Monday, December 31, 2012

Saying Goodbye to 2012

It’s been an exciting year here at TV with Abe. I focused on more television than ever, hitting 1100 posts on TV with Abe and over 500 on Movies With Abe, as I saw virtually no films between July and November. Twenty to twenty-five new episodes each week led to four posts a day on a regular basis, which was a lot of work and a lot of fun. I’ve had the privilege to contribute to other sites as well in 2021, namely Shockya, Jewcy, and my new Jewish Journal blog, Awards Material. As new shows premiere and old shows return in the next few weeks, I’ll have the chance to attend the Sundance Film Festival in January. Look out also for the 6th Annual AFT Film Awards, beginning next month on Movies With Abe. Looking forward to a great 2013 and plenty of television! Thanks for reading, and happy new year!

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #5

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#5: Alcatraz

I’m still having trouble getting over the fact that this excellent sci-fi series, which had the potential for hundreds of episodes, only got thirteen. A stunning pilot introduced a fascinating concept and the show managed to stay interesting as its episodic plots veered towards the procedural. Its mythology was superb, and it would have been truly thrilling to watch this show grow.

Best Episode: Pilot
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #6

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#6: Longmire

After an uncertain pilot, this A & E series got good quickly, using its rural Wyoming setting to marvelous effect. It doesn’t hurt that this show managed to positively use Katee Sackhoff of “Battlestar Galactica” fame, and that it does a marvelous job of showcasing the tension between the white and Native American populations in Sheriff Longmire’s jurisdiction.

Best Episode: “Unfinished Business
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #7

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#7: Elementary

Jonny Lee Miller managed to make Sherlock Holmes stand out as two other major reinterpretations of the classic detective are ongoing. Miller is excellent as the modern-day, New York City-dwelling Holmes, and Lucy Liu is surprisingly good as his “sober companion” Watson. The cases, however, are what really make this show worth tuning into a CBS procedural.

Best Episode: “Child Predator
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #8

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#8: The Finder

I’ve lamented the premature passing of this hugely entertaining show many times, and it’s especially frustrating considering that it’s just the kind of series that FOX usually loves. Geoff Stults, the late Michael Clarke Duncan, Mercedes Masohn, and Maddie Hasson were all terrific components of the marvelous ensemble in this offbeat show about an eccentric private detective of sorts.

Best Episode: “Bullets
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #9

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#9: Ben and Kate

This addition to FOX’s Tuesday night comedy lineup is a charming and endearing comedy, with Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson portraying bickering siblings who ultimately cherish the relationship they have with each other. In the supporting cast, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Echo Kellum, and especially Lucy Punch are all great, and it’s hard not to enjoy watching this family interact.

Best Episode: “Emergency Kit
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Friday, December 28, 2012

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #10

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#10: Nashville

This music-heavy series has not but one but two fantastic females at its center, both with previous TV experience. Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere portray popular hometown country singers with radically different fan bases and a surprisingly similar attitude towards the business. The ensemble cast is strong, and this show knows how to venture into soapy territory without getting too carried away.

Best Episode: Pilot
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #11

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#11: Major Crimes

This show started the moment that “The Closer” ended, taking most of the ensemble and putting them under new leadership. The show may have a few things to work out, namely new characters Rusty and Sykes, but it’s affirming to see a competent cast so worthwhile that they could start a whole new show without any effort at all.

Best Episode: “ The Ecstasy and the Agony
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #12

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#12: Vegas

This trip back to 1960s Las Vegas by CBS seemed like too extensive an endeavor when it first premiered, but, since then, it’s steadily improved and shown that its central dynamic involving Dennis Quaid’s sheriff and Michael Chiklis’ mobster is truly involving. It serves as a refreshing reminder that sometimes broadcast networks can take on ambitious projects like this one and succeed.

Best Episode: “The Real Thing
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #13

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#13: Life’s Too Short

This BBC-HBO series from creators Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Warwick Davis stars Davis as a crude, rude version of himself. Davis is extremely game for the part and for the jokes, and the show works well as a result. It’s not clear what’s happening with this show, since the second season renewal it reportedly got may not ultimately lead to anything beyond its initial seven episodes.

Best Episode: “Episode 2
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #14

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#14: The Mindy Project

It’s great to see Mindy Kaling break free of the deteriorating “The Office” and to assume a lead role in a comedy she herself created. This show works well because of a fun ensemble, headed by Kaling and Chris Messina, and while it has a few kinks to work out, it knows how to be funny even if it’s not always consistent.

Best Episode: “Danny Castellano is My Gynecologist
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #15

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#15: Apartment 23

This show, whose longer title can’t actually be uttered on its network, ABC, is a screwball comedy delightfully detached from reality. Dreama Walker and Krysten Ritter complement each other perfectly as odd couple roommates, and James Van Der Beek is entertaining as a washed-up version of himself. It’s nutty and immensely watchable.

Best Episode: “Parent Trap
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #16

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#16: Anger Management

This show definitely surprised me, since I wasn’t expecting to enjoy seeing Charlie Sheen on television again. Yet FX did exactly what needs to be done with Sheen – put him in a self-mocking role that doesn’t demand much of him and doesn’t shoot for a high common denominator. It may not be smart, but this show can be funny.

Best Episode: “ Charlie and Kate Battle Over a Patient
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #17

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#17: Common Law

Sadly, one of the few USA shows not to be lucky enough to be graced with many viewers has already been dismissed from the airwaves after one short season on Friday nights. This buddy cop comedy wasn’t always superb, but it was a lot of fun to see Michael Ealy and Warren Kole fight and sometimes even do good police work together.

Best Episode: “In-Laws vs. Outlaws
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #18

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#18: Touch

Kiefer Sutherland’s return to television and to FOX has hardly been marketed as such by the network, which premiered the show’s first two installments months apart and delayed the season two premiere to midseason. Its scheduling is about as logical as its plotting sometimes feels, but the complicated web that connects worldwide events in this universe can be enticing and occasionally satisfying.

Best Episode: “Gyre
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Monday, December 24, 2012

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #19

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#19: Arrow

The CW’s latest superhero series is best compared to “Smallville,” which actually featured Oliver Queen’s arrow-slinging hero as a character for its final few seasons. This show is just right for its network, a mediocre but often exciting action series with less than inspiring writing and acting. That said, it’s the CW’s biggest hit in a while, and it’s sure to have a long and productive life.

Best Episode: Pilot
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Top 20 New Shows of 2012: #20

My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. But this year, during both the spring and the fall, produced many impressive new television series. As 2012 closes out and 2013 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year.

#20: Scandal

This new drama from creator Shonda Rimes was a great companion to follow her 9pm show “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC Thursday nights, a sex-fueled, sensational series deserving of its title. I gave up on it after the season two premiere because its soapy nature failed to entice me, but it definitely has its appeal. Kerry Washington is cutthroat in the lead role and the supporting cast has its assets as well.

