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Archive for July, 2009

Today’s poll is about Best actor in a comedy. Who is your choice of the six Emmy nominees to win?

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The news over the weekend of Walter Cronkite’s death hit me pretty hard. I didn’t grow up with him on my TV news- I was born in the late 70s and Ilive in Canada. But the history geek in me led me to him and his com padrein truth, Edward R. Murrow. I, like many others of my generation, saw him in flashback almost, in his bigger, grander moments. I saw him nearly lose all composure announcing JFK’s death, felt the wonder seeping out of the tubes as he observed the moon landing, felt his irritation about the futility in Vietnam. His were first person accounts on videotape, the most trusted man in America, able to influence an entire nations feelings on a war by simply observing it. It has been said time and again over the last couple of days that there will never be another Walter Cronkite. Certainly this will be true- not only because he was one of a kind, but because no one seems to aspire to be that type of journalist any more. The era where journalism was a true profession, capable of providing checks and balances to the government, is really over.

Frank McCourt also dies this weekend after a battle with cancer and meningitis. His was a fascinating  story. Not famous outside of being an eccentric NYC teacher, he published one of the most elegant, tragic, beautiful memoirs in history. I’ve read Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis numerous times. He found humor in the hypocrisy and poverty of his life and inspired me to find the truth in my own voice as a writer, even while writing snarky recaps for TV shows.

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Emmy Nominees Announced!

Below are the nominees for the major categories of the Emmys nominations released earlier today. I will post my thoughts and picks in the near future, but needless to say, the Emmy voters got more right than usual, but why do people who hate television so much get to select what is the best of television?

 

Best Drama

Big Love

Breaking Bad

Damages

Dexter

House

Lost

Mad Men

Best Comedy

Entourage

Family Guy

Flight of the Conchords

How I Met Your Mother

The Office

30 Rock

Weeds

Best Television Mini Series

Generation Kill

Little Dorrit

Best Television Movie

Coco Chanel

Grey Gardens

Into The Storm

Prayers for Bobby

Taking Chance

Best Reality Competition Series

The Amazing Race

American Idol

Dancing With The Stars

Project Runway

Top Chef

Best Reality Series

Antiques Roadshow

Dirty Jobs

Dog Whisperer

Intervention

Kathy Griffin: My Life On the D List

Mythbusters

Best Variety, Music, or Comedy Special

Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush

Ricky Gervais: Out Of England

Kathy Griffin: She’ll Cut A Bitch

The Kennedy Center Honors

Chris Rock: Kill The Messenger

Best Variety, Music, or Comedy Series

The Colbert Report

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Late Show with David Letterman

Real Time with Bill Maher

Saturday Night Live

Best Actor Drama

Simon Baker The Mentalist

Gabriel Byrne In Treatment

Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad

Michael C. Hall Dexter

Jon Hamm Mad Men

Hugh Laurie House

Best Actor Comedy

Alec Baldwin 30 Rock

Steve Carrell The Office

Jermaine Clement Flight of the Conchords

Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory

Tony Shaloub Monk

Charlie Sheen Two And A Half Men

Best Actor Mini Series or Movie

Kevin Bacon Taking Chance

Kenneth Branagh Wallander: One Step Behind

Kevin Kline Cyrano de Bergerac: Great Performances

Brendan Gleeson Into The Storm

Sir Ian McKellan King Lear: Great Performances

Keifer Sutherland 24: Redemption

Best Actress Drama

Glenn Close Damages

Sally Field Brothers and Sisters

Mariska Hargitay Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Holly Hunter Saving Grace

Elisabeth Moss Mad Men

Kyra Sedgwick The Closer

Best Actress Comedy

Christina Applegate Samantha Who?

