Sunday, September 30, 2007

What I'm Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 4, Episode 1 "Now You Know" (C)

Too many secrets. Everyone desperately trying to keep their wig on, their fake baby untouched, their affair subtle, or their menapause secret becomes tacky almost immediately. Edie is clearly too creepy, Gabrielle too nonchalant about her infidelity and lack of love for her husband, and Bree is not nearly careful enough about concealing her non-pregnancy. Susan's plotline is purely uninteresting, as it was for a majority of the past two seasons. The rest runs the risk of becoming trite right away. Dana Delany is definitely an intruiging new character, and the whole thing with her daughter is cool. I wish that Nathan Fillion had a bit more of the geekish energy he had in "Waitress" and I believe in "Firefly" (which I have yet to watch). Anyway, we are in for what may be a repeat of season two where the show took a huge dive in quality.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pilot Review: Moonlight

Moonlight (CBS)
Premiered September 27 at 9pm

So this show is about vampires, which is, granted, not a subject that interests me in any way. I was, however, completely unprepared for the truly awful dialogue delivered uniformly terribly by all involved. I expected better from Alex O'Loughlin, fresh off a stellar arc on "The Shield" (this episode also features another former Strike Team member, Brian J. White, in an unfortunately bland role as a cop). It is mostly the part to blame, but O'Loughlin could try a little harder to enhance his character. Sophia Myles, as a bug-eyed reporter, is just so inappropriately enthusiastic at all the wrong points and bland at all the rest. I have to admit that there is no way I am buying Logan from "Veronica Mars" as the oldest vampire. Guest spots from Rudolf Martin ("24", "NCIS") and Kevin Weisman (Marshall from "Alias") are missing the spark found in both performers' past parts. The end reveal of the show is desperately predictable from only a few minutes in. This show seems to be trying to be an amalgam of "The Inside" and "Night Stalker" (both decent but short-lived shows), but it fails miserably at achieving anywhere near the quality of either.

How will it work as a series? Well, the preview seems to indicate a vampiric romance between the two leads, which I suppose could be interesting for half a second. Is every case going to be a vampire-related one? That could be just a bit hard to sustain.
How long will it last? Nestled in between "Ghost Whisperer" and "Numb3rs" is definitely the safest place for this one, but barring a ratings report, I think this show should be quick to exit. Which is of course amazing news because that means "Jericho" can premiere in this time slot, hopefully as early as November!

Pilot grade: F

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pilot Review: Big Shots

Big Shots (ABC)
Premiered September 27 at 10pm

That oft-played line from the preview keeps running through my head: "Men, we're the new women." That one saying truly describes the show. To me, that is puzzling, since I just cannot figure out who the target audience is supposed to be here. If it is trying to be like a male "Desperate Housewives", it has neither enough intrigue nor enough sympathetic women. If it is trying to be like an older "Entourage", the men are just too feminine and obnoxious. The plotlines are not interesting and the show is just really not trying at all. I have no experience with Christopher Titus, but former great actors Joshua Malina, Michael Vartan, and Dylan McDermott (see early seasons of "The West Wing", "Alias", and "The Practice", respectively) are just bland here. I cannot imagine anyone will find this show entertaining enough to start a devoted fellowing.

How will it work as a series? It should be the same thing over and over. This is one of those pilots which is probably extremely indicative of the series and not a standout first episode.
How long will it last? Not very long, I think. ABC should have some great hits with its Wednesday night offerings and some bombs on Tuesday night, so will it keep this Thursday offering? I think both "Without a Trace" and "ER" will eclipse it before it finishes it out its first thirteen episodes.

Pilot grade: D

What I'm Watching: The Office (Season Premiere)

The Office: Season 4, Episode 1 "Fun Run" (B+)

This is a fantastic way to introduce us back to all our favorite characters. Michael's hatred for Toby, the impossible affair between Dwight and Angela, Stanley thinking he is ridiculously clever, Jan being crazy, and the great relationship between Jim and Pam. Ryan with a beard sitting over at corporate is funny just because he is relaxing and has no idea what to do. I love Creed beyond what words can say, and I am really hoping he is in the show a lot. "Lost" should really take a cue from this show - nearly every episode utilizes every one of its unmatchable cast members to great effect, and never skips a beat because of it.

What I'm Watching: Smallville (Season Premiere)

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 1 "Bizarro" (C)

It is not all bad, that is the most important part. Some new official cast members (Aaron Ashmore as Jimmy Olsen and the questionable Laura Vandervoort as Supergirl) and the exit of one cast member who got really annoying (Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent) could help spice this show up. In today's world of TV, getting your name in the opening credits is a huge deal, which means that both Jimmy and Supergirl should have some big, important plotlines which should be nice. Bringing Chloe back to life, on the other hand, seems unnecessary as she had to start talking again with her far too intelligent and supposedly witty comments the moment she was revived. Bizarro seems rid of a bit too easily, but I will not complain since Tom Welling playing Bad Clark is one of my least favorite parts of the show. And oh how I wish that Lana was not just living in China with the most fake wig ever - that is just so boring and far too clever for the naive young Smallvillian to scheme up.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pilot Review: Dirty Sexy Money

Dirty Sexy Money (ABC)
Premiered September 26 at 10pm

If nothing else, this show is a lot of fun. Every single one of the Darlings is so absurd that the craziness of their characters almost makes up for the impossibility of their existence. The attorney general who has common affairs with transvestites, the heiress who tells her groom-to-be intimate stories about her previous lovers in front of both men, and the angry hothead who somehow became a member of the clergy are just a few of the ridiculous family members. This also has got to be the least look-alike family I have ever seen. Donald Sutherland is in a far better role here as the Darling patriarch than the one he had in "Commander-in-Chief" two years ago. Grounding all the insanity is the always great Peter Krause as the dependable but wary family lawyer. It a mixed blessing to see Krause here, because, like all the other "Six Feet Under" cast members working on other shows right now, it seems highly unlikely that he will ever be able to find a show or role as good as the one he previously had (exception: Michael C. Hall on "Dexter"). This show definitely needs some work, and it may just become too ridiculous for its own good. I could go for another installment, though this vigilante hunt for his father's killer is certainly not helping matters.

How will it work as a series? It runs the risk of mocking itself too overtly, but I think it will be popular enough.
How long will it last? I do not know about ratings, but given the buzz and high anticipation of the show, I assume it should be a smash hit. It may wear itself too thin by the end of the season. Additionally, "Commander-in-Chief" debuted to incredible numbers and got cancelled before the end of its season two years ago, so it is a bit early to tell.

Pilot grade: B-

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pilot Review: Private Practice

Private Practice (ABC)
Premiered September 26 at 9pm

I was one of the few who got really excited about this show way back when the special "Grey's Anatomy" episode aired earlier this year. I was fairly let down by this premiere. Addison is feeling all out of place and that things are sort of not in place, but it seems like this show is more or less trying to find itself. The pilot does not feel solid, which is especially disappointing considering they already had a two-hour run at this back in May. The characters played by Paul Adelstein and Amy Brenneman seem generally useless, mostly sleeping around and crying all the time, respectively. I am greatly mourning the loss of Merrin Dungey, who has now been replaced by the far less charismatic and far less likeable Audra McDonald. At least Tim Daly and Taye Diggs are having loads of fun. The show flip-flops between joking comedy and severe drama with the greatest freedom, even more so than "Grey's Anatomy." My biggest problem with the show has to be Kate Walsh, who is simply annoying as the overbearing and eternally shushing Addison.

How will it work as a series? It is basically another "Grey's Anatomy" with a slightly less sex-addicted cast. It should do fine; I am just not sure I will be tuning in each week.
How long will it last? It should be good for at least the season, probably a renewal.

Pilot grade: C+

Pilot Review: Bionic Woman

Bionic Woman (NBC)
Premiered September 26 at 9pm

This show, like NBC’s other new sci-fi offering “Journeyman,” follows a certain style of development which we can call the “Daybreak” method. So many characters and plot points are thrown out on the table with the footnote that everything will be explained later. There is hardly any exposition, and by the time we get some answers, everything will have become far too convoluted to make any sense. In true “Daybreak” fashion, there is a highly evil and powerful Big Brother organization orchestrating some grand plan to turn the Bionic Woman into their own programmed soldier. The immediate introduction of Sarah Corvus, the original Bionic Woman, seems out of place and just unneeded. I never watched the original show, but it really changes my concept of how Jamie develops into this character. Rooftop fights in the rain can only remain interesting for so long. Whether Michelle Ryan is up to the role remains to be seen, since I do not think this episode is a proper measure of her talents. What I do know is that this show really keeps it in the family, using three actors from “Battlestar Galactica” (Katee Sackhoff, Aaron Douglas, and recent guest star Mark Sheppard) as well as two cast members from the recent FX show “Thief” (Will Yun Lee, and recently recast Mae Whitman, who initially played Jamie’s sister). Bringing together all these great actors hardly helps a show with poor writing and a very muted emphasis on plot.

How will it work as a series? Cult fans could help it, and NBC seems pretty set on it with the “Bionic Wednesday” promos, but it really runs the risk of running itself into the ground with all the convoluted plot points and undeveloped characters.
How long will it last? NBC has a tradition of helping popular but ratings-starved shows make it to a second season (The Office, 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights), but its placement opposite ABC’s “Private Practice” will not help much, especially if “Grey’s Anatomy” occasionally beat the more widely likeable “CSI” in viewers. I think initial ratings may give it a full season, but I doubt more than that.

Pilot grade: D+

Pilot Review: Cane

Cane (CBS)
Premiered September 25 at 10pm

Jimmy Smits is really good at playing really good guys, like his recent role on "The West Wing" as eternally honest president-elect Matt Santos. To me, he just does not work as an agressive, powerful boss who organizes hits and protects his family against any enemies with vicious force. Smits' character, Alex, is a huge portion of the show, which is why I place such emphasis on his casting. Supporting players Nestor Carbonell and Hector Elizondo both had far more energy on another short-lived Tuesday night CBS drama, 2004's "Century City." The plot, with keywords sugar and Cuban stressed as often as possible, is decent but too entrancing. It is the same old story set in a different city, and I am not sure how easy that will be to sustain. The relationsihp between Alex and Frank could get old very quickly. I do like the cultural music, but I am not sure how approved the use of Frou Frou. And I have to say, I am not so scared of the Samuels patriarch as I am of being caught in the sightline of Polly Walker's piercing eyes.

