One Emmy Voter’s Ballot: Writing in a Drama Series

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  • helmetz
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    #353658

    Now that the Emmy voting process takes place online, I take it on faith that all Emmy ballots are in the capable hands of Ernst and Young, so I think I can finally reveal how I voted on my Emmy ballot for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series.  First of all, thank you all as always for your suggestions and your passion in sharing your favorite drama scripts.  I could not have voted the way I have without your input.

    As an intro for newbies, here’s my preparation process.  I try to carve out a weekend after the eligible ballot entries are announced, though it rarely works out to be only one weekend.  I review the suggestions that you all have made and put the most passionately mentioned titles at the top of the pile. I try to watch as many episodes as I can back-to-back-to-back so that it’s easier to compare the strengths and weaknesses of the contenders.

    In this phase, the voting is not preferential.  You just have to list the five drama scripts that most impressed you this year.  Since the ballot entries are listed alphabetically by series, so are the five scripts as listed on my ballot.

    BETTER CALL SAUL – “Five-0”
    In this freshman season of “Better Call Saul,” “Five-0” stands out among the season’s other episodes, not just because of the quality of writing, but of the script’s tone.   Not a Jimmy-centered epsode, it is instead the backstory of “Breaking Bad’s” cleaner Mike Ehrmantraut, as he arrives in Albuquerque to reconcile the death of his cop son Matty with his widow Stacey.  Gordon Smith’s beautifully-layered script begins as a mystery that Mike needs to solve to his shattering revelation, in the episode’s lengthy climax, of his own culpability in the matter.  And don’t get me started on how I love Jonathan Banks.

    THE GOOD WIFE – “Oppo Research”
    The script for “Oppo Research” is a beaut.  Eli is trying to sell potential campaign manager Johnny Elfman on the viability of Alicia as a candidate for State Attorney.  Johnny wants to test Alicia by seeing how she reacts to a huge stack of opposition research on her which could potentially be used against her by rival candidates.  She pours herself another glass of wine, and we’re off.  The Kings’ script provide Margulies with a terrific showcase, as they reveal secret after secret, lie after lie, betrayal after betrayal by the people closest to Alicia.  With a deliberate pace punctuated by crackling dialogue, this is one of the year’s best scripts.

    JUSTIFIED – “The Promise”
    “Justified” has long been noted for some of the trickiest yet precise dialogue of any series, and the series finale was no exception.  With so much unfinished business still to be resolved, series writers Graham Yost, Fred Golan, Dave Andron and Benjamin Cavell know that the heart of this series are Raylan, Boyd and Ava.  Tellingly, the writers bring them together not in the expected shootout, but in a deeper, more complex way that brings their stories to a satisfying close.  And that’s the best way to describe any series finale.  “The Promise” is satisfying.

    MAD MEN – “Person to Person”
    The phrase “person to person” doesn’t only refer to the three phone calls made by Don — to his daughter, his dying wife and to Peggy.  But it is only Peggy who gives him the hope that perhaps he hasn’t lost his home — the agency — when Don tearfully pours out all of his sins to his colleague.  Perhaps Don really is cleansed and can begin relating to people again, person to person.  That enigmatic smile that is our final glimpse of Don, however, suggests maybe not.  The old Don Draper may be back, only this time under the guise of “perfect harmony.”  Matthew Weiner’s final script works on so many levels, which is the only way that “Mad Men” should go out.

    MASTERS OF SEX – “Fight”
    Aside from an evocative B-story in which a baby is born with the genitalia of both a boy and a girl, “Fight” is basically a two-hander.  Or maybe a three-hander — Bill, Gini and a television set showing a live prize fight.  Dressed in hotel robes, they are anxious to get the night going, but the evening takes an emotional turn when secrets, desires and emotional pain are exchanged between the two.  They bob and weave, trying to avoid the other one’s potential painful emotional jabs.  The outcome of the battle, both on the TV and in the hotel room, is always in doubt until the final surprising revelation.  Amy Lippman’s script has an emotional surprise in the every round, and it pays off handsomely.

