestly, my favorite part about this sketch is Kyle Mooney. He does a very nice job playing a lonely kid on his birthday. Overall, this isn’t the kind of sketch I could watch 10 times and be entertained. But, the part where He-Man and Lion-O (played by Taran Killam and Chris Pratt) “pleasure themselves” is uncomfortably funny. It seems like Ariana Grande (playing She-Ra) was plopped into this sketch just for the sake of having the musical guest in a sketch. But Aidy’s line about She-Ra being a “freak” makes it worth it, I suppose. Oh! Cecily Strong as the uninterested older sister is also great.

Vet’s Office: I’m genuinely surprised that the writers thought this could be a recurring sketch…but I’m laughing. I’m just not sure this would be fine a third time. But, yeah, Cecily bluntly telling someone their pet is dead is funny.

Marvel Can’t FAIL!: I’d watch Pam…only if it starred Aidy Bryant. Seriously, though, Bryant has perfected her “smiley middle aged woman” character. It’s always funny at this point. And I feel like “Pam” is the obvious go-to name for that type of character.

pete davidson

Weekend Update: Weekend Update was quite excellent this week…mostly because of the guests. First up was Cecily Strong’s infamous “Girl You Wish” character. Here are some of my favorite lines:

“Welcome back” (to new co-anchor Michael Che)

“I’m thinking about it 25/7!”

“Let me mansplain this for you in terms you can manderstand.”

“Every five minutes, another species…”

“I have a crush on Gandhi! But I’m sure Jessica discovered India too!”

When I found out that Cecily Strong would be leaving Weekend Update, I was upset because between her and Jost, she was definitely the better anchor. However, apparently this was her own decision because she wanted to do more character work, which…OK. As long as she brings out this character at least three more times this season, it might be worth it. Next up, Leslie Jones came back to do a bit on being single. I just love her raw enthusiasm and energy…and I think this bit was easier to swallow than her last bit on slavery (although I, at least, appreciated the risk that first bit took). The last guest was newcomer Pete Davidson who did a very funny bit about “going down on a guy” for money to support his family (which looks weird without the full context…he has very good reasoning) He must be related to Andy Samberg somehow. The same big, crooked teeth. The same smile. The nose. This was a very good debut for Davidson (sort of reminded me of Cecily Strong’s Weekend Update debut from a couple years ago). And he trended pretty high on Twitter. A lot of people are really excited for him (especially the ladies who think he’s cute). He didn’t do much else this episode. I think I can’t truly make a conclusion about him until I see him in a few more sketches. I think a successful player is someone who can be funny in the live sketches (even if that’s not their strong point, ie. Andy Samberg, Kyle and Beck). But, so far, for a 20 year old, he has a lot of natural charm and confidence. And, hey…this is the first cast member who’s younger than me. So…now I officially feel old.

As for Colin Jost and Michael Che…they were OK. Che needs to some work. I cringed when he made a mistake during his first joke (say what you want about Strong…but she didn’t make any obvious stumbles during her first joke…although it was her second year on the show). Che also has some enunciation issues. But…we’ll see. As for Jost…I don’t dislike him as much as most people seem to do. He’s sort of…plain white…but he could make that work for him. For example, during the “Cheer Up, President Obama” segment, his attempts at trying to groove to the music were funny in itself. And, I liked the segment because it was a nice way for those two to work together. And this Che line makes me crack up:

“Remember, no matter what, the brothers are always going to love you. I mean, you could lose a war to Canada and we’d still paint murals of you in the hood. Right between Martin Luther King and Aaliyah.” Yep. True.

Jost also had a funny line early on:

“The company has strengthened security for its iCloud storage system in response to the recent hacking of celebrity nude photos. But if you really don’t want anyone to see your naked photos, you can just hide them in that free U2 album.”

90’s Sitcom: I was going to call this sketch “TGIF” sitcom (just because I get strong Boy Meets World vibes from this sketch), but apparently this “show” actually airs on NBC so…that’s not going to work. Anyway, last season, Beck and Kyle did a similar sketch with Andrew Garfield that was only made available online. I’m glad this idea was brought back. It’s just…you have to be a nineties kid to understand. Sorry, Generation Z.

leslie jones

NFL Player Introductions: I wasn’t crazy about the NFL cold open (mostly because I didn’t know who any of those people were). But I really liked this simple, weird little gem where the players have introduce themselves with the crimes they committed. Jay Pharoah as the Somali pirate got the biggest laugh out of me. But seeing cameos from Jost and Che (I’m assuming those two won’t be appearing in many sketches throughout the season and will just focus on their Weekend Update duties a la Seth Meyers) and Leslie Jones made me smile.

