Sunday, July 23, 2017

Pilot Review: Will

Will (TNT)
Premiered July 10 at 9pm

There are some people who really like Shakespeare, and others who really don’t. And then there are those who fall somewhere in the middle, indifferent to the Bard but not necessarily eager to experience hours and hours of Elizabethan English either in written or cinematic form. I fall into the center camp, and I prefer the use of our modern-day dialect, which made my experience watching “Coriolanus” an only mildly fulfilling one. I personally haven’t wondered what Shakespeare’s life was like prior to the prolific part of his career, content instead to consider “Something Rotten,” a musical I saw in its final performance on Broadway, to be a far more entertaining and sufficient interpretation. This show begins like so many other similar stories do, finding an author will one day be great and known by all as an anonymous failure struggling to put his life together. A chance need for a play when one did not exist catapulted him almost instantly to some level of prominence, and now we’ll have to see how he begins the man everyone knows he eventually will. This show isn’t short on its depiction of brutal execution and torture of Catholics, treating viewers to miserably disturbing shots, and it looks like that will only continue to be a theme as the show goes forward. From among the cast, the only recognizable standout is Colm Meaney, who recently wrapped a series-long arc on “Hell on Wheels,” and whose voice was instantly recognizable to me even if his face wasn’t under his makeup and costumes. Shakespeare lovers might delight at this show being on; I couldn’t care less, especially after this uninviting and boring opening hour (I didn’t even bother to check out episode two which aired immediately following).

How will it work as a series? Will has already gone from nobody to somebody, even if he and those he interacts with haven’t realized just what he has become yet. There are sure to be many theatrics as well as lots of sex and persecution from oppressive authorities, all of which should mix together to be a pale imitation of the kind of comedy-drama that the future Will ultimately wrote.
How long will it last? Despite decent reviews, this show got off to a very uninspired ratings start, coming in below other TNT series that just squeaked by and barely registering compared to the network’s new mega-hit, “Claws,” that has already been renewed for a second season. I think this is all we’ll get of this show.

Pilot grade: D+

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black

Orphan Black: Season 5, Episode 5 “Ease for Idle Millionaires” (B)

I recognize fully that getting five seasons of this show has been an incredible gift, hardly guaranteed due to its unique genre, and I won’t lament an early cancellation or anything like that since the creative forces behind it are clearly aware of just how long they have. Yet I still get the feeling that this final season is proceeding along a bit too slowly, digging deep into the mythology and therefore ignoring the forward-moving plot. We only got to see two of the clones in this episode (three if you count Rachel, I guess), and instead were treated to a lengthy dinner party during which Cosima was made very aware of just what’s going on and why Kira is of such interest. It was affirming to see Cosima defy the unnecessary charade she was told to contribute to and don a tuxedo as Delphine’s guest, but that was all the humor to be found in this episode, which ended on a miserable note as Cosima stepped in front of the poor “monster” to save his life only to have Westmoreland shoot him with her sitting right there. It’s good to know that Delphine is working with Mrs. S and that all the other allies they’ve amassed along the way, with the possible exception of Art, who’s in a precarious position of his own, are working together to ensure that the clones are able to win whatever this war really is and survive and endure. I’d like to fast-forward past some of the slow exposition as we enter the second half of this final season.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pilot Review: Pure

Pure (Hulu)
Premiered July 7

It’s hard to keep up with all the new shows launching on networks like Netflix and Amazon these days, and now Hulu is firmly inserting itself into the game, with a handful of brand-new originals and international imports like this one. This Canadian drama originally aired on CBC back in January and February, and now it’s arrived to accompany some of the streaming service’s hotter programs. I had hoped when I read what this show was about and saw the opening scene that it would serve as a fitting follow-up to “Banshee,” a fantastic underrated series that featured a villain with Amish roots and regularly involved that community in its plotline. Instead, this Mennonite-centric show feels more like a slower version of the Oscar-winning 1985 film “Witness.” There’s a local police investigation that overlaps with a federal one into the cross-border activities of the community and their drug involvement, but it’s hardly as engaging or enticing as it should be. The primary pastor is presented as a pure, noble figure, but he’s actually a very dry character in a sea of unappealing, unethical people, none of whom prove sympathetic or intriguing enough to sustain this show. The opening scene made this show seem like it might be an effectively dark and mysterious offering, and the rest of the hour confirmed that it doesn’t have much to make it stand out from the rest of the pack. I don’t think I’ll remember anything about this short after a short time has passed, and that’s hardly a positive takeaway.

How will it work as a series? This show doesn’t move very quickly, and it seems that everyone pretty much knows what’s going on but no one wants to speak up or confirm it. I don’t see that being all that interesting, and I think it’s going to prove hard to latch on to anything here.
How long will it last? Hulu has been renewing most of its shows as of late, but this isn’t an original network production. In fact, it wasn’t on the fall schedule for Canadian broadcaster CBC, suggesting that it’s already been cancelled back home. I don’t think this is going to be one of the ones Hulu is going to bother to save, leaving it at just its initial six-episode order.

Pilot grade: C-

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What I’m Watching: Dark Matter

Dark Matter: Season 3, Episode 6 “One More Card to Play” (B+)

I like just how frequently we have the opportunity to see interdimensional interlopers like the bad versions of Portia and Boone show up, though I’ll admit it gets very, very confusing, especially since the alternate doubles don’t have distinguishing features like, say, a goatee that Mirror Universe Spock wore that help viewers tell him apart. It’s also hard to remember and keep track of who’s still alive where and all that. I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out where I remembered Wexler from since I was convinced it was more than just this show, and it turns out that Ennis Esmer also stars as neighbor Dave on “You, Me, Her.” He’s certainly among the more sympathetic slimy characters aboard the other version of the Raza, whose crew had no problem spacing a bunch of prisoners to advance their evil aims. Capturing Three and switching him out for their Boone was a smart play, but fortunately Five saw through it and then did her very best to negotiate with Tash. Their android deciding to shoot Tash and talk to Five herself was great, and I enjoyed the very logical discussion between the two androids when they were doing their prisoner exchange. They’re back in Commander Truffault’s good graces, which is a positive, and they’ve lost Adrian and Solara, which means their numbers are down. More problematically, the other Portia has made a new ally in Commander Nieman, a development that can’t be good for the crew of our Raza.

What I’m Watching: Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black: Season 5, Episode 5 “Sing It, White Effie” (B+)

I’d hope that Emmy voters wise up to the fact that, not only is this show deserving of more than two total Emmy nominations, but Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox, while both great, are no longer the standout performers on this show. In fact, I’d argue that Taylor Schilling shouldn’t be considered a lead since she plays such a minor part these days. This season so far belongs to Danielle Brooks as Taystee, though others deserve mention too, and there’s no denying the powerful nature of her speech at the end of this episode, refusing to let a white woman like Judy King who hadn’t actually experienced any true hardship in prison speak for her. It was a powerful moment for Janae too, making her flashback, highlighted by her reaction to watching white women play the pivotal “Dreamgirls” roles in a school play, all the more meaningful. The fact that Angie had the gun on her belt the whole time and that Pennsatucky opted to give it to Donuts so that he could make his escape was probably for the best given that the gun hasn’t done anyone any good so far. While Luschek trying to hum at a certain pitch to get Stratman to be able to go the bathroom was undeniably funny, it’s disturbing to see that he too ended up trapped inside a sealed porter potty outside the prison in the full heat just two units down from a similarly stranded Caputo. Maria’s discovery that she hadn’t actually had time added to her sentence is an important indicator of how different life inside can be since it’s impossible to know what’s actually going on from the outside, and I think that Aleida’s forthcoming TV appearance is sure to be enlightening in a different way than she expects.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What I’m Watching: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3, Episode 8 “Kimmy Does a Puzzle!” (B+)

This episode was decidedly more absurd than even this show usually is. I think we can all agree that no one aside from Titus thought that he had actually eaten Dionne Warwick, played to excess by Maya Rudolph, clearly having fun hamming it up and going way beyond any sort of impersonation is meant to. The real story turned out to be far more believable if still inspired by this show’s totally ridiculous nature, and made to seem all the more extravagant and dramatic thanks to the style of Titus’ telling. If there’s one thing that he’s easily susceptible to – and there are many – it’s the allure of fame, and therefore his first thought upon finding out that Dionne had recovered from exposure to hot tub water was to get some more and make sure that she got sick right away again. Poisoning literally everyone on the ship but him so that they all threw up on stage during the performance was quite a powerful accident, and I think it’s safe to say that Warwick turned out to be fine, unlike those who live between exits 1-82 in New Jersey. My favorite part of this episode was actually Peter Riegert’s Artie, who was more than willing to accept Titus’ argument that a shell could be pasta and has just generally done a superb job of acclimating to this show’s distinctive style, helping to make this episode about a funker truly entertaining despite its insanity and token detachment from anyone’s sense of reality.