Toni Colette United States of Tara

Julia Louis- Dreyfus The New Adventures of Old Christine

Tina Fey 30 Rock

Mary Louise Parker Weeds

Sarah Silverman The Sarah Silverman Program

Best Actress Mini Series or Movie

Drew Barrymore Grey Gardens

Jessica Lange Grey Gardens

Shirley MacLaine Coco Chanel

Sigourney Weaver Prayers For Bobby

Chandra Wilson Accidental Friendship

Best Reality Host

Tom Bergeron Dancing With the Stars

Phil Keoghan The Amazing Race

Heidi Klum Project Runway

Padma Lakshimi and Tom Colicchio Top Chef

Jeff Probst Survivor

Ryan Seacrest American Idol

Best Supporting Actor Drama

Christian Clemenson Boston Legal

Michael Emerson Lost

William Hurt Damages

Aaron Paul Breaking Bad

William Shatner Boston Legal

John Slattery Mad Men

Best Supporting Actor Comedy

Jon Cryer Two and a Half Men

Kevin Dillon Entourage

Neil Patrick Harris How I Met Your Mother

Jack McBrayer 30 Rock

Tracy Morgan 30 Rock

Rainn Wilson The Office

Best Supporting Actor Mini Series or Movie

Len Cariou Into The Storm

Tom Courteney Little Dorrit

Ken Howard Grey Gardens

Bob Newhart The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice

Andy Serkis Little Dorrit

Best Supporting Actress Drama

Rose Byrne Damages

Hope Davis In Treatment

Cherry Jones 24

Sandra Oh Grey’s Anatomy

Dianne Weist In Treatment

Chandra Wilson Grey’s Anatomy

Best Supporting Actress Comedy

Kristen Chenoweth Pushing Daisies

Jane Krakowski 30 Rock

Elizabeth Perkins Weeds

Amy Poehler Saturday Night Live

Kristin Wiig Saturday Night Live

Vanessa L. Williams Ugly Betty

Best Supporting Actress Mini Series or Movie

Shohreh Aghdashloo House of Saddam

Marcia Gay Harden The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Janet McTeer Into The Storm

Jeanne Triplehorn Grey Gardens

Cicely Tyson Relative Stranger

Best Actor in a Guest Role Drama

Ed Asner ER

Ted Danson Damages

Ernest Borgnine ER

Michael J. Fox Rescue Me

Jimmy Smits Dexter

Best Actor in a Guest Role Comedy

Alan Alda 30 Rock

Beau Bridges Desperate Housewives

Jon Hamm 30 Rock

Steve Martin 30 Rock

Justin Timberlake Saturday Night Live

Best Actress in a Guest Role Drama

Brenda Blethyn Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Carol Burnett  Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Ellen Burstyn  Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Sharon Lawrence Grey’s Anatomy

CCH Pounder No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Best Actress in a Guest Role Comedy

Jennifer Aniston 30 Rock

Christine Baranski The Big Bang Theory

Tina Fey Saturday Night Live

Gena Rowlands Monk

Elaine Stritch 30 Rock

Betty White My Name Is Earl

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It’s that time of year, folks! This Thursday, the Emmy nominees will be read out by former nominee Chandra Wilson and sure to a first time nominee Jim Parsons. It’ll make my five am wake up call somewhat bearable to have this on the TV.

Below is the list of nominees I suspect will happen and frankly, pretty much as it should be.

Best Supporting Actor- Drama

Jeremy Davies (Lost)

Walton Goggins ( The Shield)

Robert Sean Leonard ( House)

John Noble ( Fringe)

Aaron Paul ( Breaking Bad)

William Shatner ( Boston Legal)

I’m not a watcher of Lost, but everyone I know has been raving about Davies’ performance this season. I’m troubled more by the fact Goggins has NEVER BEEN NOMINATED. Tragic. Also quite tragic is Leonard, who also has NEVER BEEN NOMINATED. What the hell, Emmys? Goggins and Leonard both have been the heart of their respective shows, and Goggins’ character went down swinging in The Shields final season. Leonard still doesn’t have a lot to do on House, but there were moments toward the end of the season where you see how important he really is to the show’s mythology. Noble’s delightfully off kilter performance on Fringehas been the most consistent thing about the show. Aaron Paul goes toe to toe with the incomparable Bryan Cranston every week and survives. And lastly, William Shatner is William fucking Shatner. He’s James T. Kirk and you’re not. Suck it.

Dark horse pick- Zachary Quinto (Heroes)

The best thing about this show for the past two seasons is Quinto’s steady, ferocious turn as the psychopathic Sylar. Bad writing doesn’t detract from this singular performance.

Best Supporting Actress- Drama

Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)

Rose Byrne (Damages)

Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy)

Christina Hendricks ( Mad Men)

Alison Pill ( In Treatment)

CCH Pounder (The Shield)

Again, Britton is on a show I don’t watch, but everyone keeps raving about her in particular. Byrne is on a show with a strong female lead and she holds her own beautifully. Heigl may be a brat, but she brought some soul back to GA after the ghost sex ( again, bad writing should not detract from a good performance). Hendricks is so stunning that it’s easy to forget her subtle work in Mad Men. Pill has been the only patient in the second season of In Treatmentthat I felt was compelling enough for me to turn into watch every week. And Pounder’s beleaguered Claudette remains one of the great female characters in the cannon of cop dramas.

Dark horse pick- Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy)

The true heart and soul of GA, she deserves it more than Heigl, but lacks the star power of the movie star, or the shock and awe storyline. But when I do sit and watch this show, she’s the real reason why.

