Thursday, August 28, 2014

CANON OF FILM: "THE 400 BLOWS"

THE 400 BLOWS

Director: Francois Truffaut
Screenplay: Francois Truffaut; adaptation by M. Moussy & F. Truffaut, dialogue by Marcel Moussy 



I’ve been putting off and putting off a re-watch of “The 400 Blows” forever. Partly because I doubted that I or anybody else can really come up with anything new to say about it. It’s not only one of the seminal pieces of film that’s required viewing for every cinephile, it’s also that film that, debatably started the French New Wave movement (It certainly was the catalyst film that helped the movement explode.) However, it’s not the easiest watch of those films though. Most of the French New Wave focused on a love of cinema, and the freedom of storytelling. “Jules et Jim”, also from Truffaut, or Godard’s “Breathless” for instance, are not only pure cinema but they seem to both simultaneously ooze the conventions and clich├ęs of film, but also reinvent the art form from within. “The 400 Blows”, feels more like Italian Neorealism frankly. Antoine Donnel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is a French kid, who’s confused by school, mostly ignored and put up with from his parents, and is otherwise troubled. The whole point of the film is that we’re supposed to empathize with Antoine, and to some respects we do, and in other respects, it’s more difficult. I had to be explained that when he copied word-for-word from Balzac, who he admires enough to build a small shrine to, for a school paper, that he thought he was doing what was asked, because the whole class up until that point seemed to be writing, repeating, and copying down what the teacher tells them to. It’s clear by the ineptitude of the teachers and the class structure that he’s making a commentary on the French public school system, (Although I remember other French films with similar perspectives about the school system and the kids in those classes, almost none of which, including Antoine can I really even relate to) but it never would have dawned on me as a kid to think that when we’re learning things like spelling and structure, that we we’re subconsciously being taught to copy. The movie works strongest for me, later, when we don’t just get subtle clues and insight into his life, and Antoine discusses his life and parents with the psychiatrist at the Juvenile Camp, which he’s sent to after stealing, then returning his father’s typewriter. Before that, there’s this constant frustration that they have with Antoine. It’s an erratic one to him however. Just as they can be having fun and going to a movie together, where Antoine first tries strawberry ice cream, but to then be treated like a glorified pet most of the time. 

The final image of “The 400 Blows”, the infamous breaking of the 4th wall zoom-in freeze frame close-up on Antoine as he stares into the camera, after running into the beach, forces us to confront Antoine, and the ills of the world that created and shaped him, but ironically, it gives us some hope that perhaps he can overcome this and be reborn with the help of this juvenile center. Maybe the parents giving up their rights to the state, is the best thing for Antoine. No more useless schools that punish instead of teach, no more useless parents who’d rather punish than love.  Truffaut based Antoine on his youth, and cared more about him than any other character, and they, Leaud and Truffaut teamed up numerous times, to look into Antoine’s life again and again over the years, following up with first with the short film “Antoine and Colette”, which indeed shows him, as a teenager, having success in the music industry and stratling that line between peering into adulthood, yet still struggling with having a short and abruptly-ended childhood having not learned as much as he really needed. Yeah, those 400 blows every child supposedly gets before they become an adult; if the movie tells us anything it’s that, that’s not a great standard in which to countdown to determine adulthood with. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 EMMY AWARDS ANALYSIS! "BREAKING- Yawn. BAD", "MODERN FAMILY", SETh-, sleepy MEYERS, and-eh, other people who won and loss, and weren't entertaining.

Well folks, normally on the day after an Awards show, I would go into a character and talk about some giant conspiracy theory about how all my predictions were indeed correct, but due to outside forces and a giant Academy conspiracy to make sure my accuracy was never revealed, they purposefully altered and switched of the categories, and they may have actually happened- Actually it doesn't. I like playing that charade, but honestly, I don't even want to do that this year. This year's Emmys was just,- there. Actually, it was barely that. They were trying, but Cranston and Louis-Dreyfus had a fun pre-planned sketch, some expected and some unexpected winners, especially in the Miniseries/TV Movie categories; I know when Matt Bomer's name wasn't announced-, well, I'm sure at least three GoldDerby.com editors are still staring at the screen in shock. I can believe Sarah Silverman won, or that she ran up to the stage in that dress which I thought she was gonna fall out of, just in as much shock as anyone else, or that they decided to give her an open mike on live television, but I'm glad she did. I wish she sand that song from her show, but, can't have everything. But let's face it folks, when the In Memoriam segment, and I know it's Robin Williams, and I know it's Billy Crystal, but when that's the most excited part of the show, you're in trouble.

I love award shows, but this may have been he most boring Emmy Awards in recent memory. If anybody came out ahead today, it was James Corden, 'cause sorry Seth Meyers, and it's not all your fault, but nobody's had didn't have a reason to watch his Late Night show, now has a reason, and Mr. Corden, who's taking over Craig Ferguson sooner rather than later, might have a better opportunity in that spot than he first thought. It wasn't just Meyers, there was hardly a sketch or a bit, from anybody that was really, really funny, or interesting. Stephen Colbert, flopped. Sofia Vergara probably should've on that pedestal, it might've been more entertaining. Key & Peele weren't particularly funny. I mean, we chuckle, out of politeness, not out of enjoyment. NBC, should've just let Jimmy Fallon host, or get Jane Lynch, she's on that network now. Or get Neil Patrick Harris off of Broadway. I mean, did you see how his performance at the Tonys, the Tonys that won most everything this year, how he opened with that amazing musical number? The musical number was by Weird Al Yankovich, and I love Weird Al, but, I mean, who are we kidding. It never felt like the Emmys, it was lit oddly, there was barely laughs, it wasn't even on the right night, and fuck the NFL and Sunday Night Football for screwing this up. I hope next year is better, and believe me, I'm the nicest person when it comes to judging these shows, but this really fell flat.

Alright, no conspiracies, no characters, let's just get to the Awards. Let's start easy, "Breaking Bad", won, only the third Drama series to win the Emmy for it's final after "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "The Sopranos", congratulation, they deserved it, they were going to win. And everyone won. Aaron Paul, first actor to win 3 Supporting Actor Drama Series Emmys, ever! That's an unbelievable fact, but it's absolutely true. Anna Gunn, two in a row. And btw, so much talk about McConaughey, could he pull the Helen Hunt and win the Emmy and the Oscar in the same year, Bryan Cranston, his 4th Emmy for this role, amazing, but he won the Tony Award earlier this year, for Best Actor in a Play, for "All the Way", nobody mentioned that rare daily double, and you know, he is one of the best and most respected actors in the business, and nobody deserves it more. Nobody will do more for a role, serious, drama or anything in between than him, and it's an incredible pleasure. Julianna Margulies continues "The Good Wife"'s trend, it's her second win for the show, and it's also her third overall, plus, "The Good Wife" has won at least one acting award every year it's been on the air, proving that cable doesn't get everything.

"Modern Family" tied "Frasier"'s record, they won again, they won Supporting Actor for Ty Burrell, his 2nd, not for Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who- I wish they'd pass the Acting Emmys around on that show. Seriously, I don't get it. They gave one each to "The Golden Girls", they gave one each to the  "Will and Grace" cast, it's just bizarre, especially when-, now I don't think it's a great show, worthy of all these Best Series accolades, I voted for "The Big Bang Theory" this year, but it's a solid show, but if they're gonna give everything else, why are they only giving it, to three actors? (And the kids should be nominated too btw.) Burrell's great, been a fan of his, long before the show, but he won already. Ferguson should've won, and Ed O'Neil, should've won by now.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston were funny as Hell. I hope Amy Poehler gets the Bryan Cranston treatment next year, and gets the farewell Emmy, but "Orange..." didn't win anything tonight, not even Jodie Foster, Julia won again, she's great, she's funny, I don't like "Veep", but no arguments from me on this one, and you know what, Allison Janney,- Chuck Lorre's "Mom", I didn't think was that great, but if you want to know why she wins 2 Emmys this year, and 6 overall, watch this clip below, 'cause here's thing, everyone in Hollywood, knows exactly how good an actress she is. And I don't just mean, they can get that one take correctly on camera, enough to edit around, I mean, just how amazing an actress, she is: do me a favor watch this clip below, and you'll get it:



Like that. I swear, she's gonna win a lot of awards for anything she does, because she's really that good. Now, Jim Parsons, is also that good, deserves it again, the more you know about acting the more amazing that performance is; I think he submitted the wrong episode, but you know, he's in another league. He's got 4 now, maybe, he'll do what Candice Bergen, John Larroquette, Jeremy Piven, and many other have done, and take his name out next year, when they get four in a very short time. We'll see, I'm betting he will, and besides, he's got enough money, Meyers was right about that, and the show is still great, it really is funny as all Hell even now, and especially considering where his character left off, it's gonna be very interesting to see what happens to him next year.

Louis C.K. won his 6th Emmy, all of them have been for Writing, more than acting, don't know why. Another cool Emmy win, Steven Moffat winning for "Sherlock", one of many wins- they won nothing, the previous three season, including the Creative Arts, they won 7 Emmys this year, unbelievable upset, including Lead and Supporting Actors for Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, I knew Freeman would win something, but I had him in the wrong category. Did not win Best TV movie, that went to "The Normal Heart" as expected, although shut out of acting and writing, shockingly. "Fargo" only winning Directing and Miniseries, and "American Horror Story: Coven", Jessica Lange, and Kathy Bates, two upset wins, there's a lot of good over-the-top acting on that show, and it seems like the Emmys respond to it. I wish they respond and give one to Sarah Paulson, and retroactively give it to her for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", but other than that.

Variety Special, the Tonys, and Sarah Silverman, again, pulling the huge upset of Billy Crystal, even Ricky Gervais was a little surprised, and good for her; I'm a huge fan. She had one Best Song Emmy for "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" and now, she's got a real Writing Emmy, and now that they mentioned, her writing on that Stand-up special, was some of her very best. I'm not just talking about the song with the her "Cunt" said 30 or 40 times in a row, there was some really special material there.

Great to see Jay Leno- He should've hosted this also, he wasn't doing anything, and he was funnier in one line, than in most of the other comic on the show; I couldn't believe how happy I truly was to see him. Or how silent it was when "The Amazing Race" once again proved that when they lose "Reality-Competition" it's a fluke, they won again, and everybody was dead silent, and bored, and "The Voice" lost. Expect more "The Amazing Race" wins, unless they finally come to their senses and give the award to "Project Runway" finally. Doubt it, but, hopefully that'll.

