Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Responding to the 2014 Emmy nominees

So, the Emmy nominees for this season have quite literally just finished being announced. I haven’t gotten around to checking much by way of a response from Twitter beyond all of the bitter Orphan Black fans voicing their outrage; posting pictures of themselves giving the finger to their laptops (which are showing the nominee announcement stream) and texts from my brother, the best of which has to be “NO GOOD WIFE IN SERIES, FUCK THAT.” Which is indeed rather accurate. (should I, like use the stars – * – to censor the swearing? I dunno, do people swear on blog posts?)

In that traditional awards season fashion of getting to work on the post-mortem analysis before the body is cold, I figure I’ll get to work on my responses and some analysis of the nominees. Be warned; there will be quite a bit of subjectivity from here on out.

Outstanding Drama Series
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Mad Men” (AMC)
“True Detective” (HBO)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)

I think the real surprise here is the continued presence of Downton Abbey; I’d have thought that with strong freshman shows like Masters of Sex, and the stellar form that The Good Wife was on this year, that something would have toppled it. On the topic of The Good Wife, I can’t help but be shocked – and personally appalled – at its omission from the category. It would’ve been nice to see Masters of Sex here too, but that was always something of an outside pick.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom” (HBO)
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” (Netflix)
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Matthew McConaughey, “True Detective” (HBO)
Woody Harrelson, “True Detective” (HBO)

If I were to predict this category, the only person on this list that I wouldn’t have chosen would Daniels; I mean, I appreciate that his being the returning winner is a factor, and he was solid in the second season, but it became more ensemble focused and he really didn’t get material to tear into like last year. Drama actor really is a two horse race though; ever since True Detective moved to Drama Series it became one; Cranston on McConaughey? My money is on McConaughey, and he’s my personal pick too.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Claire Danes, “Homeland” (Showtime)
Robin Wright, “House of Cards” (Netflix)
Kerry Washington, “Scandal” (ABC)
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Lizzy Caplan, “Masters of Sex” (Showtime)

Quite a lot of this is, I suppose, business as usual between Danes, Dockery and Wright (with House of Cards getting an increased amount of love this year, although quite why that is continues to baffle me.) and, perhaps to the surprise of some – myself included – the return of Kerry Washington, who I just thought appeared based on Scandal‘s hype last year; I may need to get around to watching it at some point. On the more interesting end of the spectrum are Caplan, and Margulies returning, both of which absolutely thrill me, they’re both wonderful and it’s great to see their work recognised.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Jon Voight, “Ray Donovan”
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland” (Showtime)
Josh Charles, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)

Jon Voight? Really? I tried Ray Donovan; I watched four episodes, five at the most and just thought it was a cheap West Coast attempt at being The Sopranos. How it managed to get here baffles me when the likes of John Slattery and Matt Czuchry are left by the wayside. And again, Downton Abbey’s ability to hang on to award nominations borders on the miraculous. In terms of Breaking Bad, nobody is surprised that Aaron Paul got in, but the omission of Dean Norris (the better of the two supporting actors the show produced that year) can’t help but leave a bad taste in the mouth. Also, Josh Charles got in, and really, that’s all that matters.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)

So, here we have a mix of an “old guard” of sorts, actresses like Baranski and Hendricks and Maggie Smith who have been getting nominated for pretty much the entirety of their shows runs, returning winner Anna Gunn (who, for my money, doesn’t have the tape to win this year, even if my love for ‘Rabid Dog’ is well known) and the “rape as drama” contingent of Froggatt and Heady. It feels like it could be quite an open race, unless the Academy just tick the box for Breaking Bad if just for the fact it continues to exist. I can’t really complain about this list because of my love for Mad Men and The Good Wife and Skyler as a character, but it would’ve been nice to see Kiernan Shipka, who had her strongest season yet as Sally Draper – and a slew of one liners to boot – sneak in.

Outstanding Comedy Series

“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
“Louie” (FX)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“Veep” (HBO)
“Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)

The new blood is what’s interesting here. I mean, I am trying to watch Orange is the New Black – just as it’s trying me – but I find it deathly dull, I must admit. I’m thrilled that Silicon Valley got in, but frankly, the Academy really needed to step up its game in relation to some of the strong freshman shows; I mean, Silicon Valley is one of them, sure, but the lack of love for Brooklyn Nine Nine and Broad City can’t help but leave me feeling a little bitter.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies” (Showtime)
Louis C.K., “Louie” (FX)
William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Showtime)
Ricky Gervais, “Derek” (Netflix)

Much of the categories in general seem to be as expected with the odd surprise, although sometimes the surprises are the people that stay, as in the case of Matt LeBlanc. I couldn’t finish Episodes this year, I just didn’t think it was good and I thought it was LeBlanc’s weakest year. The appearance of Gervais irks me if just because I don’t like him as a comedian and Derek, for my money, looks pretty awful. William H. Macy, an actor I adore in a show I unfortunately haven’t seen, on the other hand, is nice to see, and it’s pretty clear that Shameless switching categories was good for its award chances.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Melissa McCarthy, “Mike & Molly” (CBS)
Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black”

This is pretty much how I would have predicted the category, but without McCarthy, probably with Shameless’ Emmy Rosum or something instead. Again, I can’t help but be a bit indifferent about Schilling, given I’m not really a fan of her show. If I were a betting man, I’d say JLD wins again for Veep, but I’m a dreamer, so I’m hoping Dunham or Falco can win.

