Thursday, July 19, 2012

Emmy Nominations 2012: The more things change, the more they stay the same

The 2012 Emmy nominations have been announced, and everyone thought that this was the year things would change.  This was supposed to be the year when the Emmy board actually watched television and would be able to make appropriate ballots.

Of course, this did not happen.  Because it's a lot easier to read the names of eligible shows and actors than to actually do your research.

"Boardwalk Empire" (HBO)
"Breaking Bad" (AMC)
"Downton Abbey" (PBS)
"Game of Thrones" (HBO)
"Homeland" (Showtime)
"Mad Men" (AMC)

Not a bad list at all.  This is the first time in recent memory that not a single network show made the list (unless you count PBS's Downton Abbey), and to be fair, there were no network shows that deserved to be on this list.  I would remove Downton Abbey and replace it with Justified, though, and the only other possible addition would be Luck, which was hurt by all those horse deaths during filming.  My pick goes to Breaking Bad for this category, although Game of Thrones would delight me as well.

Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in "Boardwalk Empire"
Bryan Cranston as Walter White in "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in "Dexter"
Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham in "Downton Abbey"
Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody in "Homeland"
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in "Mad Men"

Again, not too much to argue with here, with the very notable exception of Timothy Olyphant from Justified.  Michael C. Hall, whom I would've had no problem on this list in the first 3 seasons, is a tired nomination and one that seems boring and lazy to me.  Any time someone plays a character named Robert, Earl of Grantham has to lead to a nomination.  I believe that's a rule in the Emmys.  I'd give this to Jon Hamm.

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes in "Damages"
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in "Downton Abbey"
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in "The Good Wife"
Kathy Bates as Harriet Korn in "Harry's Law"
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in "Homeland"
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in "Mad Men"

This is Claire Danes' award.  Nothing else need be said.

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in "Breaking Bad"
Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo 'Gus' Fring "Breaking Bad"
Brendan Coyle as John Bates in "Downton Abbey"
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in "Downton Abbey"
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in "Game of Thrones"
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce "Mad Men"

Still too much love for Downton Abbey for my liking, and not enough for Justified.  With all apologies to Aaron Paul, there was nothing better than a scene with Walton Goggin's Boyd Crowder.  Let alone one with him and Raylan Givens.   I think Giancarlo Esposito gets this.

Anna Gunn as Skyler White in "Breaking Bad"
Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham in "Downton Abbey"
Joanne Froggatt as Anna in "Downton Abbey"
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma in "The Good Wife"
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart in "The Good Wife"
Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway Harris in "Mad Men"

When Fox did their Sarah Connor Chronicles, one of the worst things about the show was Lena Headey as the title character.  Now that she is perfectly embodying Cersei Lannister, her snub from this list is just plain wrong.  I'm sure all those people do a fine job, but no one plays evil and conniving better than Headey does right now.  I'm sure Maggie Smith gets this because everyone has heard of her.  But Anna Gunn should.

Stay tune for a breakdown of the reprehensible comedy categories, where genius is not recognized.  And Ron Swanson is not happy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Life Lessons with Television Shows

Love is in the air.  And on the air.

And wouldn't you know it, it's easy to fall in love, it happens all the time, and it happens to everyone.  But of course, there is no right way to fall in love, and everyone has a different story.

Take The Bachelorette for instance.  She has the benefit of falling in love with not one, not two, but THREE different men at the same time.  And this is honest to goodness real love we're talking about here, not the type of love that lasts only until a reunion show.  Most women don't ever find the real true love that current star Emily Maynard found with three men (now 2, that third love wasn't really a love apparently.  Not like the realness of the other 2).

To be fair, though, Emily never thought it would be possible to truly love different guys at one time.  This all came about through numerous make out sessions, tv interviews and intimate dates with Emily, a guy, a camera man, a sound man, a guy holding a boom mic, a director and a helicopter pilot.  Also a magician was there.

It was so easy to fall in love for Emily, as she was able to fully commit herself to one guy, and then the next day, fully commit herself to another.  Who needs intimacy when you have a hot tub with 5 guys in it?  Clearly you can learn all there is to know about someone while kissing his friend.

And if you think that Emily has it easy, just talk to Kody Brown.  Emily got to date multiple men, but Kody actually got to marry multiple women!  Imagine that, he had so much love to give, he was able to fully give himself to 4 different women!  Most men only have one self to give to one women, but not Kody!  He has 4 selves, which has to be the case because he has given his whole self to 4 different women, so he must be the most loving person alive.  God only has 3 persons.  Think of that!