Well, somebody can find out my percentage, Emmy Weekend  Mondy, is over, thank god. But that said, this really was, the slowest-feeling and most uninteresting- It wasn't bad. But bad, I could handle. No opening sketch, Meyers was stiff as a bored and made us bored as stiff, even when there was huge upsets, except at the end, we we're just, kinda sitting watching, going "This should be better shouldn't it."

Yes, it should, and once again, I love award shows. But yes, it should've been better. Congrats to the winners and nominees though, there was a lot of good television that was honored tonight, and the show frankly, wasn't worthy of honoring them. Little advice NBC, Kathy Griffin's still on your Bravo payroll, she's available to host too.

Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS PREDICTIONS, THOUGHTS AND PREFERENCES!



Well, it's almost, Emmy Weekend Long Weekend-ending-on-a-, working Monday time again (Thanks NFL for ruining Emmy Weekend. How come your Super Bowl's never on a Tuesday afternoon?), and this year, everybody's a bit unsure on the final outcome after last year's thoroughly unpredictable Emmy had everyone scratching their heads. Except for me of course, and for the third straight year, I was the only person to correctly predict the winners of each and every Primetime Emmy Award categories last year, (Applause) Thank you, thank you, and this year, I plan and have every confidence that I will once again be perfect once again in my predictions.

(LAWYER'S NOTE: David Baruffi reserves the right to change or alter any/all of these picks at any time prior to, during, and/or after the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast from now until the end of time.)

A few of the big awards have already been given out at the Creative Arts Emmys, and for those who wonder about the accuracy of those predictions, I made several of them on my twitter shortly before the ceremony before listening to GoldDerby.com Emmys hangout live, and btw, I'm open to doing more and more Google Hangouts nowadays, so I'm gonna be trying to participate in more of those as time goes on. So, follow me on Twitter, and let me know if there's an interesting film/tv/entertainment related hangout, to get even more of my analysis, in a new additional medium and forum. (If I am in any future hangouts that are posted on Youtube, I'll post a link on the FB page, and in the future, I'll do that on Twitter too. Whew, a lot of social media to sort through as this blog keeps getting bigger and bigger.) Anyway, to get you all ready, if you weren't already for the big night, we're gonna go over every category they'll award on Monday night, and a few other they already did. Happy Emmy Weekend, (Eye roll) everybody, and good luck Mr. Meyers.


COMEDY SERIES
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
The Big Bang Theory-CBS
Louie-FX Networks
Modern Family-ABC
Orange is the New Black-Netflix
Silicon Valley-HBO
Veep-HBO

If "Modern Family" wins again, and it is a favorite until somebody knocks it off btw, it'll tie the record with "Frasier" for wins and most consecutive wins in the category; "Frasier" won 5, and in a row they won 5, and only "All in the Family" and "Cheers" have four, and they didn't win theirs consecutively. And "Modern Family", had a big season this year; I wasn't watching it, frankly. I grew tired of the show 3-4 years ago honestly, and am frankly befuddled that it keeps winning and I think they're fairly sick of winning it also. The two likeliest to pull off the upset, are probably "Orange is the New Black" and "Veep". "Orange..." the newcomer, from Netflix, they got a lot of nominations, that said, who knows how many watched it on Netflix. "Veep", frankly I think is an overrated show, and I've discussed my reasoning on that before, but the Academy likes it; it's been nominated every year and it's done better every year, so it has to be considered. "Louie", if it wasn't gonna win last year when it had the momentum, then I don't think it'll ever win. "The Big Bang Theory" because they haven't won, is probably the show I'm most cheering for, despite this being a relatively weaker season, but I wouldn't be shocked if next it won finally. It is the biggest show on TV, certainly the biggest comedy, and it's the only one I consistently find funny. I think "Silicon Valley",- I won't discount it completely, but I got five episodes in a had to stop. And "Girls" should've been the winner this year, wasn't nominated and that's shameful that we're arguing and discussing between lesser HBO shows, when it should've won easily, and "Parks and Recreation" and "How I Met Your Mother"'s snubs, eh, frankly a bit ridiculous too, but it a tight race this year, that said, if "Modern Family" wins again their will be boos.

PREDICTION: "Veep"
PREFERENCE: "The Big Bang Theory"

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Louis C.K.-"Louis"-FX Networks
Don Cheadle-"House of Lies"-Showtime
Ricky Gervais-"Derek"-Netflix
Matt LeBlanc-"Episodes"-Showtime
William H. Macy-"Shameless"-Showtime
Jim Parsons-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS

How weird is it that one network has three nominees in this category, and that none of that networks shows, including the three are nominated for Best Series? How weird is it that I said that and I was talking about Showtime being the network? Jim Parsons, the favorite again, and if he wins, he will tie the record, of 4 Emmy Wins for a Lead Actor, I believe with Kelsey Grammer and perhaps others. It's also tradition btw, that after a particular actor wins enough times for the same role then they ought to take their name out, but no word on Parsons with that. He's the favorite, although late coming-up, is Ricky Gervais, for "Derek", which apparently, is catching people's eyes because of the episode he submitted, so that is gonna be interesting. Remember, he won this category in an upset before, for "Extras", it was such an upset he didn't even show up to collect the award, and he is an Emmy favorite, with 2 wins an 21 total nominations, over all his series, and that's including the American version of "The Office", I think it'd be very wrong to discount him here. The other interesting name is William H. Macy, 'cause among all the confusions regarding what show goes into what category this year, "Shameless" switched categories from Drama to Comedy this year; never nominated as a drama but nominated in the comedy category, and Macy is a beloved actor, he's won Emmys before for TV movies and guest spots I think, so he's a name that's gonna be interesting. Louis C.K., probably more likely to win in another category than acting unfortunately. Cheadle, gets his obligatory nomination, no other major love for "House of Lies", almost the same with LeBlanc, although I think "Episodes" did sneak in elsewhere. Generally though, I'm thinking it's between Parsons and Gervais; I have a hard time imagining a third sneaking in, although this is the Emmys so who knows, but that's where I'm leaning.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Jim Parsons-"The Big Bang Theory"

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Lena Dunham-"Girls"-HBO
Edie Falco-"Nurse Jackie"-Showtime
Julia Louis-Dreyfus-"Veep"-HBO
Melissa McCarthy-"Mike & Molly"-HBO
Amy Poehler-"Parks and Recreation"-NBC
Taylor Schilling-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix

As much as my disdain is for "Veep", I can't deny just how good the acting on the show is, and it's pretty special, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus certainly to keeps winning Emmys and the Academy wants to give them to her, so that's probably gonna happen. If there's an it's Taylor Schilling or Amy Poehler, and I hope it's Amy Poehler, 'cause it's just completely absurd and ridiculous now. Edie Falco, and I love "Nurse Jackie", glad she's in, although, it's another continuous just nominating her to nominate her thing. Melissa McCarthy's nomination sorta interesting, 'cause she fell out of the nominations last year in favor of Laura Dern for the now-cancelled "Enlightened", so she's a bit of an anomaly, and she is the only thing holding that show together most of the time, although I do like some of the other actresses on there, and there's a rumbling that her episode might pull off her second upset in this category, so let's not be shocked by that again, but still a longshot. Lena Dunham, as I have said, I thought should've won easily everything year, so I have a soft spot for Lena Dunham as well, but I know the Academy, I can't see the scenario where she gets in.

PREDICTION: Julia-Louis Dreyfus-"Veep"
PREFERENCE: Amy Poehler-"Parks and Recreation"

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Fred Armisen-"Portlandia"-IFC
Andre Braugher-"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"-FOX
Ty Burrell-"Modern Family"-ABC
Adam Driver-"Girls"-HBO
Jesse Tyler Ferguson-"Modern Family"-ABC
Tony Hale-"Veep"-HBO

Well, Ed O'Neill not nominated, is- well, that's what it is, and they better give him something soon, 'cause this is really ridiculous now. Like Bob Newhart ridiculous last year, when he finally won his first Emmy. That said, close race overall here I think. Tony Hale won last year, he might win again for "Veep", although he had the benefit of an "Arrested Development" season also, and he doesn't have that this year. Fred Armisen's is an interesting nomination, because he's almost technically a lead for "Portlandia", but because it's a Variety Series technically, he's not eligible in that category, so body of work, throughout an episode, might give it to him, but then again, it hasn't helped any "SNL" nominees in recent years either. Andre Braugher's an Emmy favorite, and I like "Brooklyn Nine-Nine", and I like him on it. I'm not necessarily as amazed he can pull that character off, but I'm glad he got in especially since that show, was the big disappointment on nomination day. It had won the Golden Globe, earlier and Andy Samberg, also snubbed, had won, the Globe, most people had it getting in, very shocked that it didn't get more at least. Pretty funny show as well, I think it's a bit "Barney Miller" meets "30 Rock", and I appreciate that. So he's got a decent chance; I like Adam Driver too, I'm not sure that was the very best episode, but I think it was a very good one he's in for. He's very underrated on that show, despite this being his second straight nomination, especially after Merritt Weaver last year, I would not be shocked if he got in. But I do tend to think, it's between Braugher, Hale, and Ferguson, although Ty Burrell won the SAG Award earlier this year, and that was weird, 'cause normally they don't give that to a supporting role; (The SAGs, don't do Supporting for Television for some reason) and he was up against four leads, so that's got me worried, and he's won before, so it's not impossible here. But I think Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who's been nominated every year for the show, and especially for this year, since the show centered so much around him, I have a strong feeling that he's probably getting in for this one. Not 100% by any means, and I won't be shocked by an upset, but if there's a chance that "Modern Family" could win a main acting Emmy, I think that's your best bet. If Tony Hale wins again, that's a predictor for Best Series.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Jesse Tyler Ferguson-"Modern Family"

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Julie Bowen-"Modern Family"-ABC
Anna Chlumsky-"Veep"-HBO
Allison Janney-"Mom"-CBS
Kate McKinnon-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Kate Mulgrew-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix

The consensus seems to be that it's a two-person race between Allison Janney for "Mom" and Kate Mulgrew for "Orange is the New Black". Janney, four Emmy already for "The West Wing", she's beloved, everybody in Hollywood, knows exactly how good an actress she is, and it's a difficult, although it's not that great a show, and it's the only nomination the show got, but that's how beloved she is. Julie Bowen's won twice, always a possibility, same goes with Hale, if Anna Chlumsky wins here, that could mean "Veep" wins series. Mulgrew, an interesting nomination as well. Actually, I'm looking at Mayim Bialik for the upset though. I wouldn't be shocked by it, and if they keep giving the Emmy to Parsons it seems more and more ridiculous to not then give one to her, who's been in this industry and long prolific as any name up there as well, and like Ty Burrell, she's a supporting actress that got a SAG nomination earlier this year, and that's worth noting. Somehow, I'm just not convinced Janney's is gonna take this one, unfortunately, but I'm not as sure on Mulgrew either. McKinnon, is the obligatory "SNL" also-ran.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Mayim Bialik-"The Big Bang Theory", I'm gonna call the upset actually.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Episodes-Iain B. MacDonald-'Episode 309'-Showtime
Glee-Paris Barclay-'100'-FOX
Louie-Louis C.K.-'Elevator, Part 6'-FX Networks
Modern Family-Gail Mancuso-'Vegas'-ABC
Orange is the New Black-Jodie Foster-'The Lesbian Request Denied'-Netflix
Silicon Valley-Mike Judge-'Minimum Viable Product'-HBO

Not one 3-camera sitcom got nominated, that's disappointing. But, I guess, not unexpected. The one I'm actually kinda worried about for an upset here is "Silicon Valley", the fact that it got into directing, while "Veep" in particular didn't is a bit odd, considering how "Veep" everywhere else, seemed to be the preferred HBO show. That, can either be a weird anomaly or a sign that "Silicon Valley", might be more likely to win than not, and pull off the upset, but I tend to think that name recognition is what got the nomination for Mike Judge, and not much more, so I'm leaning more towards either "Louie", "Modern Family" or "Orange is the New Black". "Glee", has no real shot real, Iain MacDonald, pulling the upset for "Episodes", I'm acting kinda thinking about too, but not too deeply. Gail Mancuso won last year for "Modern Family", and they've won the directing award a few years in a row, it's a typical foreshadowing award anyway (Which makes "Veep"'s lack of a nomination also, particularly suspicious.) I think the money's going towards Jodie Foster winning for "Orange is the New Black", if for nothing else, but because the Academy loves it when a famous film director, comes and directs for television, and Foster, while better-known as an actress, is an incredibly talented director as well.

PREDICTION: "Orange is the New Black"-Jodie Foster
PREFERENCE: None

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Episodes-'Episode 305'-David Crane and Jeremy Klarik-Showtime
Louie-'So Did the Fat Lady'-Louis C.K.-FX Networks
Orange is the New Black-'I Wasn't Ready (Pilot)'-Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan-Netflix
Silicon Valley-'Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency-Alex Berg-HBO
Veep-'Special Relationship'-Story: Armando Ianucci; Story/Teleplay: Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche

Never count out Louis C.K.; he's won this category before, and usually is at his best with Writing nominations than anything else. No "Modern Family", but that didn't stop them last year. I have a very hard time finding the scenario where "Silicon Valley" wins this, so I think it's between "Orange..." and "Veep", with a slight possibility that "Episodes" could play spoiler here, and I think it's a tough call, and this- this looks like a predictor category too, if "Veep" or "Orange..." wins. Tough call, 'cause I think the Academy wants to honor both of them, Jenji Kohan, because she never won for "Weeds", and Armando Ianucci, because of "Veep", and "In the Loop", and a couple other British shows he's worked on, so this is a real toss-up to me.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Orange is the New Black"-Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Steve Buscemi-"Portlandia"-IFC
Louis C.K.-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Gary Cole-"Veep"-HBO
Jimmy Fallon-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Nathan Lane-"Modern Family"-ABC
Bob Newhart-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS

As I am writing this, we're a few hours and counting 'til the Creative Arts Emmys, so I'm making these predictions late, and I'm still somewhat stumped by this category this year. Bob Newhart, finally won last year, his first Emmy, he probably should get three or four more makeups but.... Actually the only one I don't think has a shot here is Louis C.K., partly 'cause Jimmy Fallon's a favorite and he by most people has a better "SNL" hosting gig, plus, Louis C.K. has better chances to win in other categories, and Fallon is very unlikely to win in the Variety categories, so thisis gonna be where he makes up for that. That said though, Bob Newhart, does have another good episode, Nathan Lane, has been nominated multiple times in this role, like C.K., Fallon and Newhart, but hasn't won, he can win this. Gary Cole, well-liked, great character actor in Hollywood, he can win this for "Veep", and Steve Buscemi's a weird wild card for "Portlandia", which went over everybody's projections when the nominations came out, he has a lot more to do in his episode than the other nominees, especially when you consider % of screen time/episode length into the equation, and he's never won, and there is an erratic "Boardwalk Empire" contingency in the Academy, so this is one of the most interesting races going, and I really am stumped on this one. Just to fathom a guess, based on Emmy voting math it's between Fallon and Newhart, but don't be surprised by anybody winning this one; this is a close race.

PREDICTION: Bob Newhart-"The Big Bang Theory"
PREFERENCE: Steve Buscemi-"Portlandia"
WINNER: Jimmy Fallon-"Saturday Night Live"

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Uzo Aduba-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix
Laverne Cox-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix
Joan Cusack-"Shameless"-Showtime
Tiua Fey-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Natasha Lyonne-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix
Melissa McCarthy-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC

Well, Joan Cusack's nomination, and she's got a decent chance at winning btw, but she was nominated last year for this role on "Shameless" but it was in the Drama Guest Actress category, and this makes her the first person ever nominated for the same performance in the same show, in both Comedy and Drama Series, so the weird anomaly of the "Shameless" genre change, continuing here, but with voters getting three chances to watch "Orange is the New Black", and two episodes 'cause Cox and Lyonne submitted the same episode, I believe, and it's seems backwards but the more a show gets nominated, in the same category, the more likely that show will win and it won't really split the vote the way people would think. Melissa McCarthy also has a shot here. Another first, Laverne Cox, the first ever transgendered actress to receive an acting Emmy nomination, that could push her over the edge, but right now, the way the tide's going, Uzo Aduba seems like the lock for this one, and I think Joan Cusack might be the biggest competition, but how many people really like "Shameless", that's the question, and she's up against "SNL", who's a monster in this category every year, and "Orange...", which is a monster in this they're first year of eligibilty.

PREDICTION: Uzo Aduba-"Orange is the New Black"
PREFERENCE: None
WINNER: Uzo Aduba-"Orange is the New Black"


DRAMA SERIES
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad-AMC
Downton Abbey-PBS
Game of Thrones-HBO
House of Cards-Netflix
Mad Men-AMC
True Detective-HBO

I wrote shortly after the nominations came out how everybody was gonna spend the next few weeks trying to reason their way into figuring out how "Breaking Bad" wouldn't win this category. (It might have somewhat easier if "The Newsroom" had been nominated like it FRIGGIN' SHOULD'VE BEEN!) Well, I check Goldderby just now, and not one editor or expert is picking anything other than "Breaking Bad"; I said last month you can bank it, and that holds true, it's winning it.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Breaking Bad"

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Bryan Cranston-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Jeff Daniels-"The Newsroom"-HBO
Jon Hamm-"Mad Men"-AMC
Woody Harrelson-"True Detective"-HBO
Matthew McConaughey-"True Detective"-HBO
Kevin Spacey-"House of Cards"-Netflix

Everybody was shocked last year at Jeff Daniels win (Although he should've won) last year. Most think he's a longshot again, but that's why I'm not counting him out completely, but with Cranston's last year, McConaughey, as well as Harrelson, up for "True Detective", which means voters will see two performances from each of them, plus McConaughey's the man of the moment. Kevin Spacey's got a shot as always, especially since "House of Cards" got more acclaim this year than last, and more nominations too. Jon Hamm, I hope will win next year, and this is when we bring up the "Mad Men" acting curse, as it's at 31 acting nominations total, and has yet to win one, and doesn't look much like it'll win much more. (BTW, Jon Hamm is also the first person to be nominated in this category for seven consecutive years, so congrats to him for that.) This category's been surprising more often than not in the past, and I think Woody Harrelson might be the surprise winner here, and frankly, I didn't love "True Detective" like others, in fact I hate it more the more I thought about it, but I actually like Harrelson's work than McConaughey's and he's an Emmy winner and legendary television favorite, who also is now a big movie; that's the one that I'm looking at going, this might be where an upset comes in.

PREDICTION: Woody Harrelson-"True Detective"
PREFERENCE: Jeff Daniels-"The Newsroom"

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Lizzy Caplan-"Masters of Sex"-Showtime
Claire Danes-"Homeland"-Showtime
Michelle Dockery-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Julianna Margulies-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Kerry Washington-"Scandal"-ABC
Robin Wright-"House of Cards"-Netflix

Claire Danes has won this award the last two years for "Homeland" but don't count her out quite yet, just because "Homeland" fell out of Best Series just after two years,  she submitted a supposedly really strong episode and the Emmys love. Frankly, just by sheer common sense, I would've voted for Kerry Washington just to not piss off Diahann Carroll two years in a row, mainly 'cause I'm afraid of her, but I just am not sure how much the Emmy voters like "Scandal". It'll get like Guest Actor thing, here and there and I love Kerry Washington but that show, comparatively is just hard to watch. Michelle Dockery has a decent episode too, Lizzy Caplan might pull off an upset, and I think "Masters of Sex" is one of those that might take a year or two, like "Breaking Bad" did before sneaking into Best Series, and it might steal something here ahead of time like this to foreshadow it. Robin Wright apparently picked  a weird episode and not the one most people think she should've picked and that's leaving her, who I probably would've presumed to be the favorite going in, just based on how well-received the shows were. Little surprised Vera Farmiga fell out of this category btw, but this- this really feels like one of the toughest categories to predict this year, but I think it's between Claire Danes and Julianna Margulies, especially since, while I've always kinda been frustrated with "The Good Wife" as a show myself, it is a good show, and it had a season that was so good that a lot of people thought it might jump back into Best Drama Series, which is very rare, for a Drama especially to fall out of the category and then go back in, but it might get honored here- Eh, they're both Emmy favorites I think I'm leaning towards Claire Danes 'cause it's a tougher, more complicated role, and because she's won two in a row, and I'm just not confident picking an upset here.