Video Game Testing: The last sketch wasn’t the weirdest “last sketch” the show has produced, but…it was still pretty weird. It involved kids testing a game that mostly involves Vanessa Bayer and Christ Pratt making out. Hey. We also got to see Pratt’s abs for a second so…yay! It was a nice way of seeing Pete Davidson in another live sketch (he was also in the NFL sketch) and the underused Sasheer and Bobby.

chris pratt anna faris snl

Goodbye: Seeing Anna Faris and Chris Pratt kiss was cute…seeing Leslie Jones interrupt the lovefest gave me one last chuckle.

Ariana Grande sounded great. I was hoping she’d perform “Problem” but…that’s sort of an old song. She’s performed a million times before. And I can’t blame her for wanting to showcase a couple newer songs. But, yeah, I’m a fan of Ariana..even if I can’t understand anything she’s singing.

Overall, premieres are always a little wonky. They’re rarely perfect (which is weird considering the writers have sort of had the summer off). But I’m definitely excited for the new season. Chris Pratt was a good host and blended well with the cast. Beck and Kyle are already starting to have a stronger presence on the show. Despite the Emmy nod, Kate McKinnon was still underused in this episode. Hopefully that’ll change in the next few weeks. Cecily and Taran continue their co-dominance.

MVP: Aidy Bryant had a great premiere. She got to say “LIVE FROM NEW YORK.” She appeared in most of the sketches. And she was especially great working her inner Nicki Minaj in that bar sketch with Chris Pratt. To think we almost wrote her off a couple seasons ago. Now I can’t imagine the show without her.

Next week! Sarah Silverman! And, hopefully, I’ll still be doing these! Bye!

Some Quick Thoughts on the 2014 Emmys


julianna margulies the good wife

I’m going to write this post in bullet point form. Most of my thoughts are extended from my live tweets that I’m pretty sure no one paid attention too.

  • Be careful what you wish for. Last year, we got a lot of surprising winners and everyone was mad (how dare Jeff Daniels win!) This year, we got a lot typical, “boring” winners and…well, it looks like everyone is mad again. Not saying my predictions are perfect…but if I had played it completely safe…then I probably would have predicted Ty Burrell, Gail Mancuso, and Aaron Paul. Honestly, many of the acting winners were genuinely deserving (Bryan Cranston beating Matthew McConnaughey was more satisfying than I thought it would be). But other wins (like all the Modern Family love) made me a little queasy. Five Comedy Series wins in a row. It’s a great show…but it’s never been number 1 on my list and, at most, 2 wins would have been appropriate enough. But…hey, I predicted it when everyone else was predicting Orange (which didn’t have a good night) so…I guess I feel good?
  • Overall, the comedy wins were a little disappointing. I supported a Julia Louis-Dreyfus win…but that coupled with no genuinely surprising wins in the other categories makes it more bitter than sweet. Did Gail Mancuso need a second Emmy?!?
  • The Drama categories were also predictable…but I’m definitely happy that Breaking Bad dominated for their last year. Walley-Beckett winning for writing “Ozymandias” was especially awesome. Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn winning for their intense performances in that episode also made me happy. Aaron Paul’s win is a little less welcome for me because I REALLY wanted Josh Charles to win. But…I had silly tears in my eyes when Julianna Margulies won. So friggin’ deserved. Yes, she has won before. But it’s an extraordinary win considering she wasn’t even nominated last year. Without Tatiana Maslany in the category, she gave the best performance in the category, had the best episode. As a supporter of network drama, this seemed like a victory for that (I liked Margulies’ shout out to the fact they create 22 episodes a year). Margulies’ win was my absolute favorite of the night.
  • The Movie/Miniseries category was just freaking weird. Not bad necessarily…but weird. I am very very glad Martin Freeman won for Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch winning for Leading Actor seems appropriate. Jessica Lange winning for Lead Actress is (excuse my French) awful and literally any of the other actresses would have been better. The actresses in category were nominated for movies that didn’t receive much widespread support so I’m going to say that voters watched “Bitchcraft,” voted for Lange and called it a day. The Normal Heart and Fargo didn’t dominate as much as we all thought they would (Sherlock took a lot of their thunder), but it still managed to win the two big awards.
  • Off the top of my head, some of the best moments during the ceremony includes: JLD and Bryan Cranston’s everything, Andy Samberg’s King Joffrey impression, the beautiful memoriam featuring Sara Bareilles singing “Smile,” Amy Poehler being referred to as Beyonce, Ricky Gervais, Billy Eichner on the street (“Seth…MacFarlane?”), questions from the audience, Woody and Matthew’s silly banter, and Bryan Cranston winning after Julia Robert’s clear biased love for True Detective was great. As much as I hate her win, Gail Mancuso probably had my favorite speech, maybe. Sarah Silverman running up the stairs to accept her surprise Emmy was fun.
  • Overall, I thought Seth Meyers is great. I just think his style is simple. No big production numbers. No showing off. I mean, I love Jimmy Fallon and NPH as much as the next person, but I really enjoyed Seth Meyers’s “Weekend Update” vibe he portrays on his talk show and during tonight’s ceremony. I really enjoyed the opening monologue, particularly the comments about network vs. cable television (vs. Netflix). Ironically, Netflix didn’t do all that well tonight. I don’t think they won anything. Hey. At least Uzo still has her Emmy!

