Lea Michele and Anna Paquin are among the Golden Globe favorites snubbed by SAG
"True Blood" and "Glee" both found their way into the Screen Actors Guild's ensemble fields, but neither show was able to earn a single individual nomination, as SAG shied away from injecting quite as much new blood as the Golden Globes did earlier in the week.
I'm still looking over the SAG nominations, announced on Thursday morning, trying to make sense of the TV nominees.
I almost have to apologize for accusing the Golden Globes for still being partially entrenched, because compared to SAG, the Hollywood Foreign Press voters look alert and experimental. In one field after another, SAG insisted on nominating the same familiar faces from two or three years ago, resisting change unless it was completely unavoidable.
Even where they were able to clear out some dead wood, SAG voters went to far as to reinstate previous nominees in several categories.
Take, for example, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, where SAG voters were savvy enough to finally strike Sally Field, last year's winner, from the rolls (and inexplicably remove Elisabeth Moss from the field). Who did they find room for? Re-nominating "Medium" star Patricia Arquette with a nomination only amusing because it counts toward the totals for both NBC and CBS. The SAG voters also nominated Julianna Margulies, but try as I might, I can't find a way to consider Magulies a fresh face, considering she has six SAG trophies (two individual and four ensemble) for "E.R."
Or take the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series field of Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, Larry David, Tony Shalhoub and Charlie Sheen? The funny thing about that group is that Sheen and David were the "hip and fresh" replacements for Jeremy Piven and David Duchovny.
With two "Boston Legal" stars leaving the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series category, SAG voters just rectified last year's oblivious snubs of Bryan Cranston and Simon Baker.
Even in the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series category, where "Nurse Jackie" and "The United States of Tara" stars Edie Falco and Toni Collette were impossible-to-ignore forces of nature and earned nominations, the voters found a way to re-nominate Julia Louis-Dreyfus and to keep Christina Applegate around for a show that I refuse to believe any of them still watched this year.
That meant that "Glee" star Lea Michele, already up for Golden Globes and Golden Satellite awards, didn't make the cut.
"Glee" is, however, nominated in the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series field, along with fellow newbie "Modern Family." I love those nominations because both shows are ensembles in the truest sense of the word.
And yet SAG voters continue not to really get the whole "ensemble" category, which is something you'd think a voting body of actors, very few of whom ever get to play leads, would understand. After year's of nominating Hugh Laurie's one-man-show in "House," they gave a nomination this year to "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which has always effectively been Larry David plus whichever of his friends are available on any given shooting day. Yes, there are other supremely talented actors on both "House" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but both shows are inextricably tied up in their leading men that you couldn't have a show without them. My test question for a true ensemble is, "If you remove the ostensible lead, could the show survive for more than one episode?"
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" will never and could never air a Larry David-free episode, therefore it's less of an ensemble, to me at least, than something like "Parks and Recreation" or "Better Off Ted" or "Party Down" or "Community" or even -- thank you SAG for not nominating it again -- "Entourage."
On the same note, "The Good Wife" has lots of good actors in its cast, but it's a show in which both the A-plot and the B-plot both focus on Margulies to even a greater degree than something like "The Closer" is all about Kyra Sedgwick. Give me a truer ensemble like "Sons of Anarchy" any day.
I'm not the biggest "True Blood" fan out there, but here's one show and category where I feel its nomination is utterly deserved. After focusing perhaps too much on Sookie-and-Bill in the first season, "True Blood" was a real ensemble this year and the show benefited from that expanded focus.
Some other thoughts on the SAG nominations:
*** You have to wonder the Screen Actors Guild thinks it knows about stunt work that Emmy voters don't. The last two Emmys for stunt work have both gone to "Chuck," but the beloved NBC action-comedy hasn't been nominated either year by SAG. Meanwhile, pundits are probably shaking their heads trying to remember the memorable stunts from "Dexter" or maybe trying to recall if "The Unit" was even on this year (it was!).
*** While it was announced months ago that Betty White is receiving the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, I still giggle at the feeling that the TCA forced SAG's hand by giving White a Lifetime Achievement Award back in August. Of course, the TCA also allowed Larry Gelbart to go to that "M*A*S*H*" unit in the sky without a Lifetime Achievement Award from us, so all things are relative.