How will it work as a series? This kind of thing has been done before, and Jimmy Smits is popular, so that only helps despite his questionable casting.
How long will it last? I have written about this time slot many times. Good news for the show, however, since it premiered to the highest numbers since the debut of "Judging Amy", which lived out a more than healthy six years in this time slot. I still think it will be off the air before the end of the season.

Pilot grade: C

What I'm Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 1, Episode 9 "Do You Regret What We Did?" (C-)

Man, that hospital stalker girl is really pretty psychotic. I would say I love it when Ellen tries to get all powerful and serious if it did not make me cringe so much. At least she has enough common sense to get in a car with a stranger sitting creepily outside her home. Frobisher singing was just plain not needed. That George Moore guy is straddling the lines of good guy/bad guy far too easily, and that whole idea should soon get lost in the muddled confusion it has created. The re-introduction of Katie is not something I am happy about. Future report: Is Patty responsible for killing Lame Boyfriend? And if so, why is she crying so much about it? Probably because the camera was shaking too much while going in for a closeup.

What I'm Watching: NCIS (Season Premiere)

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 1 "Bury Your Dead" (C-)

This episode marks a point in the show where I start to realize that what I used to really enjoy about the series now seems trite and annoying. That happened with "Will & Grace", "The Practice", and others. I hope that this will not be true for "NCIS", but I just cannot imagine enjoying it anymore. I remember the fantastic season 3 premiere following Kate's death where everyone was so broken up. Now after Tony's supposed death everyone cracks jokes and steals his stapler, pausing only to react in slow-motion at the crime scene? Quite a memorial to the best character on the show. I am happy that this whole convoluted La Grenouille business is all done with, and it is interesting that Tony was undercover the whole time with Jean. Melodramatic off-color flashbacks are not one of my favorite things, and I do not feel they really executed it terribly well. I really do hope this show will regain its momentum and quality.

Commercials note: Who thought that "Party Like a Rock Star" was a good theme for "CSI: New York"? Seems a bit odd to me.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 7 "He Taught Me How To Drive By" (B+)

I have been keeping up with this show, but not with ample time to review each episode. I managed to get ahold of this installment in time this week, however, and will therefore offer up my thoughts. I am truly enjoying this season of "Weeds", which has realized that its storylines are more than often a bit far-fetched, and having fully embraced that fact, is succeeding with flying colors at being fantastically entertaining and enjoyable. Mary-Louise Parker, for one, is having a great time and doing a terrific job as Nancy, whose reactions to most of U-Turn and Marvin's comments are priceless. I am impressed with how the U-Turn saga was concluded, since that could really have dragged on too much, but now it should be a great direction for the show. I absolutely love Shane falling for the girl, then getting her stolen by Isabelle, a more severe case because she "thinks she might be a homosexual." The music in this show is so great. Too bad that Peter actually is dead, I was hoping he was secretly on the run or something. At least we still have the great Matthew Modine as Nancy's new beau. Nancy's comment at the end is quite funny and so true: "I have to warn you, the last two men I slept with ended up dead."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What I'm Watching: Heroes (Season Premiere)

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 1 “Four Months Later” (C-)

To me, there has always been something missing from this show. Perhaps it is that the suspension of disbelief is just too necessary, that even the non-superpower elements of the show seem improbable and unrealistic. The “Company” is far too omnipresent, and has eyes everywhere to know that newly instated Detective Parkman and superscientist Suresh are raising Molly. HRG still works at a paper company? What a cover! Claire moved to a new town but did not change her name? The whole cheerleading drama is just unnecessary – this is not “Mean Girls.” Interesting but also improbable that her new flirting partner is himself a Genuine Superhero. On to other things…I thought Nathan won some big election? Now he just has a huge beard and looks really freaky in the mirror? What is Hiro doing way back in time chilling with Sark from “Alias”? And a dual-personality killer worse than Nikki trying to reach the United States? The only thing that really got me hooked was Peter’s mysterious appearance in Ireland of all places.

Note to NBC: keep the previews generally spoiler-free. Do not show us that characters who are supposed to be dead are actually alive.

Pilot Review: The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Premiered September 24, 2007

Any show that manages to knock both blogs and “Battlestar Galactica” in its first ten minutes has already earned my contempt. Fortunately for my objectiveness, that is not all that is bad about this show. Every one of the characters is so blissfully unaware of just how unintelligent they really are. Sure, the geeks have high IQs, but their actions are just too dumb. They insert non-germane scientific words and facts into their everyday sentences just to remind us that these guys are in fact nerds. The pretty blonde next-door neighbor is just too truthfully dumb to be sympathetic. USA Today raved that Jim Parsons, portraying Sheldon, is a breakout star stuck in a poor show. I do not think his character is too difficult to portray, but I suppose he does a fine job. Honestly, though, there just is not anything funny here, just an obnoxiously heavy amount of awkwardness.

How will it work as a series? Think of it as a mystery: how nerdy can these guys be? Another mystery: will anyone tune back in after watching one episode?
How long will it last? CBS gave “Out of Practice” a full season, “Rules of Engagement” a second season, and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” an Emmy. A Monday night launch on CBS is a good thing, but I do not that can save this pitiful show, which should fall off the schedule within a few weeks.

Pilot grade: F

What I'm Watching: Prison Break

Prison Break: Season 3, Episode 2 “Fire/Water” (C-)

This is like “Prison Break: Lightning Round.” How fast can Michael break out of prison? The sped-up version of the first season is far less interesting and often too dark to be entertaining. The alliances and such formed at Sona make little sense, and I was quite confused about how Michael let Mahone go and then how the Mayor let the wanted man live. How does the Mayor have a phone? Worse, however, than the prison happenings, is what is going on outside the prison walls. Why doesn’t Sucre just have his beloved fianc√©e just hop on down to Panama to come see him? Sure, it might be a little complicated, but at least give it a shot. And these really must be the dumbest criminals ever who point guns in people’s faces while orchestrating a massive secret plan that depends upon the messenger skills of the guy whose face the gun is in. Well, at least Lincoln thought enough to make a fake bird book. Yeah, that is likely.

What I'm Watching: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 3, Episodes 3 & 4 “Dennis and Dee’s Mom is Dead” and “The Gang Gets Held Hostage” (F/D-)

I gave this show another chance after last week’s unimpressive opener, but I think I am officially done now. The first episode is just dumb, and the style of humor here is simply to not give up with the joke until it has fully been played out as long as it can. That works sometimes, but more often than not, if it is not funny the first time around, it gets more than old by the time the scene has gone by. Danny DeVito is a bit too crazy with his general antics, and Stephen Collins is hardly funny, as opposed to what I had heard about the previous appearance of the “7th Heaven” star on this show. The second installment has some funnier moments, like the overplayed trailer bit where one of the hostage takers tells his brother to stab somebody, and he himself gets stabbed. All in all, the show’s token “inappropriate” nature is just not enough to sustain the ridiculous storylines and setups.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What I'm Watching: 'Til Death

'Til Death: Season 2, Episode 1 "Performance Anxiety" (F)

I could barely get through five minutes of this show. How I made it the entire half-hour is a mystery/miracle. I wanted to check in with this show just to be sure I had not judged it too harshly when I gave the pilot a "D+" a year ago. It is so well-paired with "Back to You" in terms of awfulness. It is also essentially the exact same thing I saw a year ago, so brutally formulaic and undeveloped. The young couple is at first gleefully happy, the older couple bitterly at war with each other. By the middle of the episode the young couple is fighting and the older couple is fighting even more, but by episode's end all is well and everyone is smiling. In this episode we are berated with lots of awful singing from Joely Fisher and freakishly decent celebrity impressions from Brad Garrett. Each scene is so painfully unfunny and predictable that this show is unbearable.

Pilot Review: Back to You

Back to You (Fox)
Premiered September 19 at 8pm

The previews for this show made it look really bad, and they were more than indicative of the quality of the show. For starters, this is one of those cases that a laugh track just makes it seem worse. The humor is so cheap that the laugh track is even played when the fat guy runs across the screen (don't forget the bullimia jokes!). The plot is so void and the characters are lame caricatures. Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton are both far too overbearing and loud, and them playing off each other hardly works. They discuss their chemistry for nearly half the episode, yet there is really nothing there except for a ton of yelling. Ty Burrell complains the whole time, and even Fred Willard is stuck in an unfunny role. The direction is so basic that characters walk back and forth across the screen only to be in the right spot to make an unclever quip at a certain point. The latter half of the premire takes a dramatic turn that is far less enthralling and surprising than all the characters seem to think. I can hardly take another minute of this show.

How will it work as a series? It should be the same exact thing over and over, and if audiences can take that, more episodes will just keep being made.
How long will it last? "'Til Death" somehow made it to a second season, and this has arguably "hotter" stars, so I am afraid it will last a horribly long time. Please, not a second season.

Pilot grade: F

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What I'm Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 1, Episode 8 "Blame the Victim" (C-)

Ellen is so not as badass as she likes to think she is firing that guy. And why bring her parents into this? Couldn't they simply have not been able to afford the bail without having to go through all this stuff? In the twenty-first century, Frobisher should really stop having all these really personal phone calls where he says stuff he should not. Oh, and Lame Boyfriend finally actually bites the dust at the end of the episode! Woohoo! It is about time. Good thing Tom and Ellen are meeting with the actual Bad Guy Number One. Let's hope they are not too dumb and can see through his veil of evil.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What I'm Watching: Prison Break (Season Premiere)

Prison Break: Season 3, Episode 1 "Orientación" (C-)

I really applaud the fact that this show has remained on the air and survived to a third season given its one-season premise (and this really was a one-season premise, even though writers say they had a second season all mapped out, but come on). What is unforunate is that it is pretty much reduced to the oft-used parody of the show where each season has Michael trying to break out of a bigger prison. The government stringing everything along is annoying (you would think Mexico would at least keep them out a bit!), and as the weakest part of the show, that should have been thrown out. I would much rather have seen Mahone on the run with Michael and Lincoln all over Panama than Mahone, Michael, an almost nude Bellick, and T-Bag chumming together in Sona, the most ridiculous prison ever conceived. I do not like the new "boss" in the prison and just everything surrounding that. Michael better get on that escape plan fast, because this whole fight-to-the-death thing is going to get old real quick. Good news for next week though - Sucre is back!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Thumbs Down: The Emmy Awards

Wow, this was dreadful from start almost fully to finish. Ryan Seacrest by default wins the award for least interesting host. Honestly, if he was not there, would anyone have even noticed? I hardly cared that my Fox reception started cutting out sound during some of his earlier monlogues and wholly unnecessary costume changes. Blah. I feel like this year more than ever viewers were assaulted with pairings of new fall stars and joking advertisements of their shows (the worst of which was Jimmy Smits and Kate Walsh). The presenters were hardly amusing, and only a few were even memorable. Was the whole "Don't Forget the Lyrics" scene really needed? One joke, sure, but a whole five minutes wasted? They could have capped the show on time at three hours. And what a shock: "The Sopranos" won. Who could have expected that after they had a tribute to the series in the middle of the Emmy broadcast?