I always feel a little sad after an Emmy ceremony. It’s like “I obsessed all summer for THIS??” But…I wouldn’t change it. I love award shows. I love talking about the Emmys. And I’ve had fun looking at the races, and making in depth analysis that’s only second to Gold Derby (IMO). If you read one of my articles…or even just this one. Thank you. I’m not being paid for the Page Views…but it’s still fun seeing so many people read my stuff. Byee!

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Final 2014 Emmy Predictions!


Hey guys! Hey guys! Hey guys! So, I know I’m a bit late with this post. In fact, I wanted to have this written before the Creative Arts Emmys so I could post my predictions for the Guest acting categories. But between relatives visiting and the internet shutting down for two days…I just couldn’t write this post during the time I wanted. But there are still a bunch of categories left so…let’s get on with this! Here are my final predictions for the major categories.

For more Emmy stuff (including reviews of all the nominees), click here!

Movie/Miniseries

Miniseries: Sigh…if only True Detective had submitted here, then we’d have a real race. But, right now, (unless the Academy wants to throw overdue recognition Treme‘s way), this is Fargo’s to lose.

Movie: Sherlock won four Emmys last Sunday, signifying widespread support for the program. However…I think the buzz and acclaim for The Normal Heart is too great for it to lose this one at this point. It’s in the same league as past HBO champs (Game Change, Behind the Candelabra, Grey Gardens, Recount, and Temple Grandin).

Actress: If I overthought this, I could think of an argument for each of the nominees (including the Critics Choice Award winner Jessica Lange). But, if I played it safe, then past Emmy favorite Cicely Tyson would win for the role that gave Geraldine Page her first Oscar.

Actor: Mark Ruffalo’s performance is surely explosive and Emmy bait…but it’s also a bit polarizing. I think this is between the Fargo guys, and it looks like the more recognizable American star will take this: Billy Bob Thornton. 

Supporting Actress: Besides Frances Conroy, any of these ladies could win. I honestly don’t see American Horror Story doing all that well, so Bates and Bassett won’t win. Never underestimate Burstyn…but at the same time, she just won last year. Another win would be too much. Julia Roberts is the big star and a few months ago, she was deemed the front runner in this category. However, Allison Tolman‘s performance has received more consistent praise. She is a breakout star and if voters love Fargo like I think they do, then I think Tolman will be able to beat her more famous fellow nominees.

Supporting Actor: I could see Martin Freeman winning an Emmy just because he was nominated in two categories. However, Matt Bomer got the most praise out of anyone else in the movie. He’s The Normal Heart‘s best chance at winning an acting award IMO.

Writing and Directing: So, right now, Fargo and The Normal Heart are the two biggest contenders in this category. I think there will be a split in there categories. The first episode of Fargo will win for Writing, while Ryan Murphy will win the Emmy for directing The Normal Heart. However…the reverse could happen as well. Or maybe one program will just dominate. We will see!

Comedy

Comedy Series: Veep has slowly become a major Emmy contender, while Orange is the New Black was one of the buzziest shows of the last year. But, once again, I’m playing it safe and predicting Modern Family. Like The Daily Show or The Amazing Race, I am pretty much always going to predict Modern Family until it actually loses. This was apparently a strong season for Modern Family and if voters liked it enough last year…then this year might not be different. Besides, Orange is too dramatic and half and hour too long.

Actress: The only other actress I could see legitimately beat Julia Louis-Dreyfus is Melissa McCarthy, whose tape is an Emmy bait mixture of multi-camera broadness and emotion. Anyone else would surely be a surprise.