*** Supporting performers *are* eligible for SAG Awards, they just have to get nominated in the same category as leads. Recent supporting actors to pull the trick include Piven and William Shatner last year, Vanessa Williams in 2008 and Chandra Wilson, who actually won Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series in 2007. This year? Only leads.
*** I don't exactly know the eligibility time frame for the SAG voters, but it seems odd that Brendan Gleeson wouldn't be nominated for "Into the Storm" and it feels even odder that Cuba Gooding Jr. *would* be nominated.
*** In the same category, does anybody have a clue what "A Number" is? Tom Wilkinson appears to have been nominated for it. From what I can tell, it's an HBO/BBC co-production and HBO hasn't even aired it yet. It seems that "A Number" is premiering on HBO on Dec. 29. Way to be ahead of the curve, SAG voters!
Alan Ball reminds us that we're all gonna die, but we might as well live before we do
A wise man -- OK, a fictional man -- once distilled the essence of life in seven words: "Get busy living, or get busy dying."
Now, as you'll recall, Andy Dufresne was committed that ethos.
How committed? Well, when he escaped from Shawshank, the last leg of his journey? Well, I'll let Red explain, "Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of s***-smelling foulness I can't even imagine, or maybe I just don't want to. Five hundred yards... That's the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile."
You'll note that Andy Dufresne made a mistake in his choice of conjunction. Get busy living, *or* get busy dying? How silly and reductive, as if the process of living is anything other than the glorified process of dying.
Over 63 episodes, HBO's "Six Feed Under" laid out this ethos: Get busy living *and* get busy dying. Or maybe "Get busy living, because the dying part is happening at the same pace whether you're getting busy with it or not."
And over the course of those 63 episodes, creator Alan Ball put his characters through more s***-smelling foulness than Andy Dufresne ever could have imagined. On "Six Feet Under," the journey was everything, because for all of us, the destination is the same.
"Six Feet Under," equal parts moving, bizarrely hilarious and maddening, stands at No. 16 on my list of TV's Best of the Decade...
[More after the break...]
Caroline Dhavernas talked to animals, but not like Dr. Doolittle
In your high school english class, it referred to a figurative device wherein the part represents the whole. The easy example that is stuck in my head is the one in which "50 sail" is meant to refer to "50 ships."
For the purposes of this list, "synecdoche" is the word I'm using to justify the only cheat on my tabulation of TV's Best of the Decade. I'm not doing any ties in my Top 31, but I do have one synecdoche.
That synecdoche is the one that places "Wonderfalls" at No. 17.
[Confused? Curious? Click through and all things will be clear...]
One of the ABC comedy's fresh faces talks about coming onto 'Scrubs' in Season Nine
Michael Mosley doesn't have the resume of a sitcom star.
A glance over his TV and movie credits include a larger-than-normal number of cops, detectives and FBI agents. In 2009 alone, he played a sheriff on "The Mentalist," had a tragic turn on "Kings" and watched his wife fight for her life on "Three Rivers."
And in his current role, Mosley's playing a medical school burnout with a prison record.
Naturally, it's a comedy.
Mosley is part of the new cast of ABC's "Scrubs," playing Drew, an aspiring doctor with a troubled past who attracts the attention and excessive admiration of John C. McGinley's Dr. Cox and, in the process, the jealousy of Zach Braff's J.D.
It's Mosley's first regular half-hour gig, trying to reinvigorate an Emmy-winning comedy currently in its ninth season. No pressure or anything.
HitFix caught up with Mosley last week to chat about his intense and intensely funny character, how smoothly things work on the long-running show's set and whether the fresh "Scrubs" stars are still being hazed.
Good for 'Glee' and 'Modern Family' and 'Hung,' but enough with the 'Entourage'
The Hollywood Foreign Press announced the nominations for the 67th Golden Globe Awards on Tuesday (Dec. 15) and the results were exactly what we've come to expect from the HFPA: Simultaneously inspired and trendsetting, but also inane and entrenched.