What I’m Watching: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys: Season 3, Episode 8 “Masks” (B+)

Now, this is more like it. After a season that’s felt all over the place, here’s an hour that actually is but still manages to seem much more coherent and compelling. Cole and Cassandra definitely have some cool new tricks as they fight their pursuers and use their time suits to jump around and gain the upper hand, though there’s also some artistry going on, like Cassandra having to improvise after getting her hands tied behind her back mid-fight. I enjoyed watching Cole teaching Cassandra how to pickpocket followed by her showing him how to dance, and they needed all the preparation they could given that Jones herself deemed it worthwhile to travel back in time to express just how furious she was that Cole had betrayed her. Fortunately, Jennifer used her turtle to cause a paradox so that a perfectly willing Dr. Lasky could send her back in time to dress up in the witness mask and shoot fireworks off as a distraction. Jennifer really is endearing, and it’s a shame that she helped them get away and now she’s the one in a cage, something that’s going to continue to drive her crazy. It’s still intriguing to see how the witness has gone down his path, and I didn’t recognize the superb casting choice of James Callis, best known as Gaius Baltar from “Battlestar Galactica,” as the man to play this mythical being who we’ve previously only seen in a mask or as a ghost of sorts writing stuff on the wall in a very creepy way.

What I’m Watching: Master of None

Master of None: Season 2, Episode 9 “Amarsi Un Po” (A-)

Now here’s another fantastic episode of this show, an extremely romantic extended installment with so many wonderful moments. Starting with Dev having to get into the sub for a photo shoot so that Jeff could take a bite highlighted the still banal nature of his work even though he was moving on from “Clash of the Cupcakes” to something more substantial, and it helped transition things to a much more poignant love story. Things got off to a superb start with someone on the street congratulating Dev for being an Indian who landed such a hot woman, and I like that it wasn’t a one-sided affair, with Francesca showing her unexpected love for big, variety-filled American pharmacies. Watching them yell at people to finish their food and pretend to be in a huge fight were some great snippets from the episode, as was their discussion of terms like “curry person” and “soy sauce people.” When she texted him while they were sitting with her fiancĂ© and Arnold, that was a big sign that this was all in Dev’s head, despite his nightmare of having her literally rip his heart out. Her getting stranded at his house when the power was out and sleeping over – in the same bed – was another lost opportunity, especially because she noticed that a lot of the women on his celebrity list were Italian. Going for it at the club and then in the helicopter – on a non-private channel – were perfect instances of how even when things seem like they might work out, it’s not always so glamorous or easy. This episode is definitely one of the season’s best, and a sign that Ansari, who wrote and directed this episode, really knows what he’s doing and should be producing a whole lot more TV.

Pilot Review: Snowfall

Snowfall (FX)
Premiered July 5 at 10pm

I’ve been seeing posters for this show for months in the subway, boldly declaring, “This is how crack began.” FX has really risen in quality over the past decade, starting with a few incredible standouts like “The Shield” and “Rescue Me,” and now home to almost a dozen highly-acclaimed series, including three immensely popular anthology series that are going to continue to dominate awards races for years to come for each new iteration. This show has a more specific focus, traveling back to 1983 Los Angeles to chart the lives of a handful of influential individuals in the rise of crack as an American institution. This pilot reminded me a lot of a mix between two popular Netflix shows, “The Get Down” and “Narcos.” It’s styled very much like the former, with popping colors and purposeful backgrounds to ground itself in the time and culture in which it’s meant to take place, and it features an in-depth look at the machinations of the operation involving the CIA’s very direct involvement in and knowledge of international drug trade. I didn’t find it nearly as gripping or involving as either of those, though Damson Idris’ Franklin Saint is an endearing protagonist who seems way too good for this world and who very quickly transformed himself into someone ready to become LA’s top drug dealer just because someone thought he couldn’t do it. I didn’t recognize him when I watched the episode, but I will commend this show on actually casting an Israeli actor, Alon Aboutboul, who starred last year in “Harmonia,” as an Israeli, since so many other series have fabricated accents by people from different places. It’s not a great showcase of the Israeli people, but there’s no denying that this show is multicultural in its portrayal of what went into an epidemic that struck the nation. I don’t feel the need to watch more of this show, but I can understand why some like it.

How will it work as a series? Having four protagonists whose lives are all separate but destined to come together should allow this show to have more than enough material from which to draw and plot out its course, and I have no doubt that there is an interesting web to be spun here that should draw committed viewers in over time.
How long will it last? The reviews are pretty good and the marketing campaign was definitely strong, but the ratings don’t seem to be keeping up with that, starting out okay and then falling in the second week, a usual trend but not one that demands a renewal. I think this show will still end up being picked up for more, but it’s not a guarantee.

Pilot grade: B-

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What I’m Watching: House of Cards

House of Cards: Season 5, Episode 6 “Chapter 58” (B+)

Okay, so maybe that final scene in the previous episode shouldn’t have made me speculate that Claire might become president but instead confirm that she had been chosen to serve as acting president. It’s a crazy thing to see her sitting next to Frank and having people unsure of who to address as the president since, technically speaking, no one actually chose him to be president while she was temporarily placed in the role. Watching her debate whether to give him security clearance was a tense moment since he surely would have destroyed her for it, but it’s hard to blame her for thinking about going all in on her own since she had to fight him tooth and nail to get where she is now. Tom is engineering his own little mini-rebellion by having sex with a tour guide in the press room, and I’m sure Claire will be furious once she finds out that he’s actually daring to live his own life. The Russians holding an American responsible for hacking to affect election results feels a bit close to him, and I do wonder how much of this plotline was planned in advance and how much was a middle finger to the current political administration. Watching this episode, I’m puzzled that Emmy voters once again chose Michael Kelly, who is good but mostly stagnant, over Joel Kinnaman, who is doing a tremendous job showcasing Conway’s descent into anger and full-on aggression, demanding to pilot the plane he’s flying and lashing out at everyone around him. It appears that Usher is powerful if nothing else, and things aren’t looking up for Conway given the level of familiarity he showed with the Underwoods.

What I’m Watching: Casual

Casual: Season 3, Episode 7 “The Rat King” (B+)

An episode like this is helpful every once in a while since it brings everyone together from their separate lives to interact in one isolated space. I think it’s very important to note the relationships people had going into everything, and the helpful nature of having everyone couple up. The only truly platonic pair, who I imagine will remain that way, is Alex and Rae. She’s bold and obnoxious, but also starting to turn into more of a human being, allowing them to fight about things like her having allegedly brought a rat from her beloved New York City and his unwillingness to tell his sister the truth despite her nearly spilling the beans more than a few times. The most important revelation, perhaps something that was hinted at before or even fully confirmed when I just wasn’t paying attention, is that Leon and Leia are dating, something that she has totally kept from Val and is sure to be a miserable revelation when it finally comes out. Val is completely unaware, preoccupied with flirting with Jack instead. Leon’s attempts to be humane to the rat were funny, especially since everyone shot him down. And then there’s Laura, who brings over a boss who wants to bring down capitalism and other things like that and has no problem walking around naked in front of her. It doesn’t appear that’s headed anywhere fast enough for Laura to stay interested, but Val sure made an impression going head-to-head with her about her beliefs.

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black

Orphan Black: Season 5, Episode 4 “Let the Children and Childbearers Toil” (B)

I’ll admit that sometimes this show loses me a bit as it begins to drown in its mythology that involves 170-year old men and creatures of the night. Yet there is something very intriguing to me, and logical, about the notion that an imperfect Castor clone with murderous impulses isn’t the worst experiment that those who worked on copying genomes could have created. While an ogre or a monster who runs off in the middle of the woods at night feels a bit cartoonish for this show, Cosima is living on a compound removed from civilization in an environment that feels removed from time. I’m not sure what comes from this since I don’t believe that Cosima is meant to be learning all of this, but Sarah and Mrs. S were also told the same information by Virginia when they snuck in to interrogate her. It was fun to see Sarah play dress up – still an incredible feat by Tatiana Maslany for us to feel that she’s doing that since literally that’s all the actress does – and pretend to the hapless assistant to Mrs. S’s doctor, and luckily they had a distraction from Virginia to allow them to escape before being questioned for just exactly who they were. Adele’s return was far more welcome than her first appearance, and it’s good to see that she’s a firm and dependable ally now. It’s also a relief to see Helena so at peace and aware of where she’s supposed to be, a sign that maybe the good guys will win this thing after all if there’s even still a battle to be fought.