Kody doesn't trivialize marriage at all, he doesn't make a mockery out of love.  I'm sure it's easy for his multiple wives to raise their children without him every day, I'm sure they enjoy knowing he's with some other woman that night.  I'm sure they enjoyed dancing at his wedding to his 4th wife, knowing he was going to the honeymoon suite with a new wife.  That's the kind of stuff that makes a family stronger, without a doubt.

It's easy to make jokes about how much harder it is for Kody, because when he gets one wife mad, he has four women mad at him.  But come on, it must be so easy on the kids knowing their dad is going to be home once every 4 nights.  That's the ideal way to raise a family, right?

Polygamy has been around since the dawn of time, and so it must be the preferred way to have a family.  Just like the preferred way to get a wife is to club her on the head and then show her a fire.

The nice thing about having multiple wives, as well, is that you never have to address any problems you have.  You can just let conflicts fester and grow under the surface and let resentment crop up, so that conversations you have are biting and filled with vitriol.  This is exceptionally healthy, as is letting the kids see you act like this.  Then they can bring this same idea to their marriage.

And from everything else we see on television, love is also equivalent to sex.  Once a couple loves each other, or say they love each other, the next natural step is to have sex with them.  Or, on the flip side, as soon as a couple has sex (usually after the first time they meet) they say they love each other.  It's so easy!

The bottom line is that love has become an excuse to do so much more.  Love was not created as a reason or a free pass.  You need to work at love, you need to sacrifice for love, you need to give someone, some one person, your entire life.  Love is when you would give everything you have and everything you are in order to make someone else happy.  Truly happy, the happiness that we share with God.

Reality shows are generally not designed to show us how love should be, they are designed as entertainment.  The problem arises when people who don't have love or know love begin to believe this is how it works.  Reality shows are strange entertainment, designed to tell a story that appeals to the masses, if only to give us the chance to judge the contestants and think about our own lives.

Love is a beautiful thing when it is done properly, when it is done the way Christ taught us and the Church has upheld.  Someone should make a show that follows a family around, a real family, one that eats together, talks together, reads my blog together, and then in the end, stays together.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

REVIEW: Anger Management

FX - Thursday 9:30/8:30c

Charlie Sheen's breakup with CBS was much publicized, as was his meltdown that led to said breakup.  So it makes sense that the first 30 seconds of his new FX show, Anger Management, would feature him yelling at the camera about replacing him and moving on with the show.  This was of course not really a work, but rather took place in the context of his group therapy session, and was a clever breaking the 4th wall that was expected yet still amusing.

The rest of the show was not as amusing.

1.  Does it entertain me?
Let me preface this review by saying that I generally like Charlie Sheen.  Hot Shots is excellent parody, Major League still makes me laugh, and he shows acting chops in both Platoon and Wall Street.  But I find everything about Two and a Half Men abysmal, and I would not have cared if Sheen ever returned to television.

But he did, because he's still a big draw for sit-com audiences, and I'm sure Anger Management will be with us for a while.  That's mostly because the humor is crude and sex-filled, and that appeals to many of FX's target demographic.

I think what's sad here is that Charlie Sheen once again plays a character named Charlie, and his comic timing is not put to good use here.  I don't know if he will ever be an Emmy winning performer, but I can't be alone in wishing that he would do an intelligent comedy, something on HBO or anything without a laugh track.  If he wants to play a fictionalized version of himself, ala Extras or Episodes, that is something that would be welcome.

As it stands, though, this is another forgettable comedy that will stay on the air for a few years and make money.

2.  Is it realistic?
The situations seem fine, but there are no real people involved.  The characters are shallow and one-dimensional and exist to get a laugh only.  That is the ultimate problem with these kinds of shows: character sit on couches in order to get a laugh, and remain there for the entire series.  There is no motivation, no development, and no real purpose or underlying theme.

3.  Are immoral actions defended?
All the time.  Every joke is sexually based, and they can get quite dirty for a non-HBO show.  It's uncomfortable and shameful that there wasn't one single joke the entire pilot episode that was not about sex.

4.  Are traditional family values upheld?
Charlie (the character and the actor) is in bed with a woman, and they have just finished having sex, and he joyfully promises that he will never love her, because the sex is so good.  This is the coke-riddled world of Charlie Sheen: sex and love not only can be separated, but they should be separated.  In fact, genuine love would just get in the way of sex.  Which is probably why he was on a drug bender not too long ago.

Don Draper said it best, after Pete Campbell had just slept with a college girl: "Roger is unhappy.  I never thought you were."
Anger Management is another example of wasted talent and sex jokes for the sake of sex jokes.  It's not funny but it will be popular, because that's the way the world works.  But there are better shows out there (just turn on NBC on Thursdays) and you should be spending your time with them.

Grade: C-