There's something both impressive and reliable about how the Golden Globe voters are simultaneously able to embrace "Glee," the morning's big winner, while also continuing to nominated "Entourage" every year.
[More after the break...]
Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel brought warm fuzzies to a decade of TV darkness
When the story of TV in the Aughts is written, much will be discussed about the shift of quality scripted TV to cable and how that shift led to darker programming and edgier programming. And then there will be analysis of how the edginess of cable worked its way backwards and helped make network TV grittier and allowed TV to push more boundaries in all directions.
That's a good story, a nice narrative about a maturing medium coming into its own and whatnot. And I'm not going to lie: A plurality of the shows in my Top 20 are, indeed, cable shows or cable-esque shows, things probably not intended for family viewership.
Still, I hope that the story of the Aughts leaves at least some room for the worthiness of warm fuzzies. I hope that there's still room to recognize and celebrate a little show like "Gilmore Girls."
If not for the seventh season, produced without the participation of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, I could have seen pushing "Gilmore Girls" even further up this list of TV's Best of the Decade. Even acknowledging that flawed-to-crushing season, I'm OK with "Gilmore Girls" coming in at No. 18 on my list.
As small screen comfort food goes, "Gilmore Girls" was the best the decade had to offer.
[More "Gilmore Girls" talk after the break.]
Will the Globes make room for 'Glee,' 'Modern Family,' 'Nurse Jackie' and more?
The nominations for the 2010 Golden Globes will be announced on Tuesday (Dec. 15) morning. They'll be announced aggressively bright-and-early and the entire HitFix team will be up and atom, as Radioactive Man would say.
For my colleague Greg, the Golden Globe nominations are a key piece of the pre-Oscar season and they'll allow him to calibrate his nomination predictions with a specificity that he didn't have previously. The Golden Globes don't necessarily predict the Oscars, but as roadblocks along the way go, they'll important.
On the TV side, the Golden Globes are less important. They're nine months from the Emmys and therefore, they don't usually predict or prefigure much of anything. The Globe voters have their specific proclivities when it comes to voting, so you can usually assume that just because a Keri Russell or a Jennifer Garner or an Anna Paquin won a Globe won't necessarily mean that they should make a place on their mantle for an Emmy.
But that doesn't mean that the Golden Globes aren't fun in their own way, as we look to see which shows from the second half of the year appear to have momentum.
On the drama side, there are fewer options for new faces. Will the Globes recognize "The Good Wife"? Star Julianna Margulies seems plausible. But what else might sneak in? Might "Sons of Anarchy" get its first real awards recognition? Unlikely, but possible. Might "FlashForward" or "V" get a couple nominations? Probably not, but they'll be in the mix. Will the Golden Globes go "True Blood" crazy and nominate supporting actors and all sorts of random bloodsucking stars? Nobody would be surprised.
The excitement will come in the comedy categories, which shows us just how far we've come since two or three years ago when reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour all seemed to be writing the same Comedy Is Dead trend pieces.
Since the last Golden Globes ceremony, the number of newly eligible comedies-of-pedigree may be at an all-time high. Sure to get nominations are "Nurse Jackie" and "Glee," plus "The United States of Tara," which was already eligible at Emmy time and won a trophy for star Toni Collette. Those are three easy and obvious powerhouses, but what about "Modern Family" and "Community," the two most adored comedies of the fall? What about "The Middle" and "Cougar Town," two comedies whose stars -- Patricia Heaton and Courteney Cox -- should never be ruled out of any awards discussion? What about "Parks and Recreation," which went from a spring disappointment to possibly the best comedy on network TV in the fall? And what about comedies like "Party Down" and "Better Off Ted" and even HBO's "Hung," which may lack the mainstream adoration, but could certainly have powerful pockets of support within the tiny Hollywood Foreign Press?
If the Globes nominate two or three of these new comedies, what will happen to old stalwarts like "Weeds"? And while only some viewers would lament a well-deserved shunning for "Entourage," might this influx prove an obstacle for "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which delivered one of its very best seasons and, in my opinion, deserves to make its way back into the field more than several of the new shows deserve that first exposure. Might these new shows stop the awards momentum of a "How I Met Your Mother," coming off its first Outstanding Comedy Emmy nomination? Might the new shows be fresher and shinier than "The Big Bang Theory," probably TV's hottest comedy of the moment?