What I’m Watching: Dark Matter

Dark Matter: Season 3, Episode 5 “Give It Up, Princess” (B+)

The Android has always been my favorite character on this show, and every episode that deals with her enhancements is incredibly interesting to me. Obviously the big moment in this episode was seeing her in a red dress setting up a punchline where she told a guy that she never slept with anyone whose ass she had to kick. Yet the bigger thing to me is that she’s so easily able to get these enhancements and that, when she’s using them, she’s not eager to return to her normal mode, since there’s something about feeling real that truly connects with her. She also managed to use the power of the enhancements to their advantage when the team ended up trapped in a sticky situation where the android loyal to Tabor was ready to hold everyone hostage until his master returned, something no one expects to happen at any point soon, if ever. Adrian and Solara are doing well adjusting to being part of the crew, though there are obviously still some bumps. Sending Five in undercover was a risky move given that she’s not really field-trained, but apparently she knows more than her new trainer thought when they started out. Six may be off the job, but his appearance at the end of the episode, both in conversation with Five and on a screen as a secret weapon for Four, proves that he’s not done with the Raza just yet, even if he thinks that he’s left that life behind for more important aims.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pilot Review: Gypsy

Gypsy (Netflix)
Premiered June 30

As should be obvious to anyone following this blog on a regular or infrequent basis, I’m quite behind on my TV, and I’m even further behind on writing reviews of things I’ve already watched. I actually saw the first episode of this show just a few days after it initially premiered, meaning that I’m reviewing it more than two weeks after watching it, which can’t be a good thing. While I was in the middle of watching – I took a break and returned to it the next night – I read a headline that described this show as the hottest new show of 2007, meant as an insult since the kind of things that are showcased as edgy on this show are in fact well behind the times and dated compared to what counts for innovative and worthwhile these days. I’m not sure that I would agree, though I do think that this show lacks focus and clear direction. After sitting through an hour of it, I’m not sure where it’s meant to go and what its premise really is. Naomi Watts is a strong actress with multiple Oscar nominations who hasn’t done TV in twenty years, and therefore you’d think that a project that would pull her to a weekly series would have a lot to offer, especially considering her work with directors like David Lynch and Michael Haneke. Yet I still don’t comprehend where this show wants to be or what it wants to be, and while I’m mildly intrigued, it’s been two weeks and I just don’t care that much. With so many other shows to watch, this indistinguishable series about a therapist spending way too much time investing in and inserting herself into the lives of her patients just doesn’t rate.

How will it work as a series? That’s what anyone who gets past episode one is sure to find out, or maybe not if it continues to be all about delving deep into the tangential experiences of those she hears talking to her about their lives. Telling the difference between what’s real and what’s not is also crucial for a show to maintain interest from viewers, and I’m not sure this show can do that.
How long will it last? As usual, Netflix ratings don’t count for much even if they are released, though it’s worth noting that the streaming service has axed a few series recently, which it hadn’t done all that much in the past. Reviews have been pretty poor across the board, so I wouldn’t count on Netflix bringing this one back for more.

Pilot grade: C+

What I’m Watching: Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black: Season 5, Episode 4 “Litchfield’s Got Talent” (B+)

It’s been fascinating watching how different people try to use their power when they’re in charge. What seemed like equally irritating and harmless pantsing led to the gun falling off of Gloria’s waist, which was probably the safest place for it to be, and ending up in the hands of someone with far less noble aims. Having the guards be the contestants in a talent show was an entertaining diversion that didn’t turn out all that bad for all those involved, and the striptease, which went way farther than just a tease, was certainly the most memorable of all the acts. That the demands only reached a governor who was very drunk and high isn’t an affirming development, and I’m not sure what comes next for the inmates. I’d assume that the camera that took photos of Judy and the others on the roof belonged to paparazzi, and that’s not going to bode well for anyone. Judy’s luck has turned very sour, with both former friends and skinheads united against her and ready to take out their aggression towards the “man” on one rich woman. I like that a very sleep-deprived Red was thinking about getting senior discounts and learning how to paddleboard, and it’s also interesting to see life on the outside with those not keen on participating in the riot inside, with Alex emerging as an unwilling leader. Brief flashbacks to Alison’s life before she was in prison were intriguing, but I would have liked to see a bit more of what got her to where she is.

What I’m Watching: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3, Episode 7 “Kimmy Learns about the Weather!” (B+)

This show is weird enough on a regular basis, and the sight of a purple cartoon that talked exactly like Titus didn’t feel any more abnormal than most of the other stuff that happens on this show. Casting Scott Adsit, a dependable “30 Rock” player, as the man who stole his voice, was a great move, and I enjoyed his reactions to being intimidated by Titus and being physically attacked by an overeager Kimmy. I like that everyone on this show knows each other’s roles and their strengths, with Titus ready to get Kimmy to rush immediately to his side when he knew he could use her help. Titus was never going to get the credit or back pay for his likeness that he deserved, both because he didn’t actually put much work into it and because that’s not how things work on this show. The other notable guest star of the episode, one that we haven’t seen in other episodes like Peter Riegert or Jon Hamm, was Michael Torpey, better known as the sadistic, evil guard Humphreys on “Orange is the New Black,” as the appropriately-named Drench Thunderman, who I imagine must have met Nathan Fillion’s Rainer Shane from “Modern Family” in the television weatherman universe. Kimmy rightly wasn’t okay with someone telling her to seek shelter in a bunker when it wasn’t necessary, since she’s been through that once before and had her life ruined for over a decade as a result. Lillian was a fitting ally to get Kimmy pumped up in her aggression towards a lying weatherman.

What I’m Watching: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys: Season 3, Episode 7 “Nurture” (B)

I’m starting to feel as if I’ve become detached from time, not quite sure exactly what’s going on here anymore and where our characters have gone. Cassandra going back to visit her mother felt especially strange, partially because we’ve never really heard much about her and because it happened so casually. What’s much more interesting to me is the way that the young witness is being portrayed, not eager to harm innocent people and still just a normal young boy in a few ways while he’s being prepared for a life of grand omniscience. I can’t help but feel that we’re in a bit of a “Looper” situation here, where witnessing the stonefaced executions of those around him like Deacon are going to transform him into the ruthless being that he becomes. Or maybe Cole got through to him, in the moment that he decided to spare him, teaching him about the value of life? Jennifer and the witness boding about being primary was an interesting moment, and it’s at least good that they share a connection. Hannah getting hit was an unfortunate casualty of the mission, and I’m sure that’s going to drive Jones and her new partner Deacon to rage in their quest for revenge. Cole and Cassandra have now officially picked a side, and that closing shot of them sporting the fancy futuristic time suits and coordinating their time travel means that things are changing in a completely irreversible way. I have no idea what – or when – comes next, but I’m definitely intrigued.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What I’m Watching: Master of None

Master of None: Season 2, Episode 8 “Thanksgiving” (B+)

Between when I watched this episode and when I sat down to write this review, this episode earned two Emmy nominations, one for guest actress Angela Bassett and the other for writing duo Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe, who plays Denise. I’ve never found Denise to be one of the strongest characters on this show, though I did enjoy her “Stop what you’re doing, this is a citizen’s arrest” moment with Dev from season one. This episode was a very expository installment, one that started from a point in the past where Dev and Denise were just figuring out who they were. Casting Bassett as Denise’s mother was a strong choice, and it seems like it was a fun role to play. For however inappropriate Catherine was in how she reacted to her daughter’s sexuality, there was nothing more horrendously awkward than Nikki. Saying that she watched the news was a bad start, and Dev just made it even more unbearable by repeatedly asking her to say her Twitter handle over and over. Michelle was a much better fit, and it was sweet to see her offer to help with the cooking during Thanksgiving 2017, finally giving Catherine a sense of what it’s like to have her daughter find a great significant other. I didn’t love this episode as much as previous similar format installments, but it was still cleverly-done and a good showcase for the two writer-actors to pen their own lives and have a great time bringing it all to life.

What I’m Watching: Sense8 (Season Finale)

Sense8: Season 2, Episode 10 “You Want a War?” (B+)

So, I was a bit confused here. Somehow when I was watching the episodes I thought that there was still one more to go, but I think that’s because the Christmas special technically counted as episode one and the two-hour special that’s yet to come is technically episode eleven, and so somewhere in the course of things I skipped an episode. I don’t know what that says about this show – that I could miss an entire hour and not even notice since things aren’t always so coherent or linear anyway. I’m very glad that I waited until now to watch this episode since it had such a terrific ending that I would have been devastated to learn that it was all we were ever going to get. Seeing all the sensates together was something I wasn’t sure was ever going to happen, and therefore it was immensely satisfying, particularly because it happened all at once without much warning, with Will being in the same room as Whispers rather than in his head as the first indicator that they had come up with a master plan. Opening with them all running behind Sun as she was chasing her brother and then using their specific skills to hunt him down was cool, and rallying together to grab Whispers and Jonas after Wolfgang got captured was an amazing and exciting show of solidarity. I do really like this unique and bizarre show, and I’m honestly surprised it lasted this long, so I’ll take the two-hour finale reprieve and say thank you, eagerly awaiting what’s sure to be a strange and possibly satisfying blowout end to this incomparable saga.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Jamie Clayton as Nomi

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale (Season Finale)

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1, Episode 10 “Night” (B+)

Since I watched this episode, I was very pleased to find out that Emmy voters responded to this show favorably, rewarding it with a whopping thirteen nominations. One of the honored nominees, Samira Wiley, played a big part in this episode, with Moira making it to Canada and being completely overwhelmed by the refugee-immigration process. Reuniting with Luke was a big deal not just emotionally but also practically since she knows so much about what’s really going on with the handmaids, and can theoretically lead both Luke and sympathetic elements of the Canadian government to June’s aid. She could really use it, given the horrifying revelation that, all this time, Serena has known where her daughter was and revealed it to her only so that she could show her how much power she actually had over June, who started swearing and holding nothing back, to which Serena just coldly responded by telling her to calm down. If all Serena wants is for the baby she’ll claim as hers to be safe, June could probably comply, but someone has apparently rescued her, though it’s not clear if it’s Luke or Nick or someone else entirely. Serena asking Fred to play Scrabble only to be reminded that it’s apparently against the law was an intriguing moment I hope is revisited in season two, since there’s still so much we don’t know about how this world came into being. Ofglen and Offred (it’s confusing to keep switching back and forth, I know) leading the crowd in refusing to stone Janine made for a very powerful scene emblematic of what resistance means in this new world, and I’m looking forward to more of the same in what’s sure to be an equally excellent season two.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Elisabeth Moss as Offred/June

