Sunday, September 15, 2019

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth, Game of Thrones (A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms)
This is the first nomination for Christie, who submitted her own name for consideration when HBO didn’t include her in its campaign. She’s a fan favorite who’s done reliable work throughout the years, but nothing matches her emotional turn in a dialogue-heavy episode close to the show’s end that sees her achieving an unexpected rank as mortal danger looms. It’s a formidable submission, and may just be what she needs to defeat her three costars with bigger roles.

Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore, Ozark (The Gold Coast)
This is the first nomination for Garner, who also contended for an individual SAG Award this past year. She’s definitely a very memorable part of her show, demonstrating a real inner rage that manifests itself externally multiple times an episode. I was actually more impressed with her work in earlier episodes, while the season finale emphasizes a dramatic arc relevant to her character that might have seemed like good awards bait. With four actresses from one show likely to split the vote, she’s got a good shot, but she’s far from a sure thing.

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones (The Bells)
This is Headey’s fifth consecutive nomination, with a staggering three costars nominated alongside her after she was her show’s sole female nominee last time. I thought she was definitely going to win for the show’s fifth season finale, but now she has the chance to be rewarded for all of her work for the swan song. Many seem to think she can win, but I don’t think that her final showcase is all that strong since she plays such a minimal, inactive role in her submitted episode, which I believe features stronger performances from her nominated costars Emilia Clarke and Maisie Williams.

Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, Killing Eve (Nice and Neat)
This is the first time Shaw has been nominated for an Emmy, and she also contends for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for “Fleabag.” Though she’s not one of the two lead characters on her show, Shaw still stands out as the savvy, sarcastic boss who knows much more than she’s letting on. Shaw smartly submitted an episode that demonstrates her deadpan skill, especially in sharing scenes with Sandra Oh. A nomination for Shaw makes sense, but a win seems like a bit of a stretch in this crowd.

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Game of Thrones (Winterfell)
This is the first nomination for Turner, who has been a series regular on her show since the beginning. Turner, facing competition from three of her costars, picked a smart episode to showcase Sansa, the season premiere in which she puts on a steely front to the arriving queen who wants to take over her kingdom. She’s definitely not the strongest of the actresses of her show, and it would be pretty shocking if she managed to eclipse any of them to take this award home despite a solid episode choice.

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, Game of Thrones (The Long Night)
This is the second nomination for Williams, who was previously nominated in 2016 for the sixth season of her show. I personally think she was the most valuable player next to Peter Dinklage, and she could have chosen a few different episodes to showcase her superb work. Her selection of the intense extended third hour was very smart since she plays a key role in its final scene. For some reason, she doesn’t seem to have the buzz she needs to win, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she won for a deserving and impressive final effort.

Who should win (based on entire season):
Williams or Garner Who should win (based on individual episodes): Williams
Who will win: I’ve been wanting to say Williams, or maybe even Garner, but I think that Christie is going to pull it off.

Next up: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, Game of Thrones (The Long Night)
Allen earns his first nomination for the final season of his show. After appearing as a supporting player who wasn’t often tied in to the main plotlines, he got a chance to shine in a key scene at the end of his submitted episode. Theon is definitely a fan favorite, but it would be a stretch to argue that Allen’s performance is stronger than those of his nominated costars. He doesn’t have the same gravitas as Gwendoline Christie, the underdog in the supporting actress race, and therefore I’d give him a very low chance of winning here.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Better Call Saul (Winner)
This is the fifth nomination for Banks for this role, after three previous bids for this show and one for “Breaking Bad.” He was also nominated in 1989 for “Wiseguy.” Banks has become a default nominee whenever his show is eligible. His episode smartly shows him trying as hard as he can to stop someone set on breaking the rules from sealing his own fate, typically maintaining a stoic front while demonstrating an inner humanity. There’s no reason Banks would win this year, but this is a good submission.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones (The Bells)
This is the second nomination for Coster-Waldau, who earned his first bid last year for the seventh season of his show. He’s definitely good in his submitted episode, the penultimate hour of the show that finds him making an important choice about his allegiances, but it’s unlikely that people will vote for him over his onscreen brother, played by three-time winner Peter Dinklage. Jaime’s role as a whole is much more minimal than Tyrion’s, and he doesn’t have the same kind of emphatic scene that Theon does, which I think makes him least likely out of the three costars to win.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones (The Iron Throne)
This is Dinklage’s eighth straight nomination, officially the only performer from his show to be honored each season. He’s also won three times, for seasons one, five, and seven. A consecutive win to go with last year’s seems very likely, and Dinklage honestly could have submitted any of the episodes of this season and been a frontrunner. The finale is controversial, but obviously Emmy voters don’t mind, and Dinklage is so good as the moral center of the series finale that he shouldn’t have too much trouble taking home this award unless voters really want to reward someone else.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo Fring, Better Call Saul (Pinata)
Seven years ago, Esposito was nominated for his final season on “Breaking Bad.” He was eligible for his return to that universe in the previous season of this show two years ago, and now he’s earned another bid for portraying the buttoned-up drug kingpin. His role in the fourth season of the AMC prequel isn’t all that prominent, but he does play a major part in his submitted episode, which shows how powerful he is and also includes a reference to a fan-favorite part of the original show for which he’s well-known. A win for him now would be a makeup for his loss seven years ago, but there’s no reason to suspect he has any support at this moment in time.

Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper, House of Cards (Chapter 73)
This is Kelly’s fourth nomination, following the three consecutive bids he received for the most recent seasons of his now-ended show. Kelly’s inclusion feels like a real afterthought for a show well past its prime that flopped in its final outing, though not much of his performance is any different than it’s ever been. His submission of the series finale is the logical choice, but it’s hard to imagine anyone would want to reward this miserable, uninviting turn even if it does show the talent and focus Kelly brings to the character who is unendingly loyal to a dead man.

Chris Sullivan as Toby Damon, This Is Us (Toby)
This is the first nomination for Sullivan, who joins costars Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia, both on their third consecutive bids, and fellow first-timer Mandy Moore, to represent his show. Sullivan, who was the comic relief most of the time earlier on in his show’s run, is featured extensively in an episode that has his name as the title, providing a superb showcase for the affable actor. It does make him sympathetic and tells a contained story that could impress irregular viewers, but its serious tone doesn’t quite capture the lightness of his performance that might otherwise enable him to stand out from the pack.

Who should win (based on entire season): Dinklage
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Dinklage
Who will win: Just like last year, I don’t see anyone besides Dinklage winning.

Next up: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Christina Applegate as Jen, Dead to Me (I’ve Gotta Get Away)
Applegate was nominated twice before in this category for “Samantha Who” and twice in the guest actress race for “Friends,” winning the latter in 2003. Now she’s back as the lone representative of her show, playing a mother whose husband was killed in a hit-and-run. It’s a fierce, formidable performance, and her submission of a middle episode in which she gets to be angry and also explore her feelings in a more mellow environment could encourage some voters to pick her in a very crowded category that she’s highly unlikely to win.

Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam Maisel, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Midnight at the Concord)
Brosnahan won the Emmy for this role last year after a previous nomination for guest-starring on “House of Cards.” She’s won two consecutive Golden Globes as well as the SAG Award. Submitting an episode from halfway through the season might have seemed like a risk, but this is a big, superb hour that has her flirting, performing, and getting shocked by something she definitely didn’t expect to happen. She’d be a solid bet to repeat, but for a returning six-time winner who wasn’t in the running last year…

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, Veep (Veep)
Louis-Dreyfus is back in this race after her show took a year off following six consecutive wins for playing the eternally angry vice-president. Additionally, she was nominated four times for “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and seven times for “Seinfeld,” winning once for each show. Submitting the series finale was the obvious choice since it wraps up her storyline, and ranks about on par with most of her submissions from previous years. Her show didn’t perform spectacularly overall, but she should never be counted out, especially since she has yet to lose this award for this role.

Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov, Russian Doll (Nothing in This World Is Easy)
Lyonne was previously nominated for guest acting on “Orange is the New Black” and contends both as a producer and writer for her show this year. Playing a thirty-year-old woman who keeps dying over and over on her birthday feels like a natural fit for the sarcastic actress, and she excels at it. Submitting the pilot was the smartest idea since it’s the introduction to her character and this Groundhog Day experience. She’s a fun choice, to be sure, but a win would be highly surprising.

Catherine O’Hara as Moira Rose, Schitt’s Creek (The Crowening)
O’Hara was previously nominated for her performance “Temple Grandin” and received five nominations as part of the writing team for “SCTV Network,” winning once in 1982. Her show earned its first Emmy nominations for its fifth season, and O’Hara submitted the season premiere, which finds her filming a horrible movie and trying hard to get into character in a project that she wants to believe is better than it is. O’Hara and the show have an enormous fan base, but pulling off a win for this wild character seems tough to near impossible.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Fleabag, Fleabag (Episode 2.1)
This is Waller-Bridge’s first acting nomination. She was up for writing “Killing Eve” last year and contends now as a producer on both shows and for writing her submitted episode of this show. Her submission of the season premiere, which I thought was the best episode and is also nominated for directing and writing, was brilliant, and it’s a wonderful way for first-time voters to see how incredible she is. If Brosnahan and Louis-Dreyfus cancel each other out, she’ll be the winner, but it’s a stretch.

Who should win (based on entire season): Waller-Bridge, Brosnahan, or Applegate
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Waller-Bridge, Brosnahan, or Applegate
Who will win: I really want to be bold and pick Waller-Bridge to upset (and may still change my mind before next week), but for now, I’m staying safe with Louis-Dreyfus for a seventh time.

Next up: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Anthony Anderson as Andre Johnson, Black-ish (Purple Rain)
This is the fifth consecutive nomination for Anderson, but he’s alone without any costar or his show nominated in the top race for the first time in three years. Two years ago, I thought he had a real shot to upset, but since then, his show has clearly just declined in popularity. Educating his kids about the power of Prince, however amusing to some, is hardly the kind of breakthrough performance that might have earned the attention of voters.

Don Cheadle as Maurice Monroe, Black Monday (365)
This is Cheadle’s ninth career Emmy nomination and in his fifth in this category. He earned four consecutive bids for “House of Lies,” a guest acting nomination for “ER,” and three nominations for television movies before that. Cheadle now contends for playing a wild moneyman in the 1980s, who completely dominates his show’s pilot. Cheadle is here with no other support for his show, which suggests he isn’t likely to win, but he’ll probably garner some votes if those casting ballots can stand his egotistical, horrible character.

Ted Danson as Michael, The Good Place (The Worst Possible Use of Free Will)
This is the second consecutive nomination for Danson, whose show broke through and joined the Best Comedy Series race this year. Additionally, Danson has fifteen previous nominations and two wins, both for “Cheers” in this category. Danson is undeniably fantastic, though he’s not the only one in the cast, and his submission isn’t a great choice. He’s just guiding another character through her own journey in it rather than doing entertaining things like harnessing human emotion, and I think he needs something stronger to be able to win. Maybe next year for his show’s final season!

Michael Douglas as Sandy Kominsky, The Kominsky Method (Chapter 1: An Actor Avoids)
Douglas won an Emmy in 2013 for “Behind the Candelabra” and was previously nominated once for guesting on “Will and Grace” and three times for starring in “The Streets of San Francisco” in the 1970s. Douglas won the Golden Globe, and his show also won the top prize there. Now, he’s up without his series for the pilot episode that introduces audience to his aging actor with a big sense of himself. Douglas is respected, likeable, and funny, but his show getting snubbed may hurt his chances.

Bill Hader as Barry Berkman, Barry (The Truth Has a Ring to It)
Hader won this award last year after four previous SNL nominations. For the second year in a row, he also contends for writing and directing his show. His submission of an episode that finds him performing sensationally on stage while dealing with more annoying side distractions is pretty solid, and he could very easily win again.

Eugene Levy as Johnny Rose, Schitt’s Creek (Rock On!)
Levy has nine previous nominations and two wins for writing “SCTV Network.” This is his first Emmy nomination in thirty-six years and his first acting bid (he also contends for producing his show, up for the first time). Levy plays the owner of a motel who, in his submitted episode, accidentally walks in on an employee in a compromised position. Levy is funny and beloved, but a vote for him would mean decades of industry respect rather than actually watching his work here.

Who should win (based on entire season): Hader, Danson, Douglas, or Cheadle
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Hader, Douglas, or Cheadle
Who will win: Though I think that Hader might repeat, I’m going to give Douglas the edge.

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones (The Last of the Starks)
This is Clarke’s fourth nomination after bids in 2013, 2015, and 2016 in the supporting race. She wasn’t successful when she was first promoted to this category last year, but now she contends for the final season of her show, in which she played a huge part. She could have chosen any of the six eligible hours, and she opted for one in which she has to fight for her right to rule with words rather than with actions, which I think might have been a stronger bet. Her performance isn’t quite on the same level as most of the other nominees in this category, but enthusiasm for her show shouldn’t be counted out since it could most definitely lead to a win.

Jodie Comer as Villanelle, Killing Eve (I Hope You Like Missionary)
I’m thrilled that Comer finally managed to score her first major awards bid after her costar Sandra Oh had previously taken all of the acclaim. She also submitted a formidable hour that shows the range of her talents, creating a character to get close to a suspect and having fun with it in typical style. Oh isn’t featured extensively in this hour, while Comer does still play a substantial role in Oh’s. She’s a long shot at best, but anyone who watches her show should realize that she’s such a crucial part of it who absolutely deserves to win.

Viola Davis as Annalise Keating, How to Get Away with Murder (He Betrayed Us Both)
This is Davis’ fourth nomination in this category but her fifth overall. After winning for the freshman year of her show, she earned two more bids and then, last year, missed out in this race in favor of a guest bid for playing the same character on a “Scandal” crossover. It doesn’t feel like she should be in this race anymore, and even if Davis is good, her character is so poorly written and the show so terrible in comparison to everything else here. Spiraling out of control in her episode is far from compelling, and I’d be both shocked and disappointed if she won this year.

Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde, Ozark (One Way Out)
Linney has won four times out of five nominations, taking home trophies for TV movie “Wild Iris,” miniseries “John Adams” and “The Big C: Hereafter,” and comedy guest acting for “Frasier.” She’s nominated for the second season of her show, and in her submitted episode gets to show just how in control of a situation where she’s not objectively in charge she manages to be. It’s a good showcase that allows her to standout from costars Jason Bateman and Julia Garner, but I don’t think it’s enough to help her win.

Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson, This Is Us (The Graduates)
After turning in an incredible performance in her show’s second season that I thought would earn her a place on this last year, Moore is now nominated for the first time, joining returning nominees Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia, and fellow newcomer Chris Sullivan. Moore manages to be very sympathetic in her submitted episode, which finds her having a tough time going through monumental life cycle moments without her husband. This is a competitive category, and I think she would have had an easier time pulling off a win last year.

Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, Killing Eve (You’re Mine)
Oh, who has five previous nominations in the supporting category for “Grey’s Anatomy,” made history last year as the first Asian actress to be nominated in this field. She is also nominated for hosting SNL this year. She took home both the Golden Globe and the SAG Award this past year, and seems primed to win this prize too. Her submission of the season finale, in which she makes a crucial decision that proves to be very transformative is smart. Her biggest competition, honestly, comes from costar Jodie Comer, nominated now after being snubbed last year.

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, House of Cards (Chapter 70)
This is the sixth nomination for Wright, who has now been nominated for every season of her show, returning to this lineup after her show took last season off. Being promoted to the only lead after Kevin Spacey was written out gives her a major showcase in a season that I personally hated, and her submitted episode epitomizes what I didn’t like about it. There’s supposed something clever about Claire playing into the role of the unstable, weak woman president, but I found this performance unbelievably irritating and I can’t imagine enough voters actually liked it to propel her to a win.

Who should win (based on entire season): Comer
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Comer
Who will win: Julia Roberts wasn’t nominated, and previous winners Claire Foy, Elisabeth Moss, and Tatiana Maslany aren’t in contention. This feels like Oh’s year, though costar Comer could snatch it away from her or Clarke could be rewarded if voters go nuts for her show.

Next up: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde, Ozark (Reparations)
This is Bateman’s second consecutive nomination, both in this category and for directing his submitted episode. He was nominated previously in 2005 and 2013 for “Arrested Development.” Last year, I didn’t think he could win because his show wasn’t represented elsewhere, but this time around, his two costars are up, as is his show in the top category. He won the SAG Award this past year, but the winner of that award loses the Emmy much more often than he wins it. The season two premiere finds Marty dealing with many crises all around him, displaying Bateman’s ability to handle drama with the right amount of snark. Without a definitive frontrunner, this could well be Bateman’s opportunity to win.

Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson, This Is Us (R and B)
This is Brown’s third consecutive nomination for this role. Brown won this award two years ago and another Emmy the year before that for “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.” In its third year, his show performed pretty much as strongly in the nominations as is in the past. I predicted Brown to repeat last year, which he didn’t, and now he’s submitted a powerhouse installment that shows a younger version of him and then him struggling to keep his marriage together. In a year with no clear frontrunner here, Brown could easily be the default winner.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Game of Thrones (The Iron Throne)
This is the second nomination for Harington, who last contended in the supporting race for his show’s sixth season and failed to be nominated for its seventh when he switched to the lead category. As one of the most likeable and most prominent faces in the blockbuster final season of HBO’s epic fantasy series, Harington certainly has buzz going for him. Given how Emmy voters showered his show with nominations, he will definitely have fans, but ardent supporters of the show may be reluctant to reward his choice of the series finale, which many didn’t love. It’s still a formidable showcase of Harington’s work, and his name being called wouldn’t be a surprise.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Better Call Saul (Winner)
This is the fourth nomination for Odenkirk, who was nominated for the first three seasons of his show, which took last season off. He was previously nominated and won for writing work on sketch shows. His show still has a solid number of nominations, and many think that this is the year Odenkirk can finally win. His selection of the season finale, which shows him perpetrating schemes and putting on a forceful performance to save his law degree, is indeed a great one, and the only thing stopping him from being the frontrunner is that his show just isn’t all that buzzy.

Billy Porter as Pray Tell, Pose (Love is the Message)
This is Porter’s first Emmy nomination. His show contends for Best Drama Series and a few technical trophies. Being the only member of his cast nominated doesn’t necessarily help him, especially since every other nominee here is joined by at least two costars in other categories, but that didn’t stop Jeff Daniels from winning for “The Newsroom.” Porter’s submission is a knockout, showing an intimate side of him in addition to his announcer gig and giving him a formidable chance to sing. His show has an ardent fan base and might just be able to win.

Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, This Is Us (Sometimes)
This is the third consecutive nomination for Ventimiglia, who lost to costar Brown two years ago. He’s had better episodes to submit in the past, some of which he’s chosen and others that he hasn’t, and the one he picked this time probably won’t win viewers over since it requires more knowledge of his character and some work to determine which time period is being featured since it jumps around considerably. His show isn’t hot this year, and there’s nothing about this episode that will propel him to the top of anyone but a devoted fan’s ballot.

Who should win (based on entire season): Porter or Odenkirk
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Porter
Who will win: There isn’t really a frontrunner here since Richard Madden was snubbed. I’m going to pick Porter over Odenkirk and Bateman, though Brown could also be a default choice if no one else has enough support. I don’t think Harington will win even if his show sweeps.

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Friday, September 13, 2019

What I’m Watching: Why Women Kill

Why Women Kill: Season 1, Episode 5 “There’s No Crying in Murder” (B+)

This show is clever because it follows predictable plotlines to a degree but takes them in an interesting direction that links the three time periods together to support this show’s main themes. I was actually most involved, for once, in Beth Ann’s drama this episode, as she realized that she felt bad for the woman sleeping with her husband because he was treating April even more poorly than he was treating her. Pretending to be sick so that she could go to April’s big debut without Rob being there was smart, and of course she was going to end up having to hide when he inevitably showed up. He reacted so poorly to April’s profession of love, and I’m curious what Beth Ann will do next to punish her husband. Karl seemed so delighted to confirm that Simone was having an affair with Simone, and his acceptance of her infidelity makes her angrier than anything. I caught the fun casting of Christine Estabrook, who played nosy neighbor Martha Huber on “Desperate Housewives,” as Joyce. In the present day, Eli and Jade unsurprisingly got to bond in Taylor’s absence while she got an amused warning from her sisters about the likelihood of the two of them falling for each other without her there, especially after she saved his writing career and then got him into drugs again. Jade doesn’t seem to have any culpability in this whole thing, but I suppose that’s because she was brought into this relationship instead of starting in it with expectations.

What I’m Watching: Our Boys

Our Boys: Season 1, Episode 6 “Chapter 6: Acceptance of Silence” (B+)

This episode pulled back from the intensity of the investigation to the slow procedure of double-checking and making sure that everything was covered before information was leaked in a way that would truly compromise the case. I was wondering whether there would be a moment when the two storylines intersected again, and Uri going to talk to Hussein was just that. He evidently wants to help do damage control to a degree, but he’s also serious about making sure that those responsible are held accountable for what they did in a legal way rather than something far less controllable. Naturally, Hussein is encouraged to doubt him by those around him, and just as he doesn’t want his son’s death to be used for causes that he doesn’t believe in, he doesn’t want it dismissed or buried either. Going to court to make sure that lawyers can’t be brought in was an interesting process, and tensions were high in the courtroom between the two lawyers on opposite sides. Simon bringing in Devorah to speak with Avishai and get him to stop his acceptance of silence was a bold move, and it’s nice to see some sort of honor with Simon actually turning the cameras off when she was in there talking to him. This show continues to do a superb job of bringing in many different perspectives, with Devorah’s husband demonstrating his own prejudices in how he thinks about the religious community and their tendencies. That final shot of Avishai being taken outside was appropriately haunting.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Jane Lynch as Sophie Lennon, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy!)
This is the twelth overall nomination for Lynch, who was been recognized with at least one bid almost consistently since 2010, winning once for “Glee,” twice for hosting “Hollywood Game Night,” and two years ago for the short form series “Dropping the Soap.” She was nominated for this role last year and contends again for a memorable return that brings her famous comedienne character back in a vengeful capacity. It’s not as showy as her first season appearance, but Lynch has proven to be too popular to be counted out in any given race.