PREDICTION: Claire Danes-"Homeland"
PREFERENCE: Elisabeth Moss-"Mad Men" Michelle Dockery-"Downton Abbey" (How did Elisabeth Moss not get in btw?! Man, "Mad Men"'s never winning an acting Emmy, are they?)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jim Carter-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Josh Charles-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Peter Dinklage-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Mandy Patinkin-"Homeland"-Showtime
Aaron Paul-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Jon Voight-"Ray Donovan"-Showtime

Well, I know which one I'm rooting for but at first glance, it seems like a 3-way race between past winners Aaron Paul, in his last season of eligibility, and Peter Dinklage, who lost to Aaron Paul two years ago, and won in the year "Breaking Bad" wasn't eligible. He did beat out Josh Charles that year, his only year he was nominated previously, but his character also died suddenly this season, and it was a good "The Good Wife" season. Jon Voight's kind of an interesting addition to this too, I saw the first episode of "Ray Donovan", and I liked it, although oddly I preferred Shreiber's lead work; I'm a little surprised he got in, this might be a name-recognition nomination, but you never know. Kevin Spacey's having a hard time taking an Emmy for a better show, kinda unlikely to think Voight will sneak in. Patinkin and Carter, holdovers from last year, Patinkin, I don't know, but, I'm worried about dismissing Jim Carter completely. He's been nominated three years straight for this character, and he submitted the two hour season premiere (2 hours in the US, two episode in the UK) and you know, if you're looking for the one that doesn't belong, this is the one I'm leaning towards, and I love his character too; he's my favorite character on the show- In a way I'd say the show, almost revolves around him half-the-time, he's practically almost a co-lead, I'd say, so he's someone I think this might be a longshot upset here.

PREDICTION: Aaron Paul-"Breaking Bad"
PREFERENCE: Josh Charles-"The Good Wife"

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Christine Baranski-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Joanne Froggatt-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Anna Gunn-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Lena Headey-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Christina Hendricks-"Mad Men"-AMC
Maggie Smith-"Downton Abbey"-PBS

If there's an upset, it will probably be either Joanne Froggatt or Maggie Smith. Froggatt because she submitted a powerful episode that might win any other year, and Maggie Smith because she's Maggie Smith, and is automatically half a favorite no matter what she's in (And as much as we joke about that, it is an automatic nomination because she is that damn good.) Eh, there won't be an upset. I've said that before and eaten my words, but there won't be an upset, Anna Gunn's gonna win again.

PREDICTION: Anna Gunn-"Breaking Bad"
PREFERENCE: Christina Hendricks-"Mad Men"

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Boardwalk Empire-Tim Van Patten-'Farewell Daddy Blues'-HBO
Breaking Bad-Vince Gilligan-'Felina'-AMC
Downton Abbey-David Evans-'Episode 1'-PBS
Game of Thrones-Neil Marshall-'The Watchers on the Wall'-HBO
House of Cards-Carl Franklin-'Chapter 14'-Netflix
True Detective-Cary Joji Fukunaga-'Who Goes There'-HBO

The glaring omission of Rian Johnson's nomination for the "Ozymandias" "Breaking Bad" episode is somewhat noteworthy. Vince Gilligan, who's never won in this category is up for Writing "Felina" (He's also for directing that episode), is the "Breaking Bad" nomination, but that said, he's probably gonna win for Best Series, and rarely does any single person sweep Writing, Directing and Producing, (Especially not in a last season of a show and that's an exception btw, only "The Sopranos" and "Upstairs, Downstairs" have won Best Drama Series in their last season, and it's weird that it's so assured that they'll win Drama Series.) so it's okay to look for an outsider here. Tim Van Patten and "Boardwalk Empire" is notable, but "Boardwalk..." has a way of sneaking into weird categories, despite not getting Best Series nominations. That said, smart money, is probably on "True Detective," but "Game of Thrones" won this last year, granted it was David Fincher, but Carl Franklin's a pretty well-known name too, and "Downton Abbey", don't look surprised if they win for that epic 2-hour premiere. I wasn't as impressed with it myself, but I also think the show, was in a bit of trouble at the end of the last season, so it already was losing me. Eh, honestly, I'm kinda leaning more towards this being the place where "Game of Thrones" get the accreditation. It's got the most nominations, we know that, for a fantasy show, a genre that traditionally doesn't do well at the Emmys (Although let's be fair here, most of them have absolutely sucked beyond belief, let's not pretend it was a complete bias, there hasn't been one as good as "Game of Thrones" before) but it's shown it can win, it's popular enough to get many nominations, if it's wasn't "Breaking Bad"'s last season, we might be having a different discussion in a few categories, etc. etc. Smart money's on "True Detective", but honestly, I'm kinda thinking upset here.

PREDICTION: "Game of Thrones"-Neil Marshall
PREFERENCE: "House of Cards"-Carl Franklin

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad-"Ozymandias"-Moira Walley-Beckett-AMC
Breaking Bad-"Felina"-Vince Gilligan-AMC
Game of Thrones-"The Children"-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss-HBO
House of Cards-"Chapter 14"-Beau Willimon-Netflix
True Detective-"The Secret Fate of All of Life"-Nic Pizzolatto-HBO

Hey, why are all the other categories up to six, but writing and directing are still five? Weird. Eh, I'm just checking Goldderby.com on this one, and all the predictors have "Breaking Bad", except one who's picking "True Detective", and most of the "Breaking Bad" love, what a surprise, "Ozymandias", I have never remembered an episode title, so much of a show that frankly I, I love, but I don't have stats like that memorized about it, not since "What Kind of Day Has It Been", which is a famous title of numerous season 1 finales of Aaron Sorkin shows, so "Ozymandias" should win.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE-"Breaking Bad"-Moira Walley-Beckett

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Dylan Baker-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Beau Bridges-"Masters of Sex"-Showtime
Reg E. Cathay-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Paul Giamatti-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Robert Morse-"Mad Men"-AMC
Joe Morton-"Scandal"-ABC

Well, it's about time Robert Morse got nominated for a really strong performance in a  "Mad Men" episode, and the whole episode, revolves around him, but strangely he's not in it much, but he might have a shot at breaking the "Mad Men" curse this year. That said, this looks like it's between Beau Bridges and Joe Morton, although don't be too surprised by a Reg E. Cathay, or a Paul Giamatti upset. Bridges, well-liked, a favorite of the Academy, "Masters of Sex" is on their radar, and he's won this category before for other shows. That said, "Scandal", won last year, Paul Bucatinsky's performance, and apparently, there's a thought going around that "Scandal" might become the new "Law & Order" in this category, and that's certainly a possibility, and apparently Morton's episode is particularly impressive, and he's moved up on most experts ballots in recent weeks. Tough call a bit; I think it's a bit up in the air.

PREDICTION: Joe Morton-"Scandal"
PREFERENCE: Robert Morse-"Mad Men"
WINNER: Joe Morton-"Scandal"

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Kate Burton-"Scandal"-ABC
Jane Fonda-"The Newsroom"-HBO
Allison Janney-"Master of Sex"-Showtime
Kate Mara-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Margo Martindale-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Diana Rigg-"Game of Thrones"-HBO

Kate Mara's an interesting anomaly here, 'cause she switched from putting her name in Supporting Actress last year, where she wasn't nominated, and now was only a Guest Actress this year, and then does get nominated, and don't completely discount "House of Cards" across the board, btw; it's not impossible that they would have a chance at sweeping much of these awards, but that said, this is pretty much Allison Janney's to lose again; she's the favorite, she's beloved, many people love her on this show, she was nominated for Comedy Series for "Mom" of all things they love her so much, and she can win that.... There's too much in her favor. If there's an upset, Kate Burton might be a surprise, and I don't think we can count out Jane Fonda, despite limited screen time in her episode selection, but this is an uphill battle to pull it out for anybody other than Janney.

PREDICTION: Allison Janney-"Masters of Sex"
PREFERENCE: Jane Fonda-"The Newsroom"
WINNER: Allison Janney-"Masters of Sex"


MINISERIES/TV MOVIES
OUTSTANDING MINISERIES
American Horror Story: Cover-FX Networks
Bonnie & Clyde-Lifetime
Fargo-FX Networks
Luther-BBC America
Treme-HBO
The White Queen-Starz

Well, "Fargo" started as a miniseries, but it's now been renewed for next year. (Frustrated sigh) 1,2,3,- there's at least four recurring series in this category folks?! Okay, "Treme"'s got it's last season, and due to an actual technicality moved into this category 'cause it's final season didn't have enough episodes to qualify for series, although it's good to finally see it get recognized, but the Academy's got to take a cue from the Golden Globes of all fucking people, and stop letting shows pick a category at random. Anyway, the last time this category was 100% guarantee predictable winner was "Mildred Pierce", and they lost to "Downton Abbey" in it's first season, when it was submitted as a Miniseries, so take that with a grain of salt, but it looks like "Fargo", is gonna walk with this Emmy, the only real one, that could win, that wouldn't completely be an upset, is "American Horror Story: Coven", because A. it hasn't won before, but B., while it usually gets a lot of Emmy nominations other than an acting and series award occasionally, it usually just racks up technical awards, this time it snuck into Writing and Directing, and that's unusual with any series that's been on multiple years and didn't get into those categories before, so that's where to look for the upset, but unless everyone's misreading this, "Fargo"'s just way too strong.