What I’m Watching: iZombie (Season Finale)

iZombie: Season 3, Episode 13 “Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 2” (B+)

Three years in a row, this show has used its season finale as a fantastic jumping-off point to completely reshift its focus and frame everything in a whole new way. This season was all about the zombie outbreak being on the verge of going public, and what people were doing to combat it. The suicide bombing of the Fillmore Graves party turned out to be somewhat inconsequential since everything progressed in a much grander way that made keeping anything secret in this world form here on out totally impossible. Through it all, Blaine just wanted to be a businessman, and that got his offer rejected by Chase, who turned out to be a much better person/zombie than anyone expected. The discovery of an employee with different ideals who engineered a mutiny made clear that his priorities were for the betterment of Seattle and society in general, and he did that very well with a clearly-marketed plan to assure that zombies being a thing didn’t turn the world inside out. Liv was already on it, making sure that everyone’s favorite newly-zombified TV reporter said on air that the zombie outbreak was happening, and Chase was there to provide a reassuring plan that took a lot into consideration. Unfortunately, humans wanting to kill the good zombies means that a peaceful coexistence is far from guaranteed, but I’m very excited to see what comes next. Will Ravi be a zombie or will he finally be able to cure Liv, which would be really weird to see our favorite zombie back as a human in a world now dominated by zombies?

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Rose McIver as Liv

Saturday, July 15, 2017

What I’m Watching: House of Cards

House of Cards: Season 5, Episode 5 “Chapter 57” (B+)

It’s truly eerie to see crowds gathered outside the White House chanting “Not my president!” with signs that read “Never Underwood” because such things are commonplace now in real life and happened in this most recent election. Yet Underwood, unlike Trump, was the president, and he’s just waiting to find out if he’s going to continue in that role. Also unlike Trump, he was never actually elected, and therefore I can understand why people are rallying against the idea of him staying in power. His opening history lesson on election laws was both informative and entertainingly-done, and the thought that it could come down to the toss of a coin is a seriously ridiculous revelation about democracy. Claire didn’t even want to hear that there was a possibility that she would be the vice-president with Conway as the president, and I actually think it might be just as likely that she’ll somehow end up being president. Frank questioning Doug’s loyalty was a mistake that he immediately realized and retracted, and none of it compared to the cruelty that Claire exhibited towards Donald when he dared to choose this moment to grow a spine. Aidan being missing is definitely a problem since he could ruin everything for the Underwoods at any moment, and Lisa showing up to talk to Tom about Doug and Rachel is also an instance of especially bad timing. That one can’t hurt Frank nearly as much, but it does put Doug at risk of being very distracted at a time when he can’t afford anything like that.

What I’m Watching: Casual

Casual: Season 3, Episode 6 “Troubleshooting” (B+)

This episode was fun because it saw each of our protagonists encounter familiar situations, go down the usual roads, and then end up taking a different approach that served as a better choice. Alex did not do well on his first day at his new job, though the fact that he got reported to HR and the Oahu native didn’t for the way she spoke to him is absolutely ridiculous. I like that he didn’t give up right away and that he managed to make a new friend in Judy Greer’s Judy, who is the only person who doesn’t think Eric is the greatest thing on earth. It would be an HR nightmare if something happened between him and the woman who’s in charge of HR, but maybe they can just be friends. I loved Val’s response to the woman who accosted her in the bar because the bartender turned out to be her boyfriend, not apologetic and very defendable in her explanation that there’s no way she could have known that he was dating someone. Rekindling her friendship slash relationship with Jack seems like a positive step so far, even if it did come at the expense of Jennifer’s trust in her, something that I imagine can be earned back pretty quickly. Laura fell into the same old trap when she slept with her supervisor on day one and then quit because he got fired for it, but good for her for walking out the moment that he refused to listen to her when she asked him to consider her comfort for a moment. Coming back to work is a positive step – maybe this will actually be good for her!

Emmy Nominees: Best Comedy Series

My predictions: 6/7, picking “Transparent” over “Modern Family”

Well, in a year where Modern Family dropped down to just three nominations after earning fourteen in its first year and seventeen at its peak, you’d think it might finally be time to drop it from this category, just like I did from my weekly watchlist when it went on hiatus halfway through this season. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and instead the much more highly-regarded “Transparent” got off the list, something that I didn’t expect based on its three acting bids and the fact that it still managed seven nominations. Atlanta joined the pack with six nominations, translating its Golden Globe wins into Emmy love. The rest of the category is back from last year, with Master of None doubling its nomination count to eight, Black-ish inching up to four, Silicon Valley dropping one notch to ten, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt leveling out at five, and Veep scoring its biggest haul ever with seventeen. My comedy list will be completely different with just one or two of these shows on it, but this isn’t a bad lineup.

Who should win? “Silicon Valley”
Who will win? Unless it’s “Atlanta,” it will be Veep again.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Emmy Nominees: Best Drama Series

My predictions: 6/7, picking “The Americans” over “Better Call Saul”

It turns out that my prediction of five new shows to join this race came true after all, not that most others really thought any differently. I’m proud that I kept House of Cards in my predictions despite many thinking it would be snubbed. The show’s nomination count dropped this year due to a lack of nominated guest stars (it had five last year), but it still did decently. My worry that Better Call Saul would be left off was negated by the show achieving nine nominations compared to seven the past two years, though it’s a real shame that those writing and directing bids didn’t come with a nomination for Michael McKean, this season’s standout. It’s sad that “Mr. Robot” got left off but not surprising since being included last year was a pretty crazy feat in the first place. “The Americans” being omitted is a surprise since, usually, long-neglected shows get honored until the end once they’re finally recognized. I’m glad that “Homeland” was finally dismissed from this category. Now that they’ve been nominated for so much, I realize that I need to watch both The Crown and Stranger Things as soon as possible, and I’ll begin them both shortly. I can understand why people like This Is Us so much, and while I feel that it doesn’t deserve nearly the praise it gets, at least it wasn’t nominated in writing or directing at all. I’m beyond thrilled that The Handmaid’s Tale did as well as it did since that was one of my favorites this season. And it’s clear that Westworld, tying SNL for a whopping twenty-two nominations, was popular with voters, which I fully support given that, prior to “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Legion,” that was the most mind-bending, gripping show I was watching. This is a solid list that I hope to find even more solid after watching the two shows I haven’t yet experienced.

Who should win? Right now, I’d vote for “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “Westworld”
Who will win? With so many popular new shows, it’s impossible to know, but I think Westworld dominating means it may have the advantage.

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing the second “Atlanta” episode

The nominees: B.A.N. (Atlanta), Streets on Lock (Atlanta), Thanksgiving (Master of None), Success Failure (Silicon Valley), Georgia (Veep), Groundbreaking (Veep)

Just like in the directing category, all submitted HBO content made the cut, which was good news for strong installments of Silicon Valley and Veep. One of two submitted episodes of Master of None was nominated, though I personally would have chosen two others altogether, not that the one selected, which I just watched, wasn’t quite good as well. I’m fond of one episode of Atlanta and not the other, but I suppose it’s good that it’s here. It does have a distinctive and notable style to it that comes across most in its writing.

Who should win? “Georgia,” maybe
Who will win? I think “Thanksgiving” will give Master of None a repeat win.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing only “Atlanta”

The nominees: B.A.N. (Atlanta), Intellectual Property (Silicon Valley), Server Error (Silicon Valley), Blurb (Veep), Groundbreaking (Veep), Justice (Veep)

It’s not too hard to do well predicting this category when, for the second year in a row, two HBO shows have all their submitted episodes nominated. I’m a big fan of Silicon Valley, which is always recognized here but should be elsewhere as well, and I’m rooting for it. These episodes of Veep were pretty good too – I’ll provide more analysis in my winner predictions. I liked Atlanta, but I wasn’t too fond of this episode in particular and the format in which it was presented.

Who should win? Probably “Server Error”
Who will win? I’m guessing Veep for “Groundbreaking.”

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing only “Better Call Saul”

The nominees: The Soviet Division (The Americans), Chicanery (Better Call Saul), Assassins (The Crown), Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale), Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers (Stranger Things), The Bicameral Mind (Westworld)

I did pretty well here, and I’m more than happy to see a show I don’t particularly like, “UnREAL,” snubbed in favor of a first-timer here, Better Call Saul. I didn’t know which episode this was based alone on its title, but this is a stellar hour that’s both well-written and well-acted. I’m going to watch Stranger Things and The Crown soon, and I’ll tune in to my annual The Americans viewing thanks to Emmy accolades. The pilot of The Handmaid’s Tale and the season finale of Westworld were easily two of the best hours of this past season, so you’ll hear no complains from me about them being recognized here.