The good: Unfortunately, very few moments, in no particular order.
1) "30 Rock" winning Best Comedy Series for its stellar selection of episodes, and Tina Fey thanking the "dozens of viewers" for watching the show.
2) Terry O'Quinn, wearing a pink shirt, winning and being genuinely happy about it.
3) Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert keeping us laughing at least for a moment (see below for the following moment).
4) Same thing with Ellen DeGeneres. Too short though.
5) The "Office" montage with the cast members saying how they hate Steve Carrell, basically.

The bad:
1) "The Office" loses out in every category except for the inexplicably loved "Gay Witch Hunt" episode.
2) Jaime Pressly beats out Jenna Fischer for the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series trophy. I, for one, am not jumping for Joy.
3) Helen Mirren presenting the Best Drama Series award and trying to seem really cool about it. Who cares? Does this woman need to dominate everything?
4) Katherine Heigl winning an Emmy for her poor performance in her episode over some spectacular "Sopranos" ladies. Maybe Emmy voters watched "Knocked Up" instead and neglected to screen her episode.
5) "Longford" missing out in its three categories. It is so good. Rent it on DVD.

The ugly:
1) Sally Field's speech. The corniest thing I have ever heard. And she sucked in her episode.
2) James Spader winning another Emmy for his tired performance in "Angel of Death". Enough already. Give it to House even, I don't care!
3) Thomas Haden Church's speech. What was that guy talking about?
4) Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert calling up Emmy loser Steve Carrell after winner Ricky Gervais was not in the house. How does that work? He lost the award! Well, I guess he deserved it so at least he got to on stage.
5) Lewis Black's rant about putting ads for other shows on the bottom of the screen. Too out-of-place and harsh, and overdone about a minute in. The CNN crawl thing was totally unfounded and unrelated, and the lame joke at the end was completely predictable.

As far as my predictions went, I came in with an embarassing 7/31 or 22.6%. The one positive about those stats is that this is the second consecutive year that I have correctly predicted both Best Drama Series and Best Comedy Series. I am very angry because I feel that most of this year's wins were so terrible (Sally Field, James Spader) and undeserved (Jaime Pressly, Ricky Gervais) and that the show as a whole did nothing to enhance the lame awards ceremony. I guess I was still hooked on the excitement of this past year's Oscar ceremony, which was a terrific show complete with great winners. In any case, I can honestly say that I am officially not excited for next year's Emmy awards after two disappointing shows in a row with repetitive and underserving winners. I will say that I think I will enjoy the Golden Globes, which like to think a bit more outside the box, honoring fare like "Nip/Tuck" and the like.

I really do hope that Steve Carrell, Kyra Sedgwick, Minnie Driver, Rainn Wilson, and Jenna Fischer (not to mention snubbed Eddie Izzard, John Krasinski, Jane Krakowski, and Michael C. Hall) eventually get their due. I am never a fan of too-late recognition (see "24" and Kiefer winning last year), but right now, count me in.

At this point, I will move in to a much more exciting prospect: the fall TV pilots. Check back over the next few weeks for reviews of all the new network pilots, which will hopefully prove more exciting and inventive than this year's Emmy Awards.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Emmy Awards: Final Winner Predictions

This is a very exciting time for me, not just because it is the Emmy Awards, but because it is the first awards show to take place since I have had my blog. While I will not be commenting in a play-by-play fashion, I will certainly be on hand for a few comments immediately afterwards. More importantly, I hope to offer casual TV fans an easy and accessible summary of predictions and a guide to the nominees. On the left-hand menu you will find predictions for each category. For those without access to the live show, results should be readily available on http://www.emmys.tv/ and in the forums over at http://www.goldderbyforums.com/ as they happen.

My final thoughts are below in a predicted winner/runner-up format for each category. I have no real expertise on the reality/variety/mini-series/TV movie side of the show, but my enthusiasm for HBO's "Longford" clearly shows through in my multiple predictions for the film. I am hopeful that my predictions will be mostly correct, but then again, as the case tends to be, I am more wrong than usual. I do hope for an enjoyable ceremony with pleasant rather than vicious surprises.

My no guts, no glory predictions would have to be Battlestar Galactica winning both Directing and Writing.

Without further ado, my predictions:

COMEDY SERIES:
30 Rock (Winner)
The Office (RU)

COMEDY LEAD ACTOR:
Steve Carell, The Office (Winner)
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock (RU)

COMEDY LEAD ACTRESS:
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty (Winner)
Tina Fey, 30 Rock (RU)

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Rainn Wilson, The Office (Winner)
Jeremy Piven, Entourage (RU)

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Jenna Fischer, The Office (Winner)
Conchata Ferrell, Two and a Half Men (RU)

COMEDY DIRECTING:
Richard Shepard, Ugly Betty (Winner)
Will Mackenzie, Scrubs (RU)

COMEDY WRITING:
Tina Fey, 30 Rock (Winner)
Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant, Extras (RU)

DRAMA SERIES:
The Sopranos (Winner)
Boston Legal (RU)

DRAMA LEAD ACTOR:
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos (Winner)
Hugh Laurie, House (RU)

DRAMA LEAD ACTRESS:
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer (Winner)
Minnie Driver, The Riches (RU)

DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Terry O'Quinn, Lost (Winner)
William Shatner, Boston Legal (RU)

DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos (Winner)
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy (RU)

DRAMA DIRECTING:
Jack Bender, Lost (Winner)
Thomas Schlamme, Studio 60 (RU)

DRAMA WRITING:
Terence Winter, The Sopranos (Winner)
Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof, Lost (RU)

MADE FOR TV MOVIE:
Longford (Winner)
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (RU)

MINISERIES:
Broken Trail (Winner)
The Starter Wife (RU)

MOVIE/MINISERIES LEAD ACTOR:
Jim Broadbent, Longford (Winner)
Robert Duvall, Broken Trail (RU)

MOVIE/MINISERIES LEAD ACTRESS:
Debra Messing, The Starter Wife (Winner)
Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect: The Final Act (RU)

MOVIE/MINISERIES SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Thomas Haden Church, Broken Trail (Winner)
August Schellenberg, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (RU)

MOVIE/MINISERIES SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Samantha Morton, Longford (Winner)
Judy Davis, The Starter Wife (RU)

MOVIE/MINISERIES DIRECTING:
Walter Hill, Broken Trail (Winner)
Bharat Nalluri, Tsunami, the Aftermath (RU)

MOVIE/MINISERIES WRITING:
Daniel Giat, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Winner)
Josann McGibbon & Sara Parriott, The Starter Wife (RU)

REALITY/COMPETITION PROGRAM:
The Amazing Race (Winner)
American Idol (RU)

VARIETY PERFORMANCE:
Colbert Report – Stephen Colbert (Winner)
79th Annual Academy Awards - Ellen DeGeneres (RU)

VARIETY SERIES:
Colbert Report (Winner)
Daily Show with Jon Stewart (RU)

VARIETY DIRECTING:
Daily Show with Jon Stewart – Chuck O’Neil (Winner)
Tony Bennett: An American Classic - Rob Marshall (RU)

VARIETY WRITING:
Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Winner)
Colbert Report (RU)

Enjoy the show!

Emmy Predictions: Best Drama Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all of the "Heroes" and "Sopranos" episodes and a few of the other shows' submissions.

The nominees:


BOSTON LEGAL (Lincoln, On the Ledge, Angel of Death, The Good Lawyer, Son of the Defender, Trial of the Century)
As with "Ugly Betty", I do not want to bore you with the same complaints over and over. I am fearing more and more that show creator David E. Kelley may collect the thousandth or so prize in this category. I am alternately reassured by the fact that pretty much no one is predicting this show to win and people are still pissed about it being nominated in the first place. This could be another Patricia Arquette angry WTF moment, but let's hope it does not come to that.

GREY'S ANATOMY (Let the Angels Commit, From a Whisper to a Scream, Six Days Parts 1 & 2, Wishin' and Hopin', Some Kind of Miracle)
I think many are underestimating this show. I do not love it, but I know that it is immensely popular and that a lot of people do in fact love it. Its dramatic possibilities pale in comparison to "The Sopranos", but it feels like this show should eventually win an Emmy. Not that it matters, but it did win the Golden Globe this past year in this category. And lots of its stars got nominated. But does that matter?

HEROES (Godsend, The Fix, Distractions, Run, Unexpected, Company Man)
I am still a bit surprised that this show made it in. It is fun and entertaining, but it does not feel worthy of a Best Drama Series award. The sci-fi genre may also be too much for Emmy voters. The only episode I immediately recognize is "Company Man", which was one of the top dramatic episodes of the season, so there is hope. Not including "Boston Legal", this does feel like the campiest of the shows and least likely to clinch a dramatic prize.

HOUSE (Lines in the Sand, Que Sera Sera, Son of Coma Guy, Half-Wit, Merry Little Christmas, Top Secret)
Sure, everyone loves Hugh Laurie, but otherwise I would have to say there is zero buzz for this show, at least awards-wise. No one is talking about it, and all four other shows in this category have gotten much more notice. I can only say that I have seen one of these episodes (Half-Wit) and it did not jump out at me in any way. Maybe this show could win some day, but I really doubt it will be right now.

