Emmy Preview: The Serious Stuff
With the Emmys airing on ABC this Sunday, GFBRobot presents this three-part preview of the major categories. As we all know, half of the fun of these various award shows is disagreeing with the nominations and winner. So, we’ll take a brief look at the most deserving nominees. They might not get the statue, but we can throw a little recognition their way.
Many of the drama categories, while not exactly as I would have put them, are far more in line with my tastes than the comedy nominees. With powerhouse shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Homeland, and Game of Thrones leading the way, there are plenty of categories where I wouldn’t have many gripes if two or three or even any of the nominees went home with the Emmy.
Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) — Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey) — Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff (Homeland) — Andre Jacquemetton & Marie Jacquemetton (Mad Men) — Erin Levy & Matthew Weiner (Mad Men)
I would be tough to reward even the standout episode of Downton’s weaker second season. Homeland’s pilot wasn’t the best episode of the year, but it was better than the first two Mad Men nominees, “The Other Woman” and “Commissions and Fees”. But the best of the bunch was the intriguing and unique “Far Away Places” by Levy and Weiner telling the same evening from Peggy, Don, and Roger’s POVs. As intriguing a tale as anybody could get out of working late, a trip to a Howard Johnson’s and a high-class acid party. Should win: Erin Levy and Matthew Weiner
Phil Abraham (Mad Men) — Michael Cuesta (Homeland) — Vince Gillgan (Breaking Bad) — Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) — Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire)
There wasn’t a weak episode in the bunch here. As I mentioned before the Christmas episode was the highlight of Downton’s second year and “To the Lost” was probably the best episode to date of Boardwalk Empire. I certainly wish Homeland had broken the mold and not nominated the pilot episode (the finale would have been my preference). But “Face Off” concluded the best season of the best show on television and the conclusion to Walter’s war with Gus Fring was an amazingly tense hour deserving all the praise in the world. Should win: Vince Gilligan
Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law) — Glenn Close (Damages) — Claire Danes (Homeland) — Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) — Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) — Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Claire Danes. Was that decisive enough? Moss did terrific work overall, but Peggy had few moments to shine this season. Bates shouldn’t have earned a nomination and Close, Docker, and Margulies were fine, but unspectacular. Danes was one of the two anchors of a great show and she turned Carrie Matheson into one of the deepest and most interesting characters on television today. She’s so far above the rest of the competition, it’s the one drama category that I had a truly passionate opinion about who deserved to win. Should win: Claire Danes
Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) — Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) — Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) — Michael C. Hall (Dexter) — Jon Hamm (Mad Men) — Damian Lewis (Homeland)
Do I especially care that Hamm never won an Emmy for some of the best work on the small screen in the last decade? Or was it satisfying enough to have to admit the perennial winner, Cranston, was probably just a little better? Even if last year Hamm should have won, I wasn’t the least bit upset that Friday Night Lights and the terrific Kyle Chandler got the award. This is a case of three undeserving nominees (Hall, Bonneville, and Buscemi) against three very deserving ones. To give the edge to any of them, I had to go with Walter White in his Faustian crawl space over Don Draper’s terrific farewell to Peggy. Should win: Bryan Cranston
Boardwalk Empire — Breaking Bad — Downton Abbey — Game of Thrones — Homeland — Mad Men
While every nominee offered an enjoyable season, it was easy to separate out the weaker second seasons of Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones. Downton drifted a bit too far into the soapy side of things and Game of Thrones stumbled under the weight of squeezing too many plot threads into each episode. Boardwalk took a big step forward in its sophomore season and Homeland was amazing from the first episode. But the two juggernauts here are four-time champ Mad Men against the annual bridesmaid Breaking Bad. The conclusion of the Fring-White war of season four seemed to reach new heights every week and was the most interesting and enthralling show on television last year. Should win: Breaking Bad