Best Supporting Actor-Comedy

Adam Baldwin (Chuck)

Neil Patrick Harris ( How I Met Your Mother)

Simon Helberg ( The Big Bang Theory)

Tracy Morgan ( 30 Rock)

Jeremy Piven ( Entourage)

Jason Segel ( How I Met Your Mother)

I honestly think Baldwin’s Col. John Casey is Chuck‘s best acting shot- because even though he’s a closed off grunting hard ass, Baldwin never let’s us forget his humanity or his humor. The fact Harris has not won an Emmy is one of the great crimes. Helberg’s horny nerd from hell is surprisingly well drawn for a character that was originally an after thought. Piven still rocks the world on Entourage.Morgan’s dim witted comedian is now my favorite character on a show full of brilliant writing and acting. Segel has been so good for so long on HIMYM.He may get outshone by Harris’ flashier role, but it’s time to give Segel some lovin’,  too.

dark horse pick: Jack McBrayer (30 Rock)

Oh. My. God. Naivete has never been so funny.

Best Supporting Actress- Comedy

Portia de Rossi ( Better Off Ted)

Jenna Fisher ( The Office)

Jane Krakowski (30 Rock)

Jean Smart (Samantha Who?)

Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)

Vanessa L. Williams (Ugly Betty)

de Rossi has a habit of appearing on quirky comedies ( see: Ally McBeal, Arrested Development), but her ice queen boss takes the cake. Fisher still makes me care about the Jim-Pam story by being true to the moment. Krakowski’s over the top deluded diva had some brilliant moments this season ( in blackface, no less.) Smart won last year, and she still shines as Samantha’s over bearing mom. Smulders went from being the weak link on HIMYM to being it’s hidden gem, and I love the Canadianisms she clearly contributes to the writers for those awesome scripts. Betty  may be fading fast, but Williams’ Wilhemina is still the grandest grande dame of them all.

Dark horse pick- Alyson Hannigan ( How I Met Your Mother)

It’s tough to leave Hannigan out, since she had a truly great season despite being pregnant for most of it ( and absent for four weeks). Her Lily, the beer guzzling, potty mouthed kindergarten teacher, is a bright light in my dreary life.

Best Actor-Drama

Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment)

Michael Chiklis (The Shield)

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

Hugh Laurie (House)

Denis Leary ( Rescue Me)

Byrne’s detailed performance as a shrink in need of help of his own is one of the finest wrought of the year. Chiklis (  former winner for this role) went down and was brilliant in the way he portrayed his character’s twisted logic and decaying worldview. Cranston is nearly unstoppable as the teacher with nothing to lose. Hamm’s suave, subdued performance seems to be almost forgotten with the bright lights of the women this season, but he was darkly brilliant.  Laurie is a perennial nominee and will be till his show ends or he wins one of these goddamnedthings. He’s so singularly brilliant he deserves every accolade.  And even though Rescue Me had an off season, Leary just keeps getting better. 

dark horse pick- Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)

Because it’s a tough category, I don’t know if he’ll squeeze in.  But from what I have heard, Chandler’s performance is one of the best on TV.

Best Actress-Drama

Glenn Close ( Damages)

Mariska Hargitay ( Law and Order: Special Victims Unit)

January Jones ( Mad Men)

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)

Anna Paquin ( True Blood)

Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)

Close won last year. Her ferocious turn this year is even better. Hargitay is another perennial nominee who delivers solid performances year in, year out. Jones and Moss both shined on a show that saw their character grow from meek women used by the men in their lives to fiercely independent minded pre feminist heroines. Paquin’s accent may be distracting, but her slightly slatterly, tempermental Sookie is a gem. And Sedgwickis just so good I had to include her. 

dark horse pick- Mary McDonnell ( Battlestar Galactica)

Another show I never quite got around to watching, another performance I have heard nothing but praise for, another show leaving the air, last shot for the gold.

Best Actor-Comedy

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)

Kyle Bornheimer (Worst Week)

Steve Carrell ( The Office)

Lee Pace ( Pushing Daisies)

Jim Parsons ( The Big Bang Theory)

Charlie Sheen ( Two And A Half Men)

We have a couple of clueless bosses ( Baldwin’s Machiavellian Jack Donaghy, Carrell’s hapless Michael Scott). We have a smooth talking womanizer on a show i personally hate but kind of like him on it despite myself ( Sheen’s jingle writer Charlie Harper). We have a newcomer on a show that was cancelled just as it began to find it’s footing ( Bornheimer), playing a spazz to end all spazzes. We have a charming pie maker who can raise the dead on a single touch, making it really hard to make out with his girlfriend ( Pace’s melancholic Ned). And then we have a genius comic creation, a genius who is both OCD and clueless ( Parson’s hilarious Sheldon Cooper).

dark horse pick- Zachary Levi (Chuck)

My favorite performance by any comedic actor this year was in Chuck season two finale, at turns sad, charming, and thrilling. The show would not work without him. I hope Emmy voters notice.

