August 19, 2014 at 9:33 pm #328036
The pencils are down, the deadline has passed, my ballot has been submitted to Ernst & Young, and I would like to share with you my final Emmy votes for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
Just to refresh, the earlier nominating round simply asks that you vote for the scripts you like best. No rank or order. Once the 5 nominees are decided, you must rank them in this round according to your preference, with your favorite being #1 and your least favorite #5. You’d better not goof up — if you accidentally mark two scripts as your #2 choice, your entire ballot is thrown out.
While judging, even if I had seen a nominee before, I watched it again last week back-to-back with the other nominees so as to view it with fresh eyes for a better evaluation of each script’s strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes this results in additional insights or moving a script up or down in the rankings. Not so much this year.
As you may remember during the nomination round, I voted for (and wrote extensively about) two of the scripts — “So Did the Fat Lady” and “Special Relationship” — that made it to the final five, so I’ll keep my critiques brief on those. I’ll write in more detail on the three scripts that were new to my ballot. So here is my final ballot in ascending order for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series:
5. SILICON VALLEY – “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency”
Usually when you get to the finalist stage, you can be reasonably certain that the nominees chosen are of fairly high quality. Not so here. Actually, I felt that this was a pretty bad script. It’s structurally unbalanced — it’s one long A-story with too-brief B- & C-story diversions. The key plot turn is an extended handy-j joke that goes on and on until it becomes simply juvenile. And the final joke is so obvious that it would be dismissed by even novice writers. It’s surprising that the producers of a Best Comedy Series nominee would submit a script like this and even more surprising that the Writers Branch would nominate it.
4. EPISODES – “Episode 305”
I’m puzzled every year when this series grabs a writing nomination. One obvious answer why is that writers like to vote for shows about themselves. That’s true, but I don’t know a single writer who watches this show. That being said, though, this is a pretty good script. The A, B and C stories all work equally well (a rarity), with great payoffs for each. And the TCA setting has a lot of snarky (and truthful) insider material. This is probably the best nominated “Episodes” script to date.
3. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK – “I Wasn’t Ready”
In the nomination ballot thread, I explained that I did not vote for this script because, however effective it is, it’s not a comedy script. It has the structure of a drama, with a few jokes thrown in, which does not a comedy make. But it’s here and must be dealt with. Truth is, no matter what its structure, this is a very well-written script, strong both on incident and character, and I could not in good conscience place it below the scripts previously mentioned. I have a hunch that this is probably your winner.
2. VEEP – “Special Relationship”
While not one of the pinnacle episodes of the series, “Special Relationship” is a very funny representative of a very solid season. And I’ll never see a “My Fair Lady” hat again without thinking of Selina.
1. LOUIE – “So Did the Fat Lady”
Here is an instance where all elements of a scene click — Louis C.K.’s dazzling single-take direction and Sarah Baker’s spot-on performance are remarkable. But it would not work this well without those insightful, heartfelt words, words that are, at the same time, so self-deprecating yet empowered. One of this season’s most memorable highlights.
That’s it. As I do every year, I warn you not to wager any money on
either of my final ballots. Listen to our editors instead — they’re
pros at this. And as always, thanks to the entire Goldderby community
for your support, your suggestions and your friendship over the years.
See you this Monday!August 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm #328038
Great to have this. Thanks, as always, helmetz!
I have to admit, though, as someone who watches Episodes infrequently and has found it generally amusing, I really was not taken by its writing nominee. Just couldn’t find much to keep me engaged.
Been flip-flopping on which of the top 3 will be my final prediction, but you might have convinced me to switch to OITNB. I’m just feeling less and less confidence that Louie will go away with much of anything, this year.August 20, 2014 at 9:31 am #328039
Don’t go by me, please!! This will be one of the more interesting races of the night. My OITNB guess is just that — this one could go any which way.August 20, 2014 at 10:44 am #328040
Thanks for your continued insights, helmetz.
I think this is going to be a nail-biter between “Orange,” “Veep,” and “Louie,” and I’ve been predicting “Orange” to win; the Emmys often go for pilots in writing and/or directing. “Silicon” might have an outside chance because it’s also a hot new show (despite my agreeing that it’s not very good), and I think “Episodes” is just lucky to be invited back to the party.August 20, 2014 at 7:32 pm #328041
Great rankings. Probably how I would put them. I hope so did the fat lady wins it is the best written out of the five. Thank you.August 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm #328042
helmetz, thank you as always for sharing your insights and opinions with us. As always, they are much appreciated.
I am surpried to hear you think OITNB will end up winnng Comedy Writing. I have thought Louie “So Did the Fat Lady” was the favorite for a while now and still think it will be the eventual winner.
To me if they want to award OITNB (besides Uzo Adubo who already won) I think they will award it in directing, or most likely Kate Mulgrew or Taylor Schilling. Although at this late stage I am starting to get the feeling they might just win the whole damn thing.
The only thing that worries me about Louie winning here is the fact the academy seems to have cooled off on Louie. Especially last year, where they more or less got skunked outside of Melissa Leo’s guest acting win. To my knowledge, they have only won two Emmy’s total, which is kind of surprising considering all their nominatons. They seem to love Louis C.K., but not enough to reward him with mutiple Emmy awards. I thought Louie might be heading towards a possible series win by this point, but that has not happened at all.
For mow I will stick with Louie and “So Did the Fat Lady” but I am not really that confident in that prediction.August 23, 2014 at 9:57 am #328043
espnfan, I hope you’re right that “Louie” can pull out a win here. That monolgue, expertly delivered by Sarah Baker, is one of the high points of the TV year for me. Fingers crossed.August 23, 2014 at 10:25 am #328044
I hope Veep wins.August 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm #328045
I’m going with “So Did the Fat Lady”, and I hope I’m right. I can see Orange winning here, too; I don’t see the others having much of a chance of taking the award.
If Veep manages to pull off a win here, it is taking Best Series with it. Simples as that. Also, very, VERY improbable.
Thanks for your thoughts, helmetz, as always.