Actor: Playing it safe is my middle name. Jim Parsons seems to be the favorite for his 100th Emmy. However, watch out for Ricky Gervais whose tape will make voters tear up a bit. Remember when Gervais won for Extras???

Supporting Actress: I didn’t think Allison Janney would win Guest Actress. But she did…but that doesn’t change anything. If anything, it might validate this prediction. Janney is going to win two Emmys this year. But if we’re in for a surprise like we got last year then Anna Chlumsky is surely a “Merritt Wever-sized” dark horse.

Supporting Actor: It just doesn’t seem like Modern Family has the same widespread support it had a couple years ago. Jesse Tyler Ferguson has the strongest tape in this category…but I think Tony Hale will win again for his now iconic scene he shares with JLD. If Brooklyn Nine Nine had received more support, then maybe I would have more faith in Andre Braugher.

Writing: Orange is the New Black‘s pilot might seem like an easy way for the show to win. But…Louis CK has won in this category before…and I think he will win again for a much stronger episode in my opinion. “So Did the Fat Lady.”

Directing: Modern Family has actually won this category the last three years. I mean, it even beat 30 Rock‘s finale last year. However, Jodie Foster’s star power plus Orange‘s buzz plus a story line involving a transgender woman will equal “Lesbian Request Denied” winning.

Drama

Drama Series: I’m biting the bullet and saying that Breaking Bad will have a very good Emmy night. If it could win last year, it can surely win again for its explosive final group of episodes. And yeah, True Detective received a lot of praise and buzz…but I don’t think it received any more than (or even as much as) Breaking Bad. 

Actress: I never thought I would be predicting Claire Danes (hell, I thought her getting nominated would be a small miracle)…but I have to admit, she submitted a great episode. Margulies would be my number one choice…but she was snubbed last year…and her submission this year wasn’t so different from her submission from season 3. And, yes, Robin Wright and Kerry Washington could win for their performances in hot, buzzy shows. But, since I can’t choose between either of those actresses…I think voters will face the same problem and just simply choose last year’s winner because, hey, the season sucked, but Danes still did a great job. I think this race would be a lot simpler, if the best drama actress (cough cough Maslany) had actually received a nomination. Oh well. Watch me be wrong about this one!

Actor: This was another tough one for me. The last three winners (Kyle Chandler, Damien Lewis, Jeff Daniels) have been fairly surprising, so technically any of these nominees could win. However, I’m going to listen to the buzz and say that it’s really between recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and three time winner Bryan Cranston. Bryan Cranston has a better submission and, in my opinion, gives the stronger overall performance. However, voters may not be completely willing to give Cranston a fourth Emmy. McConaughey got just as much praise for his performance as Bryan Cranston did for his. I think between his praise and the exciting idea of hearing another crazy, rambling speech…I think Matthew McConaughey will win this one…unless Jeff Daniels wins again.

Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith recently won a SAG for some reason…but I don’t see her (or anyone else in the Downton Abbey cast) winning. Anna Gunn has the most explosive tape of the mix. If voters want to give Baranski an overdue Emmy for her great work this season then they can…but it looks like Gunn is going to win another deserved Emmy.

Supporting Actor: Most people seem to be predicting Aaron Paul, Peter Dinklage or even veteran Jon Voight. But, fun fact: The Good Wife has received one acting win for each of the last four years. If an actor from the show is going to win, I think previously nominated Josh Charles will finally get the award. Not only did he have a buzzy arc that ended in the unfortunate surprise death of his character, but his episode submission is probably the best episode The Good Wife has ever created. If The Good Wife had received the Drama Series nomination it was supposed to, I’d feel more confident about this nomination. Right now…this is one of my bolder picks.

Writing: “Ozymandias” not receiving a directing nomination makes me nervous…but I still think the most talked about dramatic episode of the season has the edge. However, the Breaking Bad finale would be an “easier” way for voters for award the show and the show’s creator.

Directing: House of Cards won this award last year. And Boardwalk Empire has always done well in this category. But, I think this is a race between Breaking Bad, True Detective, and Game of Thrones – three expertly directed episodes. True Detective’s episode has a really epic continuous tracking shot of a shootout, while Game of Thrones‘s episode is simply one big, explosive battle. However, I think, for a finale, Vince Gilligan did a great job pretty much giving everything the audience asked for. Breaking Bad has never won in this category. “Felina” should be that episode.

OK…those are pretty much the categories I care about the most. Thanks for reading. Check back Monday night or Tuesday morning for my recap/review of the ceremony and the winners.

