Thursday, July 06, 2006

If I Picked The Emmy Nominations 2006: Drama

I watch pretty much every comedy series that’s critically acclaimed or beloved by The Emmys (except for Two and a Half Men, which I only watch from time to time). The drama series? Not so much. There are just too many to keep up with. So here are some of the dramas that I don’t watch and thus won’t be handing out fake Emmy nominations to: The 4400, Battlestar Gallactica, C.S.I., C.S.I.: Miami, C.S.I.: NY, The Closer, Commander-in-Chief, E.R., Everwood, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Medium, N.C.I.S., Over There, Rome and Without a Trace. I’m sure they’re all fine shows (except for Rome, which try as I might, I just couldn’t get into), but don’t I watch enough TV? In addition, I only caught a handful of episodes of Boston Legal this season so I don’t feel comfortable putting any of its fine actors in my top fives.

I’m currently making my way through the first season of Huff on DVD. Having not seen any of the episodes eligible for nomination this year, I’m declining to include it in any categories. However, if it maintains similar level of quality in its second season, I would hypothetically list the series, Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt as a Runners-up and (the unfairly overlooked) Paget Brewster and Blythe Danner as top five contenders in Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

Enough disclaimers. On with the awards…

Best Drama Series

24 – Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, after the phenomenal fourth season, it went and got better! This was the most consistently thrilling day of 24 yet and probably the show I looked forward to most every week.

Lost – During this show’s inaugural season, I sometimes wondered if the writers were just ambling along blindly with no endgame in their sights. While those concerns still pop up from time to time, I’m more confident now that there is a plan in place, especially after cool pay-offs like finally seeing the other side of Boone’s radio transmission from the first season. Something else that’s remarkable about this show is how it introduced so many new characters that quickly became favorites (I think I’m the only person in the world who liked Ana-Lucia). The only downside of that is that I began wanting to see less of some of the original castaways. Still, one of the most compelling and entertaining shows on television.

Six Feet Under – The final season started out a little shaky, but boy did it end in perfect style – fitting for a series all about The End. I’m not ashamed to admit that twice this season, Six Feet Under caused a salty liquid to spew forth from my eyes: Throughout pretty much the entire hour of “All Alone” I was a wreck and then during the finale’s beautiful and poetic montage, I just bawled. Both times I was caught off guard by how much I cared about these characters. So few shows end as deftly as this one. For that alone (and for utterly devastating me), it deserves a nod.

Veronica Mars – This slot was a bit of a toss-up and any of the three FX shows below could’ve easily slid in here instead. Don’t get me wrong. I really like Veronica Mars. Heck, I think I even like like Veronica Mars. It’s just that every time I was getting into the overall season-long mysteries of year two, the show would lose momentum – either thanks to the writers’ plotting or the UPN’s start-and-stop scheduling. Still, a highly enjoyable series with clever writing and gifted acting that I found myself looking forward to more and more. I can’t wait to see what they do with Season 3.

The West Wing – Another great series that went out with great style. While the two-shows-in-one format could be frustrating at times (all along I kept wishing the show would do better in the ratings so NBC might do a spin-off and give it two hours each week), it’s hard to complain about a season as thrilling as this one. Of all the series that went off the air this year, The West Wing and Arrested Development are the ones I mourn the most.

Runners-up: Alias, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, The Shield

And the Second Tier: Big Love, Grey’s Anatomy, House, Prison Break, The Sopranos

Best Actress in a Drama

Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars – Whip-smart comedy. Heart-wrenching drama. Is there nothing this girl can’t do?

Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under – For the first four seasons, I usually found Conroy to be grating and one-note. But during the final run, something changed – either in me or in her. She was softer, more human (how many actresses have I said that about so far?). Suddenly, I really liked Ruth. Conroy had some fantastic moments to play and she more than rose to the occasion, demonstrating great range.

Edie Falco, The Sopranos – If I Picked The Emmy Category Submissions, I would send Falco to the Supporting Actress bracket. Overall, Carmela really hasn’t had much to do over the past two seasons. Granted, she’s not in Lorraine Bracco territory yet, but that whole spec house business? Feh! However, since this is the official category to nominate her in, this is where I nominate her. And she must be nominated, if only (and really, only) for the episodes when Tony was in the hospital. Falco stripped Carmela down, physically and emotionally, and just blew me away. I only wish she could’ve been given more to do throughout the season.

Jennifer Garner, Alias – Her series may have had more ups and downs than a game of Chutes and Ladders, but Garner was always the cat’s pajamas and the bee’s knees. Watching the series’ final stretch, when it returned to the exciting cliffhangers and mythology of its first season, really made me long for what could’ve been if it had stayed true to that for all five seasons. But back to Garner… She’s super.

