Friday, July 31, 2020

Pilot Review: Brassic

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What I’m Watching: Little Voice

Little Voice: Season 1, Episode 6 “Tell Her” (B+)

It was disorienting to see an idyllic montage of the life Bess and Ethan shared since I thought I had missed something, and it turns out it was just an imagined scenario, one that’s not going to happen because, despite his declared affection for Bess, Ethan isn’t ready to tell his girlfriend that he’s in love with someone else. That might have made things more complicated for Bess, and she could have used an anchor at this time when she kept encountering setback after setback. The obnoxious customer snapping at her and demeaning her while she was bartending was just the start, and she lashed out at Prisha when she could have relied on her for support since she wasn’t having any of her not being honest with herself about Sundeep and Ananya. After previously showing that he’s a bit annoying, Jeremy demonstrated now that he has an interest in Bess that’s not entirely professional and that, unlike the other two men vying for her affection, he’s not looking out for her at all, encouraging her to drink more and then making unnecessary comments the next day. Her dad being accused of stealing the record when an upset Louie called was especially bad timing, and Samuel paying for the “Dear Evan Hansen” cake was a kind gesture that she couldn’t appreciate in the moment. Leaving her book of songs on the subway was the worst possible ending to a terrible day, though at least she didn’t run back to the train to see it close and pull away. There have to be happier times ahead, more like what Ethan dreamed up at the start of the episode.

Pilot Review: Frayed

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Pilot Review: In My Skin

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What I’m Watching: Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol: Season 2, Episode 8 “Dad Patrol” (B+)

This episode’s title was fitting since it applied to most of the characters, with Jane grappling with traumatic memories of her father’s barbaric punishment system, Larry haunted by his own failures as a father, Niles determined as ever for his daughter not to grow up, and Cliff getting a surprisingly positive chance to spend some time with his daughter. Jane and Larry getting their steps in as they traveled to Arkansas to confront the well was a good opportunity for them to bond and to share their joint fears of fading away. Jane coming to an important realization about Miranda and acknowledging what she had done didn’t have the result she expected, and now she may be in danger of being permanently suppressed by a malicious personality. I enjoyed Rita, like Cliff previously, conjuring up a TV show that involved her teaming up with Vic. Unfortunately, their first mission involved Roni, whose intentions weren’t nearly as good-natured as Vic had originally thought, leading to a crippling blow for him and then for her when she just stood there and let Roni go. Both Niles and Dorothy seem to have the same attitude towards her apocalyptic transformation, which is that they can just keep postponing it if they try, which doesn’t seem to be the case at all, setting the stage for a disturbing and violent finale. I enjoyed watching Cliff be so jolly and enthusiastic while telling Clara about the truly weird and incomprehensible things that define his life. Getting called dad and invited to her wedding made him so elated, and let’s hope that the end of the world doesn’t prevent him from showing up to watch her walk down the aisle.

Pilot Review: Ladhood

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Pilot Review: Maxxx

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Stargirl

Stargirl: Season 1, Episode 11 “Shining Knight” (B)

It’s hard to suspend disbelief when watching this show since we obviously know that Courtney isn’t going to be killed by Brainwave, and that there’s only so much time that the heroes and the villains can know exactly who their enemies are and not act against them. Courtney definitely isn’t the same bright-eyed teenager she was, and meeting the man claiming to be her father – who we’re still not convinced he is – was an absolute letdown since he showed that he was only interested in money and not being there for her in the way that she needed. I like actor Geoff Stults, who previously starred in “The Finder” (a great show) and “Enlisted,” and he filled his part well, even managing to inspire rage in the usually docile Pat. At least Barbara and Pat are a united front now, and they could have a moderately stable ally in the form of Justin the Shining Knight, who’s just the latest figure embroiled in this justice/injustice conflict to end up in Blue Valley. It was eerie to have Brainwave delivering a sober public tribute to his dead son to the entire school while telepathically communicating to Courtney that it was her fault and she would be next. Jordan seemed to want to protect Barbara and, by extension, her family, but finding out that she knew who he was turned out to be enough to convince him to change his mind. With two episodes left, I’m not sure how much more can unfold before all-out conflict that results in some serious sustained losses to both sides.

What I’m Watching: Perry Mason

Perry Mason: Season 1, Episode 6 “Chapter Six” (B+)

Well, Perry is a lawyer now, which isn’t nearly as easy a job as he might have thought given how stacked the deck is against him. Maynard was all for pulling stunts, and even though Judge Wright chastised him for his behavior, he still sided with him and disqualified the evidence Paul gave Perry that would have proven that things had been staged. Theatrically walking the courtroom to show the distance was a helpful ploy, and refusing to lower his voice when he was conferencing with the judge and the district attorney in sidebar conversation was also a moderately successful attempt to avoid being silenced. Paul getting a payoff from his captain for making the department look good in his testimony really left a sour taste in his mouth, and he knew that he had to do something even if it might not amount to anything. Though Maynard doesn’t seem to be particularly concerned with what’s right, he wasn’t happy to learn that Ennis had lied to him, and Holcomb was absolutely furious at him for putting him in a compromised position. The person with the most to regret was Emily, whose decision to have sex with George with the baby left outside is almost certainly going to get her convicted. The notion that a guard who’s assigned never to leave someone’s side for their own protection can negate spiritual privilege is absurd, but there’s not much in the way of actual law and order at play here. I enjoyed Pete’s unsubtle efforts to convince Perry to use the evidence he had, and that Perry was pretending to be E.B. to discuss what had happened and what he should do next.