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 UPDATE: I will be live tweeting during the actual ceremony. So check out my twitter @ https://twitter.com/UnassumingName to be a part of the action!

2014 Emmy Nominations Review – Best Comedy and Drama Series


breaking bad

For the next few weeks, I will be going through each of the major categories and reviewing the nominees and giving my opinion as to who should win. In terms of the Drama and Comedy categories, I’ll mostly judge based on the actors’ episode submissions. However, I’m only human. And if there’s an actor who submitted terribly, I may give him or her the edge because I am familiar with his or her performance on the show otherwise. It depends! But, yes, I will be watching all the episode submissions and reviewing them as they become available. I will choose which nominee I think is the most deserving of the prize. These are not official predictions. The articles where I predict objectively will be posted closer to the ceremony. OK? Is everything clear. Cool. Then let’s begin/continue…

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From most deserving to least, here are the nominees for this year’s Best Drama Series.

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. True Detective
  4. Mad Men
  5. House of Cards
  6. Downton Abbey

It would be pretty strange if it turns out that Breaking Bad‘s only Drama Series Emmy was for its weakest “season” (the first half of the last season, technically). All that aside, Breaking Bad gave us this year’s most thrilling stretch of episodes. “Ozymandias” was hailed as one of the greatest episodes of dramatic television by critics…and I can’t help but agree. But, outside that episode, this season has  been filled with so many intense moments  – from Walt and Skyler conspiring against Hank and Marie to Hank and Jesse conspiring against Walt to Walt’s depressing stay at that isolated cabin to anything and everything in the finale. Breaking Bad is leaving on a satisfying high note and one Drama Series win doesn’t seem like enough.

I actually watch True Detective regularly, while there are a good chunk of Game of Thrones episodes I have not watched. True Detective is a gritty, well acted, well directed  series. But I would actually rather see a fantasy/genre show finally win this one than a limited series that should honestly be in the miniseries categories. But both shows have their thrilling moments and, as of now, are cultural phenomenons. Mad Men has a much better season this year than last…but after 4 previous wins, they don’t really need to win another Drama Series Emmy for a season that’s still not among their best. Downton Abbey shouldn’t have even gotten a nomination this year so clearly it would be a minor travesty if the show ends up winning.

And finally…

From most deserving to least, here are the nominees for this year’s Best Comedy Series.

  1. Veep
  2. Orange is the New Black
  3. Silicon Valley
  4. Louie
  5. The Big Bang Theory
  6. Modern Family

I think, ultimately, I’d rather see Veep win than the wonderful Orange is the New Black, because Veep is a true comedy, while Orange is more of a “quirky” drama. Veep had a very tight, thoroughly consistent season of purely comedic television, while Orange, while mostly great, may have had one or two wonky moments this season (like most of the non-prison scenes involving Larry). After three seasons, Veep is overdue. But a win for the culturally diverse, inventive, brave prison series would be fine by me.

I think my eye would twitch a little if Silicon Valley somehow won this award before Veep (I’m already a little baffled that the show was able to receive writing and directing nominations for its first season while it took Veep three years to receive one writing nomination), but it had a great season and it would be a pleasantly surprising win nonetheless. In short, any of the top four winning would be much better than the bottom two. And, yes, I think Modern Family is a stronger show than The Big Bang Theory…but after four consecutive wins, I’ve resented the show a bit for winning so many times. Modern Family is a good show…but it’s not “5 times good.”

Final predictions coming soon! Click HERE for more Emmy predictions and analysis.

2014 Emmy Nominations Review – Lead Actor in a Drama Series


bryan cranston ozymandias

For the next few weeks, I will be going through each of the major categories and reviewing the nominees and giving my opinion as to who should win. In terms of the Drama and Comedy categories, I’ll mostly judge based on the actors’ episode submissions. However, I’m only human. And if there’s an actor who submitted terribly, I may give him or her the edge because I am familiar with his or her performance on the show otherwise. It depends! But, yes, I will be watching all the episode submissions and reviewing them as they become available. I will choose which nominee I think is the most deserving of the prize. These are not official predictions. The articles where I predict objectively will be posted closer to the ceremony. OK? Is everything clear. Cool. Then let’s begin/continue…

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From most deserving to least, here are the nominees for this year’s Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

  1. Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad (“Ozymandias”)
  2. Kevin Spacey – House of Cards (“Chapter 26″)
  3. Woody Harrelson – True Detective (“The Locked Room”)
  4. Matthew McConnaughey – True Detective (“Form and Void”)
  5. Jon Hamm – Mad Men (“The Strategy”)
  6. Jeff Daniels – The Newsroom (“Election Night, Part 2″)

I watch Breaking Bad, True Detective, and Mad Men regularly. The others I am familiar with.

jeff daniels newsroom

I have to say…I am glad this whole series is pretty much coming to an end. It’s been fun watching submissions and writing these reviews…but it’s also been exhausting. After I finish writing this post, it’ll just seem like a weight has been lifted. I’m about to begin my final year of my Master’s program so I really should start focusing on preparing for that more. But, anyway, let’s get on with the ranking.

