On July 8, the Emmy Award nominations will be announced and this year’s candidates are sure to be an interesting mix. But, like every year, there are always actors and actresses as well as television series that seem to go overlooked or just completely forgotten about by the members of the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences AND the National Academy of TV Arts and Sciences.
These two entities (and their subsequent peer groups) make up the voting panel who decide which shows, actors and actresses (among many other categories) – who have been nominated for Emmy consideration – can move forward to the top echelon of each category.
Just like last year, I am listing below the shows, actors and actresses who would be part of my dream Emmy ballot. The following may not be your choices for the top categories, but they certainly struck a chord with me over the past year:
Lost (ABC) – Say what you will about the final season of this groundbreaking series that delved into stories great and complex, covering topics of simple human survival after a massive tragedy, the supernatural and unexplained to religion or the lack thereof. This show moved people all over the world, made us wonder and speculate and was fodder for critics and viewers alike. It was a fantastical series that left the viewers with as many questions as it left them with answers.
Life Unexpected (The CW) – This was the little show that could on the network that no one in the industry – especially those behind any awards presentation no matter its namesake – takes seriously. The series tells the story of independent Lux, a 16-year-old foster child seeking emancipation only to end up living with two of the most unlikely people: her biological parents. The show should not have worked, but it did. This series is not the white-picket fence version of the foster care system or the joys of connecting with a child given up for adoption. It is a realistic portrayal of rediscovery, angst, deceit, humanity and family.
Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights (DirecTV and NBC) – What can be said about a show whose main focus is football? Bring it on! Especially when the series is shot as if it were a documentary, allowing the viewer an inside look into the players and their families, seeing beyond the gridiron, the uniforms and the cheerleaders. This show is the epitome of what quality television is all about even if its main focus is sports because the viewer quickly learns that sports is just the taking off point and the ride is so worth it.
Drop Dead Diva
Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime) – What happens when a vapid twentysomething model dies and comes back in the body of a highly intelligent, thirtysomething plus-size attorney? Hilarity, poignancy and charm. Not the answers you were expecting, right? This delightful cable series should not have worked based on its premise, but in its debut season it far surpassed anyone’s expectations, delivering a nuanced story filled with characters who weren’t always perfect but certainly strived to be more than just what their outer shell conveyed.
Glee (FOX) – This musicomedy took the world by storm over the past year and while it hasn’t necessarily won the hearts of everyone and has had its fair share of hits and misses, the series on its own has provided great performances by its multi-talented cast and guest stars, showcased some of the best newcomers to TV in years and has provided an outlet for the overlooked in the form of music, dance and comedy. It also doesn’t hurt that Jane Lynch has become a household name because of her irreverent character, but more on that later.
Chuck (NBC) – Despite floundering in the ratings and receiving an avalanche of criticism from the very people who worked so hard to save the show, this dramedy about a Nerd Herder who is actually a spy still entertained and thrilled the small but devoted flock of viewers who stuck around to see Chuck come into his own. Surrounded by caring family and friends and a government that needed him regardless of his skill level, Chuck grew into a man this past season, becoming a full-fledged spy, beating his nemesis and finally got the girl of his dreams. What more could any guy ask for, right?
Best Actor, Drama:
Timothy Olyphant (Justified on FX) – Raylan Givens is a US marshal with a chip on his shoulder except he doesn’t realize that chip is actually a 500-pound gorilla ready to pounce on anyone or anything that gets in his way. He is unflappable and dedicated to his job and is perhaps even the angriest man in the world. His life is not simple or easy and I honestly don’t think he would want it any other way. Timothy Olyphant’s performance as Raylan Givens is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights on DirecTV and NBC) – Eric Taylor is a coach, a husband, a father, a good neighbor and a good man. Regardless of all that has happened in his personal and professional life in Dillon, Texas, Eric can be counted on to be there for the people in his life: family, friends, co-workers, neighbors or his team. He does not shy away from conflict, he loves and supports his family and daughters and is a strong defender of every boy on that football team. In short, he is the epitome of a small town man and no one else could play this character better than Kyle Chandler.
Best Actress, Drama:
Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights on DirecTV and NBC) – The role of Tami Taylor could have gone much differently if not in the very capable hands of Connie Briton. Tami is a strong woman who believes in home and family and advocating for the students at the high school where she was guidance counselor and now principal. She is a compassionate and loving wife, mother and neighbor in a community that isn’t always as forgiving as they should be regardless of the sin (or presumed sin).