What I’m Watching: Stateless

Stateless: Season 1, Episode 4 “Run Sofie Run” (B+)

It’s definitely an unsettling time to be watching protests reenacted even on fictional television shows, but that’s part of why this series does feel very relevant. Clare had an entire riot police force ready to deal with the protests, which weren’t all that big but still had a major impact, if only because they distracted her and the KORVO officers from the escape happening at the same time. Her conversations with David really are enlightening. After dealing with the nun in the previous episode, Cam was once again in a very uncomfortable position as he had to contend with the fact that his sister was actively helping the escapees get away and hide and sending them information on where to go next. It’s possible that he really did think that getting them back into the facility right away before they met a worse fate after being on the run was the better option, but them being put in isolation immediately after he called in their location didn’t feel like a good result. It’s dizzying to see the story of how Sofie got there play out at the same time as she was running yet again, and it was disturbing for Margot to learn that, when she reported her sister missing, Gordon and Pat’s mysterious organization was already under investigation. Sofie should have said more to her sister when she called, but it’s clear that she doesn’t feel safe doing that, even if her family could attract protect her. Now she’s hearing the music, which might make her feel more secure even if it suggests she’s losing her grip on reality.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Emmy Nominees: Best Comedy Series

My predictions: 6/8, missing “The Kominsky Method” and “What We Do in the Shadows”

This category is most disappointing to me. After missing out last year, The Kominsky Method got in this time with little fanfare, and somehow managed to edge out “Ramy,” which I had thought was a sure thing, and “The Great,” which earned directing and writing bids but nothing else. What We Do in the Shadows came from out of nowhere like Schitt’s Creek last year (and this year astounded by jumping from four to fifteen nominations), and now I’m going to spend some time catching up on that show. It’s a relief that The Good Place made the cut for its final season, and so exciting that Insecure finally cracked this category for its fourth season. Dead to Me is another great inclusion, and it feels like Curb Your Enthusiasm is just tacked on without any other major bids. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel remains the comedy leader, matching its twenty-nomination total from last year.

Who should win? I have to watch “What We Do in the Shadows,” but from the rest, I’m firmly behind “The Good Place,” “Dead to Me,” “and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Who will win? I think Schitt’s Creek can pull it off.

Emmy Nominees: Best Drama Series

My predictions: 5/8

Last year, there were eight likely contenders and there ended up being eight nominees. This year, there were many more than that and what resulted is a surprising list that doesn’t quite match how other categories played out. For instance, “The Morning Show” got eight nominations but isn’t here. “Westworld” got eleven and isn’t here either. The Mandalorian is the real surprise, mainly because just one of its fourteen other bids is for something that’s not technical. Stranger Things, which netted zero acting nominations, is also here, which I’m all for even though most don’t seem to have loved season three. Killing Eve did better than expected despite minimal buzz. The Handmaid’s Tale got ten nominations and Better Call Saul got seven, even though they both missed in some important categories, namely their lead actors. The Crown did well with thirteen, second only to Ozark and Succession, both of which scored eighteen bids. I have to watch “The Mandalorian” but overall this category is fine, even if I would have kept in “Pose,” “This Is Us” and “Westworld” over some of the others.

What should win? From what I’ve seen, I’d choose “The Crown” at this point.
What will win? Given its juggernaut status, I think Succession is far enough ahead of its closest competition, “Ozark” and “The Crown.”

Emmy Nominees: Best Limited Series

My predictions: 5/5!

Well, I went ahead and did it, scoring one hundred percent on exactly one category. “Hollywood,” which didn’t make the cut here, still managed twelve nominations, which isn’t bad at all. That doesn’t compare to the staggering twenty-six bids earned by Watchmen, which is pretty incredible and still managed to leave out some key supporting players. Unorthodox did splendidly with eight bids, which is wonderful. Mrs. America got ten, which isn’t bad at all. Unbelievable didn’t do as well, unfortunately, which is really a shame given how impressive it was. Little Fires Everywhere also didn’t impress all that much with overall numbers. I’m satisfied with this list, even if it doesn’t include some excellent choices like “The Loudest Voice,” “Mrs. Fletcher,” and “Our Boys.”

What should win? I’ll choose “Watchmen” or “Unorthodox,” but any of these are totally fine.
What will win? How could it not be Watchmen?

Emmy Nominees: Best TV Movie

My predictions: 4/5

This was supposed to be a big year for TV movies, with Bad Education and El Camino expected to earn at least acting bids and other accolades. Instead, the former got only its lead, Hugh Jackman, cited, and the latter meriting only technical bids. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend got one acting nomination, while American Son and Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones are represented only here. I’ve only seen two of these, so I guess I should check out the others to see how valuable this category really is if so many movies that premiere on TV are going to compete at the Oscars instead.

What should win? To be determined – haven’t seen enough!
What will win? I think Bad Education wins this easily.

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Limited Series or TV Movie

My predictions: 3/5

The nominees: Shirley (Mrs. America), Episode 3 (Normal People), Episode 1 (Unbelievable), Part 1 (Unorthodox), This Extraordinary Being (Watchmen)

I was wrong on the number of nominees in this category – I guess my counting skills aren’t as solid as my predicting (which is also not foolproof, it seems). It turns out that voters were most impressed by nominee Uzo Aduba’s featured episode of Mrs. America, and they liked Normal People enough to cite it for writing and directing but not limited series (which is what I predicted would happen to “Hollywood,” which earned none of those three). The first episodes of Unbelievable and Unorthodox are exceptional choices, as is the powerful flashback episode of Watchmen.