PREDICTION: "Fargo"
PREFERENCE: "Treme"

OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE
Killing Kennedy-National Geographic Channel
Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight-HBO
The Normal Heart-HBO
Sherlock: His Last Vow (Masterpiece)-PBS
The Trip to Bountiful-Lifetime

Something I didn't catch until later, Stephen Frears has pulled off a weird anomaly, having directing and Oscar-nominated Best Picture, "Philomena", while in the same year, having directed an Emmy nominated TV movie, with "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight". Just an observation; he's a great director but he has no chance of winning either of these. Again, this is fairly predictable with "The Normal Heart" being the favorite, but "Sherlock..." did unbelievably well at the Creative Arts Emmys, and really over-performed there, but still, that's predicting a longshot against what's probably gonna win most everything right now.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "The Normal Heart"

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Benedict Cumberbatch-"Sherlock: His Last Vow (Masterpiece)-PBS
Chiwetel Ejiofor-"Dancing on the Edge-Starz
Idris Elba-"Luther"-BBC America
Martin Freeman-"Fargo"-FX Networks
Mark Ruffalo-"The Normal Heart"-HBO
Billy Bob Thornton-"Fargo"-FX Networks

Wow, Goldderby.com is really split here. The experts are projecting Billy Bob Thornton, the Editors however, have him, mostly in third, and in fact have Mark Ruffalo as the favorite, and actually they pushed up Martin Freeman as a possible winner, and Freeman's nomination is particularly interesting here, 'cause he's up in both Lead and Supporting Actor, here for "Fargo" along with his co-star Thornton, and also against his co-star for "Sherlock..." Benedict Cumberbatch, while he's up for Supporting for "Sherlock..." and actually, he's got a shot to win both of these btw; and that's never happened that somebody wins two Miniseries/Movie acting awards in the same year, for two different Miniseries or TV movies. A lot of big names here; Cumberbatch might pull off an upset too if the Creative Arts show that "Sherlock..." is stronger than the cult favorite in America than most think it is. Ejiofor, it he and McConaughey win, it's almost a makeup for him not getting the Oscar. I like "Luther" a lot actually, and Elba is beloved from "The Wire" and he didn't any Award respect for that, so he has an outside shot, especially with this split at the top, I think this is a very wide-open category this year.

PREDICTION: Martin Freeman-"Fargo"
PREFERENCE: None

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Helena Bonham Carter-"Burton and Taylor"-BBC America
Minnie Driver-"Return to Zero"-Lifetime
Jessica Lange-"American Horror Story: Coven"-FX Networks
Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Coven"-FX Networks
Cicely Tyson-"The Trip to Bountiful"-Lifetime
Kristen Wiig-"The Spoils of Babylon"-IFC

The Kristen Wiig nomination for the miniseries comedic parody "The Spoils of Babylon" came out of nowhere to most people (Although, I'll toot my horn on this one, I had a suspicion once I saw her name on the long ballot of weak nominees that she might sneak in.) and that's throwing a wrench into this, 'cause almost everyone had Cicely Tyson winning this easily for "The Trip to Bountiful", which she already won a Tony for last year, and the character won an Oscar, back in the mid-'80s, so this is a role with a traditional of winning, and Tyson hasn't won before despite plenty of nomination in numerous categories, so on the surface this looks right. But, Jessica Lange's here, for a show (Not a role per se) that she's won for before. Sarah Paulson's here, for the same show, and she was nominated last year in Supporting and moved up last year. (And a lot of people were shocked she lost last year to Ellen Burstyn for "Political Animals" in one of last year many big upsets) Other names here too, Helena Bonham Carter's playing Elizabeth Taylor, and were not even really thinking much about her performance strangely enough. This category had an upset last year with Laura Linney too, so don't presume that because "AHS..." and "...Bountiful" got the Movie and Miniseries nominations that they're the automatic favorites.

PREDICTION: Cecily Tyson-"The Trip to Bountiful"
PREFERENCE: Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Coven"

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Matt Bomer-"The Normal Heart"-HBO
Martin Freeman-"Sherlock: His Last Vow (Masterpiece)-PBS
Colin Hanks-"Fargo"-FX Networks
Joe Mantello-"The Normal Heart"-HBO
Alfred Molina-"The Normal Heart"-HBO
Jim Parsons-"The Normal Heart"-HBO

Well, here's the look of the TV Movie/Miniseries outlook in this one category, four of "The Normal Heart" dominating, a "Fargo" nod, and a coming-on-strong and over-performing "Sherlock..." nomination. Freeman, I think can pull off an upset here, and Colin Hanks would've shock me either, very quietly he's become a really engaging actor in recent years, especially on television. His work on "Mad Men" and "Dexter" in recent years, he's been on some failed comedies as well in some memorable funny parts, very underrated actor; he might be better than his famous father is when all's said and done. That said, this is almost certainly going to somebody from "The Normal Heart", probably Matt Bomer, is gonna win. Frankly, I wasn't as impressed with him as I was with Molina and Parsons for instance, but it's probably Bomer's Emmy to lose.

PREDICTION: Matt Bomer-"The Normal Heart"
PREFERENCE: Jim Parsons-"The Normal Heart"

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Angela Bassett-"American Horror Story: Coven"-FX Networks
Kathy Bates-"American Horror Story: Coven"-FX Networks
Ellen Burstyn-"Flowers in the Attic"-Lifetime
Frances Conroy-"American Horror Story: Coven"-FX Networks
Julia Roberts-"The Normal Heart"-HBO
Alison Tolman-"Fargo"-FX Networks

Not that I needed another reason to worry about Ellen Burstyn getting a nomination in this category, after pulling off aforementioned "Political Animals" upset for this category last year, lets- we berated that a few times now, but she is a spectacular Oscar-winning actress who can play anything, so the nomination and the win, shouldn't have been that surprising, but "Flowers in the Attic", is a notoriously unfilmable horror novel,- yes, horror,- this is not your typical Lifetime movie, and it's an infamous literary character she's playing, and she needs to play it just as over-the-top as all the "AHS..." actors, maybe more, and if this was a just slightly weaker field, I think she might sneak in for a second straight Emmy in the category. The rest of the field however.... Two more Oscar winners in Bates, who's an Emmy favorite, and gets nomination for the strangest things, (I think I was the only one who actually watched and liked "Harry's Law") and Julia Roberts, she's coming off a good Oscar nomination too, and this is a strong performance from her in "The Normal Heart", although I'm a little reluctant on it, 'cause I thought the other performances were more interesting, but that said, don't presume it's always the most well-known, in fact be very cautious that it isn't. The Miniseries/Movie actings are the kind of category that makes a star sometimes, (Angelina Jolie for "George Wallace" and "Gia" for instance) and Alison Tolman getting in for "Fargo", and there's a lot of people predicting her in a crowded field to break through.

PREDICTION: Alison Tolman-"Fargo"
PREFERENCE: Frances Conroy-"American Horror Story: Coven"

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE  OR A DRAMATIC SPECIAL
American Horror Story: Coven-"Bitchcraft"-Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk-FX Networks
Fargo-"The Crocodile's Dilemma"-Noah Hawley-FX Network
Luther-Neil Cross-BBC America
The Normal Heart-Larry Kramer-HBO
Sherlock: His Last Vow (Masterpiece)-Steven Moffat-PBS
Treme-"...To Miss New Orleans"-David Simon and Eric Overmeyer-HBO

Being a huge "Coupling" fan, I'd like to see Steven Moffat get this, and he might for "Sherlock...", but I think it's between "Fargo" and "The Normal Heart". "AHS..." lucky to be nominated, "Luther", I don't know what to think of that nomination but I can't fathom it sneaking in for a win here. The only real reason I'm reluctant to give it to "The Normal Heart" is because, while I think there's a very big desire to honor a great and important playwright like Larry Kramer, he was basically adapting his own work, from the stage to the television screen, and there are some changes but not a whole lot per se, and he had a lot of the same actors from the most recent stage production also, so, that could be a double-edged sword that throws it to "Fargo" or "Sherlock...", but eh, I just think "The Normal Heart" has too much going for it.

PREDICTION:"The Normal Heart"-Larry Kramer
PREFERENCE: "Treme"-David Simon and Eric Overmeyer

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR A DRAMATIC SPECIAL
American Horror Story: Coven-Alfonso Gozem-Rejon-"Bitchcraft"-FX Networks
Fargo-Adam Bernstein-"The Crocodile's Dilemma"-FX Networks
Fargo-Colin Bucksey-"Buridan's Ass"-FX Networks
Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight-Stephen Frears-HBO
The Normal Heart-Ryan Murphy-HBO
Sherlock: His Last Vow (Masterpiece)-Nick Hurran-PBS

Eh (Shrugs), I don't know. Stephen Frears is the biggest name but that "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" did not go over well, so I think his nod is half-name recognition. I'm leaning towards either Murphy for "The Normal Heart", Nick Curran for "Sherlock..." and the two "Fargo" nominations, and it looks like most experts are predicting Bernstein among the "Fargo"'s. I think Ryan Murphy's name is a bit toxic himself at the moment, although unusually, he did do a good job, not a great one though, but I think the writing was the real key so I'm leaning towards "Fargo", although that's pretty much all I got on this one.

PREDICTION: "Fargo"-Adam Bernstein
PREFERENCE: None


VARIETY
OUTSTANDING VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live-ABC
Real Time with Bill Maher-HBO
Saturday Night Live-NBC
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-NBC

Apparently now that it's not an election year, and after last year "The Colbert Report" finally proved that it's possible, now it seems that nobody thinks "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"'s got a chance here. That's actually making it want to predict it more. BTW, first off, I wrote down every Creative Arts Emmy predictions before those awards on Saturday, but at those awards, Bill Maher's streak finally ended earlier at the Creative Arts Emmys when he finally won as a Producer on "Vice" tying, (Yeah they wouldn't even give it to him straight up) the Emmy for Informational Series or Special with "Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations", so that streak finally ended, and I'm glad he finally won, 'cause frankly, he's the one I usually blindly cheer for in this group not only 'cause I'm a huge fan of Maher's and also because it was ridiculous, he should've won by now. Anyway, people are thinking it's either Colbert or Fallon, getting "The Tonight Show..." back into the category since Conan O'Brien's season. He is good, and he's popular now, and him and Colbert, this won't be the first or last time they'll literally be head-to-head in the near future, so it'll be interesting to see what happens here.

PREDICTION: "The Colbert Report"
PREFERENCE: "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (Sorry Stephen, but just because it's not an election year, doesn't mean it's still not at the top of it's game.)

OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks-TNT
The Beatles: The Night That Changed America-CBS
Best of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" Primetime Special-NBC
Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays-HBO
The Kennedy Center Honors-CBS
Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles-HBO

"The Kennedy Center Honors" whether they deserve to or not, and they are always good, but they do seem to keep winning this award. But, they're up against Mel Brooks, The Beatles, Jimmy Fallon, Billy Crystal and Sarah Silverman. I think they're gonna fall this year, but I'm not sure who's gonna take their place, I'm leaning towards "The Beatles..." or "Billy Crystal...", and I'm particularly leaning towards Crystal, personally, but, it's tough to tell completely, I think The Beatles alone, could take it, but, that Crystal special of his One-Man Broadway Show, was really, really good....