Who should win? I’ve only seen half of these, and they’re all tremendous choices.
Who will win? I think The Handmaid’s Tale takes this.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/7

The nominees: Witness (Better Call Saul), Hyde Park Corner (The Crown), Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale), The Bridge (The Handmaid’s Tale), America First (Homeland), Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers (Stranger Things), The Bicameral Mind (Westworld)

This is a cool category, with four new shows represented, one that hasn’t been recognized here before, and another that really doesn’t need to be here since it’s well past its prime (Homeland). I’m thrilled to see the season finale of Westworld and not one but two episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale here. I still have to watch Stranger Things and The Crown. I’m shocked – and thrilled – to see Better Call Saul here for the first time, recognized for the second episode of the season, one of the most focused and intense hours.

Who should win? “Offred” or “The Bicameral Mind,” though I still have two episodes to watch
Who will win? I’ll say Westworld for now, but it could be any of them

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/6, missing Baker, Bassett, and Sykes

I did okay here, not expecting that “The Big Bang Theory” would, for the first time ever, earn just three technical bids and zero acting nominations. The sentimental nomination for the late Carrie Fisher (Catastrophe) was expected, as were mentions for past nominees Melissa McCarthy (Saturday Night Live) and Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live). I didn’t see Wanda Sykes (Black-ish) coming, but her inclusion makes sense, as does that of Angela Bassett (Master of None). I’m most pleased to see dependable veteran actress Becky Ann Baker (Girls) honored with her first-ever Emmy nomination, which is very deserved.

Who should win? I’ve only seen two of these, so I can’t really comment just yet.
Who will win? My bet is Fisher will take it.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 2/6, picking just Hanks and Laurie

Here’s my worst category, where a few things happened. Two actors - Riz Ahmed (Girls) and Matthew Rhys (Girls) – picked up bids for memorable turns on the final season of a show no longer widely recognized in other categories mainly because they’re also nominated this year for more well-received productions, replacing the man who the Emmy last year for the same show, Peter Scolari. Hugh Laurie (Veep) missed out when he should have been nominated in the supporting race, so now he’s here, ousting expected nominee Peter MacNicol. And then we have three hosts from the ultra-popular late-night sketch series, all of whom aren’t quite in the spotlight as much as they used to be: Lin-Manuel Miranda (Saturday Night Live), Dave Chappelle (Saturday Night Live), and Tom Hanks (Saturday Night Live). All I know is that I have a lot of SNL to watch.

Who should win? I’ve only seen half of these. I’d probably choose Ahmed.
Who will win? My guess is Miranda, though who the hell knows?

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6, picking Kim Dickens and Carrie Preston over Dowd and Purser

Well, this list is a little different, which is nice. We have the return of Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), one of just two nominations for a show that, in season one, earned twelve bids, and of Cicely Tyson (How to Get Away with Murder). Two nominees that have long been waiting in the wings are finally here, Alison Wright (The Americans) and Ann Dowd (The Leftovers), a double nominee this year whose inclusion is welcome but hardly fitting as literally the lone nomination her show received over the course of its three seasons. I haven’t seen Shannon Purser (Stranger Things), so more thoughts on that soon. And then there’s Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid’s Tale), who I had initially thought would be competing in the supporting category but so deserves a nomination wherever Emmy voters deem appropriate.

Who should win? I’m missing half this list, so for now I’ll say Bledel but likely need to revisit once I’ve watched the rest.
Who will win? I’ll pick Bledel optimistically for now.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6, picking Beau Bridges and Mark Margolis over Wong and Henry

My expectation that two past nominees in this category would return didn’t pan out, though one expected nominee from last year, BD Wong (Mr. Robot), finally showed up this year. He’s hardly representative of all of the greatness on this show, but at least it’s something. Two Emmy winners last year, Hank Azaria (Ray Donovan) and Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), are back, and either of them could easily win again this year. Gerald McRaney (This Is Us), an actor I’ve seen in a number of shows over the years, earns his first Emmy nomination for an extremely sentimental turn, joined by past nominee Denis O’Hare (This Is Us) and first-time nominee Brian Tyree Henry (This Is Us), who I think is here much more because of his starring role on “Atlanta” than his guest work on this clearly well-received show.

Who should win? I haven’t seen McRaney’s work this season. Otherwise, I’d choose Azaria.
Who will win? I think it will be McRaney, though it could be any of them.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/6, missing Bayer, Jones, and Hahn

Well, talk about enthusiasm for the late-night show that spends most of its time lampooning our current president. After Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) won last year, she’s back with both Vanessa Bayer (Saturday Night Live) and Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live) in a strong showing of industry support for the sketch series. Gaby Hoffmann, who was the only actress from her show nominated in its first year, is out in favor of season standout Judith Light (Transparent), back for her second nod, and Kathryn Hahn (Transparent), finally earning some awards recognition for a pretty solid if mostly tangential role. Rounding out the list is returning nominee Anna Chlumsky (Veep), who found out about being included in a supremely awkward way while she was announcing the nominees.

Who should win? I don’t watch SNL regularly, so I’m not sure, but out of the rest, I’m not sure I could pick – they’re all great.
Who will win?: I would have though Light, but now I think McKinnon will repeat.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/6, picking Andre Braugher and Timothy Simons over Burrell and Walsh

Not too many surprises here, with Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live) joining the lineup for an immensely popular turn on a show that earned the most nominations it ever has by a lot this year. I’m surprised that Braugher is out while Ty Burrell (Modern Family) remains in for a show I gave up on that earned just three bids this year as compared with between ten and seventeen each year over the course of its first five seasons. I would also have chosen Simons and Sam Richardson over Tony Hale (Veep) and Matt Walsh (Veep) this season, and it’s disappointing to see a show get so much love but not for the most deserving people. Last year’s winner, Louie Anderson (Baskets), is back, as is Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

Who should win? I didn’t see much of Baldwin and I need to watch Burrell’s episode and Anderson’s before passing judgment. At the moment, I guess I’d pick Burgess?
Who will win? I think this has to go to Baldwin.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 3/7, missing Aduba, Dowd, and Wiley

This category is notable for a few reasons. The first is that, even though only two of last year’s nominees were eligible, this lineup is entirely different. Only one nominee, Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), who previously won twice, is from a returning show. She’s not necessarily the one I would have picked to honor from her show, though she is a good choice. One of the actresses I would have selected got nominated for another series, and that’s Samara Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale), joining Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale) recognizing a terrific series and two superb supporting actresses in excellent roles. I still have to watch Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) to see what all the buzz is about, and Chrissy Metz (This Is Us) was an expected choice. I’m extremely relieved that Thandie Newton (Westworld) made the cut since she was so incredible on her show.

Who should win? I need to watch Brown, but I’m all about Newton right now.
Who will win? It’s a competitive category – I’ll give the edge to Brown but may change that after I’ve seen her show.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/7, missing Patinkin, Harbour, and Wright

This is one of a number of categories this season where there are seven nominees and still some important people left off. Ed Harris’ snub is the most surprising, though I’m glad that Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), who for some reason I didn’t predict, did make the cut. Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul) is a solid choice, but it’s still so puzzling to me that anyone who watches the show would pick him over Michael McKean this season, though that was a similar problem that happened when Aaron Paul kept getting nominated for “Breaking Bad.” All the actors on that show are terrific; it’s just a matter of picking the right standout each season. I think David Harbour (Stranger Things) counts as a surprise, though I’m clueless since I haven’t yet seen the show, which I plan to watch this summer. Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) is a bizarre choice since the show has gone very far downhill and for the first time neither Claire Danes nor the show are nominated. Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us) is a good pick for his show, while Michael Kelly (House of Cards) hardly seems to me, halfway through the season at this point, to be the right pick from his show (I’d go with Joel Kinnaman). Rounding out the list is John Lithgow (The Crown), whose show I’ll also be watching this summer.

Who should win? Out of those I’ve seen, definitely Wright. More once I’ve watched the rest.
Who will win? I’ll pick Jones for sentimentality reasons, though I think Lithgow could just as easily win.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/7, picking Issa Rae over Adlon and Fonda

I’m over the snubs of CW show stars since I expected those fully, and therefore the only disappointment was the omission of Issa Rae, an actress I thought had a good shot here. Instead, we saw another fun pick, Pamela Adlon (Better Things), who I had completely forgotten about since her show aired so many months ago. I like here and think it’s a good role, so I’m happy about that. Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) also got to join her costar Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie), earning her first nomination, for the show’s third season. Allison Janney (Mom) got promoted from the supporting category, joining returning nominees Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish), Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep). This list doesn’t look much like mine will, but it’s a decent lineup.

Who should win? I don’t watch Janney’s show. I think I’d vote for Kemper at this point.
Who will win? I’m disappointed to say that Louis-Dreyfus is all but guaranteed to triumph again.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/6, picking Thomas Middleditch over Galifianakis

There was only one surprise here, and that was the inclusion of Zach Galifianakis (Baskets), whose show has little buzz aside from the lone nomination and win for costar Louie Anderson last year. I only watched the pilot, but even though the show doesn’t really appeal, his performance did seem pretty solid. It’s a shame that Middleditch got left off as a result, though he’s also not the one I would choose to recognize from that underrated show. I’m happy to see that Donald Glover (Atlanta) made the cut since Golden Globe enthusiasm doesn’t always translate to Emmy love. Will Forte is out, which is more than fine by me. The other four are repeat nominees, with Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) and Aziz Ansari (Master of None) enjoying lots of love for their shows. William H. Macy (Shameless) continues to be the only representative of a superb show that should be nominated across many categories, while Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) saw his show experience a dip in popularity overall this year.

