Unpopcult at the Emmys part 5: the Best Supporting Actor awards

August 19, 2014 1 comment

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:

Fred Armisen, Portlandia

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Adam Driver, Girls

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family

Tony Hale, Veep

I’ve had lots to say about Andre Braugher already: we’re living in a TV world he helped to create. He’s up against last year’s winner, Tony Hale, and the 2011 winner and five-time nominee Ty Burrell, among others. Much as I’d like to see Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s subtle performance rewarded, I think it’ll be one of those three, and I think it’ll be Braugher. I’m somewhat surprised that Ed O’Neill isn’t in there.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:

Jim Carter, Downton Abbey

Josh Charles, The Good Wife

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

Admittedly I don’t watch Downton Abbey, but is there any chance that it might piss off? If Aaron Paul isn’t rewarded for his Breaking Bad work, my guess is that this one is simple: The Good Wife had a stellar year; bad things happened to Josh Charles in it; it’s his time.

The Miniseries category might be the most distinguished of all, with The Normal Heart represented by four heavyweights (Parsons, Bomer, Molina, Mantello), up against Martin Freeman for Sherlock and Colin Hanks for Fargo. The law of averages suggests a Normal Heart winner.

 

Categories: The Emmys, TV

Scandal s3 ep 3

August 18, 2014 2 comments

There’s an actual Case of the Week in this episode, and because Pope and Associates are so desperate for business at this stage the Associates take the case on without reference to Pope. The client is a woman whose son was killed by the FBI during an anti-terrorist operation; she maintains her son was innocent, wants access to the classified file on the killing, and is prepared to take fairly desperate measures to get it. More desperate than hiring Olivia, I mean. It turns into a hostage drama, which is fine and all, but just a little bit by-the-numbers, even if the stakes are raised because the President has a direct line to one of the captives.

In Remington news, a man breaks off from a guided tour of the White House to make a dash for the Oval Office to discuss Remington with President Fitz. He’ll regret that later because, in B-613 news, Olivia’s father owns everyone, including Huck. Particularly Huck. And if he wants Huck to kill you, then that’s what’s going to happen.

Scene of the Week is, of course, the Fitz/Mellie confrontation over a bottle of hooch: poor old Cyrus has been trying to get them to at least smile at each other, in public if not in private, but it isn’t on the cards. Mellie then crawls into a bottle of her Daddy’s moonshine and confronts Fitz with the uncomfortable fact that she’s quite happy Olivia survived the hostage crisis: “As long as she’s still alive, she’s your flaw. Your Achilles heel. Which makes her my weapon. She’s the strings that, if need be, I will pull to make my puppet husband dance.” This comes after what might or might not have been an attempt to get Fitz to do her on a White House table. “I am spectacular”, observes Mellie, and she is. I’d say Bellamy Young’s making an early start in the Season 3 MVP competition. This, however, won’t go down as the best episode of the season, entertaining though it was.

Categories: Scandal, TV

Public Service Announcement 35 of 2014: Resurrection

August 17, 2014 3 comments

Arriving on UK screens tomorrow (Monday) night at 9pm on Watch, and adapted from Jason Mott’s novel “The Returned,” US drama Resurrection is apparently different from both the French tv series Les Revenants (confusingly also called “The Returned” over here) and its upcoming US remake, but it’s difficult to see how (beyond the obvious) given the basic premise they share: small, insular town has to deal with a bunch of people suddenly coming back from the dead, said people including one wee boy who may well scare the living daylights out of me.

Hmmm.

I doubt we need quite so many versions of what is essentially the same story (Les Revenants itself was based on a French film, just to add to the confusion), whatever language or country they’re in, and this one will need some kind of miracle if it’s going to outdo the creepy atmosphere and downright scariness of its Gallic rival. But a second season has already been commissioned, it’s ridiculously quiet at Unpopcult HQ and I need something to watch so I think I’ll give ep 1 a shot and see how we go from there.

