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Television Rundown: Qualler's Emmy Nominations (Which End Up Becoming A Long and Rambling Way Of Saying Breaking Bad Is Awesome)

Dudes and dudettes! It's summer! And, although The Blogulator certainly gives its own awards at the end of the year, it's time to start the debate for what has to be at least the third m0st h0tly debated awards show of the year behind the Oscars and the Golden Globes: the Emmys. And although Emmy nominations don't come out until mid-July, I'm gonna go out of my way and make all the necessary nominations, trim the Emmy categories down to five nominations instead of the six or seven they seem to go with these days, and take the drama and suspense out of what is at least the third most dramatic and suspenseful awards show out there. For the interest of not caring about supporting actor and actress nominations for dramas and in recognition that comedies work mostly because they are ensembles, and in the interest in knowing that The Pacific is the only miniseries/movie of the year that matters (and, it's umbelievably great, so give it all those awards necessary), I have narrowed the categories down to four: Best Drama, Best Actor in a Drama, Best Actress in a Drama, and Best Comedy Series.

Drama: Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, Lost, Treme, Breaking Bad

Mad Men is the obvious choice for Best Drama for the TV season, which in its third season crafted the pitch-perfect television season, creating memorable singular episodes ("Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency") and powerful climactic moments (Don Draper calling his wife Betty a whore). But, that's kinda boring to give the Best Drama award to the same show three years in a row, isn't it? Sons of Anarchy is a bundle of nerves, alternating violent outbursts with tender character moments. Lost might have in retrospect mislead viewers a little bit this season, but in the end made me think and replay its moments in my head more than any series has since the end of The Sopranos. (Definitely in a good way.) Treme has a lot to live up to, being the follow-up to The Wire, and while its inaugural season has yet to finish, is slowly but surely building its credentials as another David Simon masterpiece. And Breaking Bad deftly combines the memorable moments of Mad Men with the teeth-clenching dramatic tension of Sons of Anarchy while adding a spectacular visual touch both in cinematography and in visual symbolism. Pretty much, it's the perfect TV show.

Qualler's winner: Lost, but only because of how much the final season has stayed in my brain. If upon finishing Breaking Bad season three replaces that spot in my brain, then Breaking Bad is the definite winner.

Actor, Drama: Timothy Olyphant, Justified, Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, Michael C. Hall, Dexter, Terry O'Quinn, Lost, Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

That's right, Jon Hamm isn't even NOMINATED in this category. Yes, I think his acting job in the third season of Mad Men was respectable, maybe even downright good. But, these five dudes are so many kinds of awesome that it's not even fair. Olyphant, Cranston, and Hall basically carry their respective series on their backs (though, to be fair, Olyphant and Cranston benefit from being on extremely well-written shows and Hall is by far the most magnetic part of a show that has become more-or-less hit or miss. In case I didn't make the point strongly enough just now -- Olyphant is really, really awesome in Justified.) Terry O'Quinn, as Locke/Flocke/Smokey/Sideways Locke has the ability to bring me to tears just by giving that little Locke smile he gives. And, he's got to get major props for being so able to shift from Sideways Locke to Smokey Locke in adjoining scenes and still be able to tell me who is currently on the screen. Meanwhile, Breaking Bad is fantastic in its writing, and its acting, but it totally works even better with Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Walter White's (Cranston) constantly striving sidekick. As Walter White continues to do terrible things, one cannot help but totally feel for Jesse, the most sympathetic meth-cooking young adult in television history.

Qualler's winner: Bryan Cranston. Who would have predicted in 2002 that the dad from Malcolm in the Middle would become the star of the best show on TV, about a chemistry teacher turned meth cooker?

