Just got these today and plan to watch them right away. Analysis to follow.
I decided to watch these episodes alphabetically by show (and then by actor: GH's Duell before Parsons). Not sure if that ever affects my perceptions, but I prefer to organize it somehow rather than do it randomly.
0-1 - Terrible, a test pattern would have been a better reel
2-3 - Bad, must have gotten in by bloc voting or collective insanity
4-5 - Average, glimmers of hope perhaps, but generally not a winner
6-7 - Good, competitive and worthy of note
8-9 - Great, give that man an Emmy!
10 - Emmy Reel Supreme, give that man an Oscar!
Days of Our Lives
Length of Reel: 11:18
Air Date: December 29, 2011
Synopsis: Will Horton (Massey) visits his grandmother Marlena (Deirdre Hall) to discuss his living arrangements, but the subject turns to his romantic life. She tries to draw him out, but he leaves before he is able to confess he is gay. Later, he visits a bar where two friends invite him to a party.
Analysis: I feel like the agonized coming-out scene is a bit antiquated. That's not to say nobody agonizes over coming out anymore, but this seems to be the only way soaps know how to do it. We've been there with AMC's Bianca, ATWT's Luke, GH's Lucas, and OLTL's Fish. Variations of the same scene. Prime-time TV has already evolved from "Ellen" to "Modern Family," but soaps seem to be stuck on the same setting when it comes to gay characters.
That's a criticism of the episode itself and not of Chandler Massey, who is quite good in what turns out to be an almost-coming-out scene between Will and his grandmother Marlena. It's a subtle performance, with tears building in his eyes; I often perfer that to open weeping. I subscribe to the idea -- whose source I can't remember -- that it's less powerful for an actor to cry than it is for him to appear to be trying not to cry. Massey does that here.
Nevertheless, the scene with Marlena ends and there's some moping during a bar scene later and there's not a lot of impact there. Voters not familiar with this storyline or character may be waiting for a payoff that doesn't come. I know I was.
Rating (1-10): 6
Length of Reel: 11:18
Air Date: January 31, 2011
Synopsis: Michael Corinthos (Duell) hears a young woman screaming and fights off her attacker with almost deadly force, all the while flashing back to an assault from his past. He struggles to stand by and listen to her account of the attack at the hospital, and later confesses to Jason (Steve Burton) that he was raped in prison.
Analysis: My first thought while watching this episode -- an overwhelming, distracting thought -- was, "Jesus Effing Chris, they raped Michael!?" and by "they," in this case, I mean the GH writers. Are the characters on the show still living under the delusion that this poor kid would have been worse off with AJ as a dad? It seems like every dark, awful thing that has happened in his life has been the direct or indirect result of being raised by a self-justifying, homicidal mob boss. How did he even end up in prison?
Putting that aside for now, Duell is pretty evenly matched with Chandler Massey as far as their acting skill. Interestingly, both of their reels have a similar theme: young men struggling to accept and confess something they are scared or ashamed of. Though this episode is a slow build -- fighting in one scene, a long, furrowed brow in the next -- it builds to a payoff that gives Duell's reel an advantage over Massey's: unlike Will Horton, Michael Corinthos gets a catharsis where he reveals all, and his anguish is more impactful simply because it's given the chance to play out completely. Not a knockout reel, but a strong one.
Still, though, they effing raped Michael Corinthos? What the eff?
Length of Reel: 7:53
Air Date: May 25, 2011
Synopsis: Ethan Lovett (Parsons) leaves the Haunted Star casino as his father Luke (Anthony Geary) is taken away to rehab. After receiving a stern warning (read: threat of death) from Sonny (Maurice Benard), he confesses to Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) his fear that he will become an alcoholic.
Analysis: What I had seen of Nathan Parsons before this was, to be kind, unimpressive. And indeed after the first two scenes of his short Emmy reel I was anticipating a complete dud. His scene with Luke, Lulu, Lucky, and company wasn't even really his scene. And his following scene with Sonny is equally uninspiring. But then I was surprised and pleased to find that his scene with Kristina was actually not half bad. It's a quiet scene, subtle, not forced. The emotion is bottled up, seeping through the margins -- he's playing a man afraid despite himself. As far as Emmy is concerned subtlety doesn't tend to be an advantage, and compared to Michael's confession of prison rape, his material here is kind of weak tea. But I wouldn't be altogether surprised -- or even offended -- if this reel won the day, though I personally wouldn't vote for him over Massey or Duell.