What should win? I haven’t seen the “Normal People” episode yet, but the latter three alphabetical nominees are all solid.
What will win? I think this goes to Unorthodox.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Limited Series or TV Movie

My predictions: 2/6

The nominees: Find a Way (Little Fires Everywhere), Episode 5 (Normal People), Unorthodox, It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice (Watchmen), Little Fear of Lightning (Watchmen), This Extraordinary Being (Watchmen)

Well, this is certainly a love fest for Watchmen, which I don’t mind except for the fact that one of the best episodes, “A God Walks into Abar,” isn’t one of them. I’m ecstatic about Unorthodox being included, and I’ll have to watch all of Normal People since I stopped after the pilot. The finale of Little Fires Everywhere was also strong, and I’m glad to see it here, especially since the show underperformed with just five total nominations.

What should win? Aside from the episode I haven’t seen, I’d pick one of the installments of “Watchmen.”
What will win? I think this goes to the pilot episode of Watchmen.

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Comedy Series

My predictions: 2/7

The nominees: Whenever You’re Ready (The Good Place), The Great (The Great), Happy Ending (Schitt’s Creek), The Presidential Suite (Schitt’s Creek), Collaboration (What We Do in the Shadows), Ghosts (What We Do in the Shadows), On the Run (What We Do in the Shadows)

Well, if it helps, I only got one right in this category last year, so I’m improving! I did not foresee the love for What We Do in the Shadows, though at least it helps to explain its shocking Best Comedy Series nomination (it’s one of the shows I have to watch now). I didn’t foresee Schitt’s Creek doing so well, but I know its fans are thrilled. The first episode of The Great and the last episode of The Good Place are great inclusions that I’m very happy to see.

What should win? I haven’t seen almost half of these, so I won’t comment now.
What will win? I think Schitt’s Creek triumphs here for its series finale.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/7

The nominees: The Great (The Great), It’s Comedy or Cabbage (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Marvelous Radio (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Finale Part 2 (Modern Family), (Ramy), Happy Ending (Schitt’s Creek), We Love Lucy (Will and Grace)

I’m pleased with myself for predicting the Will and Grace episode that made the cut here, and I probably should have seen the Modern Family finale coming. Both episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel got in, as did the series finale of Schitt’s Creek. I’m very happy with the other two nominees, the pilot of The Great, a show which sadly underperformed, and a standout installment (though not the best of the season) of Ramy, which also didn’t do nearly as well as it should have.

What should win? I haven’t seen the “Modern Family” finale. It’s a toss-up between “The Great,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and “Ramy.”
What will win? I think Will and Grace takes it.

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/7

The nominees: Bad Choice Road (Better Call Saul), Bagman (Better Call Saul), Aberfan (The Crown), All In (Ozark), Boss Fight (Ozark), Fire Pink (Ozark), This Is Not for Tears (Succession)

I thought there were supposed to be eight nominations in this category, which was my first mistake. My second I’m willing to forgive, which is that I predicted another episode of Succession that wasn’t on the ballot, so I’m giving myself credit for that being correct. Three nominations for Ozark after none the first two seasons is quite a surprise, and it does seem like a bit much, especially considering I was only really into “Fire Pink” of the three. “Aberfan” is an excellent hour, typical of The Crown, and the two nominated episodes of Better Call Saul actually add insult to injury for Bob Odenkirk’s snub since his performance makes those installments, not just the writing.

What should win? I’d probably choose “Aberfan” or “Bad Choice Road.”
What will win? I think Succession defends its title.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Drama Series

My predictions: 6/8

The nominees: Aberfan (The Crown), Cri de Coeur (The Crown), Prisoners of War (Homeland), The Interview (The Morning Show), Fire Pink (Ozark), Su Casa Es Mi Casa (Ozark), Hunting (Succession), This Is Not For Tears (Succession)

Eight slots equals four shows? That doesn’t seem great, but none of these nominations are particularly surprising. I guessed that only one episode of The Crown would be nominated, and that The Morning Show would place in writing instead. The series finale of Homeland is here (the only episode I haven’t seen in this race), along with two episodes apiece of juggernauts Ozark and Succession. These are all, if nothing else, intense episodes. What’s most perplexing is the absence of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Stranger Things,” both of which placed in Best Drama Series but missed here after frequent nominations in the past.

What should win? Aside from the episode I haven’t seen, I’d choose “Aberfan.”
What will win? I think this goes to Ozark for “Fire Pink.”

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/6, missing Bassett and Rudolph’s second bid

A few things happened here that aren’t all that crazy but I didn’t expect. First, Angela Bassett (A Black Lady Sketch Show) returned to the lineup after a three-year hiatus (here last in 2017 for “Master of None”) for a variety series other than “Saturday Night Live.” Laverne Cox (Curb Your Enthusiasm) ended up with another drama nomination for “Orange is the New Black” instead of being recognized here. Maya Rudolph (The Good Place) didn’t just earn her third consecutive bid for that show, she also earned a second nomination for “Saturday Night Live.” Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Saturday Night Live) had the opportunity to do the same, but “Run” didn’t rack up any accolades. Wanda Sykes (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) earned her third overall bid in this category, but for a different role after being recognized previously for “Black-ish.” And, especially after watching the second season of her show, which is of course not what’s in contention, it’s lamentable to see only Bette Midler (The Politician) nominated without her fabulous and equally deserving costar Judith Light.

