by Julian Spivey
I will preface this by saying that I haven’t yet seen Bryan Cranston’s work in “Breaking Bad” or Kevin Spacey’s work in “House of Cards” or Damian Lewis’ work in “Homeland” or Jon Hamm’s work in “Mad Men” or Hugh Bonneville’s work in “Downton Abbey” so this isn’t coming from a “most deserved” standpoint.
All of these men, along with winner Jeff Daniels for “The Newsroom,” honestly “deserved” the honor of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. If they didn’t deserve the honor they wouldn’t have been nominated for it in the first place. The debate of “more deserving” is one that I understand (if you’ve seen most or all of the nominated performances), but Daniels does deserve this award.
Sometimes when watching award shows you are taken aback by incredible surprises that you just didn’t see coming. They don’t happen a lot, in fact they rarely do, but when they do they are often pleasant surprises.
This is how I felt when Jeff Daniels won the Emmy on Sunday night for his excellent work on Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama “The Newsroom,” where he plays Atlantis Cable News network anchorman Will McAvoy. I wanted Daniels to win the award, not only because as I previously mentioned he’s the only nominee I’ve seen, but also because he’s one of my favorite characters on television. He’s well-written and well-acted and honestly is one of the few fictional TV characters that I can look up to as an idol. I didn’t think Daniels stood a chance in hell of winning. In fact, if I had to rank the nominees from most likely to least likely of winning he would’ve been dead last – I think most people felt this way. I even saw one media publication (I unfortunately forgot which one) saying that he was in the “it’s just an honor to be nominated” club. It felt like it really would’ve taken a miracle (or perhaps some voting mistake) for Daniels to win the honor over frontrunner Cranston or very possible winners Spacey and last year’s winner Lewis.
This is exactly why the first words out of my mouth in a high pitched squeal when that envelope was opened and his name was read were “holy shit!” I just did not see this coming. It’s the most pleasantly shocking Emmy Award win I’ve ever seen, surpassing Kyle Chandler’s win in the same category in 2011 for “Friday Night Lights.” Much like that night with Chandler, the win for Daniels completely made my night (the much deserved Emmy for Abi Morgan for Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or TV Movie for “The Hour” just added to it – damn, I wish that show wasn’t canceled).
For those confused as to how Daniels could beat Cranston here’s a theory I will offer up, which (again) has nothing to do with the actual acting performances of each. Many people don’t realize this, but Emmy Award nominations aren’t for an entire season’s body of work. Each actor (or his/her people, show or network) submit one or two (I’m pretty sure it’s two) episodes for consideration to the voting committee. Therefore the committee is getting the “greatest hits” of each performer’s season meaning that there’s a possibility that a performer having two great episodes could surpass that of a performer who may be more solid throughout the season.
I almost guarantee that one of the episodes submitted to the voters for Daniels was the pilot of “The Newsroom,” which is honestly one of the all-time greatest episodes I’ve ever seen and his performance in that episode is just as fantastic. Again, I haven’t seen Cranston, Spacey, Lewis, Hamm or Bonneville do their things, but I can definitely see how Daniels’ performance in that episode would be worthy of winning an Emmy Award.
This is really why many of those clamoring that Daniels was unworthy and stole Cranston’s award are full of it. Daniels was exceptionally worthy of his Emmy, but again I can’t (and most others can’t for that matter) determine who’s “more worthy.” You would have had to have watched all six nominees’ work to do so.
It would be really nice if the voting committee could watch entire seasons of every series before voting for nominees, but that’s simply not feasible. They wouldn’t have time for anything else in their life if doing so and even then it still might not be enough.