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays"
WINNER: AFI LIfe Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks

OUTSTANDING SPECIAL CLASS PROGRAM
The 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards-NBC
The Oscars-ABC
Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony-NBC
The Sound of Music Live!-NBC
67th Annual Tony Awards-CBS

"The Sound of Music Live!" is really screwing this category up, 'cause the Sochi Olympics, are a longshot at best; I'm shocked they got in; they were not done well on our side, or theirs, sorry Russia, you're Closing Ceremonies, we're much better actually. But it should be, between the Golden Globes and the Tonys, (The Oscars didn't get a Writing nomination, which is why I'm unusually disregarding them here.) but "The Sound of Music Live!", which probably should've been considered as a TV Movie instead,- it's the one that doesn't fit, Hmm.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "67th Annual Tony Awards"
WINNER: "67th Annual Tony Awards"

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-James Hoskinson-'Episode 9135'-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Chuck O'Neil-'Episode 18153'-Comedy Central
Portlandia-Jonathan Krisel-'Getting Away'-IFC
Saturday Night Live-Don Roy King-'Host: Jimmy Fallon'-NBC
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-Dave Diomedi-'Episode 1'-NBC

If, big if, there's a possible upset of Don Roy King, it might be "Portlandia" riding their unusual wave, but he's won four in a row, it's live, it's sketch, multiple-camera.

PREDICTION: "Saturday Night Live"-Don Roy King
PREFERENCE: None
WINNER: "Saturday Night Live"-Don Roy King

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-Head Writer: Opus Moreschi; Writers: Stephen Colbert, et. al.-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Head Writers: Elliott Kalan and Tim Carvell, Writers: Jon Stewart, et. al-Comedy Central
Inside Amy Schumer-Head Writer: Jessi Klein; Writers: Amy Schumer, et. al.- Comedy Central
Key & Peele-Writers: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, et. al.-Comedy Central
Portlandia-Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel, Graham Wagner and Karey Dornetto-IFC
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-Head Writer: AD Miles; Writers: Jimmy Fallon, et. al.-HBO

Boy I wish this category was on the main Emmys show this year. (Because of Guild regulation they switch these the Writing and Directing Variety Series with the Variety Special awards for some reason) "Portlandia" did sneak into this, the last couple years, but "Inside Amy Schumer" and "Key & Peele" are huge shocks for having snuck into the category, and they're both just as interesting for getting. "Portlandia", has the legitimate shot at the upset, but I think it's pretty safely "The Colbert Report"'s this year.

PREDICTION: "The Colbert Report"
PREFERENCE: "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
WINNER: "The Colbert Report"

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
67th Annual Tony Awards-Glenn Weiss-CBS
The Beatles: The Night that Changed America-Gregg Gefland-CBS
The Kennedy Center Honors-Louis J. Horvitz-CBS
The Oscars-Hamish Hamilton-ABC
Six by Sondheim-James Lapine-HBO
The Sound of Music Live!-Dir.: Beth McCarthy-Miller; Theatrical Dir.: Rob Ashford-NBC

In case you're wondering why they're announcing and the Writing for a Variety Special category at the main awards, instead of Directing/Writing Variety Series, there's a stipulation involving the DGA and WGA agreements where they switch it every year with Variety Series and Variety Specials, and it's definitely a bit annoying btw, but that's what we got, so.... Besides that, this is always a fun category if Louis J. Horvitz wins 'cause he's usually directing the Emmys when he wins so he always gets his prize in the control room. "The AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks" pulled off the upset over "The Kennedy Center Honors" for Variety Special, and that's not nominated here, so it's a bit of a crapshoot. Beth McCartney-Miller I always feel for Beth McCarthy-Miller 'cause she's been a great comedy director for years in "SNL" and "30 Rock" most notably, but somehow never wins, but I think she's got a shot here with that "The Sound of Music Live!" special, which was a live taping also, so that's a strong possibility, but I'm not exactly predicting it.

PREDICTION: "67th Annual Tony Awards"-Glenn Weiss
PREFERENCE: "The Sound of Music Live!-Dir.: Beth McCarthy Miller; Rob Ashford

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
67th Annual Tony Awards-Dave Boone; Special Material: Paul Greenberg-CBS
The 71st Annual Golden Globes Awards-Barry Adelman; Special Material: Tina Fey, et. al-NBC
The Beatles: The Night That Changed America-Ken Ehrlich and David Wild-CBS
Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays-Billy Crystal-HBO
Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles-Sarah Silverman-HBO

BTW, among the et. al.'s on the Golden Globe nominations include Amy Poehler, naturally (And how she hasn't won shit yet.... (Frustrated Sigh) as well as this year's Emmy host, Seth Meyers, also Dave Boone, who's up for Writing the "...Tony Awards". While, inviting and nominating Sarah Silverman to the main party is probably a fun yet, albeit misguided idea, 'cause God knows what she'll do (Rule also applies to Kathy Griffin btw), I think the likely winner is either the "... Tony Awards" or-eh Billy Crystal, for his great one-man show "700 Sundays"- if you haven't seen that btw, definitely worth watching, that's a really great piece he's been working on for years and HBO recorded the Broadway show, really, really funny and incredible, although now, part of me doesn't want him to win since he's going to be-eh, doing the Robin Williams tribute, which-eh, I'll be frank, especially considering it's him, I don't know how the hell's he gonna get through that. Just- I feel sorry for him, and I'm sure winning is the last thing on his mind this week, but he can win definitely this; it was that good. I think it's between him, the Tonys and maybe the Globes. "The Beatles..." thing, maybe, it won Music Direction at the Creative Arts, but it's The Beatles for Christs's sake so I don't know how much Music Direction was really needed, but I can't get a read on that, but Ken Ehrlich is pretty well-known and respected; he might be an upset possibility.

PREDICTION: "67 Annual Tony Awards"
PREFERENCE: "Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays"


REALITY
OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race-CBS
Dancing with the Stars-ABC
Project Runway-Lifetime
So You Think You Can Dance-FOX
Top Chef-Bravo
The Voice-NBC

Same 6 as the last two years in the Reality-Competition, and frankly it's the same-, well 5, that should be nominated. People like to dismiss this category, but they usually get the nominations right, and frankly, "Dancing with the Stars" fills out the field, although, other than Tom Bergeron I don't know why that keeps getting in; somebody must know people on the voting board there or something, 'cause it's pretty unwatchable although in their defense it's a little hard to figure out exactly who the sixth nominee should be. (I probably would give it to "Top Chef Masters" myself, especially after this past season, which was about as good as the regular "Top Chef" btw, and I'm typically not as impressed with the Masters version normally.) Anyway, speaking of "Top Chef", they won this category once before, and they had a controversial season with a few good episodes, especially the ending; I wouldn't be dismissing them so quickly, but "The Voice" won last year, making it only the third show to win this award with "The Amazing Race" having won it every other time, and that shocked me, 'cause I- I loved "The Voice" in the beginning, but since they made it more like "American Idol" and left it up solely to an audience vote way too early, I think it's gone way down, and frankly I haven't watched in a couple seasons, it frustrated me too much how it went from the Anti-"...Idol", to the New "...Idol", so maybe it had another good season, it wouldn't surprise me, 'cause the rest of it, blows "...Idol" out of the water, and there's definitely "The Amazing Race" fatigue in this category, but I don't know; I have a hard time imagining "The Voice" winning again; I think that bubble has burst as well.

PREDICTION: "The Amazing Race"
PREFERENCE: "Project Runway"

OUTSTANDING STRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAMS
Antiques Roadshow-PBS
Diners, Drive-ins and Dives-Food Network
Mythbusters-Discovery Channel
Shark Tank-ABC
Undercover Boss-CBS
Who Do You Think You Are?-TLC

They broke the Reality Category into two this year, between Structured Reality Programs and Unstructured Reality Programs, although you wouldn't know that if you didn't scroll down in a few seconds, 'cause each of these nominees have been nominated before for Reality Series, and this category typically went to a structured series anyway. "Undercover Boss" won for the second year in a row last year, even though most thought "Shark Tank" was gonna win, and I think they're due, so it looks like it's between them, although I'd love to see "Antiques Roadshow" finally win; they've been nominated, every year, since '03, and they haven't won yet. You'd think by a fluke they'd win it at least once, so I hope they do at some point. Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky are producer on "Who Do You Think You Are?", and they can each win their second Emmys for that, and they've both won for acting over the years. And "Mythbusters" could play spoiler 'cause they entered the "Breaking Bad" episode, and they've won before, so not out of the realm of possibility. So, three-way race "Shark Tank", "Mythbusters" and "Undercover Boss".

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Shark Tank"
WINNER: "Shark Tank"

OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Alaska: The Final Frontier-Discovery Channel
Deadliest Catch-Discovery Channel
Flipping Out-Bravo
Million Dollar Listing New York-Bravo
Wahlburgers-A&E
Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan-BBC America

"Deadliest Catch" is the only one the nominees that's ever been nominated, and they've won before, but I don't think that's a lock for this new Unstructured Reality Program category. My gut instinct say "Wahlburgers" is the favorite, it's the newest, it's got the biggest names involved in Hollywood, big stars doing any kind of Reality, even an appearance is huge. They're the two, I think most would lean towards, especially since the "Flipping Out" and"Million Dollar Listing..." votes might get split between the two shows about real estate essentially. And "Alaska..." could steal a vote or two from "Deadliest Catch" too; it's mostly an unprove category, so you're guess is as good as mine.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Flipping Out"
WINNER: "Deadliest Catch"

OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM
Tom Bergeron-"Dancing with the Stars"-ABC
Anthony Bourdain-"The Taste"-ABC
Cat Deeley-"So You Think You Can Dance"-FOX
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"-Lifetime
Jane Lynch-"Hollywood Game Night"-NBC
Betty White-"Betty White's Off Their Rockers"-Lifetime

I love Anthony Bourdain, but I'm confused that he keeps sneaking into this category for "The Taste" which both sucks, and he's barely what I'd consider a "host" for that show. I think he's getting in 'cause of reputation. I'd like to see Cat Deeley take this, but I think it's between Heidi and Tim and Jane Lynch this year, as she's the wild card for "Hollywood Game Night", which is really more game show to me than reality but she is really good on it, and that might knock out other perennial favorites like Tom Bergeron. It's tough to say, since they've stopped arbitrarily giving it to Jeff Probst every year what the Academy will do, they've been erratic with the category since.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"
WINNER: Jane Lynch-"Hollywood Game Night"