Best Actress- Comedy

Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?)

Toni Colette ( The United States of Tara)

America Ferrera ( Ugly Betty)

Tina Fey (30 Rock)

Julia Louis Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine)

Mary Louise Parker (Weeds)

Applegate is well liked in the industry and I liked her on her show. Colette has a really tough road to hold and does it admirably well. Ferrera still sparkles through the dreariness that is Ugly Betty. Fey is my hero and I want to be like her when I grow up. Louis Dreyfus is on a much improved show that she was always good on ( now, she’s pretty fantabulous). Parker handles the more dramatic moments of her drug dramedy as effectively as the high comedy moments.

dark horse pick- Kaley Cuoco ( The Big Bang Theory)

It’s easy to dismiss her as another blonde starlet on a TV show, but she is so much more than that. She grounds the four male leads in a snese of reality, she’s the every(wo)man we need to handle the world of these four geniuses. Her role is harder than it looks and she does it better than I ever thought she would. Her growth as an actor this past season is welcomed.

Best Drama

Breaking Bad

House

In Treatment

Lost

Mad Men

The Shield

It honestly will come down to the two AMC dramas, but as much as I love Mad Men, I think Breaking Bad is even more ground breaking, earth shattering, and ultimately, a better show.

Dark horse pick- Friday Night Lights

Critics love this show to the point of  column over saturation. Give it an Emmy nod.

Best Comedy

30 Rock

The Big Bang Theory

How I Met Your Mother

The Office

Two And A Half Men

The United States Of Tara

If anything beats 30 Rock, I’ll be surprised.

Dark Horse pick- Better Off Ted

It’s original! It’s fresh! It’s new! It actually is really good. And it was a mid season replacement. I would not be adverse with Emmy handing some love over to this show.

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My life got complicated as soon as my kids got out of school, so I’m sorry no posting for the past two weeks. Accept my humble apologies and allow me the opportunity to smash my head against the wall repeatedly. Thanks.

But now, back to the task at hand. We have said goodbye to Vitolio and AsukaAuskaAlaska, and the other two that I completely forgot the names of… Jonathan and Jessica? Jack and Jill? Cheech and Chong?… since I last wrote something on the subject of So You Think You Can Folk Dance. In the time it took for these people to leave, I had decided that the dancers this season were far superior than usual, but that didn’t make them interesting. At least the right dead weight is being cut. Dancers that are clearly weaker in both talent and personality have gone the way of the hustle, and I’m okay with that. My early faves are all still pretty much here. Nothing shocking, as Jane’s Addiction would say.

So I entered this week without feeling the jazz hands feeling I usually get when my favorite reality shows are on. And as Cat the Amazon Goddess meandered onto the stage, I smiled. Not because I have a huge girl crush on said tall Brit blonde bombshell, but because she was wearing a dress I would actually wear myself. Which made me love her more. Which made my kids go, ” Mom, you have that weird look on your face again.”

Our dancers, bless their tired, blistered feet, have the task of doing two-TWO!- dances this week. Twice the awesomeness, or twice the disaster? Worse- it could be twice the mediocrity, and that just won’t do.

I loved Melissa and Ade’s pas de deux last week. En pointe ballet on a televised dance show? On a channel that isn’t PBS, no less? Mon dieu, quelle surprise! But it showed that Ade lacks foot technique, and i felt some of his personality was sapped by the serious nature of the BALLET! mentality. So when he and Melissa hit disco, I had hopes that it would soar. And Ade did. Melissa… not so much. She was sloppy, and it ended up making the whole dance sloppy. Her fall at the end basically confirmed to me she wasn’t on her game ( dancers fall all the time, but Ade stopped her from a giant ass pound on the ground). And those costumes- Melissa looked like she was wearing a rejected proto type for Rainbow Brite, and Ade clearly raided Huggy Bear’s finer threads. Shiny, was all I could think of. Needless to say, I was not as amazed as the judges were saying, and I honestly think Melissa is the weakest lady left.