Who should win? I don’t watch Anderson’s show or Galifianakis’. I think I’d choose Ansari though they’re all good picks.
Who will win? It might be Ansari but it will probably be Tambor.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 6/6

This was one of my only perfect scores this year, and I’m pretty proud of it even though it was because there were no surprises. Claire Danes finally got left off the list, and Taraji P. Henson also failed to make the cut after being nominated previously. Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) return with similar support for their shows, and Keri Russell (The Americans) also made it back in despite her show missing the mark in the top race. I still have to watch – and will soon begin - Claire Foy (The Crown), but that wasn’t a surprise at all. Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) wasn’t a lock, representing her very adored show, which scored in all four major acting categories. Best of all, Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) made it in for a superb turn, and her show did terrifically across all categories as well. I’m pretty happy with this list.

Who should win? I don’t watch Russell’s show or Davis’, and haven’t yet seen Foy’s. Out of the rest, Moss should win this.
Who will win? I’ll need to watch the episodes, but I’m actually going to guess that Moss manages to beat Foy since the two haven’t actually et faced each other.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/7, picking Rami Malek over Odenkirk and Ventimiglia

I noticed as the nominations were being announced that they skipped over Malek’s name alphabetically and was deeply concerned. It’s a crazy thing that last year’s winner wasn’t recognized, especially since the show didn’t experience a huge drop in quality or anything like that. It’s also a shame that in a category with an extra nominee, there wasn’t even a place for him. I’m glad that Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) didn’t get left off the list even though I predicted it, and it’s nice to see that Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) has now become a regular face in this category. Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) made the cut again, as did Matthew Rhys (The Americans), whose show didn’t perform nearly as well as it did last year. Anthony Hopkins (Westworld) represented his show, which scored in all four major acting categories. Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) was an expected choice, and I can get behind his nomination a lot more than I can the surprising inclusion of Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us), who was a fan favorite but still didn’t merit Emmy recognition for this role. An interesting list at best, but it’s missing some key names.

Who should win? For this season, I think I’d give it to either Schreiber of Spacey, though a strong case can also be made for Hopkins.
Who will win? I think this should easily be Brown’s for the taking since I don’t see any of the others having enough momentum to win.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Emmy Predictions: Best Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Black-ish, Master of None, Modern Family, Silicon Valley, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep

The competition: All seven shows from last year are eligible again. I don’t see why most if not all of them wouldn’t return. It’s possible that Modern Family could finally lose out with voters, but I wouldn’t count on that happening. Atlanta is probably the strongest contender to join the lineup, with Divorce and Insecure both longshots. I’d love to see Trial and Error included, and it would be the best day of my life if Dirk Gently’s Holisitc Detective Agency got recognized for its absurd brilliance.

The predicted nominees: Atlanta, Black-ish, Master of None, Silicon Valley, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep

The predicted winner: Veep

Next up: That’s a wrap! Nominations are announced on Thursday. I'll be back by Friday with full reactions by category!

Emmy Predictions: Best Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: The Americans, Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, Mr. Robot

The competition: There are two spots open this year thanks to the end of “Downton Abbey” and a year off for “Game of Thrones.” Given that the enthusiasm just started last year, newbie The Americans is actually likeliest to return. I’m hopeful that Homeland will finally be dismissed, and I’m nervous about the chances for both Better Call Saul and Mr. Robot since, despite continued excellence, buzz seems to be waning. House of Cards could go either way. There are a handful of new contenders that are likely to crack the list, led by The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, This Is Us, and Westworld. It’s bold to predict an almost entirely all-new lineup, but I think these shows are all hot right now and may just make up a pretty neat new list.

The predicted nominees: The Americans, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, House of Cards, Stranger Things, This Is Us, Westworld

The predicted winner: Westworld

Next up: Best Comedy Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Writing for a Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. Chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Episode 1 (Catastrophe), Parents (Masters of None), Founder Friendly (Silicon Valley), The Uptick (Silicon Valley), Morning After (Veep), Mother (Veep)

The top contenders:
B.A.N. (Atlanta)
Streets on Lock (Atlanta)
Rally Cap (Brockmire)
Episode 5 (Catastrophe)
Fix Everything (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency)
Pilot (Divorce)
Episode 1 (Fleabag)
Everything Is Fine (The Good Place)
Insecure as F**k (Insecure)
New York, I Love You (Master of None)
Thanksgiving (Master of None)
Success Failure (Silicon Valley)
If I Were a Bell (Transparent)
Georgia (Veep)
Groundbreaking (Veep)

The roundup: I think Catastrophe made the cut last year because it was a pilot and I wouldn’t count on it to repeat again this year. The question is whether another pilot, like Divorce, Fleabag, or Insecure, can crack the lineup. I think an episode of Atlanta is likelier, and the rest of the list will mimic last year’s, though I’m open to the idea of being surprised with some unexpected and unconventional choices.

The predicted nominees: Streets on Lock (Atlanta), Insecure as F**k (Insecure), Thanksgiving (Master of None), Success Failure (Silicon Valley), Georgia (Veep), Groundbreaking (Veep)

The predicted winner: Groundbreaking (Veep)

Next up: Best Drama Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Directing for a Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. Chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Parents (Masters of None), Daily Active Users (Silicon Valley), Founder Friendly (Silicon Valley), Man on the Land (Transparent), Kissing Your Sister (Veep), Morning After (Veep), Mother (Veep)

The top contenders:
B.A.N. (Atlanta)
Streets on Lock (Atlanta)
Chapter 1 (Dear White People)
Weekend Plans (Divorce)
Episode 1 (Fleabag)
Goodbye Tour (Girls)
Latching (Girls)
Everything Is Fine (The Good Place)
Michael’s Gambit (The Good Place)
The Thief (Master of None)
New York, I Love You (Master of None)
Intellectual Property (Silicon Valley)
Server Error (Silicon Valley)
If I Were a Bell (Transparent)
Exciting and New (Transparent)
Blurb (Veep)
Groundbreaking (Veep)
Justice (Veep)

The roundup: Last year’s list had seven nominees, and there’s little to make me doubt that this year’s lineup will be exactly the same. Either episode of Master of None could make the cut, and there’s more than one Transparent installment that could earn a nomination as well. Both Silicon Valley possibilities seem likely, and all three Veep submissions could make the cut too. Some of the final season of Girls might be nominated, as could introductory episodes of Atlanta, but I think this category will stay mostly the same.

The predicted nominees: The Thief (Master of None), Intellectual Property (Silicon Valley), Server Error (Silicon Valley), Blurb (Veep), Groundbreaking (Veep), Justice (Veep)

The predicted winner: Groundbreaking (Veep)

Next up: Best Writing for a Comedy Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Writing for a Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. Chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Persona Non Grata (The Americans) Episode 8 (Downton Abbey) Battle of the Bastards (Game of Thrones) End (The Good Wife) eps1.0_hellofriend.mov (Mr. Robot) Return (UnREAL)

The top contenders:
The Soviet Division (The Americans)
Golden Frog Time (Billions)
Assassins (The Crown)
Inauguration (The Good Fight)
Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale)
America First (Homeland)
The Book of Nora (The Leftovers)
eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc + eps2.0_unm4sk-pt2.tc (Mr. Robot)
Chapter One: The Vanishing Of Will Byers (Stranger Things)
The Best Washing Machine in the World (This Is Us)
The Trip (This Is Us)
Insurgent (UnREAL)
War (UnREAL)
The Bicameral Mind (Westworld)

The roundup: Looking at last year’s slate, it’s likely that an episode of The Americans will be nominated, and I feel like, if it’s going to get in anywhere, The Good Fight would probably show up here. I’m not too enthusiastic about the possibility of Mr. Robot being nominated again, and I think UnREAL has a much better shot of repeating. Watch out for the pilots of The Crown, Stranger Things, and The Handmaid’s Tale as well as submitted episodes of This Is Us and Westworld.