OTHER NOTABLES
OUTSTANDING CHARACTER VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE
Chris Diamantapolous-"Disney Mickey Mouse": 'The Adorable Couple-Disney Channel
Stephen Full-"Dog with a Blog": 'My Parents Posted What?!'-Disney Channel
Seth Green-"Robot Chicken DC Comics Special II: Villains in Paradise"-Cartoon Network
Maurice LaMarche-"Futurama": 'Calculon 2.0'-Comedy Central
Seth MacFarlane-"Family Guy": 'In Harmony's Way"-FOX
Harry Shearer-"The Simpsons": 'Four Regrettings and a Funeral'-FOX

They decided to split the Voice-Over Performance Category into two this year to Character Voice Over and Narrator, this after Lily Tomlin's strange win last year for "An Apology to Elephants" (Although in her defense, for some reason she had never won before, and that's just dumb. Weird that she won for that, but stilll at least it's something.) So, a couple newer entries in the category this year. Most of the momentum is for Harry Shearer 'cause he's only one on "The Simpsons" who remarkably hasn't won this award yet, which is really ridiculous considering how many characters he does on "The Simpsons" and elsewhere, so he's the sentimental favorite, and you'll hear boos if anybody else takes it. If there is anyone else, probably Maurice LaMarche 'cause he's well-respected, has won before, and this is "Futurama"'s last season, again, so they might throw another his way for that.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: Harry Shearer-"The Simpsons"
WINNER: Harry Shearer-"The Simpsons"

OUTSTANDING ANIMATED PROGRAM
Archer-"Archer Vice: The Rules of Extraction"-FX Networks
Bob's Burgers-"Mazel Tina"-FOX
Futurama-"Meanwhile"-Comedy Central
South Park-"Black Friday"-Comedy Central
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project-"Nickelodeon"

Strangely, this is the first time "Archer"'s been nominated that should've been rectified years ago. "Futurama" has the sentimental vote, but "South Park" won last year, and they've got a good submission, and I have no idea, what to think of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in this category this year. Could be spoiler, but who knows it could be an anomaly too, but those things are big again for some reason, on TV and in the movies. It's always a tough call with this category.

PREDICTION: "South Park"
PREFERENCE: "Bob's Burgers"
WINNER: "Bob's Burgers"

OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM ANIMATED PROGRAMMING
Adventure Time-'Be More'-Cartoon Network
Disney Mickey Mouse-'O Sole Minnie'-Disney Channel
Disney Phineas and Ferb-'Thanks but No Thanks'-Disney Channel
Regular Show-'The Last Laserdisc Player'-Cartoon Network
Robot Chicken-'Born Again Virgin Christmas Special-Cartoon Network

The only one of these I've seen is "Robot Chicken", so I'm not sure how much that helps, but I think it's either gonna be that, or "Disney Mickey Mouse", if they really liked that cartoon (Which, actually I think I did see now that I'm thinking about it; I might have caught that online.), plus they're the ones that got Character Voice-Over Nominations

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE: "Robot Chicken"
WINNER: "Disney Mickey Mouse"

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
"Bigger!"-67th Annual Tony Awards-Music: Tom Kitt; Lyric: Lin-Manuel Miranda
"No Trouble"-A Christmas Carol-The Concert-Music: Bob Christianson; Lyric: Alisa Hauser-PBS
"Les Mis"-Key & Peele: 'Substitute Teacher #3'-Music: Joshua Funk; Lyric Rebecca Drysdale-Comedy Central
"Home for the Holiday (Twin Bed)"-Saturday Night Live: 'Host: Jimmy Fallon'-Music: eli Brueggemann; Lyrics: Chris Kelly, Sarah Schneider, Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon-NBC
"Merroway Cove"-Sofia the First: 'The Floating Palace'-Music: John William Kavanaugh; Lyric: Craig Berger-Disney Channel
"Day is Gone"-Sons of Anarchy- 'A Mother's Work'-Music & Lyric: Bob Thiele, Noah Gunderson and Kurt Sutter-FX Networks

I did listen to all of these btw, and while I doubt "Sofia the First"'s song "Merroway Cove" is gonna win, it wasn't bad actually. I'm sure some are hoping on a subversive level for Kurt Sutter to win for "Sons of Anarachy"s "Day is Gone" song, since he's notoriously critical of the show. The only nominee, I'm a little perplexed by was "Key & Peele", who I normally like, but they're "Les Mis" song, wasn't that funny, and frankly, since it was a very close-to-the-original song parody, I'm not sure it's original enough but, I think it's between "Bigger!" and "Home for the Holidays (Twin Bed)", Tonys vs. SNL again basically, and both were really great songs; I think it's close.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE-"Bigger!"-"67th Annual Tony Awards"
WINNER: "Bigger!"-"67th Annual Tony Awards"

OUTSTANDING NARRATOR
Daniel Craig-"One Life"-Nat Geo Wild
Whoopi Goldberg-"Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley-HBO
Jeremy Irons-"Game of Lions"-Nat Geo Wild
Jane Lynch-"Penguins: Waddle All the Way"-Discovery Channel
Henry Strozier-"Too Cute!": 'Holiday Special'-Animal Planet

Of the nominees, for this, the first ever Emmy for Voice Over Narrator, I think Whoopi Goldberg probably is the favorite considering her "Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley" is probably the most-viewed of the nominees, and it was quite good, but don't count out Henry Strozier 'cause you haven't heard of him; he's a big time Voice Over guy for TV, commercials, films, and I took one look at "Too Cute!", and I'm not an animal lover but I wanted to keep watching his program more than the rest.

PREDICTION/PREFERENCE-Henry Strozier-"Too Cute!"
WINNER: Jeremy Irons-"Game of Lions"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TV VIEWING 101: CLASS #2: SITCOMS: UNDERSTANDING, ADAPTING, and RECOGNIZING HOW THE METHODS OF THE OLD APPLY TO THE NEW



Hey, hey, hey! How's everybody doing today, good? Everybody ready for class? Was that "Hey, hey, hey", from "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" or was it from "What's Happening?" What do you think? Think it'd be easier if you actually heard it, instead of seeing it written down? Yeah, it would be.

Alright, sitcoms, I hope you all did you homework, folks. Oh yeah, I wasn't kidding. Three, four, five of you, out of 150 people, minimum will read these a day? I hope you at least watched television at least. Especially a sitcom, at least once? Well, I didn't get too many personal responses. One involved, somewhat of an interesting show regarding this topic of 3-camera vs. single camera, and that's "How I Met Your Mother". Great show, and it was an interesting choice, because they're a 3-camera sitcom, but they actually don't have a studio audience. They use a laugh track, and actually they're a little more free-form with the form, they can have flashback and other ways of playing with the timeline and dream sequences, aberrations, musical numbers, they're a show that can rather easily, I would say, switch to a single camera show. It would lose, the romantic perspective and look of the 3-camera sitcom has, you know, the Woody Allen-esque New York look the show went for, although you can do that in single camera also, but that classic 3-camera look is the television equivalent of that. 

Oh, and when I talk about a 3-camera show, btw, somebody also thought that, "How I Met Your Mother" was a 5-camera show, I could not confirm that, but I'm almost certain it's 3. It's not, how many people are on the show, that you put a camera on them, what happens is that sitcoms are rehearse, and then, there's a way in which a TV director, figures out the camera positions, which are moving much of the time, and they're, when done well, really-organized, and it's very hard to do btw; other than James Burrows, and since it has become such a lost art, the 3-camera directing, that's another reason why a lot of shows, are choosing the single-camera format instead. That said, there are variations of the multiple-camera sitcoms, where they do use more than one camera when needed. Garry Marshall for instance, invented the 4-camera sitcom. It wasn't really that big of an invention actually, it was just that it was impossible to make sure Robin Williams stayed still and hit his mark every time, and it took about five minutes to realize you didn't want to do that anyway, so for "Mork & Mindy", there was a fourth camera who's job was just to follow Robin Williams around, and record whatever he does, 'cause it was usually funnier than most of everything else they could come up with. So, yeah, I know bad timing to bring him up, but it's not the first time Robin Williams has been the exception to the rules. 

Well, that was the only response, good job folks, on your homework. (Thumbs up, sarcastically) Well, the Emmys are next week, so let's just use them for this. Think of how those shows would be different, first with-eh, "The Big Bang Theory" could that work in single-camera? It could I think. You can see them more at work, instead of mostly around the two apartments and the hallway. They are scientists and professors remember? You think you'd see more of Sheldon's classrooms don't you? But you lose the quirks a bit, and a part of what makes Sheldon's behavior so palatable is that, it is in front of an audience, so the outlandishness he does is benefited from having an audience react to his eccentricities. Plus it helps us feel more insular to the world of these characters having a 3-camera format. If it was single camera, the world would be opened up, but you wouldn't feel as close to them and within their own environment, especially since it's a bit of a rule-of-the-universe show, where you kinda have to get used to the show to begin with, so the closer we are to the to the characters, the more used to them we get and the more we relate and understand them, in their own world. 

Although, let's look at "Veep", a show that's single-camera, but would it be that weird if it was three-camera? Might be a bit like "Spin City", but based on the Vice President and not the aid, and you can create the show often takes place just in the office, a lot of it. You could have a lot of the disasters occur elsewhere on set and offstage, I think it could work, but would it work as well, maybe not. She's not exactly a likeable character Selina Mayer, so maybe it wouldn't work to be too intimate with an unlikable character. Although that worked for "All in the Family", not so much for "Buffalo Bill" though, which is a better example 'cause that was a workplace show that also dealt with media relations and perception. I know you haven't heard of it. Look it up, it got two Emmy nods for Best Series, and got canceled after two years. 

