Entries in TV (233)
Someone needs to have a long talk with Amazon about trying to compete with Netflix and the like with their original programming. Very first step (once you have content) is to make it accessible and advertise it. Advertise it AT LEAST on your own website where you have millions of shoppers. I'm a good case study. Ever since speaking with Dana Delany, a guest star here last month, I've been eager to see her new pilot that she and I talked about offline "Hand of God". I go to Amazon a lot and I've been wondering when advertisements would pop up for it and they never did. I had to search for it specificially and then once I was searching I had to instinctively know to click on a very small ad that said "Amazon Pilots" above the actual search results that showed me old attempts at original programming. They produced five new show possibilities but will any of them go to series if people don't know where to watch them?
Get it together Amazon or you're never going to be able to compete with Netflix!
For what it's worth, Hand of God was a gripping hour of television if, and this is an important caveat, you can stomach one more antihero show. (There are just so many of them). Ron Perlman stars and gets a pretty great 'WTF who/what is this?' opening scene for both a character and the pilot itself, beginning as it does with him naked in water, speaking in tongues. Turns out he's a very powerful judge who is losing it and whose son is in a coma. The Judge believes God is speaking to him and ordering him on a vengeance mission. We meet a ton of characters, none of whom appear to be entirely trustworthy.
Cons: Some of the expository bits were clunky (as they often are in pilots) and there was one subplot too many for a first hour. There are dozens of ways it could go wrong, mostly with overstatement; the Hand of God ministries scenes felt way too easy with immoral con-artist smarminess. Pros: But, that said, the pilot was well-acted stuff with at least two absolutely discomfiting and psychologically explosive scenes that manage to mess with multiple character's psyches. If the show continues it should look to the electric tension between the core family members (Perlman, Delany and Alona Tal as their daughter in law) and readjust the simplistic extremes of the peripheries. Film director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, World War Z, Finding Neverland) produced and directed and it's the kind of pilot that wisely whets the appetite while also feeling like a full chapter. The best reason to give it a try is the cast: Perlman is memorably unpredictable, Delany simmers with barely-veiled contempt, and among the supporting actors there's the always watchable Garret Dillahunt as a volatile born-again convict and Emayatzy Corinealdi (so great recently in Middle of Nowhere) as a high-priced call girl.
Hand of God and four more pilots (including one collegiate comedy starring "Assjuice" himself, Craig Roberts from this summer's Neighbors) are available for viewing now at Amazon. If in the Emmy aftermath, if you're ready for the new Fall TV season, have at them. As for myself, I'm so eager to get back to movies but August has been dull in that regard. Come rescue me, Fall Prestige Season, I need you!
Well hear we are the day after the 66th Emmy Awards... or was it the 65th? or 62nd? or 60? It gets so hard to tell what with their refusal to spread the wealth. This number may not be 100% accurate but from my rough calculations anyone/anything who won Emmys last night had, on average, two previous statues.
No matter how great any one performance or show is, is it seems downright criminal to only honor that one thing. Think of how many people couldn't have Emmys for acting because of, say, Bryan Cranston's 5 statues for Walter White. I wish more voters would think of it that way. There's no argument among anybody who has watched it, even off and on like myself, that he didn't do great work but is his work 5 times greater than Jon Hamm's best work as Don Draper? 3 times greater than Michael C Hall's work as Dexter? And so on. He would have also prevented Kyle Chandler from that awesome tearjerking Friday Night Lights win had he been eligible that year. You just can't tell me his work is more valuable than all of those men combined and his Emmy run blocked so many gifted actors from winning television's top honor. Same with Aaron Paul (3 statues) and Allison Janney (6 statues, 4 from one role). Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a slightly different case. She's a stellar performer (great in every series she's been in) but three statues is more than enough for the same performance especially when it means Amy Poehler's genius continues to go unrewarded. Yet at least Julia's 5 statues are distributed across 3 roles.
When you obsessively award one person over and over for the same performance you're really saying that nobody else in town is remotely of their calibre which is a depressing way to judge artistry, which is so subjective and has room for multiple conceptions of "Best". But perhaps the problem is in the voting process. (According to Gold Derby at least, voters rank the performances and whoever has the lowest score (i.e. you want first and second finishes, means that if you're everyone's second favorite you will probably win each and every year since the slightly more divisive series won't stand a chance. This could also explain why Modern Family just continues to hog Emmys though most critics think its glory days are long behind it. Maybe it's everyone's #2 and their number #1s are all over the place.)
