Wednesday, July 18, 2007

If we picked the Emmy nominees. . .

(Cross-posted on Emmywatch.)

Choosing your own list of Emmy nominees, especially in this day and age of top ten lists and leaked reports to Tom O'Neil, is usually a lesson in futility. The Emmys tend to be even less daring when it comes to the nominees than other awards shows. For every advance made (like, say, giving a trophy to Arrested Development), the show hangs on to, say, Will and Grace for ages too long. The new voting system, introduced last year to open things up a little, only showed just how little taste the TV establishment had and made the whole process more baffling.

Oh, who are we kidding? This sort of thing is fun to do! To that end, your SDD TV writers have banded together and listed our big, top favorites for the TV year past. Toss in your own lists below. We'll offer commentary on those who WERE selected tomorrow night. And, of course, you can check here for the Emmy nominees the second we know them.

Onwards then. . .

Best Drama Series:
Friday Night Lights
The Sopranos
The Wire

One thing you're going to find on this list is that we really, REALLY like Friday Night Lights. It was the only show on all of our lists. The Wire was only on half of our lists, but those of us who like it REALLY like it. We're also rewarding Deadwood and The Sopranos for going out strong and Lost for coming back strong. This is a strong crop of nominees, especially in a time when there's a lot of great drama out there.

We also like: Battlestar Galactica -- But we all seem to think that the third season started out ridiculously strong, then kind of faded there in the middle before roaring back in the finale. It was a strong sixth, though.

Veronica Mars -- The third season was the series' weakest, but we wanted to throw it out there, just to recognize it the last time we can.

But what about?: The Shield -- Apparently, none of us watch The Shield consistently. Well, I do, but it wouldn't make my top five.

Best Actor in a Drama Series:
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Matthew Fox, Lost
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Ian McShane, Deadwood

We really like FNL, and we really like Chandler too. He'd be our pick for the winner, if we had our druthers. I'm not a terribly huge fan of Matthew Fox, but my colleagues are, and even I'll admit he was pretty great in that devastating finale. Gandolfini, of course, is a master, and Michael C. Hall showed new sides of his charming self in Dexter. McShane rounds out the list as TV's foremost monologuist.

We also like: Hugh Laurie, House -- But we're a little disappointed in his third season, where he occasionally seemed to be going through the motions. He didn't have the huge, monster moment the five men listed above all seemed to have.

Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica, Denis Leary, Rescue Me and Michael Chiklis, The Shield -- We like all three of cable's finest, but only if we watch their shows (which doesn't seem to be the case for all of us). It doesn't help that the third season of Rescue Me seemed to indulge Leary's worst tendencies.

But what about?: James Spader, Boston Legal -- OK? You know we don't like that show, right?

Best Actress in a Drama Series:
Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Sally Field, Brothers and Sisters
Mary McDonnell, Battlestar Galactica

Her show might have had its ups and downs, but Bell was good to the end. Britton would (again) be our winner, if only for that scene where she gives her daughter the sex talk. Falco didn't have as much to do in the last nine episodes of The Sopranos, but her constant presence was enough. Field saw a career resurgence by being the strong center of a show that could be too kooky without her. And McDonnell also didn't have as much to do but was somehow able to make every scene she was in her own.

We also like: Nobody, really -- It was pretty much these five with a few other names thrown in here and there. But mostly these five.

But what about?:
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer -- One of us listed her, but most of us just don't find her histrionics to do anything better than the five women listed above. And Andy would probably kill us all if she made our list.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Michael Emerson, Lost
Zach Gilford, Friday Night Lights
Josh Holloway, Lost
Robert Iler, The Sopranos
Gerald McRaney, Deadwood

I asked the gang to limit themselves to one actor per show, but in the two supporting actor categories, it was clear we had a split decision. Here, both Emerson and Holloway rose above the other actors on their show (well, Terry O'Quinn got some votes too), simply from their ability to make even some of the unbearable moments on their shows bearable. Gilford was perfect as the starry-eyed and naive backup quarterback who became the starter. We were never believers in Iler until this season, when he made a descent into depression wrenchingly real. And McRaney rejuvenated his career by being the very picture of evil swagger.

We also like: Well, we liked a lot of other guys, but here are two that stood out and came oh-so-close.