Kupono and Kayla luck out with a Mia Michaels contemporary piece about addiction. Mia is a genius, we have clearly established that the only person I love more on this show than Mia is Adam, who tweeted at one point that he will not be on the show again till the finale ( cue bawling in the corner). But I digress… Kupono is totally compelling in this dance as addiction, and Kayla, with her impeccable feet and gorgeous lines, is emotionally wrenching as the addict trying to escape. Contemporary dances dealing with difficult themes are prone to pretension. Not this dance. It was jaw droppingly great, powerful and heartbreaking. Then Nigel bitches about Kayla’s hair. Are your FREAKIN” kidding me?????

Caitlin and Jason are stuck with couple killer the foxtrot, and it was- fine. Jason was way to stiff ( he was desperately trying to maintain his frame and just came off looking like he had a pole up his ass). It felt slow and joyless. Not enough actual foxtrot, to much acrobatics and lifts ( although the lifts were great). It could have been a moderately quick waltz for all the lack of fun ( and the foxtrot can be tremendously fun if you have the right partner). And then the judges were a little too kind in their critiques. I know people feel like they were throwing Caitlin and Jason under the bus. I don’t.

Philip and Jeanine ended up with Russian folk. Wha’? I know nothing about Russian folk, but it looked wildly out of place on the show and so all I can say is… Wha’? I hope that Philip and Jeanine manage to hang on, but they will be one of the bottom three couples.

Randi and Evan, who are both still so friggin’ cute, get a Tabby Nap ( I am NOT calling them Nappy Tab ever) hip hop routine that suits them. No one will ever mistake those two sweet people for gangstas. And the dance itself was fine. But the point of hip hop is the rough side of it. Sweet doesn’t bring out the best of hip hop. In fact, it wasn’t hip hop, it was Prep Hop. Sweater vests? Really?

Brandon and Janette have become my favorite dance couple despite the fact I can’t really stand Brandon. But a good dancer is a good dancer, and he’s a great dancer. They get the always difficult Argentine tango and blow my mind. Her salsa dancing back ground helps her with the strong lines and sharp angles of the dance, and his strength makes their lifts larger than life. Not only is it the best dance so far, it’s one of the best of the season. Nigel says nothing off the top of his critiques, but gives them a standing ovation.

Cat, still looking scrumptious in her classy dress, then tells us next week is the partnership trades. No one will be dancing with the same person. Poor Evan is all I can think.

Melissa and Ade return with a waltz. And she’s better than him this time. Her rises and falls, her extensions, her lines are all superior. He is a great base for those stunning lifts, but his actual waltz steps are very flat footed and not as elegant as they need to be. But he does do a flawless pirouette.

Kayla and Kupono are given the most recognizable dance music form a Broadway show in the last fifty years with ” Dance At the Gym” ( West Side Story), but it seems wrong somehow without the traditional Robbins choreography. But Joey Dowling’s new step are in keeping with the Robbins tradition and I adore her. Too bad Kupono couldn’t find the right emotional beats on this one.  It’s ultimately sweet and light, but lacking any urgency or heat.

Jason and Caitlin get a Mandy Moore lyrical jazz piece that was gorgeous but empty. I never felt compelled to watch a dance by a choreographer I usually can’t avoid immersing myself. That wans’t the choreographer’s fault, as stylistically the dance was one the superior numbers of the night. Caitlin and Jason just don’t do it for me. She’s an ice princess, he’s a wooden block.

Philip and Jeanine score a jive, and it’s pretty friggin’ awesome. Sloppy, but awesome. It’s cheeky, sly fun, and Philip, even with the slip and some foot work errors, is clearly learning. Jeanine is frankly carrying them when they aren’t doing hip hop, but both are so tremendously likable, even with a plac ein the bottom three, I don’t think they’ll go home ( Philip’s place as the last of the hip hoppers probably solidifies him, too).

Evan and Randi got the samba, choreographed by former contestants Pasha and Anya. And the choreography was strong and unique. But Randi and Evan both seemed timid dancing the sexually aggressive dance, and I never bought it for a second. The lift transitions seemed awkward and slowed the dances down significantly, the extensions were weak, and there was little ass shaking. A disappointment all round from this charming and sweet duo.

My notes on Brandon and Janette’s Wade Robson jazz routine is a mere four words: precise, smooth, synched, flawless. It was all these things and more. It was fun, charming, modern- Robson’s name in the dance world is at the point it’s whispered in hushed, reverent tones, and routines like this is why. The dance of the season.  That is as close to perfection as it gets, folks.

The partner trade next week worries me. There are couples who have ridiculous chemistry together right now. I’m scared that some of the great from this week will be lost again as they search to settle into their new relationships.

Overall:

Brandon and Janette

Kayla and Kupono

Melissa and Ade

Philip and Jeanine

Caitlin and Jason

Evan and Randi.

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