Best Episode: “Grant: For the People
Pilot Review | Episode Reviews

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What I’m Watching: Burn Notice (Season Finale)

Burn Notice: Season 6, Episodes 17 and 18 “You Can Run” (B+)

There was no way this was all going to play out positively, and, like all arcs on this show, they have to end up with the agent or person of similar stature with whom Michael has had constant contact either dead or permanently out of the picture. Olivia went from a problematic thorn in Michael’s side to someone so desperate to accomplish what she wanted that she made a deal with the cartel to have Michael and his friends taken out for good. Bly popping up was a good thing for Michael since no one else had extended anything remotely close to an olive branch, certainly not the friends from whom Sam and Fiona called in favors, and he was offering a way out that didn’t end with Michael behind bars for the rest of his life. With less than fifteen minutes to go in the two-parter’s second hour, it looked like Bly was going to be able to confirm Michael’s story about Olivia’s illegal deal, and then it all had to blow up and go south. Earlier, Sam bleeding badly and talking like he wasn’t going to make it was disconcerting, and Michael, as usual, managed to think fast to figure out how to trick Dean into leading them straight to Olivia’s location to be able to break Jesse out of their custody. After some solid firefights and plenty of action, things looked resolved but uncertain for the gang. The sight of Michael ordering around other agents, however, was completely unexpected. While I’m at a loss at to how his point-blank shooting of Card was forgiven, I do think it could be exciting to see Michael running his own missions next season, without Fiona and presumably Sam at his side, of course. As always, this has been a rollercoaster season, featuring Anson, Pearce, Card, Schmidt, and Olivia as recurring guest stars. I think this show hit a high this season with its increasingly serious outlook, and I hope that season seven delivers in a whole new way as well.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: John McGinley as Card

What I’m Watching: Vegas

Vegas: Season 1, Episode 10 “Estinto” (B+)

This episode was all about the romantic developments, some of which turned out to be much deadlier than others. Jack asking Mia out after carefully cleaning out his car was probably the most productive one, and his bold choice to kiss her after she rebuked his gift and told him it couldn’t work was great. Ralph almost kissed Katherine while the two of them were in the office together, and I think that’s a relationship that will need a bit more finessing before anything actually comes of it. Even Yvonne and Dixon are starting to flirt like crazy, with Yvonne talking down to Dixon and enjoying it a whole lot. It was good to see Dixon do something useful on the job while undercover as a waiter at Vincent’s casino, and I would be interested to see how Dixon starts to view Vincent in the near future after his honorable effort to refuse the star treatment Vincent wanted to offer him. Johnny’s announcement of his engagement to Diane wasn’t much of a shock but it didn’t seem to please anyone, least of all Vincent. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that she was an FBI informant, and while his response was cruel, it was definitely deserved. It was, however, certainly less brutal than Johnny’s method of dealing with it. Watching Vincent come in devastated to find her dead and then go home to spend Christmas with his family was a powerful way to send off the show into a holiday hiatus before it returns in just three weeks.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What I’m Watching: Apartment 23

Apartment 23: Season 2, Episode 7 “A Weekend in the Hamptons” (B)

This was a bizarre but ultimately entertaining episode, featuring some characteristic dorkiness from June and corresponding, or rather, contradictory, overenthusiasm from Chloe about having a weekend bender. James suffering through is DWTSPTSD at the same time made things even wackier and more fun, especially when James high-tailed it through the bushes and ended up face-to-face with Mark, whose tyrannical girlfriend had just broken up with him again. I like seeing James and Mark interact, something that worked well a few weeks ago on Halloween as well, and I enjoyed the fact that James greeted Mark by calling him “Coffee Guy” instead of by his actual name, which James likely does not know. Luther and Robin, mysteriously back as part of the cast after a lengthy absence, got a good chance to bond as well, though given their prickly personalities, they basically just spoke and were ignored by the other party. Chloe’s disappointment at the fact that her crazy party friend now had two children and was a real mess was made even worse by the realization that the alluring Willoughby was in fact some random guy she had married several years before. Only on this show could that all not come as too much of a surprise. In other news, however, it looks like June may have finally gotten herself a job, and pretty easily at that. I’m curious to see how long her new job will last and how it will actually change the dynamic between Chloe and June.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pilot Review: 1600 Penn

1600 Penn (NBC)
Premiered December 17 at 9:30pm

I didn’t have high expectations for this show based on the promotional material and trailers I had seen, and this first half-hour didn’t change my attitude at all. It’s disappointing since this show theoretically had potential, mainly with the casting of Bill Pullman as the President, considering his experience playing the commander-in-chief in one of the most awesome action movies of all time, “Independence Day.” While Pullman has also proven himself comedically capable, in “While You Were Sleeping” and other films, this role doesn’t allow him to do much of anything, putting the focus squarely on other members of his family. Jenna Elfman impressed me with her dramatic role in the fifth season of “Damages” earlier this year, and this could have been a great part for her as well. Yet it seems that the kids will take center stage, which is a shame since they’re all so annoying. While I understand that Josh Gad is creatively involved with this show, I think that his character, Skip, is instantly one of the most irritating personalities ever seen on television. I really didn’t like Gad in Fox’s short-lived “Back to You” several years ago, and I think spotlighting him here is a real mistake. That said, I don’t see anything to like about this overenthusiastic, trite series, and so I’m not sure that focusing on any one of the presidential family members, even the pregnant Becca, played by Martha MacIsaac, who played a character with the same name in “Superbad,” would make it any better. In an age of modern, hop comedies, this is definitely not what America wants to be watching right now.

How will it work as a series? The show’s name indicates that the presidential residence will be its focus, suggesting that Skip and his troublesome siblings will be getting into shenanigans that their parents will have to clean up. This is hardly going to be a show worthy of comparison to other presidential series.
How long will it last? The show’s reviews weren’t great but weren’t nearly as collectively negative as this one, and the show performed decently after “The Voice.” A Thursday time slot likely won’t be nearly as friendly, and I suspect that this one will be forced to resign shortly into its inaugural term.