James Callis, Battlestar Galactica -- For his winningly goofy work on the show's third season. He kept the wacky "Life among the Cylons" subplot grounded and kept much of the season's back half afloat. An honorable mention to Michael Hogan from the same show.

Enrico Colantoni, Veronica Mars -- For being the other half of the best father/daughter duo on TV for three years running.

But what about?: Anyone from The Wire -- To be honest, we all picked someone different. If there were an ensemble category, I'm sure this show, with its sprawling, perfectly-pitched cast, would walk away with it.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Paula Malcolmson, Deadwood
Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica
Aimee Teegarden, Friday Night Lights

Malcolmson was the standout from Deadwood's huge cast of supporting females in its third season. Mitchell was half soccer mom/half creepy femme fatale and easily the most intriguing new character in Lost's history. Oh makes our list almost solely for her post-wedding meltdown in the lackluster season finale -- but what a meltdown! Sackhoff loved and lost, then died and was reborn, which is more than enough to crack the list. And Teegarden appeared on one more ballot than castmate Adrienne Palicki, pushing her onto the list for her sweetly gorgeous riff on the virginal teen girl.

We also like: Again, a lot of people. But, especially. . .

CCH Pounder, The Shield -- Quiet and collected, she just missed our list.

Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos -- She had more to do than she did in most other seasons, but that still wasn't enough to make it.

Autumn Reeser, The O.C. -- The best thing about the show in its lackluster third season, she was an integral part of the show's return to form in its final season.

But what about?: Anybody else from Grey's Anatomy -- Actually, all of the supporting females received votes, except for Katherine Heigl. We loved her in Knocked Up, and we know that Izzy Stevens has her fans, but none of them are at SDD.

Best Comedy Series:
How I Met Your Mother
My Name Is Earl
The Office
30 Rock
Ugly Betty

Mother grew from a pleasant diversion into one of TV's best comedies in its second season. Earl took more chances. Some critics hated that, but apparently few of them were at SDD. The Office made everyone's list (with good reason), as did 30 Rock (again, with good reason). And Ugly Betty was the rare example of a camp-fest that we camp-averse SDD-ites found entertaining.

We also like: Weeds -- This one just barely missed our list, probably because only a few of us actually watch it. Still, thought we would single it out.

Entourage -- OK, it's more like we're split on this one. Some of us hate it. But it made enough lists for me to feel it merited a mention here. Honorable mention to HBO's other comedy this year -- Extras.

But what about?: Desperate Housewives -- Did you read that whole thing about camp? We can apparently only stand it when America Ferrera's involved.

Scrubs and Everybody Hates Chris -- These are two comedies we at SDD love, but they're just unfortunate enough to be on the air during a strong period for comedy. Regrettably, neither made a single list.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series:
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Ricky Gervais, Extras
Jason Lee, My Name Is Earl
Josh Radnor, How I Met Your Mother

Baldwin was maybe the funniest thing on the air this year -- and that took doing. Carell is a reliable performer, always revealing new facets of his gonzo character and making all of that oddness believable. Gervais played more of a straight man on Extras than he did on the original The Office, and he was winning in his slow descent into despair. Lee is the best thing about a winning cast. Radnor managed to step it up in season two and become the sly straight man HIMYM didn't know it needed.

We also like: Zach Braff, Scrubs -- Not as much as we once did, but you're still in our hearts, Zach-o.

Tyler James Williams, Everybody Hates Chris -- Don't grow up too fast!

But what about?: Adrian Grenier, Entourage -- You're kidding, right?

Tony Shalhoub, Monk -- *yawn*

Best Actress in a Comedy Series:
Tichina Arnold, Everybody Hates Chris
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

Used to be this category was difficult to fill out without a Desperate Housewife, but no more! Arnold is a comic dynamo on one of TV's most underappreciated shows. Ferrera was a revelation as the world's favorite receptionist. Fey won a most-improved award for how she grew through the season. Louis-Dreyfus makes hamming it up for a live studio audience look like the greatest thing since sliced bread. And Parker's performance is so loopy in its rhythms that we can't look away.

We also like: Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls -- For old time's sake!

Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Show -- Not enough of us watched it, but those of us who did listed her.

