Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 Emmy Nominations: Snubs and Surprises

Surprises (AKA, Things I Loved About This Year's Nominations)

  • The Killing not nominated for Best Drama Series
  • Michelle Forbes and Mireille Enos nominated for acting turns in The Killing (as terrible and uneven the show was, it was always fantastically acted)
  • Kathy Bates nominated for Harry's Law
  • Kristin Chenoweth and Dot-Marie Jones both landing Guest Actress in a Comedy Series nods for Glee
  • The Big Bang Theory finally being nominated for Best Comedy Series
  • So You Think You Can Dance sneaking into the Best Reality Competition Series category, as well as Cat Deeley landing a nomination for Best Host and the choreographers getting 5 of the 6 nominations for Best Choreography
  • Brian F. O'Byrne nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries/Movie for Mildred Pierce
  • Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List getting its final nomination in the Best Reality Program category; hopefully she can win her third Emmy with this nomination
Snubs (AKA, Things I Hated About This Year's Nominations)

  • Katey Segal left out of contention for Sons of Anarchy
  • The Walking Dead not nominated in any major categories, but especially should've been present in Best Drama Series and Best Directing for a Drama Series
  • Southland left out of all major categories, but especially upset about Shawn Hatosy not being nominated as Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
  • No Psych
  • No Castle
  • No Weeds, despite a major return to form in its sixth season
  • Denis O'Hare left out of contention for True Blood, whether it be as Supporting Actor or Guest Actor in a Drama Series
  • Jim Carrey not recognized for hosting SNL
  • Debra Messing overlooked in Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series category for Law & Order: SVU
  • Mayim Bialik overlooked as Best Supproting Actress in a Comedy Series for The Big Bang Theory
  • The Big C not nominated for Best Comedy Series, and Oliver Platt overlooked as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role
Really? (AKA, Things I Just Don't Get About This Year's Nominations)

  • Melissa McCarthy for Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series for Mike & Molly. Is it because she was so good in Bridesmaids? Or because she was reading the nominations and therefore was nominated by default?
  • Alfre Woodard for Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series for True Blood. I didn't even remember her performance, really, and I know she had very limited screen time. Was it really better than Debra Messing's turn on L&O:SVU?
  • Jon Cryer for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Two and a Half Men. Forget that the show's not funny, I think the only reason Cryer was nominated was as a big "fuck you" to Charlie Sheen.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pilot Review: Torchwood: Miracle Day

Torchwood: Miracle Day (Fridays at 10:00 on Starz)

I've never watched an episode of Torchwood, and going into this episode all I knew of the show was that it originated in the UK and featured John Barrowman as a bisexual mercenary-type. I was surprised to find out that it is like a British version of The X Files, focusing on a group of specialists formed by the British government to investigate supernatural and extraterrestrial phenomena. The premiere episode of the first American season of the show fills us in on all of the important background of the organization, including its leader Captain Jack Harkness (Barrowman) and the only other surviving member of Torchwood, Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles).

The series picks up with the execution of Oswald Danes, a convicted pedophile and murderer by lethal injection; but somehow he survives. Across the country a CIA agent should have been killed in a horrific car accident while on the phone with his partner regarding the word "Torchwood." The word and all references to it soon disappear, and the world begins to realize that no one is dying. Gwen is hiding out in Wales, attempting to live a normal life with her husband and daughter after the destruction of the Torchwood program. But she is quickly drawn back into the thick of it, along with Harkness, when this "miracle day" of no more death takes place. She soon discovers that the world will ultimately collapse in four months under the weight of a heavily expanded, immortal society. Jack and Gwen try to remain hidden, not wanting to be dragged into everything. But they are ultimately discovered, and the episode ends with the entire Torchwood team being extradited to the United States to help the CIA investigate this so-called "miracle."

There was a hell of a lot information in this premiere, considering all of the necessary background needed to be re-established for American audiences on top of the new plotline of the "miracle day." But the developments are all relatively fascinating. Who hasn't thought about what the world would be like if there were no more death? Another subplot involving Jack Harkness is even more intriguing; Harkness was previously immortal, but this new virus or outbreak or "miracle" has actually made him susceptible to harm and (likely) death. It's a thought-provoking blend of philosophy, science fiction and action. There's not a dull moment in the entire first episode.