Now, "Modern Family"'s an interesting one. In many ways, this show is the ultimate throwback. The family sticom. This goes back to Ida Goldberg. It's broad, it's over-the-top, there are misunderstandings, and the whole series is based around the struggles and dramas of a family household. You'd think actually that, a show like that would be 3-camera, and not borrow the new mockumentary format of the single-camera, which started in film with people like Woody Allen, Rob Reiner, Fellini a bit, and then used in television starting with Ricky Gervais's "The Office", the British version, but actually when you go back and think of those more classic family sitcoms, the "Leave It to Beaver", "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet", "The Brady Bunch", they weren't necessarily traditional 3-cameras either. They had sets, but similar to the freedom of "How I Met Your Mother", they didn't have audiences, they had laugh tracks, they often went outside the stage to shoot- 'cause A., since there's so many more people in a family cast, you can't have them all in the same space all the time. It's not realistic or believable, plus, you can do a lot more with the dynamics of the family sitcom, if they're separated most of the time, and out doing other things. So, actually, "Modern Family" is more of a throwback than it first seems, especially considering the family sitcom dynamic. Would it work, with 3-camera, probably not as well, but there's plenty of examples of it working there too. Not as much with children though, but it becomes more of a domestic tale than it does an overall look at a family. But really, other than the fact that it's a different kind of family, it's not that different from other shows of the past. Humor is about the same combination of wit and slapstick and farce. It's done well, there's ways to reinvent the wheel, and then there's reasons not to, 'cause it's a wheel, it's already pretty perfect as it. 

That's half the battle, recognizing what a show is doing, frankly, and then making sure it does it well. It's the simplicity of it, where's the conflict, why do we care about these characters, what do they want, are they trying to find it, are they succeeding at it, what's the situation, "situation" being a key word, it's a situation-comedy, remember, that they're stuck in and half to deal with. If you don't have answers to those questions then you really don't have a sitcom, and it's not about, being the most hip or new, or groundbreaking, or controversial, if a show is just about those things, then it's not gonna be good. I don't remember who it was that said it, probably Norman Lear, but as groundbreaking as "All in the Family" was (And it still is, btw.) if you replace all the talk about politics and philosophy and modern culture and whatnot with Archie yelling at Meathead "I can't believe you married my daughter without being able to take care of her!!!!" then the show stays the same. It's those things that make a sitcom. 

"What about "Louie"?! I'm waiting for someone to scream. Yes, why not, what about "Louie", could it work in 3-camera? I think it could. He tried a 3-camera show once, with HBO's "Lucky Louie", it wasn't that successful, but it absolutely could work. What, it's about a comedian, as he struggles he endures and adventures he has to get through his day-to-day life, that can be 3-camera. Worked for "Seinfeld". Now he's doing other things with the show, being more irreverent, sometimes he's going on aberrations, sometimes, he's sticking close to and advancing continuing story line and plot, sometimes it's very inward and intimate, other times, it's very relatable. Sometimes, he's barely doing what we'd consider a sitcom, you know?  Sometimes, you can go week-to-week-to-week and see three entirely different episodes of his show, and have almost nothing in common, other than Louis C.K. That's not new either btw, Jack Benny did that all the time on "The Jack Benny Program". One week, variety show, next week, sitcom, next week, dream sequence, next week, behind the scenes of his variety show, the next week, and little of the variety, a little sitcom, a little something else..... He had that same kind of freedom back then, that Louis C.K. that Tina Fey, that Lena Dunham have now, where they basically were given a half-hour to do whatever they wanted. Is it still a sitcom? Well, yeah. The situation changes week-to-week, but it's still a sitcom. He could go in front of a studio audience and with the 3-camera format if he wanted, and it would work.

Situations can change on a show all the time too. 1st season, "Will & Grace", they were roommates, then they weren't the 2nd, then they were again. "Cheers", started the "Will they or won't they" thing, with Sam & Diane, and then they had to completely change the show when Shelley Long left. The core situation was the same, people in a bar. That's key too, what can change in a situation comedy and what can't? If the core of the sitcom, is the location, then the location can't change. If the core is the characters then they can go anywhere they want and they'll stay the same while everything around them is different. (Look at how many times "Weeds" changed their whole series over the years) Even "I Love Lucy" changed all the time. First they were in the New York apartment, then they traveled to California and Europe and Florida, and then they moved to Connecticut, not to mention they had a kid. So the whole series, constantly was in shift. Lucy wanted to be a star and she and Ethel would get into some ridiculous situation, because of Lucy's pursuit of stardom usually, or to make a point to their husbands or something like that. Knowing the situation, and knowing what the core of the show is. That's what's key to most everything. "Louie", himself doesn't change too much generally. That's not a bad thing, but he explores that in many ways, and he takes advantage of the things you can’t really do with the 3-camera structure, but it’s that no matter he does, the situation is him, and that's what the core of the show is, and that's what he's really doing. No matter what Jack Benny was doing that week, he was always Jack Benny, same with Louis C.K., whatever he's doing that week, he's Louis C.K. And Louie is an aging, overweight, stand-up comic. Divorced, couple kids he watches on the weekends, he has a few friends, he sleeps around occasionally. He wants to be in a relationship, etc. etc. Whatever he does, it sticks within that, Louis C.K. persona and perspective Sometimes life’s good, sometimes it’s not, the situation of him doesn’t change, while the situations around him, often does.

We can do the same for “Silicon Valley” and “Orange is the New Black” too, and figure out what the cores of those shows are and any other good ones. Even bad sitcom have good core ideas like this. “2 Broke Girl$” it a great situational comedy base. It really is, I’d rewrite it to make it good in a heartbeat. 2 girls, in New York City, struggling to survive, one used to be rich, the other’s used to it, living together, working together. It’s “Laverne & Shirley” meets “The Odd Couple”, but they take the wrong approach to the material. They think if you create outlandish, over-the-top characters with a quirk and can be used as a punchline then that’s a sitcom? Nope. Can’t just say vagina and make it a sitcom you know? (Although I might watch that, admittedly.) That why the show goes wrong, if could still be funny, but if they went to find the comedy more in the situation, it’s be a stronger show; the situation itself is filled with great interesting comedic material, you got to approach it correctly. This is where the skill comes in, in really figuring out, not just what’s good or not from a situation standpoint, it’s how will they manage to find comedic value in that situation.

This is where you ask those questions, of “What’s the objective of the show,” and “How well does the show achieve that objective?”, Etc. etc. The, “Within the realm of the show, does this work?” type of things, etc. etc. How good is stuff like that? Uh, it’s fairly useful if you know what you’re looking for. This is why, you have to study the old sitcoms, which these new ones have to compete against, in order to understand how successful they are or aren’t and whether they actually are doing things new or different, or are simply doing things that have done before, or if they’re doing those things better or different in some way.

How do you tell those things? That’s the $64,000 Dollar Question, other than to say that the more TV you watch, the easier it’ll be to catch, but also the rarer it actually happens. In terms of recent sitcoms, I guess a good example for me that comes to mind, would be an early episode of “Parks and Recreation”, where Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope character was sick in bed. Now, the whole show up until then, had been, practically a joke on her, about how she’s the one lone person into a local government with strive and ambition and also a firm belief in the power of government being able to solve problems, and how she was out-of-place with this position and all the doors and red tape slammed in her face for being such a way, but this was the episode where that changed because everybody else in the “Parks and Recreation” department, none of whom had that same drive and desire had to do her jobs for the day, and they realize she had about forty or fifty things planned, that doing two or three of those things for most people would take up most days or weeks. That’s not only the moment when, we as the audience started cheering for her, but also the moment when her fellow co-workers, even the ones who thought government was useless, started respecting her and getting her back whenever it was threatened. That was unexpected, and I haven’t seen that trick, done before in that way, where the whole series found itself and its groove and perspective. And that happens sometimes, where the whole arc and structure of a TV show would indeed be changed or discovered many episodes or even seasons into a show, but we’ll cover more on the structure and arc long and short-term of a TV sitcom, next time. How shows begin, how they end, how the arc of a series is developed and planned (Or not) and when and if a show “jumps the shark” supposedly, and what do pop terms like that really mean. Stuff like that, but with “Parks and Recreation” example, that’s when we got the first real insight into that series, that really made it connect to the audience, the piece that we, as the audience, hadn’t really had before. We knew it was good, up until then, and first episodes, you usually try to dismiss a bit to begin with (Although networks don’t always think that way [in many cases they’re correct to do so, ‘cause they’re dead in the water from the opening bell but still….]) but again, there’s this perception nowadays about a sitcom being a half-hour and then you move on, when a drama supposedly is a soap opera and long-running story arc where you have to catch, and frankly that’s just as true about sitcoms.


So, that’s for next week, we learn more about exactly how they make a sitcom, from the beginning and then inevitably to the end, and the art involved in that, and sometimes just, the absolute struggle of doing that, and how exactly shows like that work. Homework, we’re gonna keep it simple, just, watch the Emmys on Monday night, the 25th on NBC. It’s part of the industry, just deal with it, and enjoy it; they’re not going away, so really, I don’t get people who fight those things; and I can do a whole lesson on Awards shows if you want. I don’t want to, but they’re there, they’re apart of television in more ways than one, so you might as well enjoy them. If you want something else, think about a few of your favorite TV shows; I won’t limit it to sitcoms this time, but try o have it be sitcoms, and try to pinpoint, a moment like that “Parks and Recreation” moment, if you can, where suddenly, a sitcom, suddenly clicked, and got it’s perspective and really became special and exceptional from just a regular sitcom or even a good sitcom. It can be a lot of things btw, adding or losing a character sometimes, it could be learning something new about a character in a different way, or a slight personality shift from the beginnings of the show; it’ll usually be an early episode, usually it won’t be the first one, sometimes it might though. The moment that a show truly finds itself. Not the moment you necessarily started liking it, but what that moment was for the show, and why exactly did it work that well? That’s big too, the why. Too many people don’t ask “Why does that work?” enough when watching a TV show, and that’s why we are doing this class, ‘cause if not, we’d actually be the mindless lazy couch potatoes that people perceive us to be, and that’s because they are aimlessly watching a screen, for no reason. We watch with a reason. Remember that.


Try to do that, although mostly just watch the Emmys, ‘cause they’re the Emmys, just watch them. We may talk for five minutes about them next time, which may just be me complaining that “The Newsroom” wasn’t nominated but who knows there might be some interesting things. And if you have a chance, look up some of the winners at the Creative Arts Emmys, btw. They’re not as exciting, but there are a lot of good people who’ve worked on some amazing stuff and you really get a sense of just how much of television there really is by looking those up. Sometimes your best and most favorite shows, they get awarded at those awards and not the main stage, and that’s a shame, but that just shows you just how much television there really is. Alright, folks, everyone Dy-no-mite! Good. This TV Viewing 101 Class was brought to you by the letter T, and the letter V, and the number 66.

For those of you new you can catch up on the previous class here:
http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2014/08/tv-viewing-101-class-1-syllabus-intro.html