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One Emmy Voter’s Final Ballot

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  • helmetz
    Keymaster
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    #361012

    It was very weird voting this year.

    With this new system, any voter who cast a ballot in a particular category in the nominating stage is eligible to vote on the final winner.  For me, that meant I could now vote in all program categories as well as writing categories.  A lot more watching to do!

    So, if you’ll indulge me, I’ll forgo my usual overly-lengthy comments on the writing awards (most of which I discussed at length in the nomination ballot phase) to give you an overview about a writing-centric voter does when he’s finally free to vote in any program category.

    To remind you of the drill, voters are asked to rank each nominee starting from #1 (your favorite) all the way on down to your least.  And since we are voting online this year, once you’ve hit the DONE button, there’s no way to go back and alter it if you change your mind.  So here is a collection of a few of the shows and scripts that I ranked as #1 in their individual categories.

    OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
    “Parks and Recreation”
    When I look back at the best-written comedy series of the year, this was the only one to have two different scripts (“Leslie and Ron” and “One Last Ride”) near the very top of my list.  And the idea to reposition the final season in 2017 was genius, allowing some new unexpected rivalries to rise and some old scores to be settled with perspective.  All in all, a class exit.

    OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
    “Mad Men”
    Speaking of which, Matt Weiner was probably under the most pressure to create a final season worthy of his show’s pedigree.  And he delivered.  Particularly in “Person to Person.”  And particularly in those last 15 minutes.  Another class exit.

    OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES
    “The Colbert Report”
    Speaking of which again, while I’m growing to admire what Stephen Colbert is doing with “The Late Show” (particularly with his moving interview with Joe Biden), I still miss “Stephen Colbert.”  There are certainly farewell cases to be made for Jon Stewart and David Letterman, but I am still so such in awe of the high-wire performance art that that Colbert managed to pull off every night that one more trophy is in order.

    OUTSTANDING VARIETY/SKETCH SERIES
    “Inside Amy Schumer”
    The most difficult choice on the ballot.  My heart is with “Key & Peele,” but any series that can produce “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” had to get my vote.

    OUTSTANDING TV MOVIE
    “Bessie”
    A really weak year for TV movies.  I was torn between two of the HBO entries, “Bessie” and “Nightingale,” as both seem to be designed to be showcase pieces for their stars.  But “Bessie,” with its deep bench of supporting players and first-rate production values, feels more like a movie.

    OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES
    “Wolf Hall”
    I know that “Olive Kittridge” is the overwhelming favorite to win here, but I much prefer this adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed novel.  With a brilliant central performance from Mark Rylance and a first-rate script by Peter Straughan, for me this one was one of major television events of the past season.

    OUTSTANDING REALITY/COMPETITION SERIES
    “The Voice”
    Same old, same old.  “The Voice” just because.

    Now my two usual categories:
    OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES

    1st CHOICE: 
    LOUIE“Bobby’s House” — Another gem from Louis C.K.  Act 1 is its own separate playlet with Louie and his brother coming to terms about their relationship.  With Acts 2 & 3, the episode zooms into unchartered territory with Pamela Adlon, and the result is one of the most memorable half-hours of the year.

    2nd CHOICE:
    VEEP“Election Night” — As the season finale with a number of storylines still unresolved, this episode had its work cut out for it and handled it all as usual with big laughs and aplomb.  Though it wasn’t anything special, it was “Veep” at its most reliable, which is a very high level of quality indeed.

    3rd CHOICE: 
    THE LAST MAN ON EARTH“Alive in Tucson” — The series pilot takes a writing challenge — how can you make a comedy with one character who, for the most part, does not interact with other characters?  Will Forte managed to find a way to do it in a way that was both funny and touching.  Bravo.

    4th CHOICE:
    TRANSPARENT“Pilot” — As we’ve previously discussed, Jill Soloway’s pilot for “Transparent” uses a structure for drama (as “Orange” did last year) rather than for comedy.  I don’t want to penalize it because the writing is so good, but it’s in the wrong category.

    5th CHOICE:
    SILICON VALLEY“Two Days of the Condor” — Alec Berg’s script has a few laughs in it, but nothing worthy of a nomination.

    6th CHOICE:
    EPISODES“Episode 409” — Are the members of the Writers Branch so in need of self-validation that they repeatedly nominate this blah comedy about TV writers?  Just baffling to me.

    OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES

    1st CHOICE:
    BETTER CALL SAUL“Five-O” — 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 his son’s death.  And don’t get me started on how I love Jonathan Banks in this.  The class script of the season.

    2nd CHOICE:
    MAD MEN“Person to Person” — Another classy finale, as Matt Weiner wraps up (most of) the series’ loose ends, then barrels into those final 15 minutes where Don makes his emotional confession to Peggy, then that enigmatic smile on the sea bluff.  Just the way “Mad Men” should have gone out.

    3rd CHOICE:
    MAD MEN“Lost Horizon” — If “Person to Person” wraps up the characters’ personal lives, “Lost Horizon” does the same for the business end of the story as the Sterling Cooper team make the bumpy move to McCann-Erickson.  The script by Weiner and Semi Chelas provides particularly great material for Elizabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks, as Peggy and Joan must face once again the sexism at their new home they worked so hard to fight at Sterling Cooper.  A great set-up for the finale.

    4th CHOICE:
    THE AMERICANS“Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” — Much of this episode is espionage gobbledygook, but within that there’s a beauty of a stand-alone two-hander between Keri Russell and the extraordinary Lois Smith, who, as a witness who knows she must be eliminated, chooses to share with her executioner the details of her life which is about to be taken.  This gem of a B-plot is beautiful work.

    5th CHOICE:
    GAME OF THRONES“Mother’s Mercy” —  Yes, there’s 6 deaths in this season finale, but, unlike “The Americans,” there’s no entry point for non-viewers to appreciate the meaning of those deaths.

    As always, a warning to to put any money down following my votes.  You’ll lose big.  But I for one am excited to see whether this new voting system will break up some of the monotony in Emmy winners.  We can only hope!

    Reply
    AMG
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    #361014

    Is it fair to penalise Transparent the way you have when Emmy rules dictate the show to be a Comedy and not a Drama?

    Yes, they could have appealed to go drama, but the stock rules in play dictate that this show is a comedy. Ideally, that argument should not factor into how votes are made.

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    Deniz Sisman
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    #361015

    And that’s why it’s a stupid idea to judge the writing of one show on only one episode. If the episode in conversation isn’t a pilot or one episode of NCIS:LA; non-viewers can’t understand what’s going on and can easily consider it as a cheap script with zero pay-off and it wouldn’t be their fault. To me, a good written show should use all its materials and details from its past episodes and always make a reference and keep connected with its previous elements and continue its storyline with adding material each episode. That’s the whole purpose of serialized shows. Dramas, at least. (That’s why I agree about you on writers of Transparent and Oitnb are using more of the Drama method for their show than Comedy.)Unfortunately Emmys consistently keep awarding the opposite, the episodes were written like short-movies and does not bode well with their shows general tone. That’s why some of the writers of best structured and well-written shows have never been recognized. That’s why Breaking Bad only won one in this category, while Homeland has made 2/2. Blue-ribbon panels should have never been used for writing categories. I know it’s a bit of off-topic, but as a writer, what are your thoughts about all of this? Thanks in advance.

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    Deniz Sisman
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    #361016

    Also, can you share your rankings of Series categories(especially Drama and Comedy) if it won’t be a problem for you?

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    AMG
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    #361017

    With respect though, the writers have all decided on those particular nominees. So on the whole, there isn’t that non viewer entry point as much as if everyone who is an Emmy voter were able to vote here, surely?

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    AviChristiaans
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    #361018

    Thank you for that Wolf Hall comment. It really was an outstanding series, and a television event in itself.

    Would be such a shame for it to not be rewarded, for either its writing or performances.

     

    And YES for that  “Five-O” ranking! Definetely one of the best written episodes of the year. And hopefully there are enough voters who don’t have a sentimental hardon for Mad Men.

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    Deniz Sisman
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    #361019

    With respect though, the writers have all decided on those particular nominees. So on the whole, there isn’t that non viewer entry point as much as if everyone who is an Emmy voter were able to vote here, surely?

     

    Exactly. That’s why I said blue-ribbon panels should have never been used for determining the winners. I don’t have a problem with the nomination process.
    Because as a voter, after you’ve been assigned to a certain category, and you’d find yourself among four random episodes of four random shows that you don’t know anything about-its premise, plot, characters; you can’t help but vote for the other show that you watch regularly or the one most easy-to-follow. I don’t think that is the best way to award to best writing. Since from now on choosing the winner will be similar to choosing the nominees, and voters can appreciate the whole season of quality writing ahead of only episode of work; I’m excited to see what happens.