Who should win? I’ve only seen half of these performances, so no comment just yet.
Who will win? I think Sykes wins.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/6

I didn’t do too well in this race last year either, though these nominations aren’t especially surprising. Brad Pitt (Saturday Night Live) follows Robert De Niro last year in getting nominated for impersonating a public figure connected to Donald Trump in a small role in another guest host’s episode, while last year’s nominee John Mulaney didn’t show up again. Eddie Murphy (Saturday Night Live) earns his first acting Emmy nomination in thirty-six years, joined by another past nominee, Adam Driver (Saturday Night Live). I’m surprised that Jon Hamm (Curb Your Enthusiasm) didn’t show up, especially when he’s been here before and his show, which did land a bid for Best Comedy Series, usually produces nominees in this race. Instead, Dev Patel (Modern Love) managed the only nomination for his anthology series, and last year’s winner Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) is back for another shot at a trophy. Rounding out the category is the late Fred Willard (Modern Family), back ten years after his only nomination for this role and his fifth overall.

Who should win? I’ve only seen Patel and Kirby’s work so far, so I have some catching up to do.
Who will win? It could be Willard or Kirby again, but I think Murphy takes it.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6, missing Cox and Walter

Four of these women were nominated last year, and a fifth won this award three years ago. The new addition is Harriet Walter (Succession), whose role may not have been substantial but who did have a banner year with additional parts on “Killing Eve” and “Belgravia.” Cherry Jones (Succession) is here for a different show after winning for “The Handmaid’s Tale” last year, and Phylicia Rashad (This Is Us) returns with a consecutive bid. After a nomination for her show’s second season in the supporting race, Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid’s Tale) is back here for an affecting performance in its third. This marks the fourth bid for Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), whose show I have to finish since I didn’t get past the premiere episode of the final season because I was overloaded when it debuted, and the fifth for Cicely Tyson (How to Get Away with Murder), still going strong at ninety-five years old. I’ll note for anyone who didn’t watch the nominations announcement this morning that Cox finding out about her bid was the most awkward part since she had to feign surprise when presenter Leslie Jones told her that she got nominated but not for which role (she was also on the ballot for three comedies, including “Curb Your Enthusiasm”).

Who should win? I haven’t watched Tyson or Cox’s episodes. At this point, I’d pick Bledel or Jones.
Who will win? I think Tyson finally wins.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 2/6

This wasn’t quite what I was expecting, though I suppose it makes some sense. Though their shows were absent elsewhere, Andrew Scott (Black Mirror) and Jason Bateman (The Outsider) got in, along with Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian), representing his show’s only major nomination outside of Best Drama Series. Only past winner Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us) scored for his show, and an expected nominee last year, James Cromwell (Succession), made the cut this time. Rounding out the list is Martin Short (The Morning Show), a terrific choice who I actually suspected might crack the lineup.

Who should win? I haven’t seen Scott and Esposito in their shows, so more commentary after that. For now, I’d choose Cromwell or Short.
Who will win? I think Cephas Jones wins again.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

My predictions: 3/6

I guessed correctly that three “Mrs. America” actresses would be here, though I only picked one of the right choices. Past Emmy winners Uzo Aduba (Mrs. America) and Tracey Ullman (Mrs. America) surged to bump out Rose Byrne and Sarah Paulson, joining Margo Martindale (Mrs. America). I’m surprised that Allison Janney (Bad Education) missed out, and I’m happy that Holland Taylor (Hollywood), who was a standout of her show, did make the cut. Jean Smart (Watchmen) is another solid choice, and I’m relieved and happy that, despite her costars Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever being snubbed, Toni Collette (Unbelievable) did make the cut.

Who should win? Collette
Who will win? I see Collette winning this if the “Mrs. America” women cancel each other out.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

My predictions: 2/6, picking only Abdul-Mateen and Parsons

Well, this is a bit of a surprise. I’m glad that HBO’s formidable limited series netted three nominations - Jovan Adepo (Watchmen), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen), and Louis Gossett Jr. (Watchmen) – but I wish that expected nominee Tim Blake Nelson and Don Johnson, who wasn’t even on the ballot, had been nominated too. I’m also happy for Dylan McDermott (Hollywood), who deserves credit for his performance, but it’s unfortunate that series MVP Joe Mantello was left off in favor of Jim Parsons (Hollywood). John Turturro (The Plot Against America) being omitted doesn’t bother me, but the fact that the series earned just one bid, for cinematography, is disappointing. I haven’t seen the TV movie yet, but I always liked Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend), and this at least makes up for him being snubbed for the show’s final season.

Who should win? I have to watch Burgess. Otherwise, I’d vote for Abdul-Mateen, Gossett, or McDermott.
Who will win? I think Gossett can win this.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions 6/8

I would have liked to see Hiam Abbass (Ramy) nominated, but I’m pretty happy with what ended up happening here instead. Yvonne Orji (Insecure) has been doing great work on her show for four seasons now, and it’s about time she got nominated. Though I don’t watch regularly, I appreciate that there are new variety players nominated each year, with Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live) joining past winner Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) this time. I’m not sad that an Emmy favorite who won a guest bid for the same role last year – Jane Lynch (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) – wasn’t nominated, while two of her deserving costars, two-time winner Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), were. Betty Gilpin (GLOW) is once again the only representative of her show, which is totally fine, and I look forward to watching her submitted episode. Annie Murphy (Schitt’s Creek) finally made the cut for the final season of her show, as did D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place), which is great.