I have no doubt that Daniels is worthy of his Emmy win. I’m sure the other five nominees probably would’ve been too. I understand fans wanting to see their favorites win awards; I had many nominees that I wanted to see win come up short on Sunday too. However, it’s not really fair to blast Daniels, who seemingly became the most hated man on Twitter for something completely out of his control, for winning an award just because you thought someone else deserved it more.
by Julian Spivey
Most Anticipated Drama Return: “NCIS” (CBS)
“NCIS” never fails to end seasons in an incredibly entertaining and nail-biting way and the finish to last season’s season 10 finale was among the show’s very best. When we left Gibbs and Co. at NCIS they were in shambles with Tony (Michael Weatherly), Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and McGee (Sean Murray) resigning as means of saving Gibbs’ (Mark Harmon) job. The season ended with Gibbs aiming a sniper rifle at old pal and FBI agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano) and a gunshot being heard as the episode faded to black. I can’t wait to see what happened. The mystery surrounding Ziva’s departure from the show just ups the ante even more for the start of the season. It’s incredibly rare for a show that’s been on television this long to remain this good.
Most Anticipated Comedy Return: “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS)
The ninth and final season of “How I Met Your Mother” is upon us and the very last thing we saw in season eight was the reveal of “the mother” (Cristin Milioti). Meeting the mother is something that hardcore fans of this show have been dying to see for almost nine years and this season we all get the opportunity to get to know her. Among the biggest questions for fans will be is this girl really good enough to be Ted’s wife. The other storylines of the show wrapping up should make for one interesting final season and creator Carter Bays’ announcement that this season will feature some of the show’s most non-linear episodes yet makes it all the more intriguing.
Most Anticipated New Drama: “The Blacklist” (NBC)
When I heard that multiple time Emmy winner James Spader was returning to television – his last TV role in ABC’s legal drama “Boston Legal” was one of the greatest in television history – I knew immediately that this was going to be my most anticipated new show of the fall season. When I found out that Spader was going to play a criminal mastermind who turns himself into the FBI to help bring down fellow criminal masterminds I was downright giddy. It’s to be seen whether or not the supporting cast and the storylines of this show will be up to par with Spader’s performance, but at least we know Spader will be among the better performances on network television. It’s almost a given.
Most Anticipated New Comedy: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)
The most anticipated new comedy of the fall season is really one of the tougher categories to pick for this fall TV preview. Robin Williams’ return to television after 30 years in the CBS sitcom “The Crazy Ones” should be interesting. Michael J. Fox’s return to television full time in NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show” is also an intriguing choice. However, I’m going to go with Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” as my most anticipated new comedy because I like the show’s two leads: Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher and the setting, a police precinct, is not your typical sitcom setting, even when it comes to workplace sitcoms.
Show Likely to Be Canceled First: “Dads” (Fox)
So, this is why “Raising Hope,” one of television’s finest sitcoms, is been pushed to the ratings black hole that is Friday night and faces likely cancelation as a result? “Dads” is easily the worst reviewed new series of the fall season by critics and is immature comic Seth MacFarlane’s first attempt at non-animated network comedy. The show stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as … oh, well, who really cares it’ll probably be canceled before you finish reading this piece anyhow.
Most Anticipated Return to Television: James Spader in “The Blacklist” (NBC)
There are a ton of greatly anticipated returns to television this fall. The two biggest ones are likely Robin Williams, returning to television in CBS’ “The Crazy Ones” for the first time since “Mork & Mindy” ended in 1982, and Michael J. Fox, who’s making his full time return (he’s guested on numerous shows from “Boston Legal” to “The Good Wife” to “Scrubs”) since he left “Spin City” in the late ‘90s after his Parkinson’s diagnosis. You also have a trio of Emmy winners returning to television with Allison Janney in CBS’ “Mom,” Bradley Whitford with ABC’s “Trophy Wife” and Tony Shalhoub in CBS’ “We Are Men.” There are even great returns from people who haven’t been away all that long like both Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher in Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” But, James Spader in “The Blacklist” takes the honor here simply because I think he stands the chance of giving the best performance; it really does help that he’s the only one of these great returning actors who has the benefit of a meatier role in a drama series.
Most Heartbreaking Departure from Television (Show): “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS)
“How I Met Your Mother” is really the only choice for this category right now, because it’s the only show that I know of before the start of the season that’s ending this season. There may end up being some unplanned endings that turn out to be more heartbreaking (like if NBC finally decides to part ways with the excellent “Parenthood” or if “The Mindy Project” doesn’t get higher ratings for Fox). ‘HIMYM’ has been one of the finest comedies on television during the last decade and it will be incredibly hard to say goodbye to Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney.