Sandra Oh as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Sandra Oh)
Oh has five previous nominations for “Grey’s Anatomy” and is nominated this year for the second time for starring in “Killing Eve.” Oh, who co-hosted the Golden Globes, demonstrates as a “Saturday Night Live” host that she’s having fun and that she’s up for anything, qualities that have previously led to victories in this category. She’s far from a sure thing, but she’s very hot and beloved right now. Especially if she doesn’t win for drama, she could certainly win here.

Maya Rudolph as Judge Gen, The Good Place (Chidi Sees the Time-Knife)
Rudolph was previously nominated in this category for this role last year and for hosting SNL in 2012. Last year, I was so happy that Rudolph made the cut, and this year, she’s joined by her show in the Best Comedy Series category for the first time. Playing a powerful celestial judge who isn’t a burrito allows for new comedy this time around, particularly when her character went down to Earth to see just how terrible humans are. It’s possible she could win this award, which would be a fun way to reward a show that Emmy voters are just starting to like.

Kristin Scott Thomas as Belinda, Fleabag (Episode 2.3)
This is the first nomination for Thomas, who earned an Oscar nomination back in 1996 for “The English Patient.” She really just appears in one extended scene in her episode, but she makes a big impact and bonds with the title character in a mesmerizing way. She would certainly be the sophisticated choice, representing a veteran actress who can just show up on a show and make an immediate impression in a few minutes. Don’t count her out.

Fiona Shaw as Counsellor, Fleabag (Episode 2.2)
Shaw is nominated for the first time this year, also contending for her series regular role on series star and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s other show, “Killing Eve.” Like Thomas, Shaw only appears in her episode for one big scene. It’s a dry turn that works best because of how she plays off her scene partner – Waller-Bridge – and while it is great, it probably won’t appeal as much to those who aren’t already fans of the show. It would also be hard to imagine her beating Thomas in this race.

Emma Thompson as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Emma Thompson)
This is Thompson’s sixth acting nomination. She won on her first try in 1998 in this category for “Ellen,” and all of her other nominations have come for miniseries or TV movie work. Hosting the Mother’s Day episode of “Saturday Night Live” gives her a good opportunity to demonstrate her gravitas, and it comes in a year where she’s been seen a lot, both on TV in “Years and Years” and in film in “Late Night.” She’s not nearly as present in sketches as Oh is, and a win for her would be more based on her general industry contributions than this particular hosting gig.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Thomas or Rudolph
Who will win: I’m going to pick Oh with Thomas as a serious possible spoiler.

Next up: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Matt Damon as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Matt Damon)
This is the Damon’s third acting nomination following a bid in 2013 for “Behind the Candelabra” and in this category in 2011 for “30 Rock.” In his hosting gig, he demonstrates a truly affable and likeable attitude in the episode he hosts, opening up with a warm monologue and gamely playing along in each of the sketches. The most agreeable turn isn’t always the one that wins, but Damon would be a fantastic and worthy victor.

Robert De Niro as Robert Mueller, Saturday Night Live (Host: Sandra Oh)
This is the second nomination for De Niro, who was previously up for “The Wizard of Lies” in 2017. He also contends this year as a producer for limited series “When They See Us.” De Niro is the only performer recognized for his show who either isn’t a host or a series regular, and his inclusion is somewhat puzzling. In his first appearance as Robert Mueller, there were decent jokes and he seemed into it, but there’s so little effort in his dry reading of the report that this mimicry hardly seems deserving of any sort of award.

Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (All Alone)
This is the first nomination for Kirby, who plays legendary comic Lenny Bruce on the popular Amazon series. Kirby’s role was more prominent in his multiple season two appearances than in his also memorable contributions to season one. In the season finale, Kirby gets to play Bruce as a sympathetic ear and mentor for Midge and also to do some performing of his own. He fits in very well with the show around him, and could very well ride a wave of support for his highly-respected series.

Peter MacNicol as Jeff Kane, Veep (Oslo)
This is the fourth career nomination for MacNicol, who won in 2001 on this third bid for “Ally McBeal.” He was technically nominated in this category in 2016 before it was rescinded due to his having appeared in too many episodes that season. Now, MacNicol is back for a typically scathing performance as the unkind political operator whose first instinct was to laugh maniacally at a funeral. It’s a memorable performance that, despite the shortness of its length, could result in a win for the veteran comic actor.

John Mulaney as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: John Mulaney)
This is actually Mulaney’s first acting bid, though he’s been nominated and won before, mostly for writing. This year, he’s up for three other Emmys, for writing “Saturday Night Live” and for writing and music and lyrics for “Documentary Now.” In his second shot as host of NBC’s long-running variety series, Mulaney seems completely at home, using a microphone to perform a stand-up routine rather than do some sort of bit or sketch for the opening monologue. He seems totally into all of the sketches throughout the episode, and despite having a less prominent acting profile than the other nominees in this category, he may still be able to earn some votes.

Adam Sandler as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Adam Sandler)
This is the first acting nomination for Sandler, who was previously nominated three times as part of the “Saturday Night Live” writing team and also contends this year for penning his own variety special. His hosting appearance makes a nostalgic return to the variety series from which, as he sings about during the opening monologue, he was once fired. Familiarity is what works best for Sandler, and his Opera Man news recap during Weekend Update is a particular highlight.

Rufus Sewell as Declan Howell, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Look, She Made a Hat)
This is the first nomination for Sewell, who likely came close to a bid a few years ago for the first season of “The Man in the High Castle.” Here, he keeps his accent and gets to play a drunken painter who has a surprising chemistry with the marvelous title character. It’s a great performance and one that serves a true purpose in his episode. He would be a fine and respectable choice that may just be what Emmy voters want, even if it’s a less traditional comedy turn.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Damon or Sewell
Who will win: It’s possible that it could be Kirby or Sewell or even Mulaney, but I’m betting on Sandler.

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset, Orange is the New Black (Well This Took a Dark Turn)
This is the third nomination for Cox, who was previously nominated in this category in 2017 and in the comedy guest actress race for the same show and role in 2014. Sophia hasn’t been a big part of the show in a while, hence her classification here, and her return in an impactful episode that finds her making a tough choice is a positive showcase of her talents. A win in this category with zero other bids for the show has plenty of precedent, but it’s worth noting that both of costar Uzo Aduba’s victories came in years when her show was contending for the top prize.

Cherry Jones as Holly Maddox, The Handmaid’s Tale (Holly)
Jones was nominated last year for this role, and this is technically her second nomination for the second season of her show, which is a real feat. Her previous nomination, for “24” in 2009, resulted in a win. Jones made an impression as the main character’s mother in flashbacks, but she’s far from the most memorable part of her episode, which finds a new life named in her honor. A win wouldn’t be a shock, but this isn’t the best indication of her work and wouldn’t be an instance of voters actually paying attention the material in the episode submitted.

Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon, American Horror Story (Return to Murder House)
Lange was previously nominated and won for this role for season one of “American Horror Story,” earning another win for season three and additional bids for seasons two and four. Aside from that, she was nominated four times and won in 2009 for “Grey Gardens.” In her submitted episode this year, she returns to the show to reprise her original role, making an incredible impression when she first appears and then continues to dominate the entire hour. It’s a crowded category but Lange stands out, and not having anyone else from her show nominated may not actually be a demerit considering her historical awards reputation.