Actress, Drama: Khandi Alexander, Treme, Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy, Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men, Chloe Sevigney, Big Love, Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

For some idiotic reason, Alexander, Sagal, Moss, and Sevigney are all classified as "supporting" actresses in the official Emmy ballot, which makes no sense to me. They're all arguably main characters on each of their shows. Another reason the supporting acting category should just be zapped. No matter, though. Alexander is absolutely awesome as the strong-minded, tough Ladonna Batiste-Williams. Sagal is incredible as the strong-minded, tough, and vulnerable Gemma. Moss, the career woman who is, yes, strong-minded, tough, and vulnerable. (Am I a sexist?) Sevigney, meanwhile, was one of the only good things about the fourth season of Big Love, including her charge that the fourth season was "horrible" (in retrospect, it definitely was). And whether you dislike or flat-out hate Skylar White (played by Anna Gunn) in Breaking Bad (I personally actually like her character), Gunn plays the hell out of her character. And whaddya know? She would actually be nominated as a Lead Actress, which actually makes sense. Good job, Emmy voters.

Qualler's winner: My head says Khandi Alexander as the representative of Treme and its stellar cast, but my heart says Anna Gunn and her superb overall performance. If Lost taught me anything, it's to follow my heart. Anna Gunn, you are my winner.

Comedy: Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Party Down, Better Off Ted, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

All five of these shows (including the dearly departed Better Off Ted) work as excellent ensemble comedies, with the common thread that they all contain some relatively sane people, and some spectacuarly insane people (okay, I'm having a hard time thinking of anybody sane on Sunny). Modern Family re-defined the Frasier category of sitcoms, proving that sitcoms can be highly intelligent and goofy even if they are multi-camera shows not shot in front of a studio audience / laff-track. Curb, while occasionally hitting some dry spells in its most recent season, still has the ability to be explosively funny, which it was for most of the season. Party Down, meanwhile, benefits from what is probably the best cast in terms of working together on TV. Better Off Ted was delightfully insane and a much better workplace comedy than either of those other two workplace comedies on NBC, and Sunny was nothing more than delightfully insane. I haven't seen Parks & Recreation or Community but if I did I'd probably put those on here, too. Meanwhile, I have finally seen DoktorPeace's point on Glee and removed it from the DVR rotation. The "back nine" episodes to the first season, from what I've seen, are exactly as I predicted from a drama by Ryan Murphy: overstuffed with pointlessness and malnourished in the plot movement category.

Qualler's winner: Modern Family, which was the most consistent and endearing comedy of the television season, gets the slight edge over Curb.

So, Blogureaders, what is your dream Emmy ballot for the recently ended TV season?

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  1. Blogger chris | 10:05 AM |  

    Yay I love dreaming up nominees/winners!

    Here's my ballot based on your nominees, keeping in mind I've only seen 2 eps of Treme:

    Mad Men (possibly Sons of Anarchy next year), O'Quinn (Olyphant next year), Sagal (hands down), Party Down (come over and watch S2!!!)

    And yes, I'd prolly replace Ted and Sunny (though I love both) w/ Community and Parks & Rec, though Party Down still wins by a landslide.

  2. Blogger qualler | 12:12 PM |  

    Yeah I've definitely gotta watch S2 with you. Don't know if this affects your ballot at all but the Emmy TV season runs from June 2009 through May 31, 2010 -- I assume that means you thought S3 of Mad Men was better than S2 of Sons but possibly S3 of Sons will be better than S4 of MM? Man, I love voting for this stuff.

  3. Blogger qualler | 12:21 PM |  

    Alan Sepinwall has broken down the Television Critics Association nominations which just came out, which actually do throw out the Lead vs. Supporting categories!


  4. Blogger qualler | 12:25 PM |  

    I should also point out that I almost included a lot of Parenthood on this list. Brigitte and I finished the first season last night, and the show really went from "Huh, that's a good show to have on in the background" to "Hey! This is actually a good show!" by the end of its run. Dax Shephard fo' life!

  5. Blogger chris | 5:22 PM |  

    "S3 of Mad Men was better than S2 of Sons but possibly S3 of Sons will be better than S4 of MM."

    This is correct, though it was very close, especially with SoA using that Don Caballero song in the penultimate ep.

    Those TCA noms are nummy. I wish the Emmys were like that.

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