Most Heartbreaking Departure from Television (Actor): Cote de Pablo (NCIS) [Network] & Matt Smith (Doctor Who) [Cable]
I really have to split this one into two groups. This fall television season preview is mostly for network television, as that’s where most of the shows are premiering anyway, but there are two high profile acting departures from shows this year – one on a network show and one on a cable show – that could leave gaping holes in their respective series. When I heard that both Cote de Pablo was leaving “NCIS” and Matt Smith was leaving BBC America’s “Doctor Who” I was absolutely dumbfounded not thinking either actor would be leaving so suddenly (even though that’s kind of the way things go for “Doctor Who”). Neither de Pablo nor Smith has more than just a couple of episodes left to say goodbye to their fans and vice versa so their last episodes shall prove to be very emotional and hopefully incredibly good.
Show Most Dangerously Close to Losing a DVR Season Pass: “Once Upon a Time” (ABC)
Boy, did ABC’s fairytale drama “Once Upon a Time” seem to get off-track last season or what? Hopefully we can just chalk it up to the old sophomore slump, because if things keep going the way that they did last season I might not have much more patience for this show. The biggest issue the show had in season two was the addition of way too many new characters (many of which weren’t even that interesting) and were merely added because the creators/writers seemingly just wanted to see how many different fairytale characters they could weave into the series. The answer was a whole helluva lot, but the weaving didn’t always work so well. Seriously, Mulan? I’m very worried where season three is going to go because I know the show is just going to continue adding more storybook characters along the way, I just hope they don’t forget too much about the main core of characters, which they seemed to do sometimes during season two.
New Series I Couldn’t Care Less About: “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (ABC)
Don’t you think we’re getting a little too crazy with spinoffs in this country when a television show that’s only been on the air for two seasons is already getting a spinoff? “Once Upon a Time” should be way more concerned with what’s going on right now on its show after the uneven season two than it is with what Alice is doing in Wonderland. Frankly, I don’t see the need for two fairytale dramas on the same network by the same people at the same time. Wonderland wasn’t even all that interesting when the original series went there in the first season. I think I’m going to have to pass on this one. I doubt most who like the first series will though, so the ratings should be just fine. But, fix the other one and I’ll stay.
Bubble Show I’d Most Hate to See Canceled: “Parenthood” (NBC)
“Parenthood” has been the best drama on network television (if not all of television) almost as long as it’s been on the air (it’s entering its fifth season), but it’s also been a bubble show that entire time and it’s truly a miracle that it has survived and that NBC has let it survive. In fact, even though it’s likely still a bubble show, it seems better off now than ever before with NBC actually giving it a full season order and moving it to a likely better timeslot of 9 p.m. on Thursdays instead of 9 p.m. on Tuesdays. However, I doubt this incredible ensemble and naturalistic drama is going to gain many viewers this far in the game and the fact that it has three brand new sitcoms scheduled ahead of it might not give it a great lead-in. I definitely think there are other good shows in more danger of cancelation than “Parenthood” (probably “The Mindy Project” and “Raising Hope”), but this would be the one that would hurt the most to see go.
Show with the Biggest Question Mark: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
This category is actually quite easy. With so much changeover at “Saturday Night Live” with the departures of longtime cast members Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis and the impending departure of head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers there is a giant question mark hanging over Studio 8H in Rockefeller Centre. This is not really something unusual for ‘SNL’ as this type of changeover happens every so often, but it feels like it’s been a while since an overhaul of this type. This will be the largest cast over-change since 1995 when cast memebers like Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri made their debut. The show still has some great talent in Bobby Moynihan, Taran Killam, Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon that should keep the laughs coming, but it’ll be interesting to see just how many laughs walked out the door with Hader, Armisen and Sudeikis (I’m guessing quite a lot) and how well the new cast members do in their debuts. Only time will tell.
by Julian Spivey
The 2013 fall television season frankly seems a little weaker than the last few seasons, but there is still a handful of new series that look really interesting. The two most popular new series will likely be the ABC duo of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” piggy-backing off of the immensely popular comic book/superhero genre in film, and “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” a spinoff of the fairytale drama “Once Upon a Time.” These two shows may draw the biggest audiences, at least at first, but neither have me all that exciting as I’m not a comic book fanboy, nor do I believe “Once Upon a Time” needs a spinoff, is ready for a spinoff, or is interesting enough to have a spinoff (though I do watch the original series).
