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

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  • helmetz
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    #327982

    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 Drama 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) three of the scripts — “Ozymandias,” “Chapter 14” and “The Secret Fate of All Life” — that made it to the final five, so I’ll keep my critiques brief on those. I’ll write in more detail on the two scripts that were new to my ballot. So here is my final ballot in ascending order for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series:

    5. GAME OF THRONES – “The Children”

    “Game of Thrones” has always struck me as a series that has a lot of business to get through in each episode, so I have found that there’s rarely time for their scripts to take a breath for character. “The Children” is an episode that does (once in a while). Yes, there are large-scale battle scenes as well as CGI skeletons, but there are actually a few character moments — most notably the opening negotiating scene between Kit Harington and Ciaran Hinds, and a lovely discussion about burial preferences that’s about everything except burial preferences — that deepen the characters while still moving the story. A worthy GOT nomination.

    4. HOUSE OF CARDS – “Chapter 14”

    It’s almost over-written with its clever wordplay, but it always just pulls itself back from the brink, creating a tension unlike any on TV today.

    3. BREAKING BAD – “Felina”

    Much as I admired “Felina,” I didn’t vote for the script in the nomination round because I felt that, unlike “Ozymandias” in which the script was the star, “Felina” served as more of a showcase for Gilligan’s direction than his writing. In fact, in several of the episode’s most effective scenes — the opening in the snowbound car, Jesse’s cooking while chained, and the final shootout — there’s little if any dialogue. But the story, however it’s told, is powerful and affecting. My guess is that this script is your winner.

    2. TRUE DETECTIVE – “The Secret Fate of All Life”

    One of the few scripts I’ve ever seen that boldly sets out to undermine the idea that narrative language has to be the truth.

    1. BREAKING BAD – “Ozymandias”

    For me, the episode of the year. Beautifully written from beginning to end. Breaks my heart every time I see it.

    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!

    Reply
    Reiza Rinah Ray
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    #327984

    Good morrow. It is good to see a fellow Academy member here.

    I also am a voter for the Emmys, but one question: are you going to attend the dinner this Thursday?

    I fully agree with your pick as #1 and #5, however, we don’t disagree with the 2- 4.

    2) Breaking Bad – “Felina”

    One of the most well-written pieces nominated at the Emmys. I agree with your statement that this one is a winner.

    3) House of Cards – “Chapter 14”

    Also a well-written piece, and a great premiere. This one was well-acted and a well directed episode.

    4) True Detective – “The Secret Fate of All Life”

    A very suspenseful episode. But it wasn’t all well written as the other three above, but WAY better than Game of Thrones‘ “The Children”.
     

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    probablyROB
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    #327985

    One of the few reasons to continue coming here year after year but I love that you still do it.  We’re simply never going to agree on House of Cards but I am glad that it didn’t make your top 3 and your ballot looks a lot like mine would other than flipping 4 and 5. Thanks as always for sharing this with us.

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    Cobalt Blue
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    #327986

    Thanks, helmetz.   I think your order is dead on.   I feel there’s a sizable gap between the top 2 and the rest. 

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    Morgan Henard
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    #327987

    Thank you, helmetz! I shouldn’t be nervous about “Ozymandias” prevailing, but its snub in Directing makes me thing it’s vulnerable. At least I know someone voted for it at No. 1. Can’t wait to read your Comedy results!

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    Marcus Dixon
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    #327988

    I’ve been predicting Ozymandias for weeks now, but I was starting to doubt that prediction. After seeing this analysis, I have decided to keep Ozymandias in my #1 spot. Thanks!

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    jf123
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    #327989

    What did you win an Emmy for? Or are you not allowed to reveal your identity because your telling people your ballot?

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    Reiza Rinah Ray
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    #327990

    What did you win an Emmy for? Or are you not allowed to reveal your identity because your telling people your ballot?

    helmetz, allow me to answer, please.