Phylicia Rashad as Carol Clarke, This Is Us (Our Little Island Girl)
This is Rashad’s third career Emmy nomination after previous bids for “A Raisin in the Sun” and “The Cosby Show.” She is the first female guest acting nominee for her show, portraying Beth’s mother. Her submitted episode shows a mother with a strong influence on her daughter, who herself is a resilient woman crucial to the show’s storyline. I, and many others, wish that Susan Kelechi Watson, who plays Beth, was nominated, and a victory for Rashad would be one symbolic way to reward her. Rashad is indeed impressive in her own right, and the fact that she hasn’t won an Emmy may surprise voters.

Cicely Tyson as Ophelia Hartness, How to Get Away with Murder (Where Are Your Parents?)
This is the fourth overall and third consecutive nomination for ninety-four-year-old actress Tyson for this role, and she has eleven additional nominations prior to that, dating back to 1974 and including three wins, most recently in 1994. I actually think this may be the strongest submission yet for Tyson, who is truly present in her scenes and makes her aging and ailing mother to star Viola Davis’ character very memorable and important. Absent a clear frontrunner, Tyson could prevail, but that hasn’t helped other similarly respected older actresses in past years.

Carice van Houten as Melisandre, Game of Thrones (The Long Night)
This is the first nomination for van Houten. Diana Rigg was nominated previously for HBO’s hugely popular show in this race, and now van Houten has the chance to win for her memorable turn as a powerful sorceress in one of the more impactful and memorable episodes of its final season. If voters want to reward the show as a whole, she would be a great way to do it, and she could also benefit from the show sweeping all its categories. Being a less-known quantity won’t help her, but anyone who watches her episode won’t soon forget her and her role in it.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Lange or Tyson
Who will win: It’s possible it might be Jones or Lange, but I’m betting on Rashad.

Next up: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Michael Angarano as Nick Pearson, This Is Us (Songbird Road: Part One)
This is the first nomination for Angarano, who portrays the younger brother of his show’s patriarch, Jack. This category has been won by other members of his cast the past two years, but both have been older actors. In his submitted episode, the reason for Nicky’s anguish is revealed, and those who have watched more of the show may have stronger reasons to vote for him than those who only watch this episode. It’s a good performance, but hardly in the same league as the rest of these nominees.

Ron Cephas Jones as William Hill, This Is Us (A Philadelphia Story)
Jones is the defending champion in this category, winning last year after a nomination in the supporting category for season one of the show. His victory was based on an episode that didn’t include all that much content, so obviously sentiment for the character helped him considerably. That may be true again, but no one has ever won multiple awards in this category for the same role. His presence in this year’s hour symbolized a connection for his son to his past, an effective one that could encourage voters to reward one of the more endearing elements of his show.

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill, Better Call Saul (Winner)
This is the clearest of a makeup nomination, like the one Elizabeth Mitchell got for “Lost” and then Jimmi Simpson got last year for “Westworld,” after a strong series regular performance is only honored for the guest gig that follows. This is McKean’s first Emmy nomination, and reappearing in a flashback as the main character’s brother doesn’t do justice to his tremendous turn in the third season that should have earned him a bid. That doesn’t mean he won’t win, since that would be a worthwhile way to reward a show that has yet to win a single award despite 22 previous nominations.

Kumail Nanjiani as Samir Wassan, The Twilight Zone (The Comedian)
This is Nanjiani’s first Emmy nomination after starring for five years on past Best Comedy Series nominee “Silicon Valley.” He’s now the only representative from the newest version of the classic mystery thriller anthology series. In its first episode, he plays a comedian who realizes that his jokes have a greater power than he could imagine. I think it’s a formidable, fantastic turn that so tremendously matches the tone of his show, and he did manage to get nominated, but I think a win, however deserving, would be surprising in the company of other actors on more respected and beloved series.

Glynn Turman as Nate Lahey, Sr., How to Get Away with Murder (It Was the Worst Day of My Life)
Turman is a past winner in this category, taking home a trophy for playing Blair Underwood’s father in “In Treatment” in 2008. This turn, his second career nomination, doesn’t really compare to that powerful performance, but Turman is still very good as a criminal seeking exoneration in his submitted episode. Star Viola Davis won an Emmy for the first season of her show, so maybe Turman could too, but his work isn’t likely to stand out among this crowd.

Bradley Whitford as Commander Joseph Lawrence, The Handmaid’s Tale (Postpartum)
Whitford is an Emmy favorite, having won a supporting trophy for his work on “The West Wing” with two additional nominations and a comedy guest acting prize for “Transparent” out of two bids. Now, he is nominated for his appearance in one of the last three “hanging” episodes of season two of his show. His turn as a high-ranking but unusual commander in a totalitarian state is immensely watchable, and given his Emmy track record and his continued performance in season three, I think he has a great shot to win.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Nanjiani or Whitford
Who will win: I think Whitford takes it.

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

What I’m Watching: Four Weddings and a Funeral

Four Weddings and a Funeral: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Sound of Music” (B)

This show really is set on coupling off all of its characters in some way or another, and some of those romances are proceeding along at a quicker rate than others. It took Ainsley way too long to realize that Bryce was into her, and for her to even consider the notion of being with the dim-witted Garrett instead is crazy. I would have thought that Tony 2, whose screentime and relevance got bumped up in a major way during this hour, would have said something preemptively to Maya about the way Kash was looking at her since he knows how much the eventual revelation of their relationship will hurt Ainsley. Maya tried her best to avoid spending time with Kash after Marcus brought the theater to Andrew’s attention in an infantile way, and there’s so little hope of anything not happening at this point. Andrew is becoming a slightly more humane and likeable character after realizing just how detestable he was, and a romance with Tony 2 would certainly lead to many colliding worlds. Duffy was very angry at everyone around him, and, as I’ve been predicting for a while, he’ll soon begin a romance with Gemma after she reported him to the administration and forced him to be supervised by his vengeful ex Tabby, who’s having a great time with her assignment. Now that they’re married, Craig and Zara aren’t nearly as interesting, and I hope that won’t be the case with all of the characters on this show.

Amazon with Abe: Fleabag (Series Finale)

Fleabag: Season 2, Episode 6 (A-)

Now this was a wonderful end to a truly amazing show that I wish was continuing forever. The sixth episode and therefore the final one submitted for Emmy consideration would actually have been a stronger showcase for Olivia Colman than the episode she picked, though I still think episode one was the smartest choice for all (save Andrew Scott, had he been nominated, of course, whose best moments came midseason). What was great about this episode was that Fleabag actually didn’t cause any problems at the wedding, aside from re-gifting her godmother’s stolen artwork to her, and that she got to be the mature, adult one for once. Claire revealing that she had the miscarriage and then making it abundantly clear that she wanted Martin to leave her was a formidable moment, and his defense that he wasn’t a bad person but just had a bad personality was hardly a compelling argument. Fleabag sending her off to proclaim her love for the other Claire was a wonderful act of loyalty and support. Her father, who cleverly was still not identified by name, clinging to her as he walked down the aisle was very telling, and it’s a wonder that the priest got through the ceremony without getting slapped in the face by a bride who was hardly the center of attention on the most important day of her life. After some enticing flirtation, like Fleabag asking him if it’s God or her that made him feel a certain way, this story ended in a very fitting way. His response that “it will pass” to her proclamation of love didn’t feel overly humane, but his follow-up joke about seeing her Sunday and “I love you too” meant that he understood just how difficult walking away from this relationship was. Sending a fox after him and revealing that she had stolen back the horrible piece of art was the best way possible to end this show, with her glancing back at the camera as she walked away. I hope this show goes home with a handful of Emmys, and I’d actually be thrilled if it somehow snatched the top prize. I think Colman and the writers of the season premiere are the likeliest winners, but I’m pulling for an upset by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the Best Actress race.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Amazon with Abe: Fleabag