I think Jon Hamm has the weakest tape. He submitted the same episode Christina Hendricks did. And, similar to Hendricks, he’s overshadowed by some of the other actors in the episode. He has that nice scene with Elizabeth Moss towards the end where their characters dance to “My Way,” but I feel like Moss had the more emotional “awakening” in that scene than Hamm. Jeff Daniels had more impact in his episode. It’s a little surprising. I thought a Newsroom episode entitled “Election Night” would allow Jeff Daniels to give a big, rousing, angry speech about America. But, instead, his character seems more interested in the status of his job and proposing to Mac than covering the election. Anyway, I put Hamm above Daniels because…I would still rather see Hamm win an “overdue” Emmy than Daniels, who won last year. In any case, hopefully, Matthew Weiner will write something really baity for Hamm for the last seven episodes of the series.

true detective

Harrelson and McConnaughey are practically tied because they both work so well together. Neither actor tries to outact the other. And they both (obviously) play big roles in each other’s episodes. I literally base this on rank on their individual performances in their own submitted episodes. And while McConnaughey has a really powerful final scene in his episode where he discusses his late daughter and the stars, Harrelson has some great scenes with his family, particularly a long bedroom scene with Michelle Monaghan. I honestly think they both gave better performances in the episodes nominated for writing and directing. But, this is still the best duo on television. Right now, it seems like McConnaughey is the frontrunner since he won both Critics awards and just won an Oscar…and that wouldn’t be bad at all.

I can’t believe I’m putting Kevin Spacey at #2 but…there’s something about his subtle, slow burning conniving performance that just intrigues me. I rarely know what Frank Underwood’s thinking…and I don’t think that’s because Kevin Spacey doesn’t know. I just think Kevin Spacey does a great job of giving a portrayal that allows us as an audience to look at his character the same way characters on the show look at him – perplexed and cautioned. Anyway, he submitted the season finale where Frank finally becomes President after the previous one resigns. That last shot as he gazes at the camera is chilling.

But…Bryan Cranston is clearly my number one choice. And, yeah, if Bryan Cranston had submitted “Felina”…or pretty much any other episode this season, he would still be number 1. But “Ozymandias” is the best choice because that final third act with Anna Gunn and RJ Mitte are excellent. That final phone call when Walt pretty much attempts to clear Skyler of any involvement is powerful; and Cranston plays Walt with one part villain, two parts sympathy. This is a man that has gained and lost (mostly lost) so much. Cranston just won a Tony and already has four Emmys (one for producing) on his shelf. The voters may want to spread the wealth and give the Emmy to someone different. This is an overall strong category (esp. without Hugh Bonneville cough cough) but Cranston would be at the top of my list no problem.

So, here are the articles I’m going to write…

  1. Reviewing Best Comedy and Drama
  2. Final predictions
  3. Review of the ceremony and the winners

So make sure you stick around for more Emmy articles. But, yeah, I won’t be reviewing some of the other Creative Arts categories this year. However, click HERE for more Emmy predictions and analysis.

2014 Emmy Nominations Review – Lead Actress in a Drama Series


robin wright kevin spacey

For the next few weeks, I will be going through each of the major categories and reviewing the nominees and giving my opinion as to who should win. In terms of the Drama and Comedy categories, I’ll mostly judge based on the actors’ episode submissions. However, I’m only human. And if there’s an actor who submitted terribly, I may give him or her the edge because I am familiar with his or her performance on the show otherwise. It depends! But, yes, I will be watching all the episode submissions and reviewing them as they become available. I will choose which nominee I think is the most deserving of the prize. These are not official predictions. The articles where I predict objectively will be posted closer to the ceremony. OK? Is everything clear. Cool. Then let’s begin/continue…

Visit my Emmy Center.

From most deserving to least, here are the nominees for this year’s Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

  1. Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife (“The Last Call”)
  2. Lizzy Caplan – Masters of Sex (“Pilot”)
  3. Claire Danes – Homeland (“The Star”)
  4. Robin Wright – House of Cards (“Chapter 26″)
  5. Kerry Washington – Scandal (“The Fluffer”)
  6. Michelle Dockery – Downton Abbey (“Episode 1″) Episode 1 and 2 in the UK.