With an impressive number of these comedies sporting female leads, the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series race may be positioned to surpass Lead Actor in a Drama as the most competitive. Collette and "Nurse Jackie" star Edie Falco can count on nominations, but is Lea Michele the "Glee" lead? Can Amy Poehler break in for "Parks and Recreation"? And will all of these fresh faces force out an America Ferrera? Or even a Mary-Louise Parker? There's only so much room.
Because the Golden Globes stupidly combine comedy, drama and movie/mini supporting performers into single categories, we may not be able to judge the supporting might of the "Glee" cast or whether Chevy Chase is an Emmy favorite for "Community" or even which members of "Modern Family" are being considered leads and which are supporting. This is a piece of idiocy the Globes may want to reconsider if they want to remain relevant as bellwethers in the future.
In any case, take a look at my Golden Globes nomination contender overview. And check back tomorrow when HitFix covers the heck out of the Golden Globe nominations.
The Showtime drama's fourth season ender is, as promised, a game-changer
Various people associated with "Dexter" have been promising for weeks that this season's finale would be a "game-changer."
Having just finished Sunday's (Dec. 13) episode, I guess I can't help but agree, not in the sense that it was necessarily a spectacular episode before the final few minutes, but in the sense that a lot of consideration will have to be given to where "Dexter" goes in its fifth season. Some finales give you a mighty clear impression of the challenges that are going to central to the next run of episodes, but I don't instantly know what the next move will be for "Dexter."
I hope the writers know, because it's either going to be very interesting or very confusingly finessed.
[I want to get into spoilers here, so I'm gonna toss the break in early. Don't click through or read through if you don't want to have the Shocking Game-Changer spoiled...]
Good episodes abound, but 'The Body' and 'Once More, With Feeling' put 'Buffy' over the top
Between The WB and UPN, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" aired 77 episodes in the Aughts, compared to 67 episodes in the '90s and yet I'm sitting here at my computer lamenting over one episode.
On December 15, 1999, "Buffy" aired its final episode of that year and its final episode of that decade. That episode just happened to have been "Hush," the experimental hour that earned Joss Whedon his only Emmy nomination for the series and which most fans would probably place among the show's five or 10 best episodes.
So, with that, "Hush" can't be factored into my ranking of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" for the decade. And with "Hush" taken out of the equation, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" went from a position just on the outskirts of the Top 10 to, at one point, in danger of missing out entirely.
After going through episodes individually (not rewatching, but refreshing my own memories of which episodes fell into the second half of the show's run), I had no trouble justifying placing "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" at No. 19 on my list of TV's Best of the Decade.
Acknowledging that there will be some disagreements here, let's talk more after the break...
How nice of NBC to give Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin so much fodder for mockery
In the lead-up to the fall of 2006, many articles were written about the strangeness of NBC's fall lineup including both Tina Fey's "30 Rock" and Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."
Yes, that was a simpler time when NBC's *oddest* programming decision was dedicating 90 minutes of programming to a pair of shows about the behind-the-scenes struggles at a "Saturday Night Live"-style sketch comedy show.
Now, in retrospect, critics were right to wonder if an audience existed for two such shows. It turns out that, all things considered, there wasn't actually an audience for *one* such show to survive on a stronger network. "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" lasted one truncated season, while "30 Rock" is in its fourth season, occupying valuable post-"Office" real estate because NBC execs are terrified to see how small its audience might be solo.
What we didn't properly anticipate was that Sorkin's drama would become an awkwardly confessional (sometimes fulfilling) piece of fast-talking therapy, alienating many viewers almost instantly, squandering the good will for an excellent cast. Or that Fey's comedy would find its footing after initial recasting and tone problems to become one of TV's funniest shows and the winner of the decade's last three Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Victim of wild quality swings -- this current fourth season launched with a trio of soft, only-slightly-funny episodes -- "30 Rock" none-the-less has delivered enough episodes of the highest quality to justify placement at No. 20 on my list of TV's Best of the Decade.
[More on "30 Rock" after the break...]