On top of the masterful storytelling, the cast is top notch. Aside from cult-favorite John Barrowman as the leading man, other top-notch performances are turned in by Bill Pullman as the recently-released killer Oswald Danes; Mekhi Phifer as CIA agent Matheson; and a very sympathetic Eve Myles as the reluctant Gwen. Future guest stars include Lauren Ambrose, Wayne Knight, Dollhouse's Dichen Lachman, Ernie Hudson, and C. Thomas Howell. So I'm willing to bet that the performances will always be of a higher quality than is typically expected of such sci-fi fare.

So this first hour did exactly what it was supposed to: it presented an interesting story to carry through the next nine episodes, with just enough information and action to intrigue. If the series can be turned up to ten for the rest of the run, I think it will become even more exciting and even addictive.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pilot Reviews: Suits, Necessary Roughness

I must admit that I'm not a fan of USA's usual fare of light dramas peppered with interesting characters and no real plot. In fact, the only USA show I watch is Psych, their only comedy. So it was with a good deal of reservation that I sat down to watch USA's two newest dramas: legal drama Suits and football dramedy Necessary Roughness.

Suits (Thursdays at 10:00 on USA)

I don't have a very good history with legal dramas; they tend to bore me to tears with their endless, monotonous talky court scenes and stereotypically high-strung and/or high-maintenance characters. So after enjoying a comedic take on the courtroom drama this summer (Franklin & Bash), I can now say that there is a legal procedural I enjoy as well: Suits.

Suits is about a hugely influential lawyer, Harvey (Gabriel Macht), who is hiring for an open position at his firm. Slacker (and semi-con artist) Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is dodging a run-in with the police when he stumbles upon Harvey's interviews; it turns out Mike has a photographic memory, and though he has no law degree (or any degree at all) he is the most interesting and intelligent applicant. Harvey goes out on a limb to hire him, taking Mike on as his newest project.

The plot isn't overly complicated, but the relationship between Harvey and Mike is. It's like watching a father and son fight it out, make up, and learn a lesson whenever they share the screen. Mike is tired of being a screw up and wants to prove himself to the man who took a chance on him; Harvey seems to be tired of being distant and cold and not forming any relationships with those around him. The chemistry between Macht and Adams is perfect and complex, so you buy the tension and respect between them. The writing is snappy and quick; the pacing feels just right, never lagging nor flying past. This is the first time I've been truly happy with and even intrigued by a USA pilot, and I'll gladly continue watching.

Necessary Roughness (Wednesdays at 10:00 on USA)

This is exactly the kind of pilot I was referring to at the beginning of this review: a bland show that will succeed or fail based solely on the interest of the main character. And for me, it fails.

Necessary Roughness is about a hypno-therapist, Dr. Dani, who has just begun to divorce her husband and takes a new job as team therapist for the New York Hawks, a fictional football team. She has a one-night stand with the team's trainer, who realizes she may be able to help the team's star wide receiver TK with his issues, namely not being able to do his job and catch the damn ball. Dani also suffers at home: her mother is a gambler, her daughter seems intent on getting herself put behind bars or in a padded room, and her son is following in her husband's footsteps by cheating on his girlfriend.

When it comes down to it, Necessary Roughness isn't a terrible pilot. I can see why people would find it charming, with its inspirational elements of The Blind Side and the relatability of the working single mom struggling to get by. Callie Thorne is doing her best as Dr. Dani, and she comes off the best of everyone. But the other performances are universally weak, especially those from Marc Blucas as the trainer and Hannah Marks as the rebellious daughter. But worst of all is that the entire hour-plus pilot just feels inauthentic. We are constantly told how great a therapist Dani is but rarely see her actually do anything. Dani comes across as cold and emotionless, pushing everyone in her life away because of their individual problems. And doing this all with perfectly highlighted hair and a cute Long Island accent do not make a sympathetic character.