I watch The Good Wife, Homeland, Scandal, and Downton Abbey regularly. I am familiar with the others.

julianna margulies the good wife

I know I write this in practically every post, but it was hard ranking these nominees. It would have been easier if Tatiana Maslany had been nominated. She would have been my clear number 1. It’s still so dumb that she was snubbed for the second year in a row. Goodness, voters.

But, anyway, because Maslany was egregiously snubbed, I have no choice but to root for Julianna Margulies for The Good Wife. As we all know, this was a very strong year for The Good Wife. And even though it still sort of sucks that the show was snubbed for Drama Series, I’m glad that Margulies is back in the race. She already has an Emmy for her performance in “In Sickness” (the episode where she “officially” separates from Peter), but she gives just as good a performance in “The Last Call” where she deals with the death of Will Gardner. Maybe it’s mostly because the episode is so well written. Maybe it’s because the death of Will made me sad. But there’s something about Margulies’ subtle, heartbreaking performance that gets me, especially those moments when she is trying to imagine why Will would want to leave her a voicemail right before he dies. However, the scene with the daughter is also a highlight. Anyway, Margulies would get my vote.

claire danes homeland

Lizzy Caplan’s nomination was a big surprise. Her decision to submit the pilot also surprised me because that was one of the few episodes of Masters of Sex I had actually watched and I didn’t remember how Caplan’s performance stood out. I must have been in a funk while first watching that episode because I finally understand it after watching the pilot a second time. Caplan’s scenes with Nicholas D’Agosto are intense and superb and really help Caplan to stand out. However, even her quieter moments, like her character’s shocked reaction to Bill Masters suggestion that they have sex with each other, makes me glad the voters didn’t forget her when she had virtually no buzz. Claire Danes usually submits well, and “The Star” was her best choice. I didn’t hate Homeland this season. If I did, I wouldn’t bother watching season 4, especially since there’s going to be a new story line. “The Star” was one of the highlights to season three. Even though some of the stuff coming before it was a little boring and long, the season three finale delivered a sad, emotional and satisfying conclusion. I got so emotional watching the episode that I was actually hoping Brody wouldn’t die. In fact, I’m still hoping Brody isn’t dead. But, anyway, about Danes’ performance, she’s always great and certainly gives the type of performance that could get her a third Emmy.

If Kerry Washington had submitted “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington” or even “No Sun on the Horizon” (mostly because of this scene) then she would be slightly above Robin Wright. But, she still submitted a great episode. My favorite thing about the episode is Abby attempting to act like Olivia, which sort of makes me appreciate what Washington does with Olivia. And of course, like every other episode, she has a powerful, emotional speech that she gives to the president about the status of their relationship. When it was revealed that Robin Wright had decided to submit Chapter 26, posters on Gold Derby freaked out and criticized her for not submitting Chapter 17. The cries got so big that I took it upon myself to watch both Chapter 17 and 26 so I could get a nice spectrum of what Wright is doing on the show. In Chapter 17, her character gives an interview about a previous rape. The whole interview is very popular and one of the few times I’ve been completely engaged by what’s going on in the show. However, Chapter 26 isn’t a bad submission because she has that emotional scene in the staircase where her character comes to terms with all the awful stuff she’s done. Whatever episode she decided to submit, she would still be 4th/5th in m ranking, but I definitely appreciate her subtle, intentionally stilted performance this year more than I did last year. And, if voters don’t want to give Danes a third Emmy or Margulies a second Emmy (for The Good Wife), then she is probably a front runner for the Emmy (not making official predictions yet though!)

And, last, there’s Michelle Dockery who submitted the best episode she could because everything else she was given after the first episode was a blurry bore. But, yes, she has a few wonderful scenes as her character grieves over Matthew, particularly with Maggie Smith and Jim Carter. I considered putting Dockery higher because I’ve always really liked her performance on the show, but she’s not the center in her show the same way the other five nominees are in theirs. Lack of screen time is the reason she is sixth.

But Tatiana Maslany shall receive my imaginary Emmy for greatest actress ever (and a special Renegadepress Lifetime Achievement Award.)

Thanks for reading! More coming soon. Click HERE for more Emmy predictions and analysis.