THE SOPRANOS (Soprano Home Movies, The Blue Comet, Stage Five, Kennedy & Heidi, The Second Coming, Made in America)
Maybe you have heard of this one? "The Sopranos" has many advantages here. It is the show's final season, 2/3 of the episodes are represented in the choices, and those are some pretty great choices (particularly the first two). How this show could lose to any of the others, especially "Boston Legal", is beyond me. The finale did create a lot of backlash, and it is the last episode that voters watch, so they may end up with a bad taste in their mouths, but I think they will instead be salivating for more.

Who should win (based on individual episodes): The Sopranos
Who should win (based on entire season): The Sopranos
Who will win: You guessed it...The Sopranos.

Emmy Predictions: Best Comedy Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched most of the episodes, missing 3 episodes of "Two and a Half Men" and 4 of "Ugly Betty", and will do my best to offer a detailed analysis.

The nominees:

ENTOURAGE (One Day in the Valley, Sorry Ari, Less than 30, Dog Day Afternoon, Return of the King, The Resurrection)
This is the first year "Entourage" has made it into this category, and these are pretty great episode choices. While the second season was certainly stronger, these are pretty much the highlights of the third season, which is what the submissions are supposed to be. I think "Entourage" may still be a bit too hip for older Emmy voters, but the episodes definitely give it an edge.

THE OFFICE (A Benihana Christmas Parts 1 & 2, Gay Witch Hunt, The Negotiation, Business School, Traveling Salesmen)
This show just got funnier this year, but what is with these episode choices? Just off the top of my head, I can name six that would serve better: "Branch Closing", "The Merger", "The Convict", "Product Recall", "Beach Games" & "The Job". Last year's winning submissions were much more solid. On second thought, "Gay Witch Hunt" is the only one that really did not do it for me and the other five may just be more relatable to infrequent viewers. The show is undeniably popular, so watch out for it.

30 ROCK (Tracy Does Conan, Fireworks, Jack-Tor, The Break-Up, The Head and the Hair, Hardball)
Now this is how you turn an occasionally uneven show into a powerhouse show with a great shot at a win. With the exception of "Tracy Does Conan", which managed a writing nomination, the five episodes here are wondrously funny and extremely well done. "Hardball" in itself epitomizes the show, and the others serve to enhance its brilliance. I think "30 Rock" is just up Emmy's alley, and with submissions like these, it could easily win this trophy (and maybe even better ratings for next season!).

TWO AND A HALF MEN (The Sea is a Harsh Mistress, It Never Rains in Hooterville, Taped Tucked and Gorgeous, Young People Have Phlegm Too, Apologies for the Frivolity, Repeated Blows to His Unformed Head)
I have seen only half of these episodes, but nothing about them screams "Emmy" to me. Lots of laughs to be sure, and great one-liners, but this show just does not have the continued quality that an Emmy winner should. It performed magnficently with the nominations this year, scoring five regular cast member acting nods, tying with "The Sopranos" for the highest tally. Can it win? I suppose, but I do not think it should and I hope voters will agree with me that there is just a little piece missing.

UGLY BETTY (Pilot, Fey's Sleigh Ride, The Lyin' the Watch and the Wardrobe, I'm Coming Out, Don't Ask Don't Tell, East Side Story)
So as not to repeat myself too much, I will keep this short. I do not like this show, but I think the Emmys do. From the two episodes I watched, it seems that it really does require constant week-to-week viewership to get into it. The idea of "Ugly" Betty though may help it win the big prize, as it did at the Golden Globes earlier this year.

Who should win (based on individual episodes): 30 Rock
Who should win (based on entire season): The Office
Who will win: 30 Rock

Next: Best Drama Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all the episodes in this category in preparation for analysis of possible winners and their chances.

The nominees:

JAMES SPADER AS ALAN, BOSTON LEGAL (Angel of Death)
Spader won this award twice in a row, first for his role on "The Practice" and then reprising it on this show, but missed out on a nomination last year. There was a massive amount of backlash against the show after it was nominated this year, but then again the show did well with nominations, so who really knows? Spader has won already, his time has passed. Additionally, many people think this episode cashes in on a tragedy. If Spader wins, it will be a real shame.

HUGH LAURIE AS HOUSE, HOUSE (Half-Wit)
I have never been a fan of Laurie's on this show, but I know that I am overwhelmingly in the minority. Nonetheless, his performance in this episode is nothing special. A lot of the plot has to do with character-specific stuff that only fans of the show really could get. I am not sure if that will hurt him or help him. He still has not won an Emmy though, which is a pretty big deal given how popular he is.

DENIS LEARY AS TOMMY, RESCUE ME (Retards)
Leary is immensely unlikable, but I think that is why his performance is so great. FX nominees have never done very well with the exception of Michael Chiklis for the first season of "The Shield", and Leary, in his second year and facing this competition, should have a virtually nonexistent shot at this award. I do not think he will be back next year, but that is completely irrelevant to this race. If there are a lot of "Rescue Me" fans out there, and now that Kiefer has finally won his award, Leary could have a fighting chance.

JAMES GANDOLFINI AS TONY, THE SOPRANOS (The Second Coming)
I do not have to say much about Gandolfini. He has won three awards out of five nominations, but like Falco, he was snubbed last year. Unlike Falco, however, he was absolutely front-and-center in the show's final season and did a more than respectable job. I think he could have done better with "Soprano Home Movies", but "The Second Coming" is a respectable choice. Gandolfini is a powerhouse this year and I am not sure he can be stopped.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND AS JACK, 24 (5:00am-6:00am)
This was by far the least popular season of the once-great "24", and Sutherland is pretty much the only representative for the show. He won last year so that whole factor is done with, and I, along with pretty much every predictor I have read, think Sutherland has next to no shot. His episode submission is his best work this season, so that is the only thing going for him.

Who should win (based on entire season): Leary
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Gandolfini or Leary
Who will win: Gandolfini

Next: Best Comedy Series

Friday, September 14, 2007

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all the episodes in this category in preparation for analysis of possible winners and their chances.

The nominees:

SALLY FIELD AS NORA, BROTHERS & SISTERS (Mistakes Were Made, Part 2)
I know she is Sally Field and all, but she is actually pretty bad in her chosen episode. It is an Emmy kind of role, especially with the scenes where she gets upset about her son joining the army and having to go back, but she does not work with it very well at all. I can only hope that the less than lukewarm reception for this show at the Emmys will keep Field from undeservingly taking this trophy away from the other nominees who do much better work.

KYRA SEDGWICK AS BRENDA, THE CLOSER (Slippin')
I seem to be the only one who thinks that Sedgwick did not completely screw up with this episode submission. Sedgwick was just as great, if not better, in the show's second season, and "Slippin'" is a great example of her work and gives her some great scenes with Frances Sternhagen and Jon Tenney. There is no reason that Sedgwick should not win this award; it is merely a question of someone else getting more votes.

MARISKA HARGITAY AS OLIVIA, LAW & ORDER: SVU (Florida)
Last year's winner for her turn in the episode "911" dose a decent enough job in this year's pivotal episode, but she does not do anything for me. She is fine but I do not see how her performance is more challenging than some of the other actresses here. The material and style of the "Law & Order" format does not allow necessarily for as much acting per se, and perhaps that is why Hargitay is the only "L & O" cast member to be nominated in the past few years.

PATRICIA ARQUETTE AS ALLISON, MEDIUM (Be Kind, Rewind)
I know that several people have commented in the past that my attitude towards Arquette and her show (as well as "Boston Legal") is far too harsh and completely unfounded. I did watch this episode and wholeheartedly stand by the fact that Arquette is a terrible actress and does a dreadful job in this episode as well as the rest of the show's run. I can take comfort in the fact that she already won her award and will hopefully never again claim an award of any kind. Most predictors put her in dead last for the win in this category.

MINNIE DRIVER AS DAHLIA, THE RICHES (Pilot)
Driver did a truly amazing job this year on this show this past season. I would love to see her win, especially as the sole representative in any category for her show. I do not however support her episode submission. It took me until the second episode to decide that I liked her a lot. It was Eddie Izzard who drew me in right away, but perhaps that can help Driver to gain support. My real worry here is that Sedgwick and Driver will split the vote and someone like Field will claim this trophy.

EDIE FALCO AS CARMELA, THE SOPRANOS (The Second Coming)
Falco has already won three out of the five Emmys she has been nominated for, and it is hard to bet against her for the final season of the hit show. There are only two things really going against her, but I think the popularity of the show and it going it may overwhelm that. Falco missed out on a nomination last year, and also took a major backseat to the rest of the cast this season. Then again, I predicted that Allison Janney would beat her when she submitted the incomparably excellent "Whitecaps" a few years ago and that was clearly not a good idea. She is a force with which to be reckoned.

Who should win (based on entire season): Sedgwick
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Sedgwick
Who will win: I would not be surprised to hear the names of either Sedgwick, Driver, or Falco, but I am betting on Sedgwick.

Next: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

What I'm Watching: Monk & Psych (Season Finales)

Monk: Season 6, Episode 9 "Mr. Monk Is Up All Night" (B-)
Psych: Season 2, Episode 9 "Bounty Hunters" (B-)

I feel the same way about this week's episodes as I did about last week's installments. Sprinkled with moments of fun humor, but lacking in general plot excellence. The seasons have been great for both of these shows, and I have thoroughly enjoyed them. Tonight's highlight comes in "Psych" where Shawn and Gus are obsessed with the bounty hunter. Quite an interesting scene at the end with the close talking between Shawn and Juliet that leaves me yearning for more in a really good way.

"Monk" Season 6 grade: B+
"Psych: Season 2 grade: B+

Both these shows return in their regular timeslots in January. Until then...