Karen Gillan (Doctor Who on BBC America) – The role of the Doctor’s companion on Doctor Who is an interesting one, comprised of traveling all over the world, nee the known and unknown galaxies, meeting historical figures and everyday folk and making a difference be it little or big. The latest companion to the Doctor is Amy Pond (as played by Karen Gillan) has done all of these things and more with a special charm and whimsy that has easily made her one of the most endearing companions yet.
Best Actor, Comedy:
Matthew Morrison (Glee on FOX) – Mr. Schuester is a talented man. He can sing, dance and teach. He has a heart of gold and the best of intentions. Quite honestly, his professional life is probably just as manic as his personal life, but in the capable hands of Matthew Morrison, Will, or Mr. Schu as he is called by all of the students involved in New Directions, the glee club he runs at McKinley High, his crazy world is actually somewhere you’d at least like to visit if not stay permanently. He wrangles with his nemesis Sue Sylvester at every turn; his rival, Bryan Ryan, nearly got the best of him and his high school crush April Rhodes has challenged his sanity; but he has handled all that these obstacles have thrown at him and persevered.
Zachary Levi (Chuck on NBC) – As mentioned in the Best Drama section, Chuck the series has come through a great deal this season and so has the man. Chuck Bartowski has come a long way since his introduction as a rather hapless computer tech at Buy More. This time around Chuck has grown and changed, becoming a full-fledged agent all the while attempting to maintain his secret from family and friends, nearly all of whom now know the truth and finally getting the girl of his dreams in his life for real. Zachary Levi continues to make Chuck lovable, capable and thrilling to watch.
Best Actress, Comedy:
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica on SOAPNet) – While the series Being Erica is more popular in its home of Canada and isn’t that well known here in the States, Erin Karpluk has brought an effervescence to the character of Erica Strange that makes her compelling, intriguing and simply a delight to watch. Whether she is traversing a past experience in her life, via the as-yet-explained transportation provided by her “shrink” Dr. Tom or navigating the complicated present life she has with her friends and co-workers, Erica has an unusual life (to say the least) and it’s been a joy to follow her through all of it.
Brooke Elliott (Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime) – Jane Bingum was a damn good attorney while Deb Dobkins was a damn good wanna-be model – not your typical combination of leading ladies, but when Deb died and came back in the body of Jane the best of both of them was combined into the new and improved Jane Bingum. The new Jane is still a damn good attorney but now she has an undeniable charm and fashion sense that remarkably makes her an even better attorney and person. This role could easily have been one-dimensional and boring, even grating, but in the deft and capable hands of Brooke Elliott, Jane/Deb is simply wonderful and a delight to watch.
Best Supporting Actor, Drama:
Walton Goggins (Justified on FX) – Boyd Crowder is has been described as a criminal of the worst sort, a would-be Neo-Nazi with a penchant for blowing up buildings with a rocket launcher, a repentant no-good murderer who preaches his own brand of religion. He is a man of many unadvisable talents and any a less than admirable set of skills. But, he is probably one of the most intriguing, warped minds to grace our television screens in years. Played with steely brawn by Walton Goggins this character that can easily be despised for all his wrong-doings is one of the most watchable.
Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights on DirecTV and NBC) – Matt Saracen was a former football hero who stayed in Dillon, Texas for the sake of his girlfriend, his mother and his dementia-addled grandmother. He was seemingly trapped there until the unexpectedly death of his solder father and the desire to do something outside of his hometown drove him away from the very people who meant the most to him. In the episode about Matt’s dad’s funeral, Zach Gilford made the viewers truly believe the circumstances of that entire episode and showed just how much emotion had been welling up inside that young man.
Best Supporting Actress, Drama:
Katerina Graham (The Vampire Diaries on The CW) – Bonnie Bennett was introduced simply as the best friend of Elena Gilbert in the CW series The Vampire Diaries, but the viewers were quickly made aware that Bonnie was not just the best friend to call on in a crisis. She could actually fix many of the problems because Bonnie is a witch. An honest to God, real, magical being with powers far greater than anyone in the town of Mystic Falls is probably ready to believe one person can manifest. Katerina Graham took a one-dimensional character and breathed life and mysticism into her and has made her a force with which to be reckoned.