Pilot grade: F

What I’m Watching: Royal Pains (Holiday Special)

Royal Pains: Season 4, Episodes 15 and 16 “Off-Season Greetings” (B+)

This two-hour episode was a nice holiday treat, offering a rare winter glimpse of our characters, who are otherwise only seen on television screens in Hamptons summer during wintertime. Evan and Paige’s wedding has been built up for so long that it’s only natural that things would go horribly awry, forcing Eddie to get ordained in ten minutes, something that I’m sure pleased the General greatly, and resulting in just ten attendees at the ceremony. There were plenty of major events going on at the same time, however, namely Divya’s preposterously impulsive decision to marry Rafa after she went to go see him in Las Vegas during Paige’s bachelorette party. Hank’s poor reaction to the news didn’t help, but, somehow, the newly happy couple worked it out perfectly, burning a piece of paper to negate their marriage and resetting their relationship clock to zero. Owen’s presence served mainly as an impetus for flashbacks, featuring Evan as a ruthless version of himself and Hank as a hapless groom-to-be who had a bad run-in with his ex-girlfriend during his engagement party. I’m glad that Hank didn’t end up trying to win back Winnie’s affection, opting instead to be happy with mending fences and earning her forgiveness. It would have been nice for him to reconnect romantically with Jill, but I suppose a flirtatious Skype date was fitting. Hank’s deteriorating medical condition is sure to reframe things in an interesting way when the show returns for its fifth season this summer, and the news that Boris is alive is hardly shocking since we didn’t actually see him die. It’s been a fun reunion, and I think I’ll definitely be in the mood for this show when summer rolls around.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What I’m Watching: Homeland (Season Finale)

Homeland: Season 2, Episode 12 “The Choice” (A-)

The attack finally took place, and I’m not sure it could have happened in a more devastating way. Carrie and Brody talking about their lives together made it seem like something might actually happen, and Quinn being the one to call off the hit on Brody suggested that they might even be left in peace. Brody giving Mike his blessing to be with Jessica and then waltzing off with Carrie during the memorial to dream about their future some more definitely made his subsequent casual remark about his car being moved an utterly unexpected transition to the destructive blast that definitively killed Cynthia and Finn Walden, and Estes. Carrie pulling a gun on Brody after the explosion and accusing him of being complicit was over quickly, but it demonstrated just how guilty Brody looks, especially after the brilliantly-coordinated release of the Brody suicide tape. No one is going to believe that he’s innocent, and his decision to be truthful with Dana about his vest-donning probably wasn’t smart in retrospect. Brody catching on to the fact that Carrie wasn’t coming before she confirmed it made the moment even sadder, and let’s hope that he can stay out of trouble while she sticks her neck out for him to clear his name. The notion that Saul is now the ranking CIA agent, at least on the scene and possibly in general, means that things will happen in a very different way going forward, and maybe he’ll even be smart enough to try to trust Quinn, who presumably is out there somewhere with his newfound acceptance of Brody as a person. Having Carrie call out Saul’s name while he was reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish for the victims of the attack and ending on him smiling in her direction was a powerful way to close out the season, and a definite way to attract back viewers for season three. I’m thrilled that this season was just as good as the first, and I can’t wait for more.

Season grade: A
Season MVP: Claire Danes

What I’m Watching: Dexter (Season Finale)

Dexter: Season 7, Episode 12 “Surprise, Motherfucker!” (B+)

With Hannah behind bars, this episode took on a whole new focus, but her final scenes were definitely memorable. Hearing her admit to poisoning Deb was crucial for Dexter, and is probably the only thing that stopped him from recanting his statement after he told her that he missed her. Hannah telling Deb that she’s happy knowing that Deb has to live with what Dexter stung, and ensures that Deb will forever despise her if that wasn’t already the case. The resourceful Hannah didn’t waste much time in breaking out of jail, and I’m curious to see what she left Dexter and whether she’ll return (which I hope she does). Laguerta arresting Dexter was bold, and he handled it extremely well, playing dumb and quickly turning the blame on her. Laguerta revealing to Deb that she knew more than she was letting on about her involvement sealed her fate, and paved the way for an important milestone decision for both Dexter and Deb. Dexter’s realization, verbalized to Hector, that he was killing for a normal reason for the first time, was impactful, and Deb’s impossible choice to shoot Laguerta and help Dexter stage the scene will only result in her developing more of a guilty conscience. Seeing Doakes again was strange, and I don’t think he seemed quite as mean as I remember him. While the show has come a long way from that point, I think that it’s still terrific. I’m not sure where the story goes from here, but it looks like Batista really is off the force, and Quinn might have a chance at love after all if Jamie’s flirtatious banter is any indication. This has been a strong season thanks mainly to its two season-long guest characters, and I hope for similar quality in season eight.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Ray Stevenson as Isaak/Yvonne Strahovski as Hannah

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What I’m Watching: Burn Notice

Burn Notice: Season 6, Episode 16 “Odd Man Out” (B+)

All things considered, Madeleine has been pretty good about living a spy life whenever the need arises. Having her leave Miami, however, is considerably more permanent, and it’s no surprise that she would have trouble getting on board with the idea. Going to visit Nate’s grave one last time seemed to be a positive move rather than a negative one, with Michael finding a note from a mysterious friend rather than a taunting message from Olivia about her fervent desire to take him down. Michael deserves a break considering the difficulty he had with Schmidt’s latest wronged, angry, violent-prone associate. James Vanek was portrayed by Kevin McNally, most recognizable as the likeable Gibbs from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. Demanding $400,000 to talk and then deciding that he would need to kill Michael just because he was getting in his way presented yet another unnecessary challenge for Michael and crew in their anticipated exodus from Miami. Jesse and Madeleine teaming up to steal a dump truck and Michael causing an explosive power surge to save everyone were among the episode’s coolest moments, but the most memorable scene was a more dramatic one. Schmidt telling Michael that there’s no way he had planned not to give him up was a sign that Michael is being stretched too thin, and an important signal that something needs to change soon or he’s truly going to lose all hope. Annoying as he is, and probably as a result of that, Schmidt is becoming a great supporting character.

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 10 “The Leviathan” (B+)

Watson sure doesn’t know what to expect when it comes to what Sherlock will do next. Waking up to find half-dressed identical twin women departing after a night of Sherlock’s company is certainly something new, and of course he would emphasize the scientific quality of their existence over the obvious draw of their attractiveness. Noticing that Watson was dressed up for brunch with her mother enabled Sherlock to take an overbearing interest in Watson’s personal life, meeting and managing to charm both her mother and her brother. Watson’s mother really did offer a compelling analysis of Watson’s livelihood at the end of the episode, concluding that Sherlock’s work seemed to make her happy, and that it was more important than the companion work that Watson was doing. If this show should continue, which it’s safe to say that it will, they’ll be together for a while, and I can’t imagine that Watson would depart to find another client for more than just a short while. The case of this week brought in head engineer of the bank vault manufacturer Micah Erlich, played by Reg Rogers, who I recognized right away from his entertaining role as the aggression-prone director of Joey’s play in season three of “Friends.” Finding someone else’s DNA at the crime scene because it belonged to a donor was cool, and I also enjoyed Sherlock taking the Pieta and putting it up in his living room, only to anonymously return it later to generously appease a disapproving Watson.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 2, Episode 10 “Shadow Box” (B+)

The walls are closing in on Reese as Carter gets approached by Donnelly about joining the FBI with the express purpose of locating and taking down the man in the suit. I suppose it took both Fusco and Carter a while to accept the fact that Reese and Finch were trying to do the right thing while operating outside of the boundaries of the law, and therefore trying to explain what they were doing to someone like Donnelly rather than keeping him entirely in the dark probably wouldn’t work so well. Reese staying in the vault to ensure that Abby and Shane could get away was noble, and it’s a good thing that he wasn’t the only man in a suit apprehended. I’m sure he’ll find some way to wiggle out, with Carter’s help, no doubt. Having her at the FBI would prove useful, presuming that Fusco is able to get everything in order with all the HR business. It’s unfortunate to learn that Beecher is in league with HR, and it’s hard to deny his involvement after Fusco witnessed his meeting with Quinn. He really needs to open up to Finch and Reese about Simmons, who has his sights set on Fusco with an eye to making him take the fall for everything. It was fun to see Finch have the opportunity to ride on the back of a motorcycle, and it’s really quite entertaining to see him thrive when he’s initially nervous and completely out of his element.

