Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Emmy Memo II: Drama

On Tuesday, I put out a list of who I would like to see on an Emmy ballot for comedy. Obviously, there are always going to be differences of opinion, but I think it's a pretty good list.

Today, I'm tackling drama. It's a little bit more difficult, because with so many more dramas on the air than comedies (and that includes counting hour-long shows like "Ugly Betty" as comedies rather than dramas) it makes for a much more crowded field.

Plus, I don't watch every single show out there, so I know at least one reader ahead of time will be ticked off that I won't be listing anyone from "The Wire" below. It's not because I don't think it is; it's because I've never seen it.

Part of the problem with the Emmy process is that the people who vote on the awards don't see every show out there, either. Most of them are actively working in the TV industry and don't have time to watch every show out there. So when they get their list of nominees, they are exposed to a certain show for that one episode. When you have a show as complex as "Lost," for example, that makes it very tough to judge a show without having context.

That said, there's still no reason for Emmy voters to keep picking "Boston Legal" every year.

Anyway, here's the list:

Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)
Glenn Close (Damages)
Natalie Dormer (The Tudors)
Evageline Lilly (Lost)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Comments: One of the toughest things about putting a list together is how to classify certain actors and actresses. When you have ensemble shows like "Lost" or "BSG," it's hard to pick someone for a lead category. But I feel OK with these picks. Close is the only one above who is a shoo-in for a nomination, but I'm hoping (praying, actually) that this is the year for Britton or McDonnell.

Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Comments: Man, oh man, having to limit yourself to five slots is tough. I didn't list Michael Chiklis from "The Shield" only because it's been so long since the show has been on, I'm not sure it's in the qualifying time period. There are so many other actors I'd have love to have listed here as well - Edward James Olmos, Matthew Fox, Jonny Lee Miller and others - but I have to limit myself, just like the Emmys. Of the above list, Cranston was so sensational that he may deserve a category by himself.

Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Tudors)
Yunjin Kim (Lost)
Katee Sackoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Comments: I tried not to list two actors from the same show in the same category, but it's really impossible to choose between Helfer and Sackoff. Kim's done some of her best work on "Lost" this season, and Hendricks' star is definitely on the rise. Kennedy was brilliant and tragic as Katherine of Aragon.

James Callis (Battlestar Galactica)
Ted Danson (Damages)
Michael Emerson (Lost)
Victor Garber (Eli Stone)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Comments: Callis is just fun to watch as the sniveling Baltar, and Danson more than held his own with Glenn Close. Emerson is, quite simply, TV's best villain. Like I noted yesterday with Kristen Chenoweth, Garber ought to be required to do a musical number once an episode, and Slattery turned in a career-best performance (I still can't stop laughing at him having climb all those stairs after eating all those oysters).

Battlestar Galactica
Friday Night Lights
Mad Men
Comments: Since this is my list, I don't mind throwing a couple of Hail Marys. "FNL," "Lost," and "Mad Men" are virtual locks for nominations. BSG is on a lot of people's wish lists, but since the Emmys virtually ignore sci-fi and have ignored the show in the past, this is just more wishful thinking, sadly. I'm sure a lot of people are surprised by including "Supernatural" here, but few shows hit so consistently on a week-to-week basis, effectively mixing horror and humor. I know this show has zero chance at a nomination, which is why this is a wish list.

Again, feel free to list any omissions I might have made in the comments section.

COMING TOMORROW: Actor Michael Emerson talks about the "Lost" season finale.

PRODUCERS, UNION SETTLE: Hollywood studios and the AFTRA, the second largest actors' union, settled on a contract Wednesday morning. Though the studios still have to work out a deal with SAG, the largest union, it will greatly reduce the chances of another work stoppage, especially now with three union contracts in place to provide a framework for the remaining labor negotiations. So, good news indeed.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: "Men In Trees," (ABC, 10 p.m.) which has a bit of a cult following, didn't have enough viewers to get renewed. So ABC is burning off the last few remaining episodes now, including tonight's new one.

Hockey gets a rare spotlight in primetime, as NBC airs Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals between Pittsburgh and Detroit beginning at 8 p.m.

Finally, a bit of a treat as R.E.M. is the featured band on "Austin City Limits" (PBS, 9 p.m.)


zodin2008 said...

Phillip, "The Wire" is a terrific show, but I am not going to savage you for not bringing it up. Of course, any day someone wants to tell me what Joss Whedon writes doesn't compare to "The Wire", I'll gladly challenge that. Both "The Wire" and Whedon shows are brilliant, in their own ways.


I wholeheartedly agree with you on Britton and McDonnell.

This is a category where the Emmy folks are typically out of their frakking minds, by nominating horrifyingly awful and over the top bad performances such as Kyra Sedgewick's on "The Closer", Minnie Driver's on "The Riches" and Mariska Hargitay's on "SVU".

You could also make a case for Elisabeth Moss on "Mad Men" as a lead on that show. And CCH Pounder has easily enough screen time to qualify as a lead on "The Shield" as well. They might be on the short list.

But how you FORGOT the best actress ever in the history of Television, Edie Falco, during the last season of "The Sopranos" is beyond me. I assume it's an oversight?

You don't watch it but I would also make a compelling case for Jeanne Tripplehorn on "Big Love" as Barb, the first wife.


I agree with you on Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston & Kyle Chandler.

I despise Hugh Laurie and he's the reason I don't watch "House", but why re-hash bad territory?