Jordana Spiro, My Boys -- Because she's so darn cute!

But what about?: Any of the Desperate Housewives -- Eh. We're tired of 'em. Even Huffman. Yes! Even. Huffman!

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
John Krasinski, The Office
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother
Michael Urie, Ugly Betty

Here's the other time we had to include two actors from the same show. Oh well. Harris gets all of the raves, but he and Segel are TV's most underrated comic duo at the moment, playing off of each other so well that it's remarkable they don't get even MORE acclaim. Krasinski is the soul of The Office -- to the point where episodes rise and fall on his mugging. McBrayer beat out castmate Tracy Morgan by one vote, thanks to his wonderfully guileless NBC page. And Urie was the OTHER wacky assistant and half of another blazingly funny comic duo (see the supporting actress category for the other half).

We also like: Jeremy Piven, Entourage -- But not as much as we used to. He's still great, but the scripts are increasingly letting him down.

Everyone on Scrubs -- They all got mentions! McGinley, Faison, etc. The whole lot of 'em.

Ethan Suplee, My Name Is Earl -- Possibly the most underrated part of Earl's ensemble, he always seems to be on the outside, looking in.

But what about?: Everyone else on The Office -- Weirdly, Krasinski was the only one of the supporting guys any of us mentioned. For all of our love of the bit players (and our ambivalence toward the overplayed Dwight), we seem to really, really like Jim.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
Jenna Fischer, The Office
Becki Newton, Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Jamie Pressly, My Name Is Earl
Cobie Smulders, How I Met Your Mother

Fischer's sweet soulfulness made up the heart of The Office this year. Newton paired up with Michael Urie to make every scene the two shared absolute perfection. Perkins was an acerbic presence on Showtime's hit. Pressly scored again as Earl's whacked-out ex-wife. And Smulders overcame her more famous castmate (Alyson Hanigan, who also received votes) with a season full of willing goofiness, pulled off with a grin.

We also like: Judy Reyes, Scrubs -- Even after all these years.

Kelly Bishop, Gilmore Girls -- One of the two things that still worked in the last season, when the show almost fell apart.

Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock -- She gets a bad rap for having an underdeveloped character, but she made many of her scenes laugh-out-loud funny.

But what about?: Alyson Hanigan, How I Met Your Mother -- I mostly just feel bad she was the only HIMYM cast member to get left out. Sorry, Lily Aldrin!

That's all for now. Post your picks in the comments, or come back for more tomorrow, when we post the list of nominees, along with our commentary. And we'll also be adding AMC's Mad Men to the stack of shows we cover. Don't miss it!


Justin said...

You know, now that I see the list, I completely forgot about the supporting players from Ugly Betty. And I put Cobie Smulders in the wrong category. But I like the list! 5/5 in Best Drama!

I think our problem if anything is a lot of us don't watch shows that aren't on Big Network TV or HBO. Almost all of the things I didn't personally vote for are on shows I don't watch on FX, SCI-FI, the CW, etc. And a lot of the stuff I did vote for that didn't make it was on Showtime, which a lot of other people don't watch I know. I still contend that people should get Showtime just for Dexter and Brotherhood, even though The Tudors and Meadowlands aren't so great.

The only thing I probably personally disagree with strongly is Matthew Fox, who would probably be something like 10th on my list.

Carrie said...

My problem is I don't get Showtime, and I didn't have HBO when Deadwood and The Wire started so I am just now getting caught up on those series via DVD. I'm sure I would have included a wider variety of shows if I only could force myself to pay an extra $15 on my cable bill every month. It's just so much easier to Netflix! Heh.

I was the one person who picked Kyra Sedgwick. I know many of us here don't like her performance, but although it's over the top I really do find it charmingly over the top. I don't know, maybe it's my nostalgia for the South coming into play there.

Thanks for including Autumn Reeser! I thought I would be the only one mentioning her outstanding work in season 4 of The O.C.

This is a great list, Todd. Far better than the actual thing. Poor Friday Night Lights.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Yeah. We REALLY didn't match up with the ACTUAL nominees in very many categories.

Well, we went three-for-five in a couple of the comedy categories, but that's about it.

page said...

Nice list! My only real difference of opinion with y'all is over Boston Legal. I really like that show, it makes me laugh out loud.