What I’m Watching: Last Resort

Last Resort: Season 1, Episode 10 “Blue Water” (C)

It seems like it’s quite easy for people to get off of the island and to wherever they need to go, and quickly. Sam and James found Christine without much trouble, and Hopper got into Kylie’s house without much effort. It was obvious that Sam wouldn’t be able to stay with Christine, and watching her car explode moments after deciding that he couldn’t come with her will definitely prove motivational. He should know that there’s never actually any time for emotional goodbyes, lest the bad guys arrive armed to the teeth before you can make your getaway. Seeing that Wes had in fact faked the explosion to keep Christine captive in his home wasn’t entirely surprising, and it just suggests that all this isn’t headed anywhere definitive anytime soon – which is a problem given the fact that only three more installments of this show will air. I recognized Jason Beghe, who played Karen’s husband Richard Bates on “Californication,” as soon as I heard him speak, and clearly Wes will now have a bigger role to play. The overcrowding of the prison and Marcus’ decision to let them all go, give or take a few lashes, is bad news for the stability of the crew. Accepting Chinese help means that Marcus is essentially declaring war on the United States, and there’s no way any of this ends peacefully. Where this show will go over the final three episodes is a mystery to me, and I do hope that there’s some sort of semi-satisfactory conclusion that lies ahead.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 10 “Diamond in the Rough” (B)

I’ve said before that I always enjoy when characters who don’t usually interact are paired together for plotlines. In this case, we’ve seen these siblings and their spouses mixed and matched in the past, and this time was a special treat because it emphasized a fun dynamic not entirely seen previously. Claire and Cam getting overly excited about a project that involved a lot of work was nothing new, but Phil and Mitchell teaming up, or rather, going to war, to ensure that they wouldn’t be the ones blamed for shooting down their partners’ enthusiasm, was something less expected. Claire being upset at Phil because he gets into everything was great, and I liked Phil and Mitchell’s trash talking over the phone. Jay coming over and shooting down their idea without a second thought was a terrific inspiration for them to go for it, and I’m eager to see how it pans out and how it affects the relationship between the four of them. Jay’s grumpiness has become rather tiresome and forced at this point, choreographed so deliberately so as to give him the opportunity to grunt as often as possible. Gloria has also been used to much better effect in the past, and having her sing in a piercing, excessively loud manner is turning her into a caricature and making this pregnancy unbearable. I did enjoy watching Luke train Manny in the art of purposely getting hit by a baseball in order to get a walk rather than swing and miss.

What I’m Watching: Arrow

Arrow: Season 1, Episode 9 “Year’s End” (C+)

This episode was a bit silly in its focus on Christmas, with Oliver, who is hardly trying to get close to his family in a way that actually matters, whining a lot about wanting to celebrate the holiday in his family’s traditional way. Running off in the middle of the party to stop a bad guy hardly constitutes Oliver for brother and son of the year, and he should really work on finding other ways to connect with his sister and his mother. Thea, to her credit, is actually whinier than he is, and it would be nice to see her doing something other than dating a boring guy simply inserted into the plotline to run off when Oliver barges in without waiting for an answer after his knock. Oliver isn’t the only one getting sentimental around the holidays, with Moira being surprisingly honest with Walter about the person she’s become before having him abducted and presumably doomed to some unfortunate fate despite promises to the contrary. Tommy is also getting especially sappy without his family fortune, daring even to confront the intimidating and eternally disapproving Detective Quentin Lance as he continues to romance a seemingly smitten, or close to it, Laurel. I was convinced that the mystery murderous archer would turn out to be Oliver’s island friend, but instead it was Malcolm Merlyn, who is taking an awfully personal role in ensuring the vitality of his enterprise and possesses a shockingly convenient level of skill when it comes to marksmanship.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What I’m Watching: Vegas

Vegas: Season 1, Episode 9 “Masquerade” (B+)

This episode got off to an unsettling start with the spotlighting of a doomed actress and her dictatorial director. While having him murder her would have been disturbing enough, the way things panned out turned out to be much worse. It also put one character who really hasn’t been featured all that much, Katherine, in terrible danger. To her credit, she reacted exactly as she should have, making up a reason to need to leave as soon as she realized that she was in the presence of the killer. With Katherine getting some extra screen time, Dixon was afforded the same privilege, allowing him to exert both serious and funny emotions, from his fury at the rape of the deceased actress to his amusing fear of tarantulas, which was apparently not shared by the rest of the station employees. Mayor Grady’s efforts to reach out to Ralph to work with him seemed sincere, but, as usual, Ralph isn’t eager to be anyone’s puppet, and his rejection of Grady’s peacemaking attempts likely won’t work out well in the long run. Vincent had his hands full with the troublesome big whale, who was played by David Denman, formerly known as Roy on “The Office,” in what ranks as his most energetic performance yet. I like how his affinity for Mia, which Vincent chose to hide from her, got turned to her advantage when she played against him and made sure that the house’s losses evened out. I’d like to see more of her since she’s turning out to be quite an interesting character.

What I'm Watching: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 4, Episode 11 “What to My Wondering Eyes” (B+)

This show isn’t sparing any emotions as it airs its final episode of the calendar year, pulling at heartstrings with some truly wrenching developments. Kristina’s worsening cough and subsequent hospital trip were made far more devastating by Adam watching the video that Kristina had recorded for her children should she not make it, which made the usually put-together father and husband break down. The fact that she pulled through and even got to be with her whole family thanks to Crosby’s inability to judge when not to say something was sweet, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll be spared a painful journey if she does succumb to her disease at some point later this season. Pairing Kristina’s health crisis with Victor telling Sydney that Santa isn’t real worked well, especially since Zeek did her best to convince all of the grandkids, including Victor, that Santa was in fact undeniably real. Bribing the receptionist with cookies to not notice the fourteen family members visiting Kristina was a winning move as well. Hank and Sarah didn’t waste any time getting together following Mark’s departure last week, and I’m curious to see how the extended family will react once that relationship becomes public. I’m hopeful that Amber being apart from Ryan won’t cause both of them more misery. Hearing that Crosby and Jasmine both want another baby is great, and it should be fun to watch them plan for a second child as a couple this time. The Braverman family just never seems to stop expanding.