2014 Emmy Nominations Review – Lead Actor in a Comedy Series


matt leblanc episodes

For the next few weeks, I will be going through each of the major categories and reviewing the nominees and giving my opinion as to who should win. In terms of the Drama and Comedy categories, I’ll mostly judge based on the actors’ episode submissions. However, I’m only human. And if there’s an actor who submitted terribly, I may give him or her the edge because I am familiar with his or her performance on the show otherwise. It depends! But, yes, I will be watching all the episode submissions and reviewing them as they become available. I will choose which nominee I think is the most deserving of the prize. These are not official predictions. The articles where I predict objectively will be posted closer to the ceremony. OK? Is everything clear. Cool. Then let’s begin/continue…

Visit my Emmy Center.

From most deserving to least, here are the nominees for this year’s Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

  1. Matt LeBlanc – Episodes (“Episode 6″)
  2. Louis CK – Louie (“Model”)
  3. Ricky Gervais – Derek (“Episode 6″) from Season 2
  4. Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory (“The Relationship Diremption”)
  5. William H. Macy – Shameless (“Lazarus”)
  6. Don Cheadle – House of Lies (“Wreckage”)

I watch Episodes, Louie, and Shameless regularly. The others I am familiar with.

ricky gervais derek

Sometimes, reviewing episode submissions allows me to discover shows that end up becoming some of my favorites. Episodes and Shameless were two shows that grew to love after they were nominated for Emmys for their first seasons. Derek has joined their ranks. When Gervais was first nominated, I was skeptical. It was a show that had no buzz. The reviews were mixed. Some people even thought the show was “offensive.” I decided, since Gervais submitted the last episode of the series (so far) that I’d watch at least 2 or 3 episodes before then, just so I could get a feel for the show. Despite that, I was still ready to hate the show. Well…that did not happen at all. I haven’t had the chance to finish watching all the episodes (I’ve only watched 101, 102, 106, and 201), but from what I’ve seen, this is a beautiful, lovely, warmly humorous show. Gervais plays a somewhat shy and awkward (possibly autistic) 50 year nursing home worker. He is sort of a…”Forest Gump-type.” He sees the good in everyone and every situation (mostly). It’s not a show for everyone. The show can be very sentimental and even maudlin through some lenses. But I like how a 2014 comedy isn’t afraid to be emotional and dramatic when appropriate.

The show is very good, but Gervais shines in this relatively low key performance. His episode submission is perfect. It has a dose of emotion and a dose of humor. It centers around his character going on his first date. Later in the episode, he deals with his father’s failing health. The episode even has a “Run! Forest! Run!” moment towards the end. It’s a great performance that surprised me in so many ways. I still would rather see perennial losers LeBlanc or Louis CK win this time, but Gervais certainly deserved this nomination.

When the producers of Shameless took the opportunity to switch to comedy, they were probably hoping to get more support. Did they? Yes and no. Although Joan Cusack continued to get her usual nomination, the only other nomination came from William H. Macy. Shameless is one of my favorite shows. I wish that it would get more recognition, drama or comedy (even though it really is a drama). It’s a little upsetting that Macy is the only “regular cast member” to get a nomination since I wouldn’t say he’s the best thing about the show (that would go to Emmy Rossum followed by Noel Fisher followed by all the other Gallagher children). But this was a pretty emotional season for Frank (Macy) as he’s literally on the edge of death for the latter half of the season. The last scene where he’s on the frozen lake yelling “I’m Still Here” is emotional (and infuriating for the viewers who just wanted to see him die). Jim Parsons submitted a funny episode where he tries to “break up” with string theory. The scene where he’s in bed with a Geology book (Geology, according to him, is the Kardashians of science) made me crack up pretty hard. Don Cheadle, once again, didn’t impress me in his tape. It seems a little lazy to nominate him when it seems like the supporting cast is more colorful and funnier.

louis ck model

But, again, Louis CK and Matt LeBlanc are at the top of my list. Last year, I was disappointed in their episode submissions. This year, they did a much better job. CK submitted probably the single funniest episode of the season. It’s about his misadventures with dating a model. The whole experiences ends in disaster. But the real funny bit in the episode is Louis CK performing awkward stand up in front of a rich country club crowd. But, I think I’d rather see Matt LeBlanc win for Episodes. His episode is mostly about him cheating on Jamie with Morning’s sister daughter. There are a few funny bits sprinkled throughout the episode, like his rant over British actors taking American roles with their perfect American accents. It’s funny (and mostly true TBH). Yes, CK and LeBlanc pretty much play themselves, but they’re still acting, they still do a great job, and they are both overdue for an Emmy. Either potential win would make me the happiest.

Thanks for reading! More coming soon. Click HERE for more Emmy predictions and analysis.