 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver, “Girls” (HBO)
Jessie Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Fred Armisen, “Portlandia” (IFC)
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Tony Hale, “Veep” (HBO)
Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)

Here we see the gradual disappearance of Modern Family in acting categories, which is interesting for the fact that it was so strong this year, and the people that disappeared are interesting; I always considered Jessie Tyler Ferguson to be perpetually the most vulnerable of the men in the cast. Really though, the one thing that, for me, overshadows everything else in this category is the presence of Andre Braugher, who was superb in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and it’s great to see him get in, if just because it means that the exceptional cast has one representative.

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)

Only looking at this now do I notice that Merritt Wever didn’t get in, but again, we see the gradual decline of Modern Family, with Vergara – finally – dropping off, given she’s the weakest member of the show’s ensemble I’m surprised she hung on for as long as she did. Other than that, there’s Janney, who I’m thrilled about (and she also got in for Guest Actress – Drama for her turn in Masters of Sex) and Kate Mulgrew, who I’m indifferent about.

 

The writing/direction tapes don’t seem available yet, but I’ll respond to them as I see them, and post my personal ballot later down the line. In terms of guest acting, I didn’t pay too much attention to them, but it was nice to see Dylan Baker get in again, and of course, my indifference rose in magnitude after a slew of OitNB actresses got in to guest for comedy.

 

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Casting the classics – The Picture of Dorian Gray

I recently saw a very strange, postmodern adaptation of a Jacobean tragedy play called The Changeling (no relation to the Eastwood movie), and there was something about it, perhaps just how out there it was, that’s inspired me to do this new feature. Plus, it’s always nice to have something to break up just regular articles and reviews.

As the title of the piece suggests, it’s all about how I would cast classics (books, plays etc.), and this time, I’m looking at The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Since I know it rather well, I can cast the principle roles with confidence, and I’ll be doing so in order of their significance, leaving the most important ones until last.

And so, without further ado, here is how I would cast the principle roles in adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Kirsten Dunst as Sibyl Vane

I’ll admit that I’m casting an actress who’s a fair way older than the character she’d be playing (Sibyl is about 18 in the novel if my memory serves me right), in fact, she’d be about the same age as the person I have in mind for Dorian.

But there’s something about her, and her performance in Melancholia that I think really shows hat she’d be able to portray the fragility and desire of a young woman who falls desperately in love with the enigmatic Dorian.

Alife Allen as Basil Hallward

This piece of casting is a little difficult to explain. Allen is of course excellent as the treacherous and power hungry Theon in the wonderful Game of Thrones, but that character of course, is nothing like the reserved, delicate painter from Dorian Gray.

However, just looking at Allen, the way his build and how he looks aesthetically, I just associate him with Basil, and I think, seeing his talent in ….Thrones, that he’d be more than capable of tackling the material, particularly given how far removed Basil is from Theon Greyjoy.

Jared Harris as Lord Henry

I loved Harris in Mad Men, I thought he was wonderful, and deserved to win the Emmy that was tragically taken away from him.

Simply put, he’d be fantastic as Henry, he can play the reserved and calculating man with such ease, as he slowly corrupts the eponymous hero, but the range that Harris can bring to the table would perhaps allow Lord Henry to be a little more humanized  for want of better phrasing, as it’s easy for him to be seen as being pure evil.

Also, Henry is more than just a force of quiet corruption, he is the antithesis of Basil, hedonistic and a lover of life in more ways than one, Harris could bring this out easily, as well as that quiet resentment that festers in Henry, as he can only look on, aging, while Dorian retains his youth.

 

And now, last, but certainly not least:

 

Dan Stevens as Dorian Gray

First off, there’s an aesthetic reason behind it. Dorian is blonde, and so, obviously, is Dan Stevens (Ben Barnes, who played Dorian in the last adaptation, wasn’t, but I really shouldn’t go on about that woeful film right now), and in looking at Dan Stevens, he, to me at least, looks perfect for Dorian.

Then there’s his acting. I’ll admit that I’ve only seen him in Downton Abbey, but I’ll be damned if he’s not excellent in it, he shows great range, from romance to rage, his ability to perform is not in question here.

Dorian is of course, a little more like Basil at the beginning of the play, before becoming gradually more corrupted by Henry, and later, by sin in general, as the story progresses, and Stevens could really do some good work with that material, showing his range in greater detail, as he tragically falls from grace.

 

So, am I right wrong? Who would you pick instead. and what do you think of my choices? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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