Who should win? Orji
Who will win? It’s a competitive category, and I’m actually going to choose Orji over the much likelier threepeat by Borstein.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/8

I’m so disappointed that Nicholas Hoult (The Great) wasn’t nominated for one of the best performances of the season, though it was admittedly a lead role. I would have thought that past winner Louie Anderson (Baskets) would be included, but instead we got a past nominee who hasn’t been here in a few years, Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). I’m very excited that William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) finally got nominated for a truly terrific performance, joining two other new nominees, Mahershala Ali (Ramy) and Sterling K. Brown (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). Returning nominees Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live), and Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method) are all back, joined by Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek), who I enjoyed on the final season of his show even if I’m not as gung-ho about him as everyone else seems to be.

Who should win? Harper, Shalhoub, or Ali
Who will win? I think Ali could take this.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 6/8, missing Shaw and Wiley

There was so much room in this category to make sure that Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul) finally got nominated after so many consecutive snubs. I can’t take issue with the inclusion of Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve) since she really was fantastic this season, but I can’t understand the selection of past guest acting winner Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale) over her costars Ann Dowd and Yvonne Strahovski, or over my other prediction, Janet McTeer (Ozark). Despite their show being snubbed pretty much everywhere else, both Laura Dern (Big Little Lies) and Meryl Streep (Big Little Lies) did get in. The same goes for past winner Thandie Newton (Westworld), who was excellent this season. The other three nominees have strong support for their shows: Sarah Snook (Succession), Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown), and last year’s winner Julia Garner (Ozark). Not a bad list overall, even if I would have included a handful of other actresses.

Who should win? Carter, Dern, or Newton
Who will win? I give the edge to Carter over Streep and Snook.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/8

Let’s start with the good. I’m happy that expected nominees Billy Crudup (The Morning Show) and Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale) didn’t get snubbed. I’m excited that Mark Duplass (The Morning Show) showed up since he really wasn’t expected and did deliver a very strong performance. After sitting down to watch all of “Succession” this year, I’m okay with the potentially excessive inclusion of three actors from that show: Nicholas Braun (Succession), Kieran Culkin (Succession), and Matthew Macfadyen (Succession). What makes me sad is that, even with lots of buzz for both of their shows, Josh O’Connor (The Crown) and Tom Pelphrey (Ozark) couldn’t score. And I just can’t understand how Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul) and Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) were selected over their costars for their work in this past season – they just weren’t the standouts. I’m also surprised that, even with his show making it in for Best Drama Series, past nominee David Harbour (Stranger Things) wasn’t nominated.

Who should win? Crudup or Whitford
Who will win? I think this goes to Crudup since the “Succession” boys split the vote.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

My predictions: 3/5, missing Spencer and Washington

I really can’t believe that Merritt Wever (Unbelievable) didn’t get nominated here. I worried that might be the case with her costar Kaitlyn Dever, but I thought Wever was safe. I’m ecstatic that Shira Haas (Unorthodox) made the cut and legitimately surprised that Octavia Spencer (Self Made) was included (though she was very good in the first episode of her series). Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere) did deliver a strong performance, and she got in over her costar Reese Witherspoon, who ended up with zero out of three possible acting nominations. Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America) and Regina King (Watchmen) remain the frontrunners here, but can Haas upset if they split the vote?

Who should win? Haas, Blanchett, or King
Who will win? I’m going to predict that Haas does eclipse Blanchett and King.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

My predictions: 3/5, missing Mescal and Pope

I don’t mind the omission of past Emmy winner Aaron Paul’s performance in the totally unnecessary “El Camino,” but I do have to lament the fact that Russell Crowe wasn’t cited for “The Loudest Voice.” Both his performance and his series were excellent and should have been here. Though I’ve been rooting more for his costar David Corenswet, I’m happy for Jeremy Pope (Hollywood), and, though I didn’t watch past episode one, I remember liking Paul Mescal (Normal People) in a show that The Film Experience editor Nathaniel R raves about. I don’t know that Jeremy Irons (Watchmen) needed to be here, but he’s definitely acting, and I’m glad that Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True) is a formidable lone representative for his two-handed performance in his very depressing limited series. Hugh Jackman (Bad Education) rounds out the category, cited for a TV movie that did not perform anywhere near as well as expected.

Who should win? I think I’d choose Ruffalo.
Who will win? Given the lackluster performance of Jackson’s film, I think Ruffalo can win without a problem.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing Ellis Ross

After a year off, Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) returns to the line-up, beating out Pamela Adlon (Better Things) and two choices I’m very sad didn’t make the cut, Merritt Wever (Run) and Elle Fanning (The Great). I’m relieved that Linda Cardellini (Dead to Me) wasn’t snubbed since she really was the MVP of her season, joining returning costar Christina Applegate (Dead to Me). I’m thrilled Issa Rae (Insecure) is back, along with her show in the top race, and no one is surprised by rival frontrunners Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek). I might include a few more fantastic performances from this past season, but this list features some real talent.

Who should win? Rae or Cardellini
Who will win? I think O’Hara is far ahead in this race.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing Anderson

This is the least surprising category and also the only one where someone didn’t really get snubbed. Honestly, I have a feeling that even Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) doesn’t care that he wasn’t nominated. Golden Globe winner Ramy Youssef (Ramy) joins last year’s five eligible nominees in returning, though sadly his show couldn’t crack the top spot, which is really a shame. Both Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) and Don Cheadle (Black Monday) held on to their spots, joining Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method) and departing nominees Ted Danson (The Good Place) and Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek), who will likely battle it out for the win. I half-expected to see Steve Carell here for “Space Force,” which ended up earning four technical bids.