What I'm Watching: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season Premiere)

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2 "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby" & "The Gang Gets Invincible" (D/F)

To me there are few things less disappointing than an inappropriate show that just is not inappropriate enough. After the lude but hilarious previews for this show, take-offs of the Mac/PC commercials, I was expecting offensive and gross-out humor. Unfortunately, most of it is just clumsy and lame. The cast does their best but I cannot recommend this show highly at all. The first episode, summarized perfectly by the title, is funny in concept alone but little of the episode is dynamic enough to sustain interest for the entire episode. The second episode, complete with a guest appearance from what I have gathered is the nemesis family, steps out of the realm of believability without being funny enough to make it worth it. It is nothing like "Superbad" where an occasional lack of coherence is made understandable and okay by just how laugh-out-loud hilarious everything else is. Count me out for this dumb show.

FX preview update: I am getting so excited to watch "Nip/Tuck" even though I gave up on it midway through the third season premiere. The promos are amazing, set to the tune of "Wicked Game" and featuring the surgeons' move to L.A. Even if the show is not so fantastic, the previews have encouraged me to get into it again. "Nip/Tuck" starts the week after "Damages" ends in the same time slot, October 30th at 10pm.

Second Run TV: Smallville (Season Finale)

Smallville: Season 6, Episode 22 "Phantom" (D+)

First things first, as a casual reader of the Superman comics as a child (I am more of a Marvel man myself), I know that I am supposed to be cued to get extremely excited when the idea of "Superman Red/Superman Blue" pops up. I do not remember the whole mythology, but when the phantom-possessed Clark clone was wearing a blue jacket instead of a red one, I knew something cool was being started. He was not the most subtle of phantoms though, claiming to be a bit "bizarre" (Bizarro, anyone?).

This whole phantom nonsense was too much like "Supernatural" with the spirit grabbing hearts and killing people and such. Chloe's tear bringing Lois back to life was really cool, a reveal of her superpower, but her dying (or did she) was a bit unexplained. And raise your hand if you think Lana is still alive - that mail truck passed by way too quickly. But who orchestrated her death? I am hoping for Oliver Queen. They need to bring him back.

This season as a whole was uneven but vastly superior to the recent output. To recap, my grades for each of the seasons are as follows: 1 (A-), 2 (B+), 3 (D-), 4 (F), 5 (F). So therefore this season gets a well-deserved C-.

Season seven of "Smallville" begins Thursday, September 27th at 8pm on the CW and I plan to watch the show during its original run this season.

What I'm Watching: Rescue Me (Season Finale)

Rescue Me: Season 4, Episode 13 "Yaz" (B)

It has been quite a season for "Rescue Me". On and off is the kindest way to put it. This season ender is a little weird, but provides some interesting closure and new twists for its presumable next season. The death of Tommy's dad is somewhat unexpected but sort of feels right. Of course someone needs to die in the season finale, and Tommy will need something to transform his character for next year. Tommy's relationship with Gina Gershon is particularly entertaining to watch. The rest of the stuff with Sheila and Jimmy is frustrasting but still intriguing. In terms of positive news about this season, the rest of the firehouse crew (those not shown by name in the opening credits) has been developed well enough so that it really feels like there is an enormous presence (i.e. Needles and all the guys who kept seeing Jimmy). And Larenz Tate better start looking for a new job, because Tommy is going to MURDER him when he finds out he is dating his daughter.

Season grade: B-

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all the episodes in this category in preparation for analysis of possible winners and their chances.

The nominees:

RICKY GERVAIS AS ANDY, EXTRAS (Sir Ian McKellen)
Former "Office" star Gervais has a great follow-up role on the now-cancelled "Extras", but I still think his style of humor and acting is a bit far out of Emmy's tastes (the multiple nominations and zero wins for the show last year seems also to indicate that). I think American audiences will respond better to his American "Office" boss counterpart. His episode submission is good but AWKWARD to an unbearable point.

TONY SHALHOUB AS MONK, MONK (Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink)
Shalhoub has won this award three out of four times in the show's history. His performance is fantastic and pretty much standard - if they liked him one year, why should they not love him just as much the next? His episde choice is fine; any of season five's installments would have served equally well.

STEVE CARRELL AS MICHAEL, THE OFFICE (Business School)
It is the show's third year and still Carrell has yet to win an Emmy. The positive here is that he has a money scene in his episode (also discussing money as it happens), naming candy bars and using them to judge success, and I truly hope that the popularity of "The Office" will lead him to a victory.

ALEC BALDWIN AS JACK, 30 ROCK (Hiatus)
Baldwin was uproariously funny throughout the first season of "30 Rock", but I think that he royally screwed up by choosing his least funny episode, the season finale, and that could very well be his downfall. Baldwin is popular and has picked up a number of awards for this role so far, but I think his episode choice will really hurt him.

CHARLIE SHEEN AS CHARLIE, TWO AND A HALF MEN (Who's Vod Kanockers?)
Is Charlie Sheen's name actually among the list of actors nominated for an Emmy? He is just plain bad in his episode. He is certainly funny, but this is hardly a performance deserving of an award nomination of any kind. If Sheen's name is called, I will be shocked beyond belief. "Two and a Half Men" may score upsets elsewhere, but certainly not here.

Who should win (based on entire season): Baldwin
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Carrell
Who will win: Carrell

Next: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What I'm Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 1, Episode 7 "We Are Not Animals" (C-)

All the back-and-forth secrecy and deception is probably not helping Hewes & Associates win their case against Frobisher. If they stopped all the betrayal and deception they might have a fighting chance of winning and of keeping Lame Boyfriend alive. Patty responsible for trying to have Ellen whacked? I do not buy it. And why would Tom possibly be complicit with Patty after all this time? In any case, Gregory is pretty dumb and deserves to get killed off. Again, not that it will help the case, but we generally already know how things are going to end, right?

Pilot Review: Life is Wild

Life is Wild
Premieres October 7 at 8pm

This show is so bizarre and genre-confused that there is no way it can possibly work. The opening scene features music from "Blood Diamond" (in case anyone forgot, this show is set in Africa!) and the episode contains far too many "run - there's a wild animal on the loose/severely injured). The move from New York to Africa seems immensely rushed, and all the New York-Africa relation deteriorations are predictable from the start. The soundtrack is convoluted, featuring jungle and animal sounds and Augustana's "Boston" track (where does this show take place again?). The cast is not great, plain and simple. Lead actress Leah Pipes is purely unlikeable, and delivers all her lines way too loudly. Good old dad Brett Cullen is wasted here, but it looks as if he has already been replaced by the so-so D.W. Moffett. The camerawork is poor and the storylines are bland. I cannot possibly watch another minute of this if youngest child Chase does not get a haircut. Besides the general lack of anything interesting, the show really does not seem sure of whether it is a drama or a comedy, which in this case is a hugely significant problem.

How will it work as a series? Not well. Who cares about this plotline?
How long will it last? It is on Sunday nights, which may keep it on the air. The CW really does not have that many shows anymore, but I still think it will not make it to season's end.

Pilot grade: F

Pilot Review: Aliens in America

Aliens in America
Premieres October 1 at 8:30

Who thought that this concept was a good idea for a series? It seems horribly insensitive and generally uninformed. To sum up, a Midwestern family trying to help their son feel more accepted enrolls in a foreign exchange program, and is horrified to discover that their student is a Pakistani Muslim. With the exception of him praying a bunch and talking about Allah all the time, no real legitimate background for his character is given. The rest of the show is a monumental, completely unfunny failure. The audience was roaring with laughter at what might be seen as an immense satire, but it takes it too far without being appropriately edgy. The CW is certainly not the place for this kind of show, especially nuzzled in between "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Girlfriends".

How will it work as a series? If the storyline becomes more substantial, it could end up being fine, but I do not think it really has any potential.
How long will it last? "Runaway" got cancelled by the CW pretty quickly last year, this show could set a new record for the young network.

Pilot grade: F

Pilot Review: Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl
Premieres September 19 at 9pm

I knew from the moment I heard about it that this was not a show for me. All my suspicions were confirmed by the pilot, which works off of some of the same ideas from "Mean Girls" but adds in the celebrity factor. It is all quite overdone with everyone at a party checking their phones every second and all the students, even the guys, obsessively reading this "Gossip Girl" column which Kristen Bell narrates. The cast is fine to look at but boasts nothing else memorable. Lead character Serena is too hard to figure out, as she is supposed to have been an out-of-control celebrity who is now a sweetheart, but there is just not enough background. The show also has one of the most vile television characters in recent history, in the form of regular rape attempter Chuck. The soundtrack is pretty hip and the show has a sense of itself. I am not a fan, but I am sure there are lots of teenage girls out there who will love it.

How will it work as a series? People love "One Tree Hill" and this is pretty much a more consistent version for the same audience. How big is that audience though?
How long will it last? It should make to a second season since CW shows (and UPN and WB shows beforehand) do not require sky-high ratings to stay on the air.

Pilot grade: C-

Pilot Review: Reaper

Reaper (CW)
Premieres September 25 at 9pm

This show is by far The CW's best new offering. Bret Harrison, fresh off "The Loop", stars as another character named Sam, who finds out on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the devil. Harrison's antics were a bit stronger on "The Loop", but he is more than ably supported by nonstop comic relief Tyler Labine, whose nature fits in better here than it did on 2005's "Invasion". Leading lady Nikki Reed has since been replaced by the not-so-great Missy Peregrym, which puzzles me since I think Reed did a fine job in the role. Ray Wise is perfectly cast as the devil, and his scenes are all great. The tone of the show is a bit uneven with the serious nature of the fugitive's crimes versus sidekick Sock's continuous jokes. The audience sure laughed at this one a lot though.

How will it work as a series? I think the CW is the right network for it, and it should develop a reliable young audience.
How long will it last? At least the season, I think, and probably longer than that.

Pilot grade: B

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all the episodes in this category in preparation for analysis of possible winners and their chances.

The nominees:

FELICITY HUFFMAN AS LYNETTE, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (Bang)
Huffman won this trophy two years ago but missed out on a nomination last year. This year she has submitted an episode which displays mostly her dramatic strengths, which could be a problem because this is a comedy category and all the other performances are inherently comedic. Critical support for "Housewives" is clearly waning, and Huffman is the only regular cast member nominee.

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS AS CHRISTINE, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (Playdate with Destiny)
I am still in shock that Louis-Dreyfus won last year for the show that supposedly broke the Seinfeld curse. I find the show almost unwatchable and personally think that the unmemorable "Listen Up", starring Jason Alexander a few years back, was a far better offering. In any case, Louis-Dreyfus' performance is hot, but it has lost its novelty factor, sort of like how the Red Sox winning the World Series is no longer an unfulfilled task.