    I am a voter as well and I have your answer.

    Helmetz did not (or did, know one knows who he/she is, and so am I) win an Emmy.

    He/She either created a show, wrote episodes on a show, served time as a story editor and got credits for writing/story editing more than six episodes (or four, as I remembered my entrance).

    Anyone who either got credit for writing six or more episodes on a show can be a member if they apply, however, that is when the Academy comes in to choose if they would give you membership status.

    Same goes to other peer groups. But, a person can also serve in two peer groups. Like… Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling.

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    SkyLight
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    #327991

    helmetz, I was just wondering, if “Hitting The Fan” was nominated, in which place would you have put it?

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    Daniel Montgomery
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    #327992

    I had been predicting “Ozymandias” for a while, and I agree it’s the episode of the year, but I switched my prediction to “Felina” because voters might want to take the opportunity to give the writing award specifically to Vince Gilligan for the show’s swan song. I also think it’s odd that “Ozymandias” has struggled to get recognition from various industry groups even though there seems to be widespread consensus that it was the year’s best episode, for “Breaking Bad” at least, or even of the entire TV season.

    “Ozymandias” not getting into directing continued that trend of the episode strangely underperforming. Currently, I’m predicting “Felina” in both categories.

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    tennisfreak
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    #327993

    [quote=”joef123″]What did you win an Emmy for? Or are you not allowed to reveal your identity because your telling people your ballot?

    helmetz, allow me to answer, please.

    I am a voter as well and I have your answer.

    Helmetz did not (or did, know one knows who he/she is, and so am I) win an Emmy.

    He/She either created a show, wrote episodes on a show, served time as a story editor and got credits for writing/story editing more than six episodes (or four, as I remembered my entrance).

    Anyone who either got credit for writing six or more episodes on a show can be a member if they apply, however, that is when the Academy comes in to choose if they would give you membership status.

    Same goes to other peer groups. But, a person can also serve in two peer groups. Like… Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling.[/quote]

    Aren’t you also an analyst for Ernst & Young? Also the link to your site doesn’t work.

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    CanadianFan
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    #327994

    [quote=”TheUEFL”][quote=”joef123″]What did you win an Emmy for? Or are you not allowed to reveal your identity because your telling people your ballot?

    helmetz, allow me to answer, please.

    I am a voter as well and I have your answer.

    Helmetz did not (or did, know one knows who he/she is, and so am I) win an Emmy.

    He/She either created a show, wrote episodes on a show, served time as a story editor and got credits for writing/story editing more than six episodes (or four, as I remembered my entrance).

    Anyone who either got credit for writing six or more episodes on a show can be a member if they apply, however, that is when the Academy comes in to choose if they would give you membership status.

    Same goes to other peer groups. But, a person can also serve in two peer groups. Like… Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling.[/quote]
    Aren’t you also an analyst for Ernst & Young? Also the link to your site doesn’t work.[/quote]

    He also votes in a ton of categories for the Emmys AND the Globes.

     

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    Placeholder
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    #327995

    If “Ozymandias” does prevail, Walley-Beckett will join an exclusive club. Only three women have won writing-drama with a solo writing credit.

    • Joanna Lee for The Waltons “The Thanksgiving Story” 1974
    • Patricia Green for Cagney & Lacey “Who Said It’s Fair” (Part II) 1985
    • Ann Biderman for NYPD Blue “Steroid Roy” 1994 
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    Marcus Dixon
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    #327996

    Very intriguing, Placeholder. Thanks for that trivia.

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    helmetz
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    #327997

    helmetz, I was just wondering, if “Hitting The Fan” was nominated, in which place would you have put it?

    I’d probably have to watch them back-to-back to most precisely compare their merits, but, as much as I admire “Hitting the Fan,” it probably couldn’t crack my Top 3.  Though I wouldn’t vote it to win, it by all rights should be here in the mix, and TGW gave up a sure nomination by not submitting it.

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