Joelle Carter (Justified on FX) – Ava Crowder is a woman of strength and fortitude. She dealt with the harsh reality of an abusive husband until she just couldn’t take it anymore and shot him while he ate his favorite dinner. She withstood harm from his criminal family and attempted to continue on with her life undaunted by their threats. And, she even enticed Raylan Givens to keep her company and find solace in a most unusual relationship. This character could easily have been hated by the viewers because of her actions, but Joelle Carter made her endearing and remarkably likeable.
Best Supporting Actor, Comedy:
Chris Colfer (Glee on FOX) – Kurt Hummel is the essence of style, he is a talented stage performer but he is also tormented and ridiculed by nearly everyone and in love with someone who will never love him. He is not only a typical high school student but also one of the most adorable characters to grace TV screens in years. Chris Colfer embodies this New Directions singer in a seamless fashion that few other more accomplished actors would not have been able to replicate. He is Kurt Hummel, hear him roar.
Neil Grayston (Eureka on Syfy) – Dr. Douglas Fargo is a junior scientist at Global Dynamics in the mysterious Pacific Northwest town of Eureka where nearly every inhabitant is a genius or a highly skilled scientist. But unlike his peers, Fargo is accident prone and tends to bring about more problems than he solves. Played deftly by Neil Grayston, Fargo is the epitome of comedy relief without any intentions of being just so.
Best Supporting Actress, Comedy:
Jane Lynch (Glee on FOX) – Sue Sylvester is the coach of the “Cheerios” (the nationally ranked cheerleader squad) at McKinley High School and the nemesis of Spanish teacher sans Glee Club leader William Schuester. She is abrasive, rude, derogatory, self-centered and most times completely oblivious of just how reviled she is by all of those around her. Yet in rare moments, especially when she is visiting her special needs sister or actually standing up for the members of New Directions (the school’s Glee Club) – without their knowledge, of course – the softer side of Sue Sylvester is glimpsed. Jane Lynch captures this character’s dual identity with precision and finesse.
April Bowlby (Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime) – Stacy Barrett is the best friend of wanna-be model Deb Dobkins whose soul is now inside the body of plus-size attorney Jane Bingum in the popular Lifetime series. Stacy, who is a struggling model herself, is there for Deb sans Jane, becoming her roommate, faithful confidante and helping Jane adjust to her new life. Stacy may appear to be an airhead, but she has actually been helpful to Jane in and out of the courtroom. April Bowlby has made Stacy one of the most likable best friends on television.
My Dream Emmy Ballot would not be complete without a few special mentions including:
Castle – This ABC series about a tough lady cop and a mystery writer (Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic) is one of the best shows on TV, combining romance, intrigue, comedy and crime drama all into one with one of the best cast on TV today. It likely will never win an Emmy, but it sure deserves a spotlight nonetheless.
White Collar – What can be said about the best buddy drama on television? This terrific USA Network series weaves a seamless story between white collar criminal Neal Caffrey and FBI agent Peter Burke (Matthew Bomer and Tim DeKay) that draws the audience in effortlessly. My TV viewing would not be complete without this series.
Grey’s Anatomy Season Finale – While this ABC medical drama has been floundering with less than stellar episodes for several season now (at least in my eyes), the two-hour season finale in May not only redeemed the show for me but it was also heart-wrenching and packed an emotional wallop on everyone. Now if only the whole series could be this good again.
Actor Tony Curran – He appeared as artist Vincent Van Gogh in a recent episode of Doctor Who and his performance in that episode moved me to tears especially when the Doctor and Amy Pond transported him from his time to present date for a tour of an art exhibit dedicated entirely to him. Without having to say a word during that one scene, Tony Curran’s performance, as this tortured soul, was mesmerizing and compelling.
Actress Heather Morris – Playing witless cheerio Brittany on the FOX musicomedy Glee, Heather Morris has made this clueless cheerleader, who is apt to make some of the most absurd, non-sensical statements, into a character you actually root for and care about. Yes, she is a brainless twit and an outright slut (to be truthful) but she seems perfectly happy with her life because she is so oblivious.
Who would you like to see win an Emmy this year. Choose a category from the above or pick any of the random categories that are part of each Emmy presentation. Let me know who your favorites were for this past TV season.
Read Full Post »