Who should win? Youssef all the way.
Who will win? I think Levy beats Danson.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 3/6, missing Comer, Oh, and Zendaya

I think I was still reeling from the shocking snub of past winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) to fully appreciate the wonderful and totally unexpected inclusion of Zendaya (Euphoria), whose show also earned a few technical bids. It’s nice to see her here, especially because her chances weren’t strong. I’m frustrated that, after I initially predicted them both, I decided in the end to take Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) and Sandra Oh (Killing Eve) out of my picks. They were both good but I don’t think they needed to be here this time (I thought Nicole Kidman would be, though she’s also absent). The rest of the field is expected, and, unless Zendaya surges, will battle it out for the win: Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show), Olivia Colman (The Crown), and Laura Linney (Ozark). There are so many more actresses that could have been nominated here, but this list does include some very impressive talent.

Who should win? I might actually pick Zendaya!
Who will win? I’ll give the edge to Linney right now.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6, picking Menzies and Odenkirk over Brown and Carell

Last year, the big snub in this category was Richard Madden for “Bodyguard,” and now we have something even more unthinkable: Bob Odenkirk, who had his best year yet on “Better Call Saul” and somehow didn’t make the cut. I’m also very disappointed about Tobias Menzies missing for “The Crown” since he was a huge part of what made this season so strong. Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) managed to stay in as the only regular cast member from his show nominated this year, which I don’t have a problem with even though I’d have chosen Justin Hartley for this season. I am more surprised about Steve Carell (The Morning Show), who was very good but really isn’t a lead. After watching their seasons in full for the first time, I can understand why Brian Cox (Succession), Jeremy Strong (Succession), and Jason Bateman (Ozark) are here, and I’m all for it. I’m relieved that Billy Porter (Pose) made it in but I’m sad that his show was omitted from the top category since this season really was formidable.

Who should win? This really is a strong list. I’d probably choose Cox or Porter at this point. Who will win? I think Cox takes it, but Strong might give him a challenge.

Emmy Nominations Are Here!

Emmy nominations have been announced, and oh man, there's a lot to unpack. Read my reactions piece for The Film Experience first and then check back every fifteen minutes here today for category-by-category breakdowns!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Emmy Catch-Up: Schitt’s Creek

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Schitt’s Creek: Season 6, Episode 9 “Rebound” (B)

I guess Ted really is out of the picture, and Alexis just needs to be with someone as much as possible. I recognized the actor playing Artie, Henry Czerny, from past TV roles of his including “Falling Skies” and “Supergirl,” and he seemed harmless enough even though, as David put it, there were plenty of red flags. I like that Johnny tried to get involved and to ask him what he did for work, not comforted by his complete evasion of the question and his assurances that he did have a place to live. Alexis wasn’t pleased to learn that her father had spoken to Artie after he accidentally revealed details he couldn’t otherwise have known, but I think her father is probably the member of her family she can most relate to, though that’s not saying much. I like that Patrick didn’t let David off the hook for noting his lack of progress when it was specifically because he hadn’t yet done what he had needed to, and that he framed hiring Jocelyn as a potential way to give him more time to do the wedding-related tasks he had agreed to do. David was a helicopter boss to his new trainee, and even if she had arranged for her friends to come in and buy stuff, that still counts as a new source of revenue and expanded clientele base. Deciding after an insanely profitable day that it just wasn’t for her had them both floored, and I appreciated Patrick’s surprise most since David was never going to be convinced of her fitness. Moira had her car-egging coming given how she thought that saying that she never wanted to end up living in her town wouldn’t have offended its residents, but that kind of self-involved behavior is typical for the dramatic actress.

Emmy Catch-Up: Pose

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Pose: Season 2, Episode 9 “Life’s a Beach” (B+)

Many of this show’s episodes really feel like a true immersion in these characters, and I appreciated the opportunity to spend time with just the women in this installment. I figured after the opening with Blanca’s salon being burned down by a vindictive Frederica that this would be a depressing focus on how she always gets knocked down after trying so hard, and I was pleasantly surprised at the positivity here. I got nervous that Elektra’s client asked to be left alone overnight, and I’m glad that she wasn’t about to do that again after what happened last time. Ignoring the fact that the heat was making the body in her closet begin to smell was a good idea, and the trip to the beach house was quite serene. I love that Elektra is a bad driver who bought a license from the bodega when she rented a car from Hertz (good publicity for the now-bankrupt company), and that she wasn’t happy with Blanca’s modest swimsuit. Blanca needing to be saved by the lifeguard was very dramatic, and how wonderful that Adrian turned out to be a fantastic guy who was genuinely interested in her and not scared off by a secret she didn’t have to tell him. The four of them did stand out when they went to a local restaurant, and I love that Elektra had a brutal takedown prepared for the woman who came over to complain about their grating voices and try to out them. After telling her client that he had the luxury of choosing loneliness when so many others were just forced to accept it as their fate, it was heartwarming to see Elektra comforted by the sight of Candy in the backseat during their dance party on the ride home.