The predicted nominees: The Soviet Division (The Americans), Assassins (The Crown), Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale), Chapter One: The Vanishing Of Will Byers (Stranger Things), War (UnREAL), The Bicameral Mind (Westworld)

The predicted winner: The Suitcase (Mad Men)

Next up: Best Directing for a Comedy Series

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Emmy Predictions: Best Directing for a Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. Chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Episode 9 (Downton Abbey), Battle of the Bastards (Game of Thrones), The Door (Game of Thrones), The Tradition of Hospitality (Homeland), This Is All We Are (The Knick), Exsuscito (Ray Donovan)

The top contenders:
The Bone Orchard (American Gods)
The Soviet Division (The Americans)
Golden Frog Time (Billions)
Hyde Park Corner (The Crown)
Where There Is Ruin, There Is Hope For A Treasure (The Get Down)
Of Mice and Men (Goliath)
Inauguration (The Good Fight)
Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale)
The Bridge (The Handmaid’s Tale)
America First (Homeland)
Sock Puppets (Homeland)
Chapter 53 (House of Cards)
The Book of Nora (The Leftovers)
The Most Powerful Man In The World (And His Identical Twin Brother) (The Leftovers)
eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc + eps2.0_unm4sk-pt2.tc (Mr. Robot)
Rattus Rattus (Ray Donovan)
Chapter One: The Vanishing Of Will Byers (Stranger Things)
Memphis (This Is Us)
Moonshadow (This Is Us)
The Bicameral Mind (Westworld)
Chestnut (Westworld)
Trompe L’Oeil (Westworld)

The roundup: Two-thirds of last year’s lineup won’t be back because the shows didn’t air this past year. I think that Homeland is on its way out from the Emmys after plummeting in quality several years ago, but it might still show up here. The season finale of Ray Donovan was up last year, and I suspect that this year’s finale will be nominated this time around, though it’s hardly a guarantee. The Crown submitted only one episode, making its chances very good, and Stranger Things is likely to show up too. I think that the pilot of The Handmaid’s Tale is a solid bet. I’m not overly confident about any of my other choices, including the season finales and other poignant episodes of This Is Us and Westworld, and the series finale of The Leftovers might finally allow the previously unrecognized HBO show to score. Another strong possibility is the series premiere of The Get Down.

The predicted nominees: Hyde Park Corner (The Crown), Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale), Rattus Rattus (Ray Donovan), Chapter One: The Vanishing Of Will Byers (Stranger Things), Memphis (This Is Us), The Bicameral Mind (Westworld)

The predicted winner: The Bicameral Mind (Westworld)

Next up: Best Writing for a Drama Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. Chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory), Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live), Melora Hardin (Transparent), Melissa McCarthy (Transparent), Laurie Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory), Amy Schumer (Saturday Night Live)

The competition: Expect the three nominees from last year who are eligible again - Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory), Melissa McCarthy (Saturday Night Live), and Laure Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory) – to repeat. Past nominee Elizabeth Banks (Modern Family) could make the cut again, as could those nominated previously for other roles, like Laura Dern (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Jane Krakowski (Modern Family), Maya Rudolph (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live). Other possibilities include Becky Ann Baker (Girls), Angela Bassett (Master of None), Trace Lysette (Transparent), and I imagine the late Carrie Fisher (Catastrophe) will earn some sentimental love as well.

The predicted nominees: Banks, Baranski, Fisher, McCarthy, Metcalf, Wiig

The predicted winner: Fisher

Emmy Predictions: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. Chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Tracy Morgan (Saturday Night Live), Martin Mull (Veep), Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory), Bradley Whitford (Transparent)

The competition: Just one of last year’s nominees, winner Peter Scolari (Girls), is eligible again this year. Peter MacNicol (Veep) was originally nominated last year but then deemed to have appeared in too many episodes, so his lone appearance in season six might net him another shot at a trophy. A few past nominees - Steve Buscemi (Portlandia), Jimmy Fallon (Saturday Night Live), Jon Hamm (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Fred Willard (Modern Family) – could contend again, as could performers previously nominated for other roles, like Josh Charles (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Hugh Laurie (Veep). Riz Ahmed (Girls), Aziz Ansari (Saturday Night Live), and Matthew Rhys (Girls) could benefit from buzz for other roles. Additional possibilities include Usman Ally (Veep), Shoukath Ansari (Master of None), Dave Chappelle (Saturday Night Live), Tom Hanks (Saturday Night Live), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Saturday Night Live), and Peter Riegert (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

The predicted nominees: Ansari, Fallon, Hanks, Laurie, MacNicol, Scolari

The predicted winner: Ansari

Emmy Predictions: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. Chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Ellen Burstyn (House of Cards), Allison Janney (Masters of Sex), Margo Martindale (The Americans), Laurie Metcalf (Horace and Pete), Molly Parker (House of Cards), Carrie Preston (The Good Wife)

The competition: Martindale has been promoted to the supporting race, leaving just one contender from last year eligible here, albeit for playing the same role on another show: Carrie Preston (The Good Fight). Past nominees Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) and Cicely Tyson (How to Get Away with Murder) are likely to join the race again, and another Emmy favorite, Jane Lynch (The Good Fight), good show up too. I’d expect Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid’s Tale), Gillian Anderson (American Gods), Cloris Leachman (American Gods), Kim Dickens (House of Cards), Ann Dowd (The Leftovers), June Squibb (Grey’s Anatomy), Alison Wright (The Americans), and Grace Gummer (Good Girls Revolt) to earn some votes.

The predicted nominees: Bledel, Cox, Dickens, Preston, Tyson, Wright

The predicted winner: Bledel

Next up: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. Chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Mahershala Ali (House of Cards), Hank Azaria (Ray Donovan), Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards), Michael J. Fox (The Good Wife), Paul Sparks (House of Cards), Max von Sydow (Game of Thrones)

The competition: Sparks has been upgraded to supporting, and the only possible returning nominee here is last year’s winner Hank Azaria (Ray Donovan), who is likely to be back again. Gerald McRaney (This Is Us) and Denis O’Hare (This Is Us) both seem like good sentimental bets to join the race. I’m pretty sure that the rest of the category will be made up by past nominees, like Beau Bridges (Masters of Sex), last year’s Best Supporting Actor winner Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), and two actors nominated for the same roles on other shows, Dylan Baker (The Good Fight) and Mark Margolis (Better Call Saul). Other possibilities include Brian Tyree Henry (This Is Us), David Strathairn (Billions), BD Wong (Mr. Robot), and Lars Mikkelsen (House of Cards). I’m sure we’ll have a surprise or two here also.

The predicted nominees: Azaria, Bridges, Margolis, McRaney, Mendelsohn, O’Hare

The predicted winner: Azaria

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Anna Chlumsky, Gaby Hoffmann, Allison Janney, Judith Light, Kate McKinnon, Niecy Nash

The competition: Count out two of last year’s nominees, since two-time winner Janney has been promoted to the lead race and Nash’s show ended. Judith Light (Transparent) is a sure thing thanks to a superb showcase this past season, and last year’s winner Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) should be a lock too considering the timing of the election and her role on the show during it. Anna Chlumsky (Veep) seems like a good bet to return also, though I’m less confident about Gaby Hoffmann (Transparent) being solid. Her costars Cherry Jones (Transparent), Anjelica Huston (Transparent), and Kathryn Hahn (Transparent) might attract more votes for this season. I don’t personally believe that Rita Moreno (One Day at a Time) will make the cut despite most predicting her but it is possible. New contenders like Zazie Beetz (Atlanta) or Molly Shannon (Divorce) could break into the race, but I think voters are likelier to go back to old staples who weren’t nominated last year like Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), or Julie Bowen (Modern Family).

The predicted nominees: Chlumsky, Hoffman, Jones, Krakowski, Light, McKinnon

The predicted winner: Light

Next up: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Louie Anderson, Andre Braugher, Tituss Burgess, Ty Burrell, Tony Hale, Keegan Michael-Key, Matt Walsh

The competition: Only one of the seven nominees from last year, Michael-Key, whose show ended, is no longer eligible, and therefore we could be looking at the exact same list this year. Half of these nominees are on their own - last year’s winner Louie Anderson (Baskets), Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) - meaning that there is minimal enthusiasm for their shows elsewhere and they could easily fall off the list. Past winner Tony Hale (Veep) is a lock, but I’m thinking that two of his costars, Timothy Simons (Veep) and Sam Richardson (Veep), are likelier to earn a nomination than last year’s nominee Matt Walsh (Veep). This could be the year that past winner Ty Burrell (Modern Family) finally misses the cut, though fresh blood isn’t all that strong. The only surefire inclusion is Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live), whose Donald Trump impression is sure to win over Emmy voters. T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley), Matt Ross (Silicon Valley), or Laurence Fishburne (Black-ish) could benefit from their shows’ continued popularity to reap a first-time nomination, and Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) is the only serious contender from a freshman series. Neither of their shows are all that Emmy-friendly, but past Emmy nominees Walton Goggins (Vice Principals) and John Lithgow (Trial and Error) are sure to garner a few votes based on their reputations alone (though their performances were also excellent).

The predicted nominees: Anderson, Baldwin, Braugher, Burgess, Hale, Simons

The predicted winner: Anderson

Next up: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Maggie Smith, Maura Tierney, Maisie Williams, Constance Zimmer

The competition: Given that three of last year’s nominees are from the same show, one that doesn’t return for its latest season until this coming Sunday, and another’s showed ended last year, we’re going to be looking at a very different lineup this year. Maura Tierney (The Affair) isn’t likely to return for a weak third season in which she wasn’t all that featured, while Constance Zimmer (UnREAL) is a more probable bet for a repeat nod. It could be anyone to fill in the rest of the category, and the first people to start with are red-hot new contenders Thandie Newton (Westworld), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Winona Ryder (Stranger Things), and Chrissy Metz (This Is Us), who could feasibly all get in without a problem. Other newbies with a shot include Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us), Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale), Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale), Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale), Cush Jumbo (The Good Fight), and Rose Leslie (The Good Fight). Fighting with them are past winner Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) and her featured costars Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black), Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black), and Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black). Otherwise, watch out for Neve Campbell (House of Cards) or Carly Chaikin (Mr. Robot) to steal some votes. And it’s a good idea not to underestimate Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), a past nominee in the lead category, and Margo Martindale (The Americans), who won the guest award for this role the past two years and was a champion in this category previously for “Justified.”