One Life to Live
Length of Reel: 11:49
Air Date: April 6, 2011
Synopsis: Confronted by his parents (Robert S. Woods and Hillary B. Smith) with an incriminating audio recording, Matthew Buchanan (Alderson) confesses to the murder of Eddie Ford (John Wesley Shipp). The event is dramatized in flashbacks, where Eddie provokes Matthew with insinuations of his parents' infidelity. After shooting Eddie, Matthew calls Clint (Jerry verDorn), who comes to clean up the mess. Back in present day, Matthew asks if he can go to his room. I presume after killing a man he was grounded for at least a week.
Analysis: This was by far the most eventful reel of the bunch, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing. It's hard to separate out Alderson's performance -- which is good ... I think -- from the episode as a whole, which I found mostly incomprehensible. So Nora was missing, kidnapped by Clint (?), Eddie's ex was supposedly having sex with Bo (?) but not really (?). No wait, Nora and Rex were driving when Matthew nearly crashed into them in his car (?). And Eddie ... what did Eddie do exactly, other than be a big jerk to Matthew? It's difficult to evaluate a performance out of context when you're not sure what exactly the performer is supposed to be reacting to, and why.
Though I'd rank this performance ahead of Parsons, this was probably my least favorite reel to watch. John Wesley Shipp's hammy acting hindered his scene partner a bit, chewing up the scenery while Alderson was going for something more sincere I think. The muddled nature of the plot and the choppiness of the scenes gets in the way; they're very short, cut back and forth relentlessly, and a scene never really gets a chance to build to anything.
But maybe it's a moot point anyway. Actors from OLTL don't win Emmys anymore, especially men. Ironically, Eddie Alderson wasn't even born the last time a man won an acting award for OLTL (Roger Howarth, in this very category).
Not a bad performance in the bunch. But not a knockout punch from anyone either. Any of these four could conceivably win. Chandler Massey had a consistently emotional reel. Duell had the best money scene of any of the nominees, though it takes a while for his episode to get there. Alderson had the biggest, boldest fireworks throughout his reel, though the writing and editing don't do him any favors. Parsons -- well, he did just fine too.
Massey's gay storyline seems like a big event that might push him over the top, but then we must note that no one has actually won for it. Eden Riegel didn't win for Bianca's coming out. Van Hansis didn't win for Luke's. Crystal Chappell lost for her lesbian romance on GL. Scott Evans and Ryan Phillippe weren't even nominated for theirs.
Ranked In Order of My Preference:
1. Chad Duell
2. Chandler Massey
3. Eddie Alderson
4. Nathan Parsons
Ranked By Likelihood of Winning:
1. Chad Duell
2. Chandler Massey
3. Nathan Parsons
4. Eddie Alderson
You tell me where my mom is right now or you're a dead man!
There's a good amount of range here. Having Emmy winners Woods, Smith, verDorn and Shipp in his reel is a
definite advantage. Alderson plays well off all 4. He has a few more vulnerable moments with Clint that are a nice balance to the anger he shows with Eddie Ford. Alderson acquits himself well here but there's nothing that screams Emmy.
You will never touch me again!
The action sequence at the beginning of the reel with flashbacks to Michael's time in prison grabs your attention and pulls you right into the reel. This reel plays to Duell's strengths. He can be kind of a blank canvas at times and his expressionlessness really serves him well here. The scene when he finally admits he was raped to Jason is powerful.
Isn't that normal though... you know for a guy my age to be confused about stuff like that?
Massey's a good actor and he plays the confusion and internal struggle of coming out well. He has great chemistry with Hall. I wish the reel had ended when Will walked out on Marlena though; everything after that seems anti-climactic.
Kick some ass, ok?
The only reason I chose that piece of dialogue is because it's the only one of Parsons' line readings that I understood. I remembered him getting better by the end of his run but this tape is everything I disliked about him on GH. He doesn't even speak for the first few minutes of his reel and unfortunately, that's the highlight. It's all downhill from there as soon as he opens his mouth. First he mumbles something completely unintelligible to Tony Geary. He then has a quick scene of mumbling at Maurice Benard. His scenes with Lexi Ainsworth are a bit better but not much. How bad must the other younger actor reels have been if he managed to get in for this?
Should AND Will Win
Chandler Massey's the best actor here but Chad Duell's got the best reel. I could see it going either way but my gut says Duell's the most likely winner.