Fleabag: Season 2, Episode 5 (B+)

This is the fifth episode of the season and, as such, the fifth submitted for Emmy consideration for Best Comedy Series. I like when the characters on this show are honest, since that doesn’t happen all that often, and the interactions they have when they’re talking to each other are fascinating. I somehow hadn’t processed that Claire’s affair with her Finnish partner of the same name was far more scandalous because she’s married to Martin, who continues to be despicable and whose company no one desires. Claire’s terrible pencil haircut that she apparently specifically requested went over very well with the male Claire, and Fleabag was eager to help her out with something that actually makes her happy. Telling her that she had met someone who was in fact the priest was a surprise, as was Claire’s delight that she had done something that would so infuriate their godmother. Her response to the priest telling them that he couldn’t do the wedding was predictably explosive, at least after she feigned politeness and understanding. Seeing the priest really get angry when he stopped by Fleabag and yelled at her for addressing the audience when they were in the middle of an important conversation where she was sure they were going to have sex was an intense experience, and the episode ended in a very fiery way. Knowing that if they had sex he’d fall in love with her is a big thing to say, and it seems impossible that this could all work out in a way that doesn’t end up with both of them very hurt.

Amazon with Abe: Fleabag

Fleabag: Season 2, Episode 4 (B+)

I liked this episode, which is the fourth of the six episodes submitted for Best Comedy Series consideration, but I can’t understand why it’s Olivia Colman’s choice for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Colman surprised to win the Oscar for Best Actress for “The Favourite” this past year, and she already seems primed to win the Emmy next year when she replaces Claire Foy on “The Crown.” She could have been a slam dunk in this category, but then she went ahead and submitted this otherwise fantastic episode, which barely features her and gives her one minimal scene that doesn’t compare at all to her work in the season premiere, which I think should have been everyone’s submission. I preferred seeing Fleabag bond with her father, who said he found her godmother annoying and that Claire didn’t get the “fun gene.” Everything else about the episode was also fantastic, with Fleabag having a genuinely good time with the priest shopping for new robes and the two of them building a great friendship that occasionally got awkward. She didn’t react well to being caught “disappearing” to the audience once again, and confessed pretty much everything to him except for the death of her best friend that truly changed who she was. Surprising the priest at his house prompted a rather taunting response from him about how he knew that calling him father turned her on, and bringing her into confession with a glass of alcohol in her hand was definitely not a conventional move. Telling her to kneel and then coming to kiss her was bold, and Fleabag seemed genuinely angry about yet another sign literally falling to indicate that what they were doing was wrong. I can’t wait to see what comes next since this narrative is truly incredible.

Amazon with Abe: Fleabag

Fleabag: Season 2, Episode 3 (B+)

It’s a real treat when a show that you don’t expect to surprise you absolutely does. I love watching this show because it’s fantastic, but it’s a dark comedy rather than a mystery or thriller, and so it’s rare that something catches me completely off-guard in the best way. Fleabag claiming that she had a miscarriage when Claire actually had just had one in the first episode was one such moment, but it didn’t compare to the wonder of Fleabag realizing that the priest is able to tell when she addresses the audience because he’s just that tapped into who she is as a person. I love that he knew exactly what she was doing when she was asking him about celibacy and that he addressed it head-on by saying that he did want them to be friends. This episode, the third of six episodes submitted for Best Comedy Series consideration, is also the selected half-hour for two of the actresses featured here. Sian Clifford, who plays Claire, was great in this episode, hilariously revealing that she’s dating a Finnish man also named Claire, and it was fun to see her stumble when she couldn’t stop thinking about him and had to do damage control when Fleabag screwed up again and again. Coldly telling Fleabag that they’re sisters and not friends demonstrated her dramatic ability, though I still think that the season premiere, which is nominated for both directing and writing, would have been a more formidable submission. The other performer up for an Emmy here is Kristin Scott Thomas, whose Belinda shared one very intense and memorable scene with Fleabag. It was short but highly impactful, and a sign of why this show really is so terrific.

Amazon with Abe: Fleabag

Fleabag: Season 2, Episode 2 (B+)

I’ve been waiting a long time to watch this show. I didn’t watch it when it premiered because I was saving streaming television for later in favor of other weekly fare, and was going to wait until I had caught up on all the other shows I had yet to watch before getting to it. Because of its exceptional Emmy showing, I opted to save it for last after all of the other Emmy episodes I watched since this is most definitely a show I do like and was thrilled to finally be able to see. It didn’t disappoint at all in this second of its six submitted episodes for Best Comedy Series consideration. The opening was fantastic, with Fleabag in church making the priest laugh before telling him she doesn’t believe in God and forgetting about the miscarriage she didn’t have. Googling what happens when a priest has sex wasn’t going to get her anywhere good, and now she’s just going to obsess over this attraction. Interrupting her speech to Martin to congratulate herself for how well it was going before she messed it up with the last word was a great instance of why this show is superb, and I continue to enjoy the interactions between Fleabag and Claire, especially when they’re supposed to be posing facing opposite directions for the Godmother to paint them. This episode also features one of the nominees this year for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Fiona Shaw, also up for her role in another Phoebe Waller-Bridge-created series, “Killing Eve.” At first I found her therapist character, who appeared in a very minimal portion of the episode, to be a bit dry, but it quickly became clear that she was able to match Fleabag’s temperament and respond perfectly to shut down her every witticism and actually manage to give her some real analysis and advice in the process. I don’t it’s substantial enough for a win, but it was fun to see her here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Righteous Gemstones

The Righteous Gemstones: Season 1, Episode 4 “Wicked Lips” (B-)

This episode wasn’t as enticing to me, partially because some of the characters are just too willing to go along with situations and ideas that should seem patently unbelievable to them. The best example is Amber, who’s so completely loyal to her husband that she wouldn’t for a second question whether he’s telling the truth or even why he would be dangerously tailgating someone he allegedly plays “car pranks” with on a regular basis. She did manage to cast plenty of doubt on Mandy’s claims about the emails, and then have Jesse come over to make up a cover story about it, which he did remarkably calmly given how angry he was about this breach. Gideon better hope that he can run fast, since his father catching him fleeing the scene of the wrecked car would result in a whole lot of fury. Keefe doesn’t seem like a terribly reliable sidekick for Kelvin in his quest for youth ministry since he’s far too susceptible to the lure of the satanic church, an influence he could easily have avoided had he simply gone a different way while enjoying his ice cream cone. Kelvin was honored that his father finally expressed some confidence in his youth ministry ability, and he did put in a fair amount of effort – and showed off some impressive trampoline moves – to help get the daughter of his father’s number one donor back on the right path. The Gemstones don’t actually mean to do the right thing, but Kelvin may have unintentionally helped someone in this episode. I’m pleased to report that this show has been renewed for a second season, and I’ll be sticking around to enjoy its absurdity!