The predicted nominees: Brown, Martindale, Metz, Newton, Ryder, Zimmer

The predicted winner: Martindale

Next up: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Monday, July 10, 2017

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Jonathan Banks, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Michael Kelly, Ben Mendelsohn, Jon Voight

The competition: Three of last year’s nominees aren’t eligible this year since “Game of Thrones” didn’t air and Mendelsohn is on the ballot in the guest category. Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul) and Jon Voight (Ray Donovan) are likely to return though either could fall off, and Michael Kelly (House of Cards) seems like a safe bet. Ed Harris (Westworld), Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us), and John Lithgow (The Crown) are the likeliest freshman series contenders to join the race, and Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) will surely garner some votes as well. Non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon (Billions) submitted themselves in this category, so a nomination seems possible though the show was completely shut out last year. Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul) was previously nominated in this category for the same role on a different show, and given that Banks made it in again, he may as well, though I think that any enthusiasm for the show, which may be waning, should go to Michael McKean (Better Call Saul). Golden Globe winner Christian Slater (Mr. Robot) missed the cut last year and will likely do so again, while Emmy nominee Paul Sparks (House of Cards) and Joel Kinnaman (House of Cards) might benefit from promotions from the guest category to this one. Votes may go to veteran actors William Hurt (Goliath) and Frank Langella (The Americans), and I have to imagine that Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) is a dark horse even though his show has never gotten non-technical Emmy love.

The predicted nominees: Banks, Harris, Jones, Kelly, Lithgow, Voight

The predicted winner: Jones

Next up: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Ellie Kemper, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laurie Metcalf, Tracee Ellis Ross, Amy Schumer, Lily Tomlin

The competition: Two of last year’s nominees won’t be back this year: Metcalf’s show ended, and Schumer’s didn’t air this season. Count on five-time consecutive champion Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), who hasn’t let anyone else win in this category since her show started, to come back and likely win again. I’d also say that the other three - Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish), Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie), and Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) – are likely to return, in that order. Allison Janney (Mom) won twice in the supporting race, and the last time she moved from that category to this one on the drama side of things, for “The West Wing,” she scored, so it’s probable that she’ll be nominated here unless voters have grown tired of her show. For the sixth slot, assuming last year’s four come back, I think it’s a battle between the Golden Globe-nominated stars of two new HBO shows, one who has never been nominated, Issa Rae (Insecure), and another who has been nominated and won before for a previous role, Sarah Jessica Parker (Divorce). Other freshman contenders include Pamela Adlon (Better Things), Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet), Kristen Bell (The Good Place), Minnie Driver (Speechless), Kathryn Hahn (I Love Dick), and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag). A few returning series have stars who might be nominated for the first time, like Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie), Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), and Aya Cash (You’re the Worst).

The predicted nominees: Janney, Kemper, Louis-Dreyfus, Rae, Ross, Tomlin

The predicted winner: Louis-Dreyfus

Next up: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Anthony Anderson, Aziz Ansari, Will Forte, William H. Macy, Thomas Middleditch, Jeffrey Tambor

The competition: All six of these men are eligible again this year. I see no real reason why they wouldn’t return again, with Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) as the only one whose show has lost buzz. Aziz Ansari (Master of None) is hotter than ever after season two of his show, and Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) and Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) continue to go strong on their series. William H. Macy (Shameless) and Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) might be less prominent than others, which could make them vulnerable, though the only truly serious contender who isn’t even guaranteed to join the list is Golden Globe winner Donald Glover (Atlanta). Some votes might go to Hank Azaria (Brockmire), Thomas Haden Church (Divorce), Ted Danson (The Good Place), or Nick Nolte (Graves), along with past Golden Globe winner Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle). I’d be thrilled to see Nicholas D’Agosto (Trial and Error), but I think that’s a longshot at best.

The predicted nominees: Anderson, Ansari, Glover, Macy, Middleditch, Tambor

The predicted winner: Ansari

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Claire Danes, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Tatiana Maslany, Keri Russell, Robin Wright

The competition: Initially, I thought that all six nominees from last year were eligible again, but then I realized that the new season of “Orphan Black,” which I was in the middle of watching while writing this, didn’t start until after the eligibility period, which means last year’s amazing winner, Tatiana Maslany, won’t be back until next year (hopefully, at least). There’s not quite as much competition to knock out any of the other five this year, and Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder), Keri Russell (The Americans), and Robin Wright (House of Cards) feel safe. I’m not as sure about Claire Danes (Homeland) and Taraji P. Henson (Empire), though they could easily return as well. Claire Foy (The Crown) is sure to join the other fine, and it’s a question of whether Mandy Moore (This Is Us), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) can all make the cut. A number of past nominees on the same and new programs will also earn some votes, including Christine Baranski (The Good Fight), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Michelle Dockery (Good Behavior), and Kerry Washington (Scandal). One other strong contender to join the race for the final season of her show is Carrie Coon (The Leftovers).

The predicted nominees: Davis, Foy, Moss, Russell, Wood, Wright

The predicted winner: Foy

Next up: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 13th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Kyle Chandler, Rami Malek, Bob Odenkirk, Matthew Rhys, Liev Schreiber, Kevin Spacey

The competition: All six of last year’s nominees are eligible again this year. I’m not sure I see all that much room for change, since two nominees I would have expected to be weaker in past years, Kyle Chandler (Bloodline) and Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan), have proven their staying power. Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) is probably the most vulnerable, since I don’t see Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) being left off after his win last year and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) being dismissed outright from the category. Matthew Rhys (The Americans) is newest to the category, and so I think he’s safe, but who will go to make some room for someone else? The likeliest to join this race is Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), with Anthony Hopkins (Westworld) as another legitimate contender. Other new series stars who could break in include Golden Globe winner Billy Bob Thornton (Goliath), past Emmy winner Kiefer Sutherland (Designated Survivor), and past nominees Ian McShane (American Gods) and Hugh Laurie (Chance). There’s also a possibility that Brown’s costar Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us) could crack the top six, but I don’t see it happening. I’d love to see Giovanni Ribisi (Sneaky Pete) or Dan Stevens (Legion) make the cut but don’t consider it likely, and there’s also a chance that a number of previous would-be contenders might finally make the cut this year, including Rupert Friend (Homeland), Paul Giamatti (Billions) and Damian Lewis (Billions), Terrence Howard (Empire), Justin Theroux (The Leftovers) and Aden Young (Rectify).

The predicted nominees: Brown, Hopkins, Malek, Rhys, Schreiber, Spacey

The predicted winner: Brown

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

What I’m Watching: Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks: Season 3, Episode 8 “The Return – Part 8” (D)

Well, that’s it for me. I’m done with this show for good. I wasn’t sure about the idea of giving up before this, though I also didn’t realize that there were eighteen episodes commissioned for this season, which is a lot for a cable series. The opening scene was the only one that I could really comprehend or follow, with the recently-released bad version of Cooper trying to shoot his driver only to get himself shot, and from there it all went downhill. That scene with the spirits feasting on his body to the horror of his would-be murderer was odd and extremely off-putting, and that wasn’t even close to the worst of it! I don’t understand why we needed to see a Nine Inch Nails concert in the middle of this episode, and then literally nothing happened for minutes after that before we flashed back to 1945. After I wondered why we were spending time in 1947, I asked myself if it was really necessary for us to see people’s heads being ripped off in black and white and to watch bugs crawling into someone’s open mouth while she was sleeping. After a horrifically unbearable episode, I couldn’t even rely on the stable annoyance of a musical ending. This insufferable hour made me completely okay with my decision to say goodbye forever to this show. I can assure you – I will not see you in twenty-five years. I’m more than soured on this show now and look forward to forgetting in favor of far more consistent, gratifying television.

What I’m Watching: Veep (Season Finale)

Veep: Season 6, Episode 10 “Groundbreaking” (B+)

Looking back at my reviews, I actually enjoyed this season a lot more than season five, which I found at some points to be overrated in spite of many saying that it was the strongest season yet. This one didn’t have as much of a focus since Selina wasn’t president, she wasn’t vice-president, and, until now, she wasn’t running for president again either. Yet this finale brought things together in a great way through some fun flashbacks introducing us to each of the characters and when they first met Selina, the best of which had to be Gary bringing Selina a cookie while she was giving birth to the disappointment that was Catherine. I liked seeing Selina catch Andrew in his first bit of infidelity since it was a far more comfortable moment than everything we’ve seen her do since, wasting no time and to the point, getting a huge check to cover the indiscretion she had just witnessed and right what could have been a ship way off course. Taking advantage of the birth of her grandchild – not named Little Richard – and spinning public opinion back to her favor was typically selfish, but somehow, she’s back on track. It was a great surprise to see Dan, Ben, and Kent gathered in the office to announce that Selina was officially running for president again, setting us on course for a fun and reinvigorated season seven. Jonah also running for president with the likes of Bill, Teddy, and Sherman on his team is going to be a blast. And Amy’s pregnant with Dan’s baby, Leon has replaced Mike, who’s now teaching, and who knows what other absurdities await us in season seven! It’s been a wild year.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Sam Richardson as Richard