TINA FEY AS LIZ, 30 ROCK (Up All Night)
I would so love to see Fey win, especially because she plays the "straight man" and that kind of performance rarely gets noticed. Her episode submission is good, but I think all the buzz favors Baldwin. I think the show will perform exceedinly well, and Fey may pick up an additional trophy for writing the episode "Tracy Does Conan", which certainly does not hurt.

AMERICA FERRERA AS BETTY, UGLY BETTY (Pilot)
I have said my piece about this show. Ferrera is likeable enough but I do not find the performance terribly demanding. I am not sure there is anything that can stop her from winning this award though.

MARY-LOUISE PARKER AS NANCY, WEEDS (Mrs. Botwin's Neighborhood)
Parker's performance this past season only improved upon her already great job during the first season. Many think she cannot win because of the nature of her character and the particular line of work she is in. She would be highly deserving of this award, but I am not sure the show is well-supported enough. Her episode submission is stellar.

Who should win (based on entire season): Fey
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Parker
Who will win: Ferrera

Next: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

What I'm Watching: The Closer (Season Finale)

The Closer: Season 3, Episode 13 "'Til Death Do Us Part, Part Two" (B+)

There is not much to say here other than it is a strong enough "closing" episode (pardon the pun) that solidifies the relationships between both Brenda and her team and Brenda and Fritz. While this two-part finale is not quite as funky as last year's two-hour holiday special involving Mr. Feeney and some crazy CIA spying, it is still good enough fun. Plus we get two great guest stars - James Patrick Stuart as the slick D.A. and Fredric Lane (Kate's FBI pursuer) as the elusive Topper Barnes. What will be in store for us next season? Who knows, but I am sure it will be a lot of fun.

Season grade: A-

Monday, September 10, 2007

What I'm Watching: Tell Me You Love Me (Series Premiere)

Tell Me You Love Me: Season 1, Episode 1 "Pilot" (F)

I lost count of the number of sex scenes about ten minutes into the episode. This show is so falsely intimate and desperate to be provocative that it takes each and every opportunity, every five minutes or so, to have its characters engage in graphic and often inexplicable sexual activities. For some reason all of this nudity needs to be seen on screen, as in the case of one of the couples changing from their work clothes to their night shirts. Why do we need to see that? This show crosses a number of lines in the explicit nature of what it shows, and unlike "Six Feet Under" or "The L Word", there is no plot or reasoning to accompany the wealth of sex. The show itself is as bland as they come, which is strange because you would think with all the sex there would be something interesting. The cast, which includes respectable "Sleeper Cell" alumni Sonya Walger and Ally Walker, is uniformly boring and uncreative. It took quite a bit of determination for me to make it through this first episode.

Pilot Review: Life

Life (NBC)
Premieres September 26 at 10pm

This show is through-and-through trite from the first moment. Scratch that, the second moment. The first scene quickly catches the audience up on the fact that cop Charlie Crews served twelve years behind bars for a crime he did not commit before being released and reinstated. He is not some hardened, pissed off criminal as you might expect but rather a strange "House" wannabe who stares off into space while telling people to flush their stash of pot because the other cops are on the way. Actor Damian Lewis, who should not take full responsibility for his dismal performance, is paired with Sarah Shahi, who is on her way downhill with this show. After a starter role on "Alias" a few years back and fascinating turns on "The L Word", "The Sopranos", and "Sleeper Cell", she does what? A procedural cop show. And surprise - her boss wants her to spy on Charlie to try to get him kicked off the force. That has never happened before. Every scene, every conversation feels overdone to death. There is really nothing to recommend about this show except if you are a car enthusiast: Charlie mumbles "I am not connected to this car" for about five minutes straight as the camera zooms in on his car for a nifty car commerical smack dab in the middle of the show.

How will it work as a series? Well, he already went back to prison to interview someone in the FIRST EPISODE, so let's see how fast that gets old. If Sarah Shahi can bring out some of that talent she has shown, maybe she can try to save the show, but prospects are not good.
How long will it last? I give it three episodes.

Pilot grade: F

Emmy Predictions: Best Directing in a Drama Series

The nominees:

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, "Exodus, Part 2"
This is a pretty terrific hour which boasts some awesome special effects (it just won an Emmy!). I do not think it can overcome the genre/being on the Sci-fi channel barrier, but I would be so thrilled if it won.

BOSTON LEGAL, "Son of the Defender"
Do not even talk to me. The one good thing is the incorporation of the scenes from William Shatner's old law show. The one good thing.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, "Pilot"
This show was expected to be a huge hit at the Emmys and this ended up being its only major nomination. The show did just pick up a casting award, which is a huge plus, so it may have a shot at this award. I was pretty bored by the pilot though, but I suppose it was well done.

HEROES, "Genesis"
This show's pilot was visually pretty pleasing, but the overall structure of the show and its goofy nature may prevent it from getting Emmy attention. But hey, it did get nominated for Best Drama Series, so I guess you never know.

LOST, "Through the Looking Glass"
Once again, this finale is awesome. I think this is the episode that can overcome six other episodes from popular shows to claim this trophy. This is director Jack Bender's second consecutive nod in this category, and the show went home with this award two years ago for its pilot.

THE SOPRANOS, "Kennedy and Heidi"
This episode did have some serious repercussions for "Sopranos" fans, and some fantastic visual imagery in the second half. The bulk of the episode is only centered around two actors, which is possibly a good thing in this case given that it is the amazing and unexpected duo that is James Gandolfini and Sarah Shahi. I think the show would have a better shot at a win in this category with the season opener "Soprano Home Movies".

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, "Pilot"
Director Thomas Schlamme won this prize two years in a row for "The West Wing" a year after collecting the comedy directing trophy for the pilot of "Sports Night". Two Aaron Sorkin pilots, two Emmy wins. Those are some good odds. The show getting cancelled is not so good. Easily could happen, but probably will not.

Who should win: LOST
Who will win: Lost, but this race is wide open.

Emmy Predictions: Best Directing in a Comedy Series

The nominees:

ENTOURAGE, "One Day in the Valley"
This show has been a nominee in this category for three years running now (its entire run). This episode is just as good as last year's phenomenal submissions, and really captures the essence of the show as I have said before. It still feels a bit too hip for Emmy voters.

EXTRAS, "Orlando Bloom"
I do not really know what this episode is doing here. The "Daniel Radcliffe" installment seems better suited for this recognition, but I suppose audiences really got a kick out of Orlando Bloom talking about how good-looking he was. I doubt this has any chance at the trophy.

THE OFFICE, "Gay Witch Hunt"
Again, this is probably my least favorite episode of the season and I feel like it really poorly represents the amazingness which "The Office" has to offer.

SCRUBS, "My Musical"
Undeniably a fantastically directed episode, I now doubt this episode's chances after it lost both the song and music direction awards at this weekend's Creative Arts Emmy Awards. "Scrubs" really got shut out of the nominations this year, but this is by far its best chance.

30 ROCK, "The Break-Up"
This is one of the better "30 Rock" episodes. I feel however that unless it explodes in popularity, this show will be rewarded elsewhere (writing, maybe Alec Baldwin or Tina Fey).

UGLY BETTY, "Pilot"
Everyone knows what this is. I still hate it but I do not think Emmy voters agree with me. I suppose it is a strong start for a terrible show. This episode also won the Director's Guild of America award, beating out fellow nominee "One Day in the Valley" from "Entourage".

Who should win: "Scrubs" or "Entourage"
Who will win: "Ugly Betty" but watch out for "Scrubs" and "Entourage"

Next: Best Directing in a Drama Series

Friday Night Combo: Monk & Psych

Monk: Season 6, Episode 8 "Mr. Monk and the Wrong Man" (B-)
Psych: Season 2, Episode 8 "Rob-a-Bye Baby" (B-)

I had contemplated reviewing these shows together on a weekly basis simply because they are so similar in theme and tone and because I always watch them back-to-back on tape. This week it seemed appropriate, but for a less than exciting reason. On this evening they both went a little too far out of the realm of believability from the start. "Monk" is too friendly and apologetic to the criminal he convicted, and this kind of behavior played out much better in last year's episode with Andy Richter. The whole nanny search on "Psych" was bizarre, and it seemed just a bit too convenient that the chief would ask the two detectives to find her a nanny right in the middle of a huge nanny-related crime spree. Both are funny to be sure, but this week their plots took a little bit of a break from reality. Season finales next week.

Second Run TV: Smallville

Smallville: Season 6, Episode 21 "Prototype" (D+)

I just do not understand the relationship between Lana and Lex anymore. Why does Lex not try to control her more if he is so ridiculously evil and fully aware that she is spying on his every move and project? And why does Lana not grill Lionel to find out why she cannot be with her precious Clark. This show would have been so much better if Clark had just told Lana for real in that 100th episode. In other news, good to see Helo from "Battlestar Galactica" showing up here though not in a truly fantastic role. What are the chances that he just happened to know Lois from his military training days? Grasping at straws.

The sixth season finale of "Smallville" airs next Thursday night. The new season, which I plan on watching unless I am so turned off by the finale, begins on Thursday, September 27 at 8pm.

Pilot Review: Journeyman

Journeyman (NBC)
Premieres September 24 at 10pm

Those who like me hoped this would be a proud moment in the history of time-travel series will be sadly disappointed. This is basically an unimaginative rehash of ABC's despicable "Daybreak" with just as little sense and acting skills just as lacking (Moon Bloodgood, who really just got shot and kidnapped over and over on the former show, is now on this show with a much more substantial role. Who authorized that creative decision?). All the jumps in time back and forth get so convoluted and seem placed deliberately to help guide the plot rather than the audience's imagination. The drug intervention that occurs halfway through the episode is laughable. I was not drawn in enough to care about how the protagonist kept getting yanked back and forth, and predicted his "Frequency"-esque show of proof from the start. If only this show were as electrifying as star Kevin McKidd's blue eyes.