What I’m Watching: The Affair

The Affair: Season 5, Episode 3 (B-)

Though this season is decidedly better than the third one that truly took it off course, I’m failing to see where it’s all headed and why it’s still interesting. We know by now that Noah is now a good person, and he deserves hearing about all the bad choices he’s made and what they led to every once in a while. It’s also evident that the way he perceives reality is skewed, and when he sees himself as being arrogant and impatient, that can’t be a good sign. Getting jealous about Helen and Sasha was typically unbecoming, and the notion that Sasha is trying to get closer to him by sleeping with Helen is so incredibly self-centered. In slight defense of him, Sasha doesn’t comprehend just how personal and biographical Noah’s book is, and that asking him to change the ending is the reason most authors don’t want their writings adapted into movies. Janelle getting back together with Carl and running for school board sends her off on her own little tangent, and I’m not sure how much more she’ll be featured so soon after getting her own perspective. Helen had a formidable moment of triumph when she told her mother that she wasn’t moving back east and then Sasha walked out and casually requested some coffee. I’m at a loss regarding Joanie’s relevance, since she just got five minutes at the end of the episode to demonstrate some truly self-destructive tendencies. She needs more screen time since little snippets throughout the season just won’t cut it.

Pilot Review: The Spy

I'm trying something new with my pilot reviews, so from now on, check out video takes on each new series, which I'll embed below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Emmy Episodes: GLOW

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

GLOW: Season 2, Episode 4 “Mother of All Matches” (B)

This is a show that I actually enjoyed watching quite a bit when I sampled the six episodes submitted last year for Best Comedy Series consideration, and I debated continuing to watch the whole thing since it was really entertaining. It turns out that the show didn’t perform nearly as well this year, earning just a nomination for supporting actress Betty Gilpin, who was also the only performer honored last year. I liked Gilpin a lot on the final season of “Masters of Sex,” and I’m glad to see her continue to get recognized. Her role in the recently-cancelled film “The Hunt” about liberals hunting conservatives was a puzzling choice, and so I hope she’ll stick to fare like this. This episode got much more personal and intimate than other half-hours I had previously watched, dealing extensively with two of its characters and culminating in an impactful staged match. Debbie was very prominently featured, so angered by her ex having his secretary call her to ask what kind of bed she had so that he could get the same one that she had to do everything possible to rid herself of all of his possessions. It’s a pretty fantastic performance, and though she’s the greatest definition of a longshot, this is a solid submission. The more emotional storyline featured Tammé visiting her son at college and being embarrassed to tell him about what she did for work. Comparing her to a minstrel character wasn’t kind, and his face watching her lose and be shouted at to get a job was tough. Complimenting her on the physical strength it took to throw a white woman across the ring was a nice way to salvage that situation. The only other regular cast member we saw was Alison Brie as Ruth, who knew just what to do when the crowd was turning against the prescribed victor of the match. I’ll be more than happy to check this out again should it earn any future nominations.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Emmy Episodes: Russian Doll

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

Russian Doll: Season 1, Episode 8 “Ariadne” (B)

I knew that this episode, the sixth and last of the submissions for Best Comedy Series consideration, wouldn’t be able to provide a satisfactory finish to its narrative, but this attempt was actually decent because not following a clear scientific or explained narrative means that the writers can make up whatever rules they want. Everything was back at the start to the way that it was supposed to be, though Alan noticing something new, while seemingly harmless, didn’t appear to be a good sign. Nadia’s conversation with Joe about life being like a “box of timelines” was entertaining, and it seemed like things might be okay until Nadia went to Alan’s apartment and he went to her party, signaling that their wires were not going to go well. Both Nadia and Alan realized at the same moment, at least as we saw it happening, that they were existing in their own narrative separate from the other’s loop, which meant that they could both die and that they didn’t have each to rely on for assistance anymore. Watching them fight to convince the other that they’re closer than they could ever possibly imagine because the other didn’t remember them was a compelling exercise that demonstrated the connection that they’ve made. Alan trying to get Beatrice away from Mike didn’t work too well until he used her student loan total to get her attention, and there is obviously something lingering between them that transcends whatever simultaneous timelines exist. The ending was sweet but didn’t wrap anything up, and after sampling six of these episodes, I definitely don’t feel like I need to see more, though I suppose it’s more tolerable than other fare. It’s certainly not my choice for Best Comedy Series.

Emmy Episodes: Russian Doll

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

Russian Doll: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Way Out” (B-)

I skipped two episodes of this season to arrive at the fifth of the six episodes submitted for Best Comedy Series consideration, and I don’t feel that I missed much. The only real change is that, apparently, things are going wrong in their pursuit of the reason behind their time loops, causing people to disappear. There’s also evidently a whole lot of baggage that Nadia has with her mother, played by Chloe Sevigny, who was both destructive and manipulative in the way that she used her daughter and exploded at others in front of her. Nadia being haunted by the sight of her younger self was definitely disturbing, though nothing compared to the closing shot of her coughing up blood before a rather dramatic death. There is something cool about how she can have a heart attack and Alan will just conclude that it’s fine and they’ll meet up again soon, but I don’t know how this could possibly end in a compelling and satisfying way. Alan going to talk to Beatrice while wearing a helmet felt sort of silly but also intentional, and things ended up going differently than they had in the past. Nadia, in typical fashion, rocked a similarly protective outfit and looked much more ridiculous, far less effective than watching her return to the start of the party to find no one there but Maxine. I hope this finale will provide some closure but I’m dubious that will be the case since I don’t know what avenue would make this trip feel totally worthwhile.

Emmy Episodes: Russian Doll

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

Russian Doll: Season 1, Episode 4 “Alan’s Routine” (B)

I liked this episode, the fourth of six submitted for Best Comedy Series consideration, more than I liked the first three, partly because Alan is a solid addition and because Nadia’s interactions with him and others felt more entertaining. Alan goes about his routine differently because he’s not the same kind of person as Nadia, though the day he has to keep experiencing is far from pleasant. I recognized Dascha Polano from “Orange is the New Black” as Beatrice, Alan’s girlfriend who didn’t seem particularly emotional about breaking up with him, a sadder fact since he was going to propose and now has to relive the disappointment over and over again. It’s interesting to see that Nadia showing up changed his experience, finding out that Beatrice was sleeping with someone else (who Nadia met in episode one) and telling his mom that she said yes since he wanted to see her happy for once. I really enjoyed Nadia’s search for the man she met in the elevator, asking the jewelry store clerk what her boyfriend’s name was and then interacting with Alan’s neighbor who didn’t trust her because a murderer would of course say that he hadn’t murdered any people. He didn’t seem happy to meet her at all, and her suggestion that they might be the same person made absolutely no sense despite her repeated assertions. Ultimately, how good this show is doesn’t depend entirely on the “science” or explanation that might eventually be discovered about why this is all happening, but rather on how watchable each episode is. For the next of this show’s submitted episodes, I’ll be skipping to episode seven, which is an acceleration with which I feel totally comfortable.