Glee s5 ep 15

August 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Serious without being sombre, ’Bash’ grappled with some fairly weighty topics, and generally came out on top. Mercedes kind of starts a relationship with Sam, but then has to deal with the racial issue when her backing singers (both also African-American) raise it. This one is way out of my wheelhouse, but it did seem to me that Sam was behaving like a complete weapon around Merc’s friends, while betraying some discomfort about race himself. I’m not sure I can see them together long-term, but as the show no doubt has points it wants to make about miscegenation Samcedes might be with us for a while.

I was somewhat baffled by Rachel’s plot: she’s rehearsing flat out for her Broadway role in ‘Funny Girl’, and has to take time off to return to NYADA for her midterm critique. She and Blaine put on a showstopping performance, but this isn’t enough for Carmen Tibideaux (Whoopi Goldberg); it wasn’t supposed to be a duet, Rachel, so take more time off from Broadway and do it again, which ultimately leaves Rachel in the unfortunate position of having to decide between ‘Funny Girl’ and NYADA. Just about fair enough as a plot point, I suppose, but how in the name of arse is someone who has dedicated her life to becoming a Broadway performer supposed to walk out on a show two weeks before curtain up?

But she has an argument with Kurt about it, behaves like a diva, and flounces off, meaning that when Kurt happens across a gay-bashing incident on his way home his blood is up and he wades in himself, getting a severe beating. Commendably the show doesn’t shy away from potential criticism of Kurt’s behaviour – courageous for sure, but he could have got himself killed – and wisely puts it in the mouth of Mike O’Malley rather than one of his preachy friends. It’s worth saying that Chris Colfer has developed into an attractive and rounded performer, and like Lea Michele is an example of just how lucky the show got with its casting decisions before season 1 even started.

Look. I know that none of you have watched Glee in like years, and it’s just me here. But this was actually very good. I didn’t think I’d ever say this again, but Glee is on something of a roll at the moment, and the move to New York has invigorated it; the location shooting this week, once again, was vivid and exciting.

And the music was mostly excellent. It’s good to have Amber Riley back, and although she maybe gave ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ just a little too much – always a danger with her – it was nonetheless beautifully sung and shot. Her other number, an original called ‘Colour (sic) Blind’, was OK. That apart it was Sondheim all the way: ‘No One Is Alone’, sung as the cast walk towards a shrine for a victim of an anti-gay hate crime, was tasteful and moving; ‘Not While I’m Around’ could have been mawkish, as it started with Blaine singing it to Kurt in the latter’s hospital bed, but the show got it right; Rachel and Blaine’s ‘Broadway Baby’ provoked Carmen’s ire, but would have had the dean of any other arts school on the planet thanking God that her school had those performers; and Kurt’s ‘I’m Still Here’ was sensational.

Categories: Glee, TV

Masters of Sex s2 ep 2

August 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Introduced by the repellent Greathouse as “the fastest speculum in the West”, Bill starts his new job, and quickly finds out that Greathouse’s interest in his study might be a little more than altruistic. Meantime poor old Ginny falls for Dr Ditmer’s pretence that he wants to use the technology developed during the sex study to investigate gastro-intestinal illness, but it turns out that he’s just a sleazebag. Ew. Ew. Ew. (OK, the subsequent cutaway to Greathouse smoking made me smile.) Still, at least it meant the return of our old friend Ulysses. Barton’s not at work – perhaps in Europe with Margaret, but probably not. This storyline has been beautifully developed over the show’s run to date, and one feels there’s still a lot of pain to come. And Betty might be a tart with a heart, but she’s a good one; Annaleigh Ashford is making the most of what could be a cliché.

There are, however, two problems at the moment. Last week’s issue is still there: the study hasn’t started back up, so for now the show’s a superior period melodrama. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, of course, but without its USP Masters of Sex loses what makes it special. At one point it even occurred to me that perhaps the show’s being a little bit meta: it’s about sex, so we’re getting some delayed gratification, and these episodes are the foreplay. In which case I’m, um, ready.