What I’m Watching: Apartment 23

Apartment 23: Season 2, Episode 6 “Bar Lies” (B)

This show is verging on the ridiculous, and I say that knowing that it’s never been especially tethered to reality. The relationship between June’s mom and James is getting to be particularly silly, and I’m not sure that we need to spend much more time on this whole “Dancing with the Stars” plotline since it feels very forced. Having James be out of town does, however, provide the opportunity for plenty of Chloe and June bonding time back time, mainly in their feud over the ethics of Chloe renting out James’ apartment without his knowledge while he was away. Such schemes explain how Chloe is able to finance all of her shenanigans and actually make some money to support herself, aside from that several-days—a-year job working with the U.N. As usual, June’s efforts to match Chloe’s antics don’t go as planned, and she always goes way too far in her pursuit of having fun without any consequences, not satisfied with a small bar lie and instead thrown in over her head in more than one situation. Getting charged sixteen dollars for an iced tea after she attempted to pose as a whiskey connoisseur was funny, and it’s her despondent overreaction to her failure that’s most entertaining. This is the kind of show that doesn’t necessarily have a direction in which it’s headed, and instead may just have its characters in the same scenarios over and over again, doomed to stay in their present circumstances for the duration of this series.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What I’m Watching: The Mindy Project

The Mindy Project: Season 1, Episode 9 “Josh and Mindy’s Christmas Party” (B+)

The nice thing about having Mindy Kaling as the creative force behind this show is that she’s able to call upon former costars for guest spots. Ed Helms appeared in the pilot, and now Ellie Kemper, who plays the dim-witted but sweet Erin on “The Office,” was here in a fun role as Heather, the woman that Mindy thought Josh was cheating on her with, when in fact it was the other way around. I’m not sure if we’ll see more of Josh in the future, but it was odd to have his other girlfriend burst onto the scene without him even really trying to deny that he was a cheater. Watching Kemper and Kaling square off was a blast, and I’m glad to see a positive reunion, at least for the audience, of the two comediennes. Having Danny be there when Mindy overheard and then replayed the message from Heather was terrific, and I like that he later tried to comfort her when she was sad by hitting her. Their pact to both kill each other if they’re still single in five years was terrific, and I do hope their love-hate relationship blossoms into something romantic long before then. Danny bringing a carefully-sculpted gingerbread house to the party was pretty cool, and I enjoyed seeing Jeremy spring into action to do surgery to save the house after Heather thought of another house she could destroy. Where, may I ask, were Gwen and Alex at Mindy’s holiday party? It would have been nice to see them too.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 2, Episode 11 “Santa” (B+)

This was definitely a nutty episode, but it’s always fun to watch the antics of this group and the situations in which they find themselves. I enjoyed Schmidt’s comment during the opening conversation about Santa that he and his classmates were under strict orders from Rabbi Shmuley not to tell Christian kids that Santa wasn’t real, and the brief notion that Winston might still believe in Santa was amusing. Winston getting a cranberry stuck in his ear paved the way for lots of shenanigans, namely his trading Sam Jess’ location in exchange for a free ear exam. I hardly think that Sam and Jess are made for each other, but it was definitely fun to see her try hard to run away from him, pretend to have a relationship with Winston, and then rock out while pretending to be a caroler and getting stuck singing all by herself. Nick’s stripper girlfriend is turning out to be quite the character, bringing a cookie that says “Let’s have sex” to a party and forcing Nick to do some things he really doesn’t want to do. Flashing the male nurse was impressive, and I like that both Schmidt and Winston came back for a look. Cece giving Schmidt a gift so that they can be friends didn’t work out well, and I really wish that they could get back to being friends with benefits, since that seemed to work out best. And, of course, no Christmas episode would feel complete without a sighting of Black Santa, something only this show could dream up so magnificently.

What I’m Watching: Homeland

Homeland: Season 2, Episode 11 “In Memoriam” (B+)

There are few things I love more on television than when characters are brutally honest with each other, ready to bare themselves to someone else and risk the consequences of them knowing the truth. After hearing that Abu Nazir as dead, something that clearly pained him, Brody seemed ready to tell Jessica everything. Jessica realizing that Brody must really love Carrie, and saying as much to him, was a sure sign of their union being done, and rather neatly, considering everything that’s happened. Brody going to Carrie’s house suggests that he knows what he wants next, and seeing Quinn waiting outside her house prepared to follow his orders to kill Brody was the perfect ending to lead into the season finale. The hunt for Abu Nazir in the tunnels was eerie, and, as usual, Carrie’s wild paranoia turned out to be partially correct. Saul is rightly furious at Estes for trying to discredit him and get him fired to make sure that he doesn’t reveal his plan to have Brody killed, and let’s hope that Virgil or Max is still around and able to help him get the word out before it’s too late for Brody. There are a lot of things that could happen in the finale, one of which could be Brody receiving the presidential nomination with Walden dead. With Abu Nazir out of the picture and Roya not talking in interrogation, this show needs a new direction and a new mystery for season three, one I’m sure it will be able to find.

What I’m Watching: Dexter

Dexter: Season 7, Episode 11 “Do You See What I See?” (B+)

There was no way that Dexter and Hannah were headed for a happy ending, but I never expected it to end like this. There was a certain absurdity to the conversation that Dexter had with Deb in the hospital, assuming that Hannah being at Deb’s house meant that she had definitively poisoned her, but this show manages to keep that kind of thing in check pretty well. I’d hate for it to be revealed that the shot of Deb popping pills in the car meant that she and not Hannah was responsible for her overdone and subsequent crash since that would really make Dexter think that he deserves to be alone. To be fair, Dexter did kill Hannah’s father, and even though her relationship with him is much more malicious than the bond between Dexter and Deb, it’s still sort of the same. Dexter turning on Hannah hurts even more since it was clear that Arlene wasn’t going to give her up to Deb. Matthews’ conviction that Dexter was not the Bay Harbor Butcher led Laguerta to be extremely dogged in her efforts to prove Dexter’s guilt, and he came quite close to being caught red-handed while trying to dispose of the man responsible for his mother’s murder. Now that Hannah is off to jail, maybe this season ends with someone else finding out about Dexter. I’m not sure what will become of Quinn now that Nadia is gone, and the police force is shrinking awfully fast with Batista putting in his papers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Golden Globe Nominees: Best TV Series - Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 3/5, picking “New Girl” and “Veep” over “The Big Bang Theory” and “Smash”
What’s missing? Glee, Louie, New Girl, Parks and Recreation, Veep

I can’t describe my joy about Episodes being nominated here again. It’s just the kind of show that voters might have dismissed after its first season, and seeing it here is just wonderful. It’s nice to see Globe voters open to Girls, which SAG voters deemed less than worthwhile. Modern Family is the defending champ here, but, unlike the Emmys, it’s won just once. I’m perplexed by the return of The Big Bang Theory to this race after it secured its one and only nomination two years ago, since Globe voters tend to forget shows they used to like entirely once they’ve stopped nominating them. Smash feels tacked on here simply because it’s a musical rather than a quality series, and I really hope that it doesn’t win. Why couldn’t “Parks and Recreation” make the cut? I guess that’s too much to hope for at this point.