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    Deniz Sisman
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    #361020

    Is it fair to penalise Transparent the way you have when Emmy rules dictate the show to be a Comedy and not a Drama?

    Yes, they could have appealed to go drama, but the stock rules in play dictate that this show is a comedy. Ideally, that argument should not factor into how votes are made.

    They were free to submit themselves whether they want in Golden Globes, SAG, WGA and DGA and they chose the easy road in all of them.(And it worked.) They knew they wouldn’t survive much in the crowded Drama field. So it’s hardly anyting about the new Emmy rule. And the creator of the show sees her project as a dark comedy like the ones of Lena Dunham and Woody Allen. So I don’t think she ever considered it to be compete in the Drama.

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    helmetz
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    #361021

    Is it fair to penalise Transparent the way you have when Emmy rules dictate the show to be a Comedy and not a Drama?

    With all due respect, AMG, I actually didn’t penalize “Transparent” for that.  The script just above it at #3, “Alive in Tucson” (“The Last Man on Earth”), I think is more imaginative and a bigger writing challenge than the “Transparent” pilot, which I feel is a very well-written but conventional script just with an unconventional leading character.

    Also, can you share your rankings of Series categories(especially Drama and Comedy) if it won’t be a problem for you?

    If we must…
    DRAMA
    1.  “Mad Men”
    2.  “House of Cards”
    3.  “Better Call Saul”
    4.  “Orange is the New Black”
    5.  “Downton Abbey”
    6.  “Game of Thrones”
    7.  “Homeland”

    COMEDY
    1.  “Parks and Recreation”
    2.  “Louie”
    3.  “Veep”
    4.  “Modern Family”
    5.  “Transparent”
    6.  “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
    7.  “Silicon Valley”

    And hopefully there are enough voters who don’t have a sentimental hardon for Mad Men.

    HA!

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    24Emmy
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    #361022

    [quote=”DenizSisman”]Also, can you share your rankings of Series categories(especially Drama and Comedy) if it won’t be a problem for you?

    If we must…
    DRAMA
    1.  “Mad Men”
    2.  “House of Cards”
    3.  “Better Call Saul”
    4.  “Orange is the New Black”
    5.  “Downton Abbey”
    6.  “Game of Thrones”
    7.  “Homeland”[/quote]

    Aww. Ouch to my two favorites.

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    helmetz
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    #361023

    6.  “Game of Thrones”
    7.  “Homeland”

    Aww. Ouch to my two favorites.
     

    Just ignore me, 24Emmy.  I think you’ll make out just fine tomorrow night.

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    montana82
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    #361024

    Thanks for sharing Helmetz!

    It really puzzles me why The Voice is becoming the fallback choice against The Amazing Race.  It’s a 2nd rate karaoke contest that produces no major stars and is a watered down version of American Idol in it’s hey day.  Meanwhile there is real artistry, more interesting drama and competition and fabulous production values/costumes/makeup behind Dancing with the Stars,  Tom Bergeron alone blows away anything on The Voice. Not to mention Project Runway, Top Chef, and So You Think You Can Dance are better than The Voice too. Oh well.

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    Deniz Sisman
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    #361025

    Thanks for all of these sharing. One last question, which one of those shows are you regularly watching and which ones are you not? I just want to understand the logic behind this ranking system to make a better prediction tomorrow. And, you’re the only person I can ask to. I imagine the first 3 or 4 are your favourite shows but how do you rank the others you’ve never watched/liked for example?

    I’ve always thought MF will be screwed with this system because every branch got sick of it, but if everyone ranks it no less than 4 it could easily win again. It is probably the only show that every voter have watched in their lives at least one time.

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    Lord Freddy Blackfyre
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    #361026

    Thanks for sharing…I just hope more voters has The American episode much higher than that in writing.

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    Riley
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    #361027

    Is it fair to penalise Transparent the way you have when Emmy rules dictate the show to be a Comedy and not a Drama?  Yes, they could have appealed to go drama, but the stock rules in play dictate that this show is a comedy. Ideally, that argument should not factor into how votes are made.

    I think that those rules are just supposed to make things more fair than they were previously; they are not the be-all and end-all of it.  If an hour-long is a comedy, it should still appeal, like Jane the Virgin, Hart of Dixie and whatnot.  The reverse is true as well.

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