Though Emmy night wasn't at all interesting (I am reminded why I have never watched it religiously) the Emmy season was with all the controversies. For months there's been heated divisive arguments about Broadcast vs. Cable and whether they should be in direct competition. Official word is "we're not going to go there," that they'll never split up the categories. But couldn't some of the results in part have been about network TV actors finally rallying and saying 'enough with online and cable!' HBO still led in actual wins but it had very few televised wins so most of its triumphs were in the non-marquee categories. And Netflix, which has brought so much energy to the TV game, tanked. Orange is the New Black, easily one of the best and most-obsessed-over shows on TV, only managed two wins, neither of them televised.
Herewith my proposal on how to fix the Emmys, to prevent all the controversial gaming of the system and the relentless repetition which does no service to an industry enjoying a lot of Golden Age goodwill. Every week on the internet you read about some new great achievement in television and everyone's top tens look different and people are just so excited with all that's on offer and every year at the Emmys the picture they present to the world is. 'We only make a few good shows. Sorry bout it.'
Proposed Rule Fixes
- No category hopping. Once you've submitted one way, you can't pretend you've become something else.
- Seriously consider best half hour series and best hour series instead of Drama vs. Comedy because nearly all the best work in any artform has both dramatic substance and a sense of humor. Orange is the New Black is hilarious but people kept being mad that it was placed in comedy because its drama is so effective.
- If your name is in the opening credits you MAY NOT submit as a "guest" -- this is supposedly the guideline right now but very few actors follow it if they think they have a better shot at "guest." If you are in every episode, even if you're not in the opening credits, you MAY NOT submit as a "guest."
- Cap of three wins for any performance of the same role.
- Strict rules on number of episodes you must produce to qualify as anything other than a miniseries. I personally think the rule should be 10. How are shows with only 7 episodes competing in series?
What do you think would help fix the Emmys?
P.S. Here are my personal awards for last night's show
Best Duo: Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Bryan Cranston
Best Sports: The Mad Men actors who will complete this historic series with none of them ever having won for their terrific complex creations. And yet they show every year and smile and even endure the jokes about it now.
Classier Than It Often Is: In Memoriam
Dependably Funny Person Who Was Amazingly Funny: Amy Poehler
Dependably Funny Person Who Was Not at all Funny: Sarah Silverman
Most Ubiquitous Color: Orange (skin) vs Red (dresses)
Most Awesome Loser Reaction: Julia Roberts
Most Depressing Loser Reaction: Cicely Tyson
Best Dressed: Lizzy Caplan
Hottest Arm Candy: Julianna Marguiles husband. In perpetuity.
Most Annoying Emmy Obsession: Seriously why even have a Reality category if you consistently ignore the really creative ones (hello RuPaul's Drag Race) and just hand The Amazing Race the prize ever year. 10 wins! Ridiculous
Most Satisfying Win: None. The closest would be The Normal Heart which I liked (but didn't love)
Happy Realization: There is room for at least a smidgeon of movement in next year's Best Drama races since Breaking Bad will be gone from all categories.
Bitter Realization: That won't help the repetitive factor in Comedy since Modern Family is still with us and still winning... and not just in the top category.
New EGOTs: None. And people we thought might edge closer (Julia, Cicely & Matthew) did not.
Photo that perfectly sums up Emmy night via Lena Dunham & Instagram
Here's Adam Armstrong and me on the series finale of True Blood. My comments after Adam's -Nathaniel
One thing you should know about me: I am a pro-rationalizer. I don’t enjoy disliking things, especially when it comes to movies and TV shows. So many people, so much hard work, so on and so forth. Take for example, this one time, on the way home from seeing the third Paranormal Activity movie. I was so invested in the series I went to every midnight showing. I loved them. And then that movie played its final 20 mins, and it was fucking garbage. It was the American Horror Story: Coven of movies before Coven was even around.* Seriously, was Ryan Murphy a creative consultant for the ending of that movie? But, still, on that ride home, ridden with disappointment and rage, I clung to one aspect of the movie I liked in order to forcibly admire it. “BUT, THAT ROTATING FAN SHOT, RIGHT?!”
However, some train wrecks are beyond extreme and unreasonable rationalization. As you damn well know, I was more than liking this season, especially when evaluated on the True Blood grading curve. But what the actual fuck True Blood? [more...]