The second problem – and it’s a hangover from the first season – is the likeability one. Bill remains unlikeable, even as he defies Greathouse’s instruction to carry out a hysterectomy on the teenage daughter of a major donor. DePaul is, unusually, still unsympathetic in the face of terminal illness. Even Libby, more or less saintly until now, is starting to mutate, very slowly, into Betty Draper; this week she high-handedly asserts her authority over the newly-hired African-American nanny. Greathouse is a prat. Austin’s an idiot. Which means that even more of the burden of keeping the show engaging falls on the shoulders of Lizzy Caplan and her portrayal of Ginny; she is, of course, more then equal to the task.

Categories: Masters of Sex, TV

Unpopcult at the Emmys 2014 part 4: the Best Supporting Actress awards

August 14, 2014 2 comments

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory

Julie Bowen, Modern Family

Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Allison Janney, Mom

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is The New Black

Defending champ Merritt Wever doesn’t even get a nomination this time round. Boo. Two-time winner Julie Bowen, does, though, and given that Modern Family was on a creative upswing last season she looks something like the favourite. Mayim Bialik should win. Allison Janney probably won’t, but stands a good chance in the Guest Actress category. Kate Mulgrew is fantastic in OITNB, but it still isn’t a comedy. And Kaley Cuoco should be nominated. I say that every year.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

Lena Headey, Game Of Thrones

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

The last two winners – the Dame and the Gunn – are both back, and going head-to-head for the third year in a row. Anna Gunn’s the unbackable favourite in Breaking Bad’s final year, but might Christine Baranski sneak in? Her submission episode, ‘The Last Call‘, is pretty much as good as TV gets, and this is her fifth consecutive nomination. (On the subject of The Good Wife, this makes the second year in a row that one-time winner Archie Panjabi doesn’t even get a nom, which suggests that Emmy voters are getting as fed up as the rest of us with what’s been done to her character.) And I said last year that if Christina Hendricks hadn’t won by now, she was unlikely to. It remains extraordinary that Mad Men hasn’t won a single acting Emmy.

For the fourth time I’m going to get annoyed on behalf of The Americans: Annet Mahendru would be a deserving winner, never mind nominee. Hayden Panettiere deserves a nod, too, as does Bellamy Young for Scandal.

Finally, if Allison Tolman doesn’t win Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her performance in Fargo, the voters are IDIOTS.

Categories: The Emmys, TV

Utopia s2 ep 6

August 13, 2014 Leave a comment

With Arby comatose in a hospital – I could never quite work out if it was a deserted one or not; presumably he was receiving medical care from someone? – the rest of the gang need to work out who the sleeper agent is (Terrance) and what he’s going to do (release the Russian flu virus stat). Then they need to find him. It’s a surprisingly straightforward plot for a show which has traded on its imagination, even if it’s put together with pace and the usual visual panache – red gradually replacing yellow as the main colour. And setting the climactic chase and shootout in a multistorey carpark is perhaps a little quotidian.

What happens round the edges of the main plot, though, is more interesting: Dugdale has taken the apparently untameable Grant in, but Dugdale’s wife seems to be the Grant Whisperer, although this in its way makes Grant even creepier; Becky (“Molecular chemistry’s a tricky fucker”) runs out of Thoraxin, although it turns out to be a moreish blend of opiates and caffeine, rather than a wonderdrug; Jessica plays dirty to try and get Ian; and just about every interaction carried with it the brooding threat of extreme violence.

Perhaps the real story, though, is the final conversion of Wilson from the person we saw in the first episode into – well, the new Mr Rabbit. (Ew.) He’s managed to find a “moral” way of seeing the Network’s plan through, and he’s prepared to kill in order to secure what he now envisions as the only way forward for humanity. This leads to an ending which, unlike season 1’s, very much opens the door to the further seasons writer Dennis Kelly wants. He might not get his way – viewing figures haven’t been quite as good as Channel 4 would have hoped, perhaps because season 2 hasn’t been quite as good as season 1. Although the first episode still stands as one of the best things I’ve seen all year.

Categories: TV, Utopia
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