What could win? I’m going to go with Girls.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best TV Series - Drama

My predictions: 3/5, picking “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones” over “Boardwalk Empire” and “Breaking Bad”
What’s missing? Boss, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Mad Men

One of the biggest surprises of the day is the omission of “Mad Men” in this race in favor of other returning fare. I’m glad to see that, despite my prediction to the contrary, the increasingly terrific Boardwalk Empire returns, along with the very deserving Homeland. It’s no surprise to see Downton Abbey here after winning the miniseries award last year, and worth noting that “American Horror Story,” which was nominated here last year, missed out on a miniseries bid, earning only a nomination for last year’s winner Jessica Lange. It’s about time that Globe voters caught on to the quality of Breaking Bad, bestowing it with its first-ever nomination in this category for the first half of its fifth season. Joining the returning contenders is The Newsroom, one of the summer’s most memorable shows and a very deserving nominee here. This makes for one very competitive category.

What could win? It could be any of them, but I’ll say Downton Abbey right now.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a TV Series

My predictions: 2/5, picking only Smith and Paulson
Who’s missing? Morena Baccarin (Homeland), Ellen Barkin (The New Normal), Ellen Burstyn (Political Animals), Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)

So much for the Ellen Bs dominating this category. Instead, we get a strange mix of not entirely unexpected nominees. Returning from last year we have Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family). Last year’s champ Jessica Lange got bumped up to the lead category, and from the TV movie side of things we get Sarah Paulson (Game Change). As Globe voters tend to do, it seems they’ve just started watching “The Good Wife” two full years after nominating it for Best TV Series – Drama, finally realizing that Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), who many would argue has had her weakest season yet, is terrific. And making a surprise appearance in this category is Hayden Panettiere (Nashville), who was expected to be considered a lead. It’s an odd assembly of performers, but a strong one.

Who could win? It’s probably Smith.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a TV Series

My predictions: 2/5, picking only Harris and Stonestreet
Who’s missing? Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Sam Waterston (The Newsroom)

This category is always unpredictable, and I’m happy to see some fun inclusions. After being snubbed last year, Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) is a welcome presence, especially considering the fact that he’s been great in season two of the Showtime series. Max Greenfield (New Girl) is a great choice too, and it’s nice to see him even with his series, nominated last year, snubbed in the top race. Danny Huston (Magic City) is a surprising selection, but, having seen the first two episodes of the show, he’s far and away the best thing about it, and it’s refreshing to see a performer nominated not just for his name or his series. Two-time Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) is back with his third consecutive nomination, and he’s joined by Ed Harris (Game Change), as the lone non-series representative. It’s certainly an eclectic category.

Who could win? Difficult to say – maybe Patinkin?

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 5/5
Who’s missing? Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Laura Linney (The Big C)

This ranks as my only entirely accurately-predicted category. While I would have loved to see Mindy Kaling as a nominee, I didn’t think that Globe voters would embrace her wholeheartedly. Instead, they’d choose to welcome the two Emmy nominees that SAG saw fit to snub, Lena Dunham (Girls) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep). I’m not going to argue that Tina Fey (30 Rock) should still be here, but at least she tries harder than her male costar. It’s fun to see Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) again despite the surprising snub of her show in the top race after its nomination last year, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about seeing Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) here. All told, quite a solid category.

Who could win? It’s been Louis-Dreyfus and Dunham, and I’ll give the fresher talent the edge.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a TV Series – Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 3/5, picking Duchovny and Perry over C.K. and Parsons
Who’s missing? David Duchovny (Californication), Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory), Matthew Perry (Go On)

I’m not terribly surprised by the presence of the two nominees I didn’t predict, and I won’t argue against the inclusion of Louis C.K. (Louie) since he seems to be on fire right now, despite the fact that no organization wants to nominate his show in the top category. I’m more perplexed by the inclusion of Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), who was snubbed in favor of his less showy costar last year after his one and only nomination and win the year before. Globe voters don’t usually welcome back snubbed nominees, and therefore the logic isn’t quite right. The same thing happened in the Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical race with his show this year, so it’s not smart to assume anything. David Duchovny’s snub is not a shock since the show is already in its fifth year, but I really did expect Matthew Perry to make the cut. I’m very pleased about Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), last year’s winner, being nominated again along with his show, which was fabulous in season two. I, like many, have had enough of Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), but at least he’s only won this award three times, as opposed to the past six years like SAG. The final nominee is my favorite – Don Cheadle (House of Lies), whose show was one of the best new series of 2012 and whose performance was excellent.

Who could win? It might be C.K., but I’ll optimistically go with Cheadle.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a TV Series – Drama

My predictions: 3/5, picking Washington and Mortimer over Close and Dockery
Who’s missing? Mireille Enos (The Killing), Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Madeleine Stowe (Revenge), Callie Thorne (Necessary Roughness), Kerry Washington (Scandal)

After some truly strange inclusions the last few years, this category is finally back to a normal state. What’s bizarre, however, is the inclusion of Glenn Close (Damages), who won for the show’s first season in 2007 then was nominated two years later for its second, only to never be heard from again. I think I’m one of the few people that followed the show over to DirecTV, and, while the fifth season was quite good, Close was far from the best part. It’s rare that Globe voters recall former nominees, but I suppose Close, who netted her twelfth acting nomination this morning, is a Globe favorite. The only retained nominees from last year are past winners Claire Danes (Homeland) and Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), and they’re joined by two newcomers. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) seems to be very popular, as the only non-Maggie Smith actor from her show to be recognized. Connie Britton (Nashville), who last year missed out on two possible nominations, finally earns her first Globe bid, and something tells me she may win.

Who could win? Maybe Danes or Dockery, but I’ll go with Britton.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a TV Series – Drama

My predictions: 4/5, picking Grammer over Buscemi
Who’s missing? Kelsey Grammer (Boss), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Jeremy Irons (The Borgias), Hugh Laurie (House)

I’m pleased to see that, while I had presumed that both Globe and SAG voters would be over “Boardwalk Empire” despite its continued excellence, that’s hardly the case. Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) very much deserves his nomination, and it’s not really fair to say that it comes at the expense of the now-forgotten and cancelled terrific Starz series “Boss” and last year’s winner in this category, Kelsey Grammer. Despite the shocking snub for his show, Jon Hamm (Mad Men) is back after a year off the air as the lone representative of his series. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) finally has support for his series in the Best TV Series – Drama category, as does newcomer Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom). This past year’s Emmy winner and a nominee last year, Damian Lewis (Homeland), is also back with a great shot at winning this race.