Emmy Catch-Up: Succession

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Succession 2, Episode 9 “DC” (B+)

It’s really incredible to see just how focused every member of the Roy family and Waystar Royco board and leadership team is on shifting blame and responsibility away from them rather than acknowledging that there are legitimate things that might need to be examined or changed. Logan has previously demonstrated his intolerance for being told by anyone else what he can or cannot do, and despite his initial fit of rage, he did well on the stand, throwing the baton to Kendall to flip it on Gil and make it seem like he was just trying to settle a personal vendetta. Tom, on the other hand, did not do a great job of addressing Mo’s nickname and the fact that he did know Greg, who completely panicked after he realized that he turned down a quarter of a billion dollars for a prison sentence (though he would likely have gotten both if he had untethered himself from his unforgiving great-uncle). For someone who’s usually far too dramatic and out of touch with what’s going on around him, Roman read the situation perfectly when their business negotiations were interrupted by a political coup and turned into a hostage situation. I suspect he’ll be okay, but there’s reason for him and for Karl, who very calmly had a panic attack, to be afraid. Shiv masterfully intimidated the whistleblower into taking a deal, but that and the extensive cooperation of certain senators couldn’t prevent Logan from suffering his most problematic blow: Rhea deciding that she isn’t going to take the CEO job after all. We’ll see how that plays out in what I’m sure will be a memorable season finale.

Emmy Catch-Up: Ozark

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Ozark: Season 3, Episode 9 “Fire Pink” (B+)

We knew since the first time that we met Ben that he was prone to uncontrollable behavior, which in that initial case meant the destruction of all the students’ cell phones, and in this case appears to mean the end of his own life. His belief that there was some way he could fix this had everyone around him worried, including Ruth, whose first reaction was to grab her shotgun, Wendy, who didn’t even want to speak to him, and Marty, who wanted to be straight with him about just how serious things were. Wendy taking him for a meal and trying to just have a good time with him before calling his location in herself was certainly difficult, and, along with her lying straight to Erin’s face, I wouldn’t be surprised if Laura Linney chose this episode as her Emmy submission (though I’d argue earlier installments are better – or maybe the finale, after I watch it). To me, the most powerful interaction was the one between Marty and Ben, when Ben thanked Marty for all of his help and expressed a true appreciation for the way that he was willing to help him, even if some of his advice ultimately landed him in trouble. Helen was cast as a true villain in this hour, showing up to stare Wendy down and then make clear that if this all didn’t end with Ben being taken care of, the entire Byrde family would be seen as the liability. I’m not sure what the focus of the finale is going to be but I am admittedly intrigued.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

What I’m Watching: Ramy (Season Finale)

Ramy: Season 2, Episode 10 “You Are Naked in Front of Your Sheikh” (B+)

Ramy has been doing so well lately, making good choices and showing everyone that he’s finally thinking about others ahead of himself. I thought for a moment that maybe I was watching the season one finale instead that I had forgotten about when I started this episode, but the presence of a flashback to Ramy and Amani sneaking around in Egypt made a whole lot more sense when she showed up as a surprise guest to his wedding. He could have done the right thing and not indulged in the temptation, but when presented with the opportunity, he chose to give in and then dared to bring up the idea of multiple wives to his bride just after they had gotten married. Zainab responded as you’d expect anyone to, refusing to even entertain the absurdly self-involved request from her new husband, and Malik really let him have it when he showed up the next morning and started swearing after Ramy failed to appreciate the seriousness and irreversibility of the situation. Amani was not receptive to his subsequent proposal, and she didn’t even comprehend what he was trying to say when he was explaining to her what he knew he wanted. His cousin expressing an attraction to her sister was a humorous momentary subplot, and something tells me that Dena, even after everything she’s been through, will not be open to the possibility of a romantic relationship with her cousin. This has been a superb season, and I’m very glad that it was renewed for a third slate of episodes. Now it’s time for some Emmy love!

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Ramy Youssef as Ramy

What I’m Watching: Space Force (Season Finale)

Space Force: Season 1, Episode 10 “Proportionate Response” (B-)

When I finished watching this episode a few weeks ago, I hadn’t yet heard anything about a renewal. I Googled and found that the show had apparently been renewed, though there still doesn’t appear to be any official confirmation from Netflix or anyone involved with the show about it. Truth be told, I don’t think I would care all that much if it was cancelled, not because it was bad, but because there wasn’t anything vital or truly necessary about it. There are certain things I did find worthwhile about this show and its finale in particular, but I’ll start with what wasn’t great. Grabaston storming in and arresting Mark so that he could take charge was a brash move but I guess not that unexpected given how Mark was flagrantly ignoring calls from the Secretary of Defense, and his orders to destroy the Chinese base with wrenches were predictably unsophisticated and poorly thought-out. It’s hard to believe that no one wondered why the Chinese astronauts were traveling the other direction when they passed them en route and that no one figured out that they were going to do exactly the same thing to their base, leaving them both in a very precarious and likely deadly situation. Mark choosing to save his family instead of his astronauts was sentimental, I suppose, but I don’t get why Erin needed to escape on a bike when she could easily have just asked for a ride back at another point. And Maggie breaking out was a peculiar twist that doesn’t add much, especially since we still don’t know what crime it was that she committed. What I did like best about this episode was Chan checking in on Angela and the way that he told her he just wanted her to know something unromantic because they were on a recorded line. I wonder if a second season if this show would be slightly more sophisticated and focused – I guess we may or may not see.

Season grade: B
Season MVPs: Tawny Newsome as Angela and Jimmy O. Yang as Chan

Emmy Predictions

Nominations for the Emmy Awards will be announced this coming Tuesday, July 28th, at 11:30am ET/8:30am PT. This year, I haven’t offered any coverage of the Emmys here at TV with Abe, but fear not – I’ve been writing extensively about all of the categories for The Film Experience. On Tuesday, I’ll be putting up a reaction piece at The Film Experience about all of the nominations first thing after they’re announced, and then you’ll find the typical specific breakdown by category here throughout the day.

