Friday, June 14, 2013

Critical Care

The Writers Guild had their shot at the best TV of all time, and now the critics pick their favorites for the past season.  They did a pretty good job (because I mostly agree with them).

Being a TV critic is a pretty silly position.  Unlike theatre or movies, people get TV for free (or at least have already anted up the dough) so they can sample what they like when they like without any gatekeeper telling them to save their money.  But as long as we've got critics, they might as well give awards.

They didn't draw much attention to unknown shows this time around. Most of their winners are already hits.  Not a bad thing. Some good shows fail, some bad shows succeed, but overall quality tends to get rewarded on TV these days, where niche viewing happens even on the nets.

The Big Bang Theory won best comedy, which is fine with me.  It's been consistently good all these years and has never dipped in popularity.  The weird thing here is long-time favorite Modern Family wasn't even nominated.

Louis C. K. won best comic actor.  Not sure about this, since he's playing sort of a version of himself.  Have Jerry Seinfeld or Larry David ever won such an award?  Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for best comic actress.  I think she does a good job on Veep--I would have preferred a surprise pick like Sutton Foster, but I'd rather Louis-Dreyfus take it than Lena Dunham on Girls.

For best supporting comic actor, Simon Helberg of Big Bang Theory won, and about time.  He's been doing great work for years without getting nominated for an Emmy, while Modern Family wins each year. (They didn't get any nominations in this category--were the critics trying to make a point?) It would have been nice to see Danny Pudi--or anyone from Community--win something, but to be fair it was a weak season.

For best supporting comic actress, a tie--Kaley Cuoco and Eden Sher.  Isn't Kaley pretty clearly the female lead of TBBT?  But fine, give it to her. (She beat her co-star Melissa Rauch, and Mayim Bialik wasn't even nominated.) As for Eden Sher, she's been the best thing about The Middle, so I'm glad she's getting some recognition.

Patton Oswalt won for best guest performer in a comedy for his turn on Parks And Recreation. He did a good job, but I can't help but think he won it for his famous Star Wars fillibuster that was put up on YouTube but not used on the show.  I would have preferred David Lynch for his bizarre TV coach on Louie, but you can't have everything.

For best drama, another tie--Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad.  Great picks both.  I can't think of any shows that are better.  Not unlike the Modern Family blackout, there's no nomination here for Mad Men.

For best dramatic actor, Bryan Cranston. Once again, well done. He's operating on another level. He certainly deserves it more than the overpraised Damian Lewis.  For best dramatic actress, Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black, a show I've never seen. (See, that's why critics give awards--to make you aware of stuff you should check out.) In fact, I haven't seen half the women in this category. I do like Claire Danes in Homeland, but I guess she's won enough awards elsewhere that she can handle it.

Best supporting dramatic actor is a tough one, with so many good choices to be found on Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad alone.  Two of those actors were nominated--Jonathan Banks and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau--but the winner was Michael Cudlist from Southland, another show I don't watch.  For supporting dramatic actress we get names like Emilia Clarke, Anna Gunn and Abigail Spencer, but Monica Potter won for Parenthood.

For guest performer in a dramatic series, somehow Jane Fonda won for The Newsroom.  Her character is ridiculously conceived, but then, almost everything about the show is absurd, so how they decided to give her--or anyone related to that show--a nod I can't understand.

Best movie or miniseries went to Behind The Candelabra, which had a fancy pedigree, but wasn't that great--though I was aware the critics loved it, so I'm not surprised. Best actor in this category is Michael Douglas as Liberace, another non-surprise.  Best actress is Elisabeth Moss, fresh off her loss in Mad Men, for Top Of The Lake.  She beat out a lot of big names--Angela Bassett, Rebecca Hall, Jessica Lange and Sigourney Weaver.  For supporting actor and actress, Zachary Quinto and Sarah Paulson in American Horror Story: Asylum, which I didn't watch.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart took best talk show. (Letterman and Leno weren't even nominated).  Enough, people. It's already won ten Emmys in a row for best variety series. Even if the show were as good as you think, it doesn't deserve all this.

Best animated series was Archer.  I've been meaning to check it out.  The Simpsons was nominated--what is this, 1994?  No Family Guy though, and no Robot Chicken.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well TV critics could direct eyeballs and ratings and in this day of lots of delayed time watching, they are more like movie critics. (TV critics in the days of only network TV I think tended to be dumb bunnies who used small words in consideration of the type of people who read them in the checkout line)

The Newsroom makes a certain segment so angry, it must be doing something right- though the Fonda character should be more like real life Jane Fonda- a social liberal but a rich and ruthless business owner who screws people over. It would be nice to portray business folks and news workers as types in and of themselves separate from the whole Lib/Con thing (which is a lot less of a key to identity than the cable screechers and mediocracy would have us believe).

Pardon my rant. I feel better no that I got that out.

Modern Family is still very watchable but seems tired and is running the same old gags- I don't fault them for milking the franchise- the old gags are still funny -but like other old favorites (The Office), its probably seen its best days.

American Horror Story was kind of fun but I had the overwhelming belief every week that it should be better somehow. Also the plot jumped around too quickly so missing a week really threw you.

5:59 AM, June 14, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The Newsroom is the dramatic equivalent of someone cornering you at a party and haranguing you for an hour based on politics they got from the internet, but most of the anger aimed at it came from (liberal) reviewers who have some idea how journalism actually works. For the most part, the Newsroom doesn't anger anyone anymore since it's mostly neglected.

After four seasons Modern Family may be less fresh, but it's still about as funny as ever. Every show starts to seem a bit tired once you get used to it, but my guess is when it goes into syndication and you can't tell one season from the other (though the age of Lily would be a good cue), the recent season will seem as funny as any other.

11:02 AM, June 14, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think any TV critic that can be labeled as "liberal" or "conservative" can safely be ignored. Of course each side just labels whoever doesn't tow their line as the other so it can be difficult

1:21 PM, June 14, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

By "liberal" in this case I simply critics who vote Democrat most of the time and regularly have pro-Obama and anti-Bush assumptions whenever they mention any political views.

4:24 PM, June 14, 2013  
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