Emmy Episodes: Russian Doll

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

Russian Doll: Season 1, Episode 3 “A Warm Body” (B-)

This is the third of this show’s six submitted episodes for Best Comedy Series consideration, and also got nominated for Best Writing in a Comedy Series along with the pilot. I’m not entirely surely why, since I’d argue that the first or second installments were actually better than this one. The Jewish content on this show is indeed weird, and I wasn’t overly fond of the portrayal of Shifra and the rabbi. Some quick research indicates that actor Jonathan Hadary, who portrayed the rabbi here, also played big time Jewish donor Sherman Tanz on “Veep,” hardly a commendable representation of Jews on television. I also know the synagogue, Town and Village, that was shown, which definitely is Conservative rather than Orthodox as indicated by the nature of the people inside it. Nadia quizzing Shifra on prayers before sort of asking for help was moderately intriguing, while John got his own spiritual awakening of sorts during his conversation with the rabbi. Meeting the shoeless and homeless Horse seemed to be helpful since he took her for who she is. I was excited to see that Horse is played by Brendan Sexton III, who was actually the very first actor I got to meet up close when I attended a two-week film school program in Brooklyn fifteen years ago. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Nadia was going to meet someone else who is experiencing the same thing she is, and though I expected it to happen eventually, I am curious to see how it changes this show and Nadia’s outlook on her short repeating life.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Emmy Episodes: Russian Doll

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

Russian Doll: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Great Escape” (B-)

This is the last show I don’t regularly watch that I’m catching up on and marathoning for Emmy purposes. I actually rewatched the pilot about a month ago with my mom because she was moderately interested, and my opinion was about the same as it was when I first watched it when it premiered back in February. This is an intriguing concept and star Natasha Lyonne is undoubtedly magnetic, but I’m not sure why it is that it merits an entire series. That’s still not clear after this episode, the second of the six episodes submitted for Best Comedy Series consideration, which, in typical fashion with any film or TV show that features a day happening over and over, fast-forwarded through some of the misery endured by Nadia as she died repeatedly, unable to even descend the stairs without falling to her death. I’m waiting for her to start talking to people to find out something that could prove to them that she’s had this conversation before, beyond just getting a retroactive password from her drug dealer so that she could ask him questions during her next iteration. Inquiring about her mother’s diagnosis led her to nearly commit herself, something that she evidently wasn’t going to do and, in this particular circumstance, was able to reverse by causing a crash and sending her back to the beginning. I don’t know what comes next, but I’m continuing on to the next episode to see how Nadia keeps investigating now that she’s past the drug angle.

Emmy Episodes: How to Get Away with Murder

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

How to Get Away with Murder: Season 5, Episode 13 “Where Are Your Parents?” (C)

I’ve watched episodes of this show in the past because of nominated performances from star Viola Davis and from legendary actress Cicely Tyson. While I think Davis has been much better in other projects, which I wrote about in my look at her submitted episode from this year, I’ve come to realize that Tyson really is one of the stronger elements of the show. Her character, Ophelia, isn’t always with it, getting confused by her fading memory and deteriorating mental state, but when she’s on, she’s very on. When she asked Nate and Annalise why they didn’t just get married, she knew exactly what she was saying. Giving Nate the letters from his late father, whose portrayer Glynn Turman is also nominated for an Emmy and who was very much alive in the last episode of his that I watched, helped her connect to someone else and demonstrate how she may not know the specifics of a particular case or situation but can still be extraordinarily helpful and wise in figuring out how to get out of it. I don’t really know or care who did what in this FBI investigation that is apparently so vital on Christmas, but Annalise managed to get the upper hand once again despite being totally ready to come in and testify in exchange for immunity. Tegan beginning a romance with Agent Telesco to get her thrown off the case was smart, but it seems to me that these moves are only going to encourage those seeking to put Annalise and her associates behind bars to come after them harder. I imagine I might watch an episode or two if anyone is nominated for the final season, and I won’t wish this show one bit until then.

Emmy Episodes: How to Get Away with Murder

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

How to Get Away with Murder: Season 5, Episode 9 “He Betrayed Us Both” (C-)

This episode was especially uninteresting to me because I don’t have any idea what’s going on and how many characters don’t know who their real parents or children are. That’s part of the appeal of watching these episodes, though I find this show so unappealing for so many reasons. This is the Emmy submission for Viola Davis, back in the lead actress category after she managed last year to still get nominated for the same role in the guest race during a “Scandal” crossover. It’s hard for me to commend her performance here when it’s nowhere near the quality of the formidable turn she delivered in the hugely underrated “Widows” and of course in her Oscar-winning role in “Fences.” This episode did show her experiencing quite a miserable time, unable to grasp what was happening around her and stuck on traumatic events from the past. I think Davis tends to be more impressive when she’s alert, angry, and yelling at people, and so to me this is far from her strongest submission. It’s exhausting watching and thinking about just how many secrets people are keeping from each other, and I’m not at all interested in any of them, which really surprises me. I did immediately recognize the song “No Fate Awaits Me” by Son Lux at the end of the episode, which I remember being powerfully featured at the end of the film “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” which just happens to have also featured none other than Viola Davis.

Emmy Episodes: How to Get Away with Murder

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

How to Get Away with Murder: Season 5, Episode 5 “It Was the Worst Day of My Life” (C)

I usually enjoy the process of going through and sampling the episodes submitted for Emmy consideration each summer, but I really can’t stand this show. I’ve never found it to be compelling, even in comparison to a similar show that used to get nominated, “Scandal,” and this episode, the first of three I’m watching back-to-back this year, didn’t change my mind at all. I still don’t like the format, starting from a point of retrospective analysis and asking direct questions like, “What could I have done next?” The specifics of who’s sleeping with who or what laws were broken by every single character aren’t terribly relevant, and I can’t say I retained much of the supporting plotlines. What I was watching for here was the nominated guest performance by Glynn Turman, who won the Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series back in 2008 for a powerful turn as Blair Underwood’s father on “In Treatment.” There was no way that those two performances could compare, but Turman still performed admirably, demonstrating his character’s commitment to being heard and to getting the truth out so that he could finally be exonerated. I don’t think he’ll win, but he wouldn’t be a bad choice even if some of his fellow nominees’ roles were stronger. I also recognized Teddy Sears from “The Flash” and “Masters of Sex,” but his appearance as a prison psychiatrist was most noteworthy for the absurd and immediate proclamation by the judge that his testimony was entirely biased when he hadn’t thought to consider it a moment earlier.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Emmy Episodes: Saturday Night Live

It’s always my policy to watch every Emmy-nominated episode each year, which leads me to sample a handful of shows that I don’t tune in to on a regular basis. For the fourth year in a row, I’m making a special effort to spotlight each of those installments to offer my perspective on shows that I don’t review each week.

Saturday Night Live: Season 44, Episode 20 “Host: Emma Thompson” (B-)

I’m a big fan of Emma Thompson, and she’s had a great year with an intense dramatic role on HBO’s “Years and Years” and as a late-night host in the fantastic and very funny movie, “Late Night,” which was just released on Amazon Prime. She felt immediately comfortable and genuinely excited when she came out to do her monologue, and was generous right away by bringing Tina Fey and Amy Poehler up to join her for her Mother’s Day bit. While she’s undeniably great, the sketches were mostly slapstick and over-the-top, like her training Leslie Jones to be a civilized guest at the royal wedding and smacking her multiple tickets, competing with Kate McKinnon’s actress, and the costume-heavy “Beauty and the Beast” musical number. She’s great and likeable, but this isn’t her best work. I actually enjoyed other pieces of this episode more, like the opening with Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins being asked what could possibly eventually make them not support Trump. This show has actually had an easier time with its political humor lately because of the state of our government, and it’s nice to see some creativity presented in conjunction with the Weekend Update featuring of straight Trump clips. Pete Davidson describing how his mom lives with him and then bringing her out was fun too. The closing parody of the infamous “Game of Thrones” coffee cup was most entertaining, with this being a great case of leaning extensively into exaggeration to make a point.