Jeanne Tripplehorn, Big Love – She’s the heart and glue of the Henrickson family and the show. Tripplehorn’s performance makes it all seem almost… normal.

Runners-up: Kim Raver (24), Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)

And the Second Tier: Allison Janney (The West Wing), Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love)

Best Actor in a Drama

Andre Braugher, Thief – Not sure if this counts as a series or a mini-series, but Braugher could act in an infomercial and I’d give him a fake Emmy. Hell, he could appear on Desperate Housewives and I’d give him a fake Emmy.

James Gandolfini, The Sopranos – In between heavy breathing, he did some wonderful acting… as usual.

Hugh Laurie, House – If it weren’t for his performance, there’d be no reason to watch this show. I can’t think of any other series on the air I could say that about. He’s just that good.

Julian McMahon, Nip/Tuck – This wasn’t the lurid soap’s best season and I don’t know if it was residual antipathy from The Fantastic Four or the somewhat weaker than usual writing, but I wasn’t quite as enamored with McMahon’s performance as I’ve been in the past. That being said, he’s still pretty fantas— awesome.

Kiefer Sutherland, 24 - Jack Bauer could strangle you with a cordless phone. Jack Bauer sleeps with a pillow under his gun. Jack Bauer’s calendar goes from March 31st to April 2nd, no one fools Jack Bauer. Jack Bauer once won a game of Connect 4 in 3 moves. If Jack Bauer's gun jams, it's because he wanted to beat you with it. There are no such thing as lesbians, just women who never met Jack Bauer. Superman wears Jack Bauer pajamas. Upon hearing that he was played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer killed Sutherland… Jack Bauer gets played by no man.

Runners-up: Michael Chiklis (The Shield), Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy), Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under), James Spader (Boston Legal), Dylan Walsh (Nip/Tuck)

And the Second Tier: Denis Leary (Rescue Me), Bill Paxton (Big Love), Martin Sheen (The West Wing)

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

Yunjin Kim, Lost – She didn’t have as many great moments this season as she did last season, but when Sun thought she’d lost Jin… Kim was excellent.

Mary Lynn Rajskub, 24 – She brings a small dose of humor to the otherwise deadly serious 24 without ever seeming out of place. This season, we got to see new sides of Chloe in her relationships with skeevy men and her friendship with Edgar.

Jean Smart, 24 – A most welcome addition to the 24 family. But I still miss Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Mae Whitman, Thief – Again, not sure if this is a mini-series or not, but who cares? Whitman proved she could be much more than EggAnn in this very challenging role. She’s definitely a young actress to watch.

Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy – At first she seemed destined to be a one-note character, but Wilson has shown great depth and range. Motherhood definitely agrees with her performance.

Runners-up: Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), Diane Farr (Rescue Me), Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under), Janel Moloney (The West Wing), CCH Pounder (The Shield), Callie Thorne (Rescue Me)

And the Second Tier: Candice Bergen (Boston Legal), Melinda Clarke (The O.C.), Michelle Rodriguez (Lost), Amanda Seyfried (Big Love), Cynthia Watros (Lost), Grace Zabriskie (Big Love)

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Lost – Mr. Eko just came and stole the whole show. Pretty incredible.

Gregory Itzin, 24 – The president you love to hate. As opposed to the one you just hate.

Louis Lombardi, 24 – Of all the many characters whose clocks have run out, Edgar’s death was the first to hit me on a really emotional level. Oh, Edgar!

John Scurti, Rescue Me – In the second season, he really emerged as a three-dimensional character. Still funny (unlike most of the Rescue Me characters who just think they’re funny), but Scurti’s Lou also showed pathos and heart, becoming a standout in the cast.

Bradley Whitford, The West Wing – He probably should’ve swapped with Martin Sheen this season and taken the Lead Actor slot, seeing as how he was the lead this year. Getting Josh out of the White House and into a relationship with Donna gave Whitford a chance to really invigorate his performance.

Runners-up: Alan Alda (The West Wing), Michael Emerson (Lost), Jorge Garcia (Lost), Josh Holloway (Lost), Stacy Keach (Prison Break), James Morrison (24), Terry O’Quinn (Lost), Richard Schiff (The West Wing), Jimmy Smits (The West Wing), John Spencer (The West Wing)

And the Second Tier: Victor Garber (Alias), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy), William Shatner (Boston Legal), Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), Forest Whitaker (The Shield)

Previously, on The Dish: If I Picked The Emmy Nominations 2006: Comedy

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