Monday, July 18, 2011

"Breaking Bad" season premiere recap: The Proustian box cutter

Spoilers for the season premiere of "Breaking Bad" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Breaking Bad" returns for fourth season: Thank the freaking Lord

Rejoice, fans of dark, disturbing television: the amazing "Breaking Bad" final returns at 10 Sunday night for a fourth season after a seemingly interminable hiatus.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Emmy thoughts

Was hoping to post this earlier, but I had to run out right after the Emmy nominations were announced this morning. But I did want to comment on them because, as you might imagine, I had some thoughts. Overall, I was fairly pleased with this year's crop of nominees (particularly the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences wise decision to recognize the excellent work being done by actors on FX shows -- something it arguably hasn't done since the early seasons of "The Shield).
However, I do have some criticisms. Below is my list of the best and worst of this year's Emmy nominations.
"Friday Night" Love: Got love all the love for the low-rated but critically adored drama "Friday Night Lights," which wrapped up its final season this year. The show got a best drama nod and nods for best lead actor Kyle Chandler and best lead actress Connie Britton. The actors were nominated last year, but I don't think the show's been recognized, so yay!
"Justified" Actors: OK, no one was expecting Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins to get nods for their uniformly excellent work on this season of "Justified." NO ONE. But, hey -- the Emmys got it right, and gave them credit. Much deserved, especially the nod for Olyphant. I'm a little cheesed that Goggins is getting a nomination for this show, when he never got one for "The Shield," but I won't dwell on that.
Less unexpected -- but no less deserved -- was the nod for Margo Martindale's work as this season's big bad, Mags Bennett. Extra credit for nominating Jeremy Davies for best guest actor. I don't know what got into the Academy's water this year, but I say double the dose.
Louis CK: I guess it's debatable whether the FX sitcom "Louie" is REALLY a comedy in the traditional sense. It's dark and unconventional and doesn't always have a lot of laughs. But it was one of the most daring, and intelligent shows launched last year -- and that's almost solely because of CK, the show's star, writer, creator, and driving force. So it's nice to see him get a nod for best actor in a comedy. Not sure what his chances are -- especially since Steve Carell is up for his final "Office" season, but sometimes it really is just an honor to be nominated.
Martha Plimpton: I only watched a couple episodes of "Raising Hope," but, from what little I saw, it was clear that Plimpton was the best thing about it and a lock for a best comedy actress nom. Kudos to the Academy for agreeing.
No nod for William H. Macy: I was almost positive that beloved character actor Macy would get a nod for his work as an awful dad on Showtime's "Shameless." I didn't think he would have been a good choice, as I find his performance overbearing and shrill most of the time. But come on -- he's got movie cred and Oscar noms. Surely Emmy would take the bait. But they didn't. Good for them in picking much more deserving performances, such as those by Goggins and Peter Dinklage.
No nod for "The Killing": Though two of its actresses -- Mireille Enos and Michelle Forbes -- got (arguably deserved) nods for their work, the show as a whole got snubbed. Yahoo! I think the Internet might have exploded had the show with one of the most hated season finales of all time received a nomination.

As in most years, the "worst" category consists of two groups -- all the shows and actors that were snubbed and all the shows and actors that got undeserved nominations. So I broke them down accordingly.
Snubs:Maybe some of the most glaring snubs were in the best actress category. Not only was last year's winner Kyra Sedgwick omitted (I kinda understand that, actually -- she got her win, and she'll probably be back in this category before "The Closer" ends its run), but two other fine actresses from cable dramas failed to get a nod. To me, the breakout performance of the year came from Emmy Rossum on "Shameless." She was funny, moving, sexy and absolutely riveting. So, of course, she got snubbed so they could honor Kathy Bates's work on "Harry's Law" (more on that later). It's one of those moves that makes me want to slap the Emmys -- and that's not an easy thing to do in a year when I liked so many of the nomination choices. Also, while the third season of "Sons of Anarchy" was highly uneven, Katey Sagal continued to deliver strong work as Gemma Teller Morrow -- particularly in her scenes with Hal Holbrook, who played her dad. Sadly, she got snubbed for the third year in a row.
Other snubs occurred in the best supporting drama actor category, where not one of the excellent supporting actors named Michael from "Boardwalk Empire" got a nod (Michael Shannon would have been my choice). Also, as much as I hated what they did to his character in the season finale, Joel Kinnaman was often the best thing about AMC's "The Killing."
In the supporting drama actress category, I was annoyed, but not surprised, that the year's other breakout star -- Emilia Clarke of "Game of Thrones" -- didn't get recognition.
In the best drama series category, was surprised to see new hot thing "The Walking Dead" fail to get a nomination, and I was sad (but, again, unsurprised) that the otherwise honored "Justified" didn't get a series nomination.
As I don't watch many comedies, I can't speak as much to snubs there. However -- and I know I'm almost totally alone in this -- it totally bugs me that the Academy refuses to acknowledge Danny McBride's work as Kenny Powers on "Eastbound and Down." Yes, his character is abrasive, which turns a lot of people off. But McBride humanizes Kenny without compromising his nastiness -- a tricky thing to do. Also, he's hilarious. Why no love?
Undeserved nods: Though I'm one of the few people who actually kind of liked the fifth season of "Dexter," even I think it's ridiculous that the show got a nod, particularly since "The Walking Dead" and "Justified" got snubbed. Also, let's talk about Kathy Bates. I only saw one episode of "Harry's Law," so it's possible her performance got all deep and nuanced after the pilot and I missed it. But I don't think so. This seems like a clear case of the Emmys cozying up to an Oscar winner. Don't get me wrong -- I love Kathy Bates. "Misery" is an all-time fave of mine. But she didn't do anything I saw that approached the work being done by the likes of Rossum or Sagal. Also, let's talk about the nod for Jon Cryer as best supporting comedy actor on "Two and a Half Men," shall we? I like Cryer. He's funny, a good sport and acquitted himself well in some witty talk show appearances in the midst of Sheen-gate. But let's be honest -- he's not getting a nomination for his performance on his CBS sitcom. He's getting the nod for being an oasis of calm in a media firestorm caused by his co-star. That's not fair to other comedy actors, and it's not fair to Cryer.

What did you think of the noms? Let me know.

The Emmys air live on Sept. 18.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Rescue Me" gears up for its final season

I can think of few shows with higher highs and lower lows than FX's drama "Rescue Me." When it focuses on firefighter Tommy Gavin's (Denis Leary) relationship with the other guys in his house and the still-raw emotional wounds left behind by 9/11, it's great. When it focuses on Tommy's relationship with the women in his life, it's shrill and often unbearably so.
The seventh and final season of the show, starts Wednesday at 10 p.m. and, based on the seven episodes I've seen so far, it pretty much retains that pattern.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Treme" season finale recap: "Do Watcha Wanna"

Spoilers for the second season finale of "Treme" below. Don't click through if you don't  want to know.