    I truly have no idea which five scripts will be named in this category tomorrow — so many contenders are so strong.  But I thank you all again for helping me to get to this point in the voting.  See you tomorrow.

    Reply
    KyleBailey
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    #353660

    Awesome for Oppo Research! Love Flight and Five O’s votes too

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    CanadianFan
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    #353662

    Nice picks!

    Happy to see “Fight” break through. 

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    Andrew Eng
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    #353663

    Great to see Justified’s “The Promise” get some love, though sad not to see Bloodline’s “Part 12” make it. As always, thank you helmetz for taking the board suggestions into your Emmy voting and letting us see your picks. 

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    jacob121
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    #353664

    Fight, Oppo Research, and Person to Person would probably be in my top as well. Great picks! I always look forward to your insight every Emmy season. 

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    Daniel Montgomery
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    #353665

    Love that you voted for “Fight” from “Masters of Sex.” It’s an especially beautifully episode from a show whose writing is always one of its key pleasures.

    I personally didn’t connect to the “Mad Men” finale (less “Person to Person” and more “Dropped Call,” haha). It felt true to the show, but that last scene … if “satisfying” is the watchword, it fell short of that for me, but then I’ve never been among the show’s legions of devotees. For me, it’s always been a good, admirable, well-made show that only achieved greatness in fits and starts. Extra points off for the hasty Peggy payoff, LOL.

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    Marcus Snowden (The Artist Formerly Known as msnowden1)
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    #353666

    Great choices, Helmetz. I absolutely loved that you put “Fight” on your ballot. For my money, the best TV episode of this past TV season.

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    FrozenBarbie
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    #353667

    The Promise!  That just made my night. 

    “Raylan Givens, I know you have never believed a word that has come out of my mouth. Though I have harbored a secret hope that you have nevertheless enjoyed hearing them.” — Boyd Crowder

     

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    jf123
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    #353668

    Love your choises, would have replaced the Mad Men finale with the second to last episode

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    Halo_Insider
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    #353669

    I love this. Great picks, all around. Particularly glad that you went with the Justified suggestion, even though its final chances are probably minimal.

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    Atypical
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    #353670

    What a ballot! “Oppo Research,” “Five-O,” “Person to Person,” & “Fight”! Those are all stellar entries to have on any Emmy list. Best of luck to all of them today!

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    Icky
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    #353671

    Any explanation for not going with “Donald the Normal” or “Do Robots Dream of Electric Sleep” or some other Mad Men episode or an episode from Homeland? 

    Solid list. Two of my top four drama episodes are there. So, I can’t complain. 

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    helmetz
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    #353672

    Any explanation for not going with “Donald the Normal” or “Do Robots Dream of Electric Sleep” or some other Mad Men episode or an episode from Homeland?

    I thought the scenes with Lois Smith in “Electric Sheep” to be very well written.  But the rest of the episode was impenetrable to me, as I’m not a regular viewer of “The Americans.”  By now the same is true for “Homeland”  — there are very few entry points in those two series for new viewers (or Emmy voters).

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    AviChristiaans
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    #353673

    JUSTIFIED – “The Promise”. Thank you very much!

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    Icky
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    #353674

    [quote=”Eeeekk”]Any explanation for not going with “Donald the Normal” or “Do Robots Dream of Electric Sleep” or some other Mad Men episode or an episode from Homeland?

    I thought the scenes with Lois Smith in “Electric Sheep” to be very well written.  But the rest of the episode was impenetrable to me, as I’m not a regular viewer of “The Americans.”  By now the same is true for “Homeland”  — there are very few entry points in those two series for new viewers (or Emmy voters).

    [/quote]

    I wouldn’t have nominated them as well for the reasons you mentioned and some others. What about the WGA nominated DTY? 

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