Catch up now on all Emmy posts at The Film Experience, including individual category surveys and more recent overviews of new rule changes and number of nominees for each race. Comment here or there with your thoughts and picks!

Initial category breakdowns:

Take Three: Intelligence

Intelligence: Season 1, Episode 3 (B)

I’m glad that Christine isn’t actually letting Jerry get too ahead of her, refusing to confirm that it was a drill and then telling him it was at the end even though it actually wasn’t. The most entertaining part of this show continues to be Nick Mohammed as Joseph, whose program to determine if the person was a male or a woman reminded me of Jian Yang’s “hot dog or not hot dog” program on “Silicon Valley.” I especially enjoyed that the results that said that there was a forty percent chance it was a man probably meant that there was a sixty percent chance it was a woman. It’s disconcerting that Joseph never got a response about doing the security updates and then just didn’t do anything about it, and it is very true that he rarely gets assigned anything that’s actually important due to his clearly demonstrated incompetence (and the fact that he doesn’t seem like a human, as per Jerry). I loved the argument that you should deliver good news first so there’s a chance the person won’t hear the bad news. Evelyn sounding more serious about the Chinese food being thirty minutes late than the update on the situation was an example of how relatively incompetent this team was, and I liked that two of Jerry’s suspects were the same person and one of them was from a commercial. I’m not too fond of Quentin, who adds nothing but creepiness, and, though she’s an eternal punching bag, Mary does seem happy to go along with such experiments as how big her neck can get.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Take Three: The Capture

The Capture: Season 1, Episode 3 “Truffle Hog” (B+)

Ron Perlman’s Agent Frank Napier came into focus in this episode, and he seemed to be enjoying pulling the strings with Shaun a bit too much, eagerly ordering the removal of fingers and encouraging him to panic and yell when he thought that the police were right above where he was and could save him. The theatrics he was using were evidently to unnerve Shaun, and what made it all more complicated and intriguing was that he was asking where Hannah was, something he should have known if he was the one who doctored the footage so that it would look like Shaun had hit and taken her. On top of that, when he was crafty and managed to break out of the trunk of the moving car, Shaun ended up reuniting with Mat, who had all of his fingers and gave him a car that had Hannah’s body in the trunk. The hope is that Rachel has put together who she can and can’t trust – which includes the initially kindly Gemma whose demeanor changed when she saw how much Rachel was pushing – and is going to try to find Shaun to get on the same page with him about how CCTV footage is being manipulated and used to implicate people in crimes they didn’t commit. Rachel’s conduct is obviously not as secret as she’d like given the comment about Hart being available when she needed him, and the concern is that, as she digs deeper, she’ll become the target of the latest faked footage making her seem guilty of something.

Take Three: Brave New World

Brave New World: Season 1, Episode 3 “Everybody Happy Now!” (B)

This episode felt like an all-too-typical frantic survival hour, one that didn’t really need to be stretched out so much and is going to lead to far more interesting things after the three main characters made it back to a place with more restrictions on intellectual freedom but less outright deadly violence. Though John didn’t want Lenina and Bernard to die, he didn’t have too much interest in putting his own life on the line to save them, especially after his mother killed Madison to save them. I wasn’t sure how involved Demi Moore was going to be in this show as Linda, and she stuck around long enough to make sure that John believed that he would be able to get to this mythical place he had heard of so that he might be able to have a better life. He definitely wasn’t certain that it was going to work, but he didn’t have much of a choice when he was being chased by guns and the potential of salvation was waiting on the other side of that barrier. Seeing the four of them sit so far apart on the plane was so different than the voyage there, and John noticing that Linda wasn’t responding was a somber way to enter into a new world of possibility. In his delirium, Bernard told Lenina that he wanted to be monogamous with her if they survived, and we’ll see if, after he’s healed, he’ll still feel quite as inspired to break the rules. I neglected to mention the intriguing addition of actress Nina Sosanya from “Killing Eve” as Mustafa in the previous episode, and she seemed to have a fascinating perspective and story just waiting to be told.

Emmy Catch-Up: Schitt’s Creek

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Schitt’s Creek: Season 6, Episode 8 “The Presidential Suite” (B)

This show seems to do drama pretty well, even if it comes in infrequent spurts and somewhat unexpectedly. Ted didn’t tell Alexis that he was coming home for the long weekend, but he still showed up and wanted to do more than just have sex the whole time. I was glad that Alexis understood, even before he came, that he needed to stay and take the job that was offered while she could never go there to be with him. Even with all that insight, she managed to forget that the reason he was an entire day late was because he drank milk, and therefore the heavily dairy meal that she had Twyla prepare was probably not the best choice. Though much of the tanning plotline was predictable, I liked seeing Patrick angry for once, upset that David had forced him to go without giving him any crucial advice that would have prevented him from looking like a carrot. It seems that, much as she’s holding on to her title of maid of honor, Stevie is never all that helpful since she probably could have seen this coming. Moira pressuring Johnny to let them stay in the presidential suite rather than their usual room was certainly creative, and it wasn’t at all surprising to see Roland and Jocelyn show up there after they had agreed that they weren’t going to stay there. Doing the right thing knowing the money they had put out to buy the motel was the only and obvious result.