Again, you ignored "The Sopranos" and James Gandolfini's last hurrah as Tony. And though you won't include them, I would always make a case for both Michael Chiklis and Edward James Olmos.

A guy who never gets considered but should be, is Matthew Fox on "Lost".


I agree on having at least one actress included from BSG - Tricia Helfer or Katee Sackhoff, and I agree on Christina Hendricks from "Mad Men".

Yujin Kim has done a nice job but you listed the wrong actress from "Lost" as it should be Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet.

Also from "Mad Men", January Jones as the long suffering Mrs. Don Draper turned in a memorable performance. I also would add consideration for Ginnifer Goodwin from "Big Love" as 3rd wife, Margene, and the critics love the feisty performance of Grace Zibriskie as Bill's mother.


A deep category indeed. That's a terrific list though admittedly, I wouldn't include Danson since I hated "Damages". But that's not necessarily the fault of his performance.

I can't really argue the other 4 actors, but you can also make the case for a few other "Lost" actors such as previous winner, Terry O'Quinn and Naveen Andrews as Sayid, who's been a nominee in the past.

I think it was an oversight (again) but you left out Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins) who delivered another emotionally raw performance on "The Shield".

Speaking of "The Wire", I have continuously love Clarke Peters' underated cop, Lester Freemon. And just as impressive every year as a supporting actor is the Robin Hood of the 'hood, Michael Kenneth Williams as Omar Little. Two performances especially worth noting.


I would probably put "The Shield" in place of "Friday Night Lights" this year.

"The Shield" continues to easily be one of the best 5 shows on TV, without question, and "Lights" which should have won the emmy for season 1, had a lot of problems in season 2 and does not deserve a posthumous nomination.

I would also agree "The Wire" deserves a career emmy, but the 5th and final season wasn't as good as the breathtaking 3rd and 4th seasons.

And though "Supernatural" will never get its due, I agree that this is one of the five most entertaining shows on TV.

Phillip Ramati said...

As I pointed out in the post, I'm not sure The Shield qualifies because of when the series aired in relation to when the voting is. Otherwise, the list would have looked a lot different. If The Shield does qualify, then I certainly hope it gets as many nominations as it can.

As for The Sopranos, it's final season was covered in last year's Emmys.

I think of Elisabeth Moss as more of a supporting actress. You could make a case for January Jones as a lead, and I certainly did, but as I said, there are a lot of tough choices, especially when you consider there are a lot of shows I don't watch, like Grey's Anatomy, that are going to snag a lot of Emmy noms when the official list does come out.

Ryan said...

Kudos to you for a Grey's Anatomy-free list. That show is a giant steaming pile, but I bet it still ends up with a handful of noms. Sad, especially when there are so many creative and interesting shows that will get absolutely nothing come awards time.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, there's really no rhyme or reason to the Emmy picks. Usually, they look at shows that are very popular, and once that show gets on the Emmy list, it is pretty much nominated every year. When the Emmys do try to go for some show off the beaten path, they usually pick the likes of Californication, like last year.

zodin2008 said...

"Grey's Anatomy" is a soap opera and has no business anywhere near the Emmys.

But speaking of "Gray's", I screwed up royally in "my picks". As a latecomer to the "Brothers and Sisters" bandwagon, there are several acting cases to be made.

First, Sally Field WILL be nominated and SHOULD be nominated. In a weak dramatic actress field, she's one of the best anyway so that's a shoe in. And her performance is typical Field greatness.

Also, the Emmy's love Rachel Griffiths and she's a terrific actress. She's like to get a supporting nod. Now I don't like her performance as much as either of those "Battlestar" actresses they'll ignore, but Griffiths is pretty good.

The cast also gets some other tremendous supporting performances including the always amazing Ron Rifkin (so great as Arvin Sloane on "Alias") and Matthew Rhys, who delivers a wonderful performance as the Gay attorney of the Walker clan. Now Rhy or Rifkin wouldn't make my top 5, but I wouldn't be surprised to see nods there.

Phillip, feel free to actually watch "Mad Men" again if you want to judge who had more SCREEN TIME between Elisabeth Moss and January Jones. Jones's character maybe "married" to the lead of the show Don Draper (Hamm), but definitely a supporting role. The MAIN FEMALE PROTAGONIST in terms of story and screen time was Elisabeth Moss.

You can make an argument for her as a supporting actress, but she logged more screen time than Jones did.

(although Jones is a lot nicer to look at!)

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, it's up to the actor as to which category they submit themselves for. My bet is both Jones and Moss will submit themselves as supporting actresses, but I could be wrong.

Coastbunny said...

I have to agree about Elisabeth Moss for supporting. She did excellent work.

Also, I would be happily surprised to see Jonny Lee Miller get a nod for for Eli Stone. said...

Hey TV guy,

do you just like TV from UK and US or are you more open minded?! I love TV too and got seriously bored of same old stuff, so now I watch TV from all over the globe to expand my viewing horizons! There are quite a few sites but I like as its free and live and there are loads and loads of channels. Just thought id share the love of live, free and global tv

Phillip Ramati said...

Coastbunny, I wouldn't be at all disappointed if Jonny Lee Miller grabbed a nomination. I could have picked five other lead actors than the ones I did pick, and would have had as strong a field.

View, nearly all of the TV I watch is UK and US, because that is really all that is available. But many of the concepts shown on US TV have been borrowed from other countries, such as Ugly Betty (Mexico) and In Treatment (Israel) to name just a couple.