Who could win? Maybe Daniels, but I think Lewis has the edge.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Final Golden Globe Predictions

This morning, SAG nominations were announced, which revealed, on the TV side, an obnoxious lack of originality, especially when it came to the comedy categories. Just one freshman series – “The Newsroom” – was recognized, and nominees way past their time were honored instead. Fortunately, the Golden Globes tend to go entirely the opposite way. They’ll give up on a show as soon as they’re tired of it, and therefore, we can expect a wholly different slate. For the most part, I’m not modifying my initial predictions, but I have made a few changes. Click on category headings for previous detailed predictions for each race. Leave your predictions in the comments and come back tomorrow for reactions!

No guts, no glory:
“Scandal” for Best Drama Series
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad) for Best Supporting Actor
Lucy Punch (Ben and Kate) for Best Supporting Actress

Best Television Series - Drama
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Mad Men
The Newsroom

Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical
Modern Family
New Girl

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
American Horror Story: Asylum
Game Change
Hatfields and McCoys
Political Animals

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
Kelsey Grammer (Boss)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Damian Lewis (Homeland)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama
Connie Britton (Nashville)
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom)
Kerry Washington (Scandal)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Don Cheadle (House of Lies) David Duchovny (Californication) Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
Matthew Perry (Go On)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical
Lena Dunham (Girls)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Kevin Costner (Hatfields and McCoys)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Woody Harrelson (Game Change)
Clive Owen (Hemingway and Gellhorn)
Bill Paxton (Hatfields and McCoys)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Nicole Kidman (Hemingway and Gellhorn)
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum)
Queen Latifah (Steel Magnolias)
Julianne Moore (Game Change)
Sigourney Weaver (Political Animals)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Ed Harris (Game Change)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Sam Waterston (The Newsroom)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Morena Baccarin (Homeland)
Ellen Barkin (The New Normal)
Ellen Burstyn (Political Animals)
Sarah Paulson (Game Change)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

What I’m Watching: Nikita

Nikita: Season 3, Episode 6 “Sideswipe” (B-)

I think that Isaiah Mustafa, best known as the Old Spice Guy, should star on every TV show since he instantly enlivens series with even a momentary appearance. His opening pitch about the automatically-guided weapon was highly enthusiastic and compelling, and I liked finding out more about his complicated relationship with Nikita. Blowing her cover but purposely misidentifying her as an Interpol agent was a confusing but smart move, and I’m glad that he managed to escape both alive and with his business relatively intact. Nikita and the rest of Division need to start realizing that running into a situation guns blazing on a whim is never the right move, and that Amanda always has the upper hand. Nikita is starting to understand that, recognizing that Amanda was merely testing her and wasn’t actually ever going to kill Cyrus. Sean’s return was excessively overdramatic, and it’s about time that Alex moved on and found someone to stick by her long enough to help her confront her renewed drug problem. Birkhoff sure was devastated to learn that Sonya was the mole, but, while she can be rather cool and emotionless, and used to be quite loyal to Amanda, it’s clear that she’s actually a good guy. It’s good to see Birkhoff working to protect her and make sure he can figure out a way to deactivate her kill chip while they work to find the real mole and stop Amanda from continuing to toy with Division and all of its assets.

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/6
What’s missing? Girls, New Girl, Parks and Recreation, Veep

This year, SAG got better about honoring new shows, but this category contains only series that are four years old or more. It’s most lamentable because shows like Glee and The Office have been discarded by other organizations because of fading quality but continue to take spots from much more deserving fresher series. I won’t argue against 30 Rock and Modern Family because those were expected, and I’m puzzled about Nurse Jackie, which for some reason was now nominated for the first time. The Big Bang Theory is a fine choice, and it’s a shame that a fellow older series, Parks and Recreation, couldn’t have been mentioned. This category needs a serious modern update.

What could win? I think Modern Family takes it again.

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/5, picking “The Newsroom” over “Boardwalk Empire”
What’s missing? Dexter, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, The Newsroom

Out with the old, in with the new! Mostly, at least, since new series “The Newsroom,” which so should have been here, got trumped by a few continually excellent returning series. I was silly not to predict Boardwalk Empire, which won this award last year, and, along with Breaking Bad, ousted two popular series, “Game of Thrones” and “The Good Wife,” as well as one that most consider to be fading, “Dexter.” Back in play after a year off the air is two-time champion Mad Men, joined by two superb series in their second years, Downton Abbey and Homeland. This is a good list despite some omissions, and much better than the corresponding comedy race.

What could win? I think it has to be Downton Abbey, unless “Homeland” sweeps.

SAG Nominees: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 2/5, choosing only Fey and Vergara correctly
Who’s missing? Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Lena Dunham (Girls), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Emmy winners be damned! So much for Julie Bowen and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, both of whom have been nominated here in the past. The same fate befell Lena Dunham, though that’s less surprising since other actors might not have been as enthusiastic about her show as the rest of Hollywood. It’s odd to me that Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) stays in when many feel that her part has gotten stale. I don’t even want to comment on Betty White (Hot in Cleveland), who I’m sure is still funny given her material and her show but doesn’t deserve to be here. I don’t watch her show, but I’m surprised to see Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) still nominated. Tina Fey (30 Rock) isn’t a shock given the industry’s eternal adoration of her show, and I’m so delighted by the final nominee, the very funny, very deserving Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation).

Who could win? I’d love to say Poehler given the competition.

SAG Nominees: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/5, picking Cryer over Parsons
Who’s missing? Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)

I’ve learned the secret! If I predict Jon Cryer to be nominated, he’ll be snubbed! Of course, nothing is logical here, with Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) earning his first-ever nomination after years of Emmy love. I was correct that Don Cheadle wouldn’t be to voters’ tastes, while Louis C.K. (Louie) was. Returning to the fold are six-time undefeated champion Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) and two recent Emmy winners in the supporting race, Ty Burrell (Modern Family) and Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family). Hardly a creative list, but not a terrible one.

Who could win? There’s no reason to think it won’t be Baldwin again.

SAG Nominees: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/5, picking Moss over Dockery
Who’s missing?: Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law), Glenn Close (Damages), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)

Like the drama male actor race, this list makes perfect sense for what’s hot on TV right now. The returning nominees from last year are Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum), whose series didn’t move to the miniseries race here as it did with the Emmys. Logically on the list after being peculiarly snubbed last year before her Golden Globe and Emmy wins is Claire Danes (Homeland), and she’s joined by the two most popular actresses on a beloved British-American television series, Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey). It’s a solid category.

Who could win? With Lange and Smith battling each other, I think it safely goes to Danes.