How will it work as a series? Not too well, especially if high-rated ABC, which launched "Daybreak" in the time slot occupied by "Lost", could not sustain that show during the off-season. People will stay tuned in to "CSI: Miami" after getting too confused about the mythology here to care.
How long will it last? I would say six or seven episodes before being pulled, unless that "Heroes" audience can come through and stay up just a bit later to help Kevin McKidd sort out his own powers.

Pilot grade: C-

Quick correction: For some reason I had listed the pilot grade as a B- but I definitely did not feel that way. I caught the error and lowered the grade as I initially thought I had.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Emmy Update: Creative Arts Winners!

I begin my Emmy prediction results with a dismal 0/4 on the guest categories. I am happy for Stanley Tucci (Monk) and Elaine Stritch (30 Rock), definite runner-ups in my mind for their respective awards. Not so sure about John Goodman (Studio 60), though I like the idea of a cancelled series winning Emmys. I have not seen Leslie Caron's performance on "Law & Order: SVU" so I cannot really comment there. In other news, "Dexter" was awarded for its stunning main title design, and "Scrubs" unfortunately missed out in the both the Music & Lyrics and Music Direction awards for its musical episode. "Soprano Home Movies", the "Sopranos" season opener, was snubbed for Best Cinematography, which really beats me. But "Battlestar Galactica" did win for Best Visual Effects for "Exodus, Part 2", a very much deserved trophy.

This does not affect too much of the race to come for next week's awards, only to indicate that "30 Rock" seems to be more popular than "Ugly Betty", "Monk" actors still have lots of power, and John Goodman finally got an Emmy after nine previous nominations. All the rest will have to be seen next week. A full list of Creative Arts Emmy winners is available only at http://www.emmys.tv

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Emmy Predictions: Best Writing in a Drama Series

The nominees:

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, "Occupation/Precipice"
The two-part season opener of the cult science fiction series is a bit too into the mythology to win this award, in my mind. It definitely deals with some intense issues, like the legitimacy and necessity of suicide bombings, and I know I, along with countless BSG enthusiasts, would be ecstatic if this episode won, but I think BSG has a far better chance in directing.

LOST, "Through the Looking Glass"
This is an undeniably popular episode, absolutely well-written, and it absolutely has the possibility to win this thing. The fact that both wildly beloved episodes "Pilot" and "Walkabout" lost out to an episode of "House" two years back and that last year's "The 23rd Psalm" (a definitely weaker episode) lost to "The Sopranos" last year does not bode well, but I am sure I am not the only one who wants this episode to win.

THE SOPRANOS, "Kennedy & Heidi"
This is an important episode in the show which also garnered a nod for directing, but I think this hour will fare much better in directing as it is the actors and the scenery that really make this episode work. I am pretty sure this hour will lost out to the other two "Sopranos" episodes.

THE SOPRANOS, "Made in America"
It would seem likely that this series finale would be the shoo-in for the win in this category, if not for the generally negative reaction to it. The fact that it made it in is a step, but I think it is too widely despised to manage a win. Additionally, it missed out on a directing nod.

THE SOPRANOS, "The Second Coming"
This is another really big episode for the show, and if history tells us anything, it is that "The Sopranos" can still win in this category even with a number of episodes nominated. This seems to have the most buzz, and barring "Lost", I think this is the frontrunner.

Who should win: Lost, "Through the Looking Glass"
Who will win: The Sopranos, "The Second Coming"

Next: Best Directing in a Comedy Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Writing in a Comedy Series

The nominees:

EXTRAS, "Daniel Radcliffe"
This episode is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and Emmy loves "The Office" which is inspired by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Its offbeat nature may weaken its chances, especially with the more widely watched "30 Rock" being in this category. Look out for a surprise win though.

THE OFFICE, "Gay Witch Hunt"
I personally do not think this is a strong "Office" episode at all, but its corresponding directing nod indicates that Emmy voters think otherwise. It seems like a louder kind of episode than "The Negotiation" which may help it.

THE OFFICE, "The Negotiation"
This is an absolutely hilarious episode which really uses all the supporting characters to their best, but I feel that it may be eclipsed by the crazier nature of the other four episodes in this category.

30 ROCK, "Jack-Tor"
Another very funny episode that captures the strange style of the show and truly incorporates all the bizarre characters. If Emmy voters like "30 Rock" as much as I think they will, this episode may have a fighting chance.

30 ROCK, "Tracy Does Conan"
I did not love this episode, but if I recall, this is the first "Dr. Spaceman"-related episode which is incomparably funny. The fact that Tina Fey wrote this episode only helps its chances.

Who should win: The Office, "The Negotiation" or 30 Rock, "Jack-Tor"
Who will win: 30 Rock, "Tracy Does Conan"

Next: Best Writing in a Drama Series

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What I'm Watching: Rescue Me

Rescue Me: Season 4, Episode 12 "Keefe" (B-)

The whole parallel sexual encounter montage with Franco and Shawn was more than a bit strange. Yeah, they have now moved on with their lives after unfortunate falling-outs with their respective significant others, but it was really just bizarre. Tommy dressing up in Jimmy's uniform, if that is even what happened (I was extremely confused) seems out of place and untimely. I really enjoyed Tommy's reaction to his daughter's boyfriend getting engaged to someone else, but would he really not care about the $5400 he spent on the ring on his credit card? Doubtful. The most intriguing thing keeping this show going is the new rift between Black Shawn and Probie. And Lou and his delicacy-making female friend. The show's fourth season finale airs next week.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pilot Review: Chuck

Chuck (NBC)
Premieres September 24 at 8pm

Here we have a concept that in theory would not have worked terribly well, either coming off as too comical or falsely dramatic. It is a fantastic surprise that this show works so well. The tagline "he's the secret, she's the agent" perfectly describes this clever comedy about a computer geek/specialist who gets government secrets downloaded to his brain after they are e-mailed to him by his former college roommate slash rogue CIA agent Bryce Larkin (played by Jay from "Traveler" who does a much better job in his several minutes here than he ever did on the ABC show). In any case, the cast here is fantastic. Zachary Levi is a great lead as the nerdy but well-intentioned Chuck, and he is surrounded by perfectly casted characters played by Yvonne Strzechowski, Joshua Gomez, Adam Baldwin, and Sarah LAncaster. Also great to see C.S. Lee, Masuka from "Dexter", as a nemesis of Chuck's. This is a fantastic and fresh show which almost flawlessly combines action, suspense, and comedy, and should hopefully last quite a while. Bonus points for using the soundtrack from "The Bourne Supremacy".

How will it work as a series? As long as everyone keeps trying hard and the concept does not die with the pilot, I think this should work extremely well. The amazing cast should be able to sustain it well for quite some time.
How long will it last? I am predicting a second season renewal for this show, and I think its timeslot and serving as a lead-in to "Heroes" should only help.

Pilot grade: B+

What I'm Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 1, Episode 6 "She Spat at Me" (C)

Enough with Ray's ultraviolent dreams already! Seriously, do we need to see the blood pouring out of his mouth? And Frobisher hitting the guy in the nose? I guess the recent warnings about "graphic violence" aired before "Rescue Me" were really meant to apply here. Not to mention Lame Boyfriend picking up the Statue of Liberty bookend and giving us a good scare that he might get his head bashed in. He really does not seem like the type to cheat, but I suppose that dinner at the Hewes household could not have helped. That one was a disastrous idea from the first moment. Just remember that Frobisher is not the only evil one; even Patty has shady spies with guns tailing people. That is certainly a comfort.

Pilot Review: K-Ville

K-Ville (FOX)
Premieres September 17 at 9pm

This cop show about post-Katrina New Orleans in intriguing from the outset, but a number of problems keep bogging it down. Anthony Anderson, who more than proved his dramatic talents during his stint on the fourth season of FX's "The Shield", is an able enough lead but his style does not necessarily work for this character he is playing. Cole Hauser, on the other hand, offers nothing terribly exciting. The supporting cast is bland at best, and it seems that Blake Shields' remarkable role on "Sleeper Cell" was his only fantastic role. The case here is not that original, and New Orleans-specific elements of the plot can only remain actively engaging for so long. The police brutality (i.e. almost letting the guy drown) has been done to death before and Anderson's character hardly seems like the type. The twist that comes at the end of the hour makes the show seem so much less believable, and in my eyes will make it hard to sustain.

How will it work as a series? Week-to-week believability will surely wear thin because only the backdrop is interesting. The unengaging cast needs to get their act together a bit more if they want to keep this show on the air. Lead-in "Prison Break" may not help too much, since the styles are extremely different.
How long will it last? I have a feeling that FOX will let it stay on the air for its first thirteen episodes, but I think that is it.

Pilot grade: C

Emmy Predictions: Guest Categories

I have not had the chance to watch all of the guest acting episodes, so I will simply list out my predictions for each of the categories. I am taking a chance with both Metcalf and Smart, for different reasons. Metcalf's episode choice, the season premiere over her amazing episode "Bang", seems a definitive and possibly dooming detractor. Nonetheless, my hope that "Ugly Betty" will not win Best Comedy Series leads me to also hope that neither Judith Light or Salma Hayek could win. As far as Smart goes, "24" really dove as far as numbers of nominations go, but I think the fact that Smart made it in is enough and that she may very well be able to overcome presumed frontrunner Kate Burton. Landau and Whitaker should be fine, but should watch out for competition is the form of Ian McKellen and John Goodman, respectively.

Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Martin Landau, Entourage
Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Laurie Metcalf, Desperate Housewives
Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Forest Whitaker, ER
Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Jean Smart, 24

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all the episodes in this category in preparation for analysis of possible winners and their chances.

The nominees:

KEVIN DILLON AS DRAMA, ENTOURAGE (The Resurrection)
Dillon made a great episode choice, and while he is a very beloved character, I think he will never be able to grasp this award with Piven nominated in the same category. Dillon did have a great season and got more screen time than in the past, and the love for "Entourage" is clearly great with the elusive Best Comedy Series nomination.

JEREMY PIVEN AS ARI, ENTOURAGE (Manic Monday)
Piven has a lot of running around to do in his episode, as well as displaying a ton of emotions, including crying, which he never really does on the show. Nothing will ever compare to his submission last year, "Exodus", for which he won, but I still think he is a definite frontrunner who still has a great shot.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS AS BARNEY, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (Showdown)
Really? I mean, he is funny, but an Emmy nomination? I suppose his episode helps him, where he tries to get in touch with the man he believes to be his father (Bob Barker), but no great theatrical talent is shown here. I would be quite surprised and more than a little disappointed if Harris' name were called on Emmy night.