Here are the five new shows that I’m most anticipating for the upcoming season:
1. “The Blacklist” (NBC)
Alright, I guess I’m going to start off by showing some obvious bias. As soon as I found out that James Spader was returning to television I instantly knew that his show – whatever it was, even if it was just him blowing up balloon animals for 30 minutes – was going to top my future list of most anticipated new fall shows. Spader is one of the best in the business when it comes to television acting, his three Emmy Awards for his work on “Boston Legal” and “The Practice” prove as much. In NBC’s crime drama “The Blacklist” Spader gets to play the meaty role of a criminal mastermind who turns himself into the FBI so that he can bring down people just like him. The trailer for the show is the most intriguing of any show premiering this fall. Expect a delectable performance from the always delicious James Spader.
2. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)
Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is my most anticipated new sitcom of the season for many reasons. 1) Andy Samberg in a sitcom is certainly going to be interesting. I’m frankly surprised to see him on a television comedy just one year after leaving “Saturday Night Live” – are things that bad off for him? 2) Andre Braugher is one of television’s finest actors and it’ll be fun seeing him do comedy after so many truly fantastic dramatic roles. Here he seems to almost be mocking many of those former dramatic roles. 3) A workplace comedy featuring cops is unique (even though Fox did it nicely with the short-lived “The Good Guys” just a few years ago.) There are, of course, a ton of cop shows on television, but none of them will be as funny as this one … at least without trying. Here’s to hoping that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” joins “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” to form the funniest night on television.
3. “The Crazy Ones” (CBS)
The CBS sitcom “The Crazy Ones” is another television series that I’ve been looking forward to seeing since the moment I heard who was going to be in it – Robin Williams in his first TV series since “Mork & Mindy” ended in 1982. I’ve seen the promos for this show and honestly until I just looked it up had absolutely no clue what this show was about – it’s a workplace comedy about copywriters. However, I do know that anything featuring Robin Williams is going to be must-see TV. I just wonder what we’re going to get from Williams, a guy who’s so wild and wacky that it seems a sitcom would be hard to really capture everything that’s so funny about him. We shall see how this works out. The supporting cast featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Wolk gives “The Crazy Ones” one of the better sitcom casts on television.
4. “Trophy Wife” (ABC)
You got me. For the third time on my list of most anticipated new fall television shows I’ve included a show on my list simply because it features one of my all-time favorite television actors. This time it’s Emmy-winner Bradley Whitford, who I’ve vowed to watch in absolutely everything he does since his wonderful performance on “The West Wing.” Whitford has shown he’s great at both drama and comedy and it’ll be nice to see him once again show off his comedic chops after the short-lived Fox buddy-comedy “The Good Guys” a few years back. “Trophy Wife,” which I hope is better than its title and looks like it will be, is about a twice divorced dad (Whitford) who marries a woman 20 years younger than him (Malin Ackerman) while also having to deal with his very much still involved exes (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins). It’s a plot that is sure to be ripe with great hilarious moments and the show is in the hands of a greatly talented bunch. My only fear is that the show could be in danger of cancellation almost immediately as it’s sandwiched between fellow newcomers “The Goldbergs” and “Lucky 7” – one a comedy and one a drama – that frankly don’t look all too great.
5. “Hostages” (CBS)
I honestly hadn’t even planned on watching “Hostages” until I saw a promo for the show very recently, despite its talented cast that includes Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. I kind of assumed it would be just another CBS procedural drama, which I already watch enough of. The promo swayed me and now has me believing this could be one of the two best new dramas of the season (along with “The Blacklist”). Collette plays a surgeon tasked with operating on the President of the United States. McDermott leads a team of terrorists who threaten to kill Collette’s family if she doesn’t kill the President during his surgery. The only issue facing “Hostages” is that the idea plays more like a movie than a television series, but if the creators and writers can do this up right it could prove to be very good.