SAG Nominees: Best Male Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/5
Who’s missing: Patrick J. Adams (Suits), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Kelsey Grammer (Boss), Hugh Laurie (House), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

I’m excited to have predicted this category entirely accurately. After last year, which still honored two actors on shows presumed to be on their way out, and which threw “Suits” into the mix unexpectedly, this is exactly the list that makes sense for this year. It’s disconcerting to see Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) without his fabulous ensemble, but oh well. While “Dexter” gets ignored for its best season yet, it’s refreshing to see Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) and his series showing no signs of letting up. Jon Hamm (Mad Men) is back in the mix after a year off, and he’s joined by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad). After an odd across-the-board snub last year, recent Emmy winner Damian Lewis (Homeland) is here as he should be. A good list overall to be sure!

Who could win? Probably Lewis given the delayed love this guild has given his show.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SAG TV Predictions

The Screen Actors Guild announces its choices for the best in television in 2012 tomorrow morning, followed by the Golden Globes on Thursday. In lieu of detailed analysis by category, I’m offering a list of predictions below, and will take a closer look at each race tomorrow after nominations are announced. SAG voters tend to be less enthusiastic about new shows (“Homeland” didn’t earn any nominations last year for its first season), and there are always a few surprises. Most notable about this guild is that they group together lead and supporting players into one race by gender and genre, and they also hand out ensemble prizes. My predictions are below – check back for reactions and analysis tomorrow!

Best Male Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Damian Lewis (Homeland)

Best Female Actor in a Drama Series
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum)
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Louis C.K. (Louie)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Lena Dunham (Girls)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)

Best Male Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Kevin Costner (Hatfields and McCoys)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Ed Harris (Game Change)
Woody Harrelson (Game Change)
Bill Paxton (Hatfields and McCoys)

Best Female Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Gillian Anderson (Great Expectations)
Ellen Burstyn (Political Animals)
Julianne Moore (Game Change)
Siena Miller (The Girl)
Sigourney Weaver (Political Animals)

Best Ensemble in a Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Mad Men
The Newsroom

Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
30 Rock

What I’m Watching: Burn Notice

Burn Notice: Season 6, Episode 15 “Best Laid Plans” (B+)

Somehow, things are getting even worse for Michael and crew as they near their exodus from Miami. Olivia watching Madeleine like a hawk and arresting her after her alleged day at the spa makes it hard for them to accomplish much with help from the outside, and even Barry got himself apprehended after doing his best to throw the CIA off their financial trail. Madeleine having Barry called into the lobby of a doctor’s office because of a fungus was an amusing way to stage a meet, and it’s a shame that Madeleine’s spy skills are being combated so aggressively by Olivia. $200,000 per person is a high price for fake identities, and this is actually one of the first times that money has ever been an issue. Making it look like the broken device still worked was a productive idea, and, despite a few setbacks, it managed to work quite well, once again delivering a whole bunch of criminals into the law’s hands that might appease any other investigator besides Olivia. Elsa telling Sam to stick by Michael was nice, and let’s hope that events in the near future don’t drive a better wedge in between them. I suspect that it’s going to be difficult for Madeleine to acclimate to life on the run, more because of the crazy schemes constantly hatched by Michael than the notion of leaving Miami. With little time left in the season, hopefully this crew can make it out of harm’s way without being forced to, once again, leave someone behind.

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 9 “You Do It to Yourself” (B+)

Even with a fever, Sherlock is still incredibly brilliant, and not someone that guilty criminals want to have looking into their misdeeds. Starting out with a murder victim whose eyes were shot out is rather brutal, but this turned out to be a much more intelligent, calculated crime than it originally seemed. Any procedural drama begins with a false lead and then comes full circle to reveal that the various hints dropped along the way connect to reveal a wholly different perpetrator, and this show always manages to weave such a compelling narrative and succeed with a number of game-changing twists along the way. Sherlock’s ultimate discovery that Annunzio actually hired someone to kill him and to shoot out his eyes so that his terminal eye illness couldn’t be revealed was terrific. That’s the beauty of this show – it’s not one where the viewer is expected to solve the crime, but rather one where watching Sherlock do it is equally rewarding. While he was busy putting together all the pieces of Annunzio’s carefully plotted crime, Sherlock also found time to, for once, be there for Watson, taking an unsolicited interest in the case of her former flame, who turned out not to be a former client at all. it’s nice to see Sherlock stick around and be a friend for Watson, since, up until now, the relationship has been largely one-way. Against all odds, this partnership may actually be turning into a true friendship, something which would benefit both lonely people.

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation: Season 5, Episode 9 “Ron and Diane” (B+)

The notion that Leslie has had a Ron Swanson Google alert for the past seven years is just fantastic. It was great to see Ron in his element, giddy over the sight of a famed carpenter and excited about the wonders of excellent woodwork. The appearance of one of the Tammys was inevitable, and I like that Leslie was entirely up for the task of distracting her for the evening, keeping her away from Ron while he did his best to hang on to Diane. It was sweet to hear Ron defend his friendship with Leslie to Diane, and I’m glad that Diane isn’t going to make Ron choose between her and Leslie. The concept of the Jerry Dinner is hilarious, and I always enjoy seeing how Donna and Tom spend their time outside of work together. Ann positioning herself as Jerry’s defender was fun, mainly because Tom didn’t realize that they had all actually been invited but hadn’t realized it because of the spam filter Tom set up to weed out all of Jerry’s nice e-mails. Ben trying to hang out with Chris again was fun, and I liked Chris’ reaction to accidentally drinking the regular eggnog. The beauty of Jerry’s wife is one of those wonderfully puzzling elements of this show, something that even Chris can’t comprehend. My two favorite revelations of the episode were Ann’s discovery that April is really weak and might have an iron deficiency, and that Leslie knows that Ron secretly likes artichokes and plums.

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 2, Episode 9 “C.O.D.” (B+)

After seeing some numbers who initially seemed like nice people and were then revealed to have dark pasts or sinister motivations, it’s refreshing to see a genuinely good person as the latest person needing protection from Reese and Finch. A former baseball star working as a cab driver and trying to get his family into the United States is an exceptionally sympathetic character, and even Reese seemed to like him, which isn’t common. Since jump-starting her career with a role in agency investigation on “24,” Reiko Aylesworth now seems to be the go-to government investigator after appearing as an NTSB agent on “Elementary” recently and now as the Secret Service agent working with Carter in this hour. Carter arranging with her for Fermin’s family to be transported to the country in exchange for his cooperation was sweet, and it’s really great to see an all-around win every once in a while. Unfortunately, Fusco didn’t get to be a part of that since he was busy doing HR’s dirty work while Reese didn’t take his call. While I’m sure that Reese wouldn’t be happy to hear about Fusco’s troubles, he would step in to help, and now that Fusco hasn’t been honest with him, I doubt he’ll be as forthcoming. Simmons didn’t waste any time in turning the incriminating evidence he had on Fusco in, to Carter, no less, and I suspect that Fusco may in fact pop up as a number sooner or later. No matter what happens, things don’t look good for our good friend Fusco.