RAINN WILSON AS DWIGHT, THE OFFICE (The Coup)
Wilson is incessantly hilarious on this show, and the absence of his more subdued costar John Krasinski probably helps him. His episode is pretty standard, though he does do a good deal of begging after going on a power-trip. I think and hope that Wilson is the most likely to take home this award.

JON CRYER AS ALAN, TWO AND A HALF MEN (Repeated Blows to His Unformed Head)
I really like Cryer and thought he deserved a win for the show's first season in this category, but against the competition, I think he pales in comparison. His episode choice is great, but it is all really a matter of how gaga Emmy voters go for "Two and a Half Men" (a nomination for Charlie Sheen indicates probably very much so). I would not be shocked if his name was called.

Who should win (based on entire season): Wilson
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Wilson
Who will win: I am sticking with Wilson.

Next: To be announced

All Caught Up With...Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episodes 1-4 "Doing the Backstroke"/"A Pool and His Money"/"The Brick Dance"/"Shit Highway" (B+)

I must say that I wholeheartedly enjoyed each and every one of these episodes. Despite the fact that the plot is wonderfully wacky and so wholly unrealistic all the time, it has remained relentlessly entertaining. Hopefully the arrival of an Olsen twin at some point soon will not impact the show's quality, but they are doing quite well right now. Former "Desperate Housewives" castmate Page Kennedy fits in well with some of the more crazy characters, like Helia. Marvin is an enjoyable comic relief. I particularly have to admire the relationship between Doug and Dean, which just never stops being funny. Mary-Louise Parker is doing a commendable job as Nancy, trying to keep it together after everything. I wonder if Peter is still alive? I think so.

What I'm Watching: The Closer

The Closer: Season 3, Episode 12 "'Til Death Do Us Part, Part 1" (B+)

We have not really seen a trial on the show before to my recollection, so it is a fun kind of change. Steven Culp is also a welcome presence as the obnoxious defense attorney for the supposedly guilty guy. Good way to split the two-parter with this crazy revelation that the supposedly imaginary Topper Barnes is really around and will serve as a witness to provide an alibi for the bad guy. The second half of this two-parter is the show's third season finale, and will air next week.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all the episodes in this category in preparation for analysis of possible winners and their chances.

The nominees:

RACHEL GRIFFITHS AS SARAH, BROTHERS & SISTERS (Bad News)
I do not know whether Griffiths come off better when she is among an amazing cast ("Six Feet Under") or clearly the best actor by a long shot ("Brothers & Sisters"). This is a dramatic role and quite an episode for her, though I did enjoy her on "Six Feet Under" better. If she could not win for the greatly admired SFU I doubt there is any way she could possibly win here. She also has the disadvantage of being the only one without a costar in this category, so barring a five-way vote split, I think she is out.

KATHERINE HEIGL AS IZZY, GREY'S ANATOMY (Time After Time)
Many people have written that Heigl was nominated a year too late, and from the little of the show's second season I saw and the more substantial amount of episodes this season which I have watched, I would have to agree. Heigl's performance is unimaginative and often bland. She has a major storyline in her episode, but I doubt it is enough to garner her a win. No notable scenes in either of her costars' episodes.

SANDRA OH AS CRISTINA, GREY'S ANATOMY (From A Whisper to a Scream)
I have to say, after watching four "Grey's Anatomy" episodes nearly back-to-back (why did they all have to choose different episodes??), I was truly surprised and impressed by Oh's work in this episode. I do not think she has enough critical support to win despite fans loving her, but she is by far the best of the cast at least in this hour and outdoes her performance in the other submitted episodes.

CHANDRA WILSON AS BAILEY, GREY'S ANATOMY (Oh, The Guilt)
Wilson's performance just does not do it for me, but I guess a lot of people love her as this is her second nomination. There is nothing too memorable to recommend her from her submitted episode, and I feel like her nominated castmates will outshine her.

LORRAINE BRACCO AS DR. MELFI, THE SOPRANOS (The Blue Comet)
After three years of being nominated in the lead actress category, Bracco now appears in supporting after a spotty but solid role on the show this year. Her episode is amazing, and it also marks her last appearance on the show (if she is in the finale, which I do not think she is, it is nothing of importance). She has an awesome scene opposite James Gandolfini which I think will garner her the win.

AIDA TURTURRO AS JANICE, THE SOPRANOS (Soprano Home Movies)
Turturro, also a returning "Sopranos" nominee after a several-year absence, is in pretty much the same boat at Bracco, except for the fact that she appears in nearly all of her episode and pretty much none of the other episodes of the season. I think Bracco's Dr. Melfi is a more popular character, but Turturro would certainly deserve the win.

Who should win (based on entire season): Elizabeth Mitchell, oh wait...no one is solid enough or appears in enough episodes to deserve this award.
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Bracco or Turturro, too tough to call.
Who will win: Bracco, though it is really up in the air and nothing is for sure.

Next: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all the episodes in this category in preparation for analysis of possible winners and their chances.

The nominees:

WILLIAM SHATNER AS DENNY, BOSTON LEGAL (Son of the Defender)
While I think that Shatner is heavily overrated and that this performance is a hundred times more a comedic one than a dramatic one, I have to admit that his submission is partially brilliant. An inane hostage situation is made clever by flashbacks to Denny's past as a lawyer working with his father which are actually clips from an old Shatner TV show which work pricelessly in this context. This two-time winner (for this role) could easily surprise, but I would hope not.

T.R. KNIGHT AS GEORGE, GREY'S ANATOMY (Six Days, Parts 1 & 2)
Two-parters are often an advantage for nominees, as is being in the public eye for something like, say, coming out publicly (see: Neil Patrick Harris). Truth is, Knight is actually pretty bad in his chosen episode, which has him facing his father's deteriorating condition. He is much weaker than the rest of the mostly female cast, and I would feel cheated if he won due to his recent tabloid status.

MASI OKA AS HIRO, HEROES (Five Years Gone)
Okay, so the deal here is that Oka was lovable and great as comic relief time-traveling Hiro on the show, but his submitted episode shows little of that joyous nature and instead has him doing double duty as a future and far more serious version of himself. Impressive range, sure, but not necessarily award-worthy. "Heroes" seems to be more popular than people might have expected, so anything is possible.

MICHAEL EMERSON AS BEN, LOST (The Man Behind the Curtain)
I felt that Emerson's work throughout the season was great, but that he was far better in all the other episodes. I suppose his performance was chilling in the episode which developed his backstory, but I was not as keen on him during that hour. He got nominated with a different episode where he is more in the background, but I feel like he is almost guaranteed to be eclipsed by his costar in this race.

TERRY O'QUINN AS LOCKE, LOST (The Man from Tallahassee)
O'Quinn portrays one of the most intriguing characters on "Lost", and while this episode is no "Walkabout" (his amazing episode from season one which he submitted back then), it is probably his strongest. The biggest problem with "Lost" this season, which will not affect it in this race, is the relative sparsity of its supporting cast members. O'Quinn appeared in few episodes, but he is strong in this hour and I think he has what it takes to win.

MICHAEL IMPERIOLI AS CHRISTOPHER, THE SOPRANOS (Walk Like a Man)
Imperioli has always been great on the show, though I think he won a year too late, and his performance, while still solid, has now blended in more with the backdrop and does not necessarily deserved to be recognized again. I did not see all the hoopla about his performance in "Walk Like a Man" despite a major downspiraling on his part, but he has done that before, so not too much is new. Perhaps I am underestimating the show's popularity, but I do not expect him to win.

Who should win (based on entire season): Oka
Who should win (based on individual episodes): O'Quinn
Who will win: Hard to say, but I am going with O'Quinn.

Next: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Titles in parantheses are the episodes chosen as submissions for the Emmy awards in this category. I have watched all the episodes in this category in preparation for analysis of possible winners and their chances.

The nominees:

JAIME PRESSLY AS JOY, MY NAME IS EARL (Jump for Joy)
I still cannot wrap my head around how people like this show. Pressly certainly gives her performance her all but I cannot understand how it is remotely award-worthy. Her episode is well-chosen for the role it gives her character, but deserves no place in an awards category.

JENNA FISCHER AS PAM, THE OFFICE (The Job)
Fischer truly nails it in this episode, particularly in her final scene with John Krasinski. The main detractor is that it is not nearly as showy as every other performer in this category, but the performance is true and hopefully she will ride the popularity of "The Office" to a well-merited Emmy win.

CONCHATA FERRELL AS BERTA, TWO AND A HALF MEN (Repeated Blows to His Unformed Head)
Ferrell certainly delivers some laugh-out-loud hilarious lines in this episode, but her screen time is fairly limited and the performance is not terribly difficult. Nonetheless, playing off of Jon Cryer and being on an immensely popular show should not hurt her chances.

HOLLAND TAYLOR AS EVELYN, TWO AND A HALF MEN (The Sea is a Harsh Mistress)
Taylor certainly has the power to command the screen, but this episode does not showcase her best work. How she got nominated is a mystery, and her screentime is almost less frequent than the already slim Ferrell's. She does not appear in Ferrell's episode at all, so no help there.

VANESSA WILLIAMS AS WILHELMINA, UGLY BETTY (Don't Ask, Don't Tell)
Williams is really in the background of this episode, and hardly does anything. I have only seen the pilot apart from this episode, but it seems an unwise move to submit this hour. Her "money scene" is not all that great.

ELIZABETH PERKINS AS CELIA, WEEDS (Pittsburgh)
Sort of an odd choice for Perkins, who does not appear very much in this episode and acts like a crazy person for most of it. She is perhaps taken better over the whole season, and I doubt she can muster a win with the show's lukewarm reception at the nominations.

Who should win (based on entire season): Fischer
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Fischer
Who will win: I have to hope that this one goes to Jenna Fischer, though I certainly note the dangerous threats posed by Conchata Ferrell and Vanessa Williams, both underused but occasionally hilarious on their respective ridiculously popular shows.

Next: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series