In an unusual twist of events, GH scored four of the five nominations in this category. Here is my analysis...
Matthew Ashford (Jack, Days of Our Lives)
Airdate: 11/30/2011, Episode 11725, Running Time 11:25
In this episode, Jack and Marlena discuss his time in Afghanistan. Initially, they meet at Brady's Pub, and Jack is hesitant to disclose his feelings. Later, they reconvene at Marlena's house, and Jack opens up about his terrible experience. In the first part of the tape, the dialogue is tentative and the tone is restrained. However, as the reel continues, the intensity builds, leading to Jack's breakdown at the end. Ashford's performance is solid throughout, and very moving at the end. The primary disadvantage is that he spends the entire episode describing an event that was not part of the show itself. Ashford is a definite contender, but will probably not win.
Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, General Hospital)
Airdate 8/24/2011, Episode 12376, Running Time 11:45
Maxie is encouraging Spinelli to recapture his former persona. Due presumably to emotional trauma, he has devolved into a gumshoe detective/tough guy persona. Throughout the reel, he vacillates between his natural tenderness and his defensive toughness. Anderson does have some good moments, but this reel does not play well out of context. His shifts in persona are awkward. He would have been wise to submit one that simply shows Spinelli as Spinelli. Anderson does not have a chance.
Sean Blakemore (Shawn, General Hospital)
Airdate: 11/11/2011, Episode 12432, Running Time 13:21
The writers honored Veterans Day in this episode. Carly makes a dramatic entrance, and Shawn shuts her down. He lectures her on the importance of events beyond one's personal experience. He recounts his time in the military, and later describes the death of his father. Blakemore gives a solid performance, but he is very restrained. Like Ashford's episode, this reel focuses almost exclusively on events extrinsic to the show's plot. However, unlike Ashford's reel, this one does not build in intensity, thus denying Blakemore the opportunity to show a range of emotion. This reel is thus unlikely to garner an award.
Jonathan Jackson (Lucky, General Hospital)
Airdate: 3/28/2011, Episode 12271, Running Time 10:22
Lucky confronts Luke about his drinking on the night of the hit and run. Later, he visits Sam and then goes to the police station. The stakes are high in this one. Lucky's frustration grows as Luke refuses to acknowledge the link between his drinking and the accident. Jackson is all raw emotional intensity. He tries to keep cool at times, but he is nearly shaking at times and emotionally explosive at just the right moments. Few actors can convey emotional intensity better than Jackson, and his partnership with Tony Geary makes this a reel to remember. There is almost no way this can lose.
Jason Thompson (Patrick, General Hospital)
Airdate: 11/3/2011, Episode 12426, Running Time 9:32
Unlike Jackson, Thompson chose to focus on a happy time. In this episode, Patrick spends a domestic evening with Robin. After putting Emma to bed, he and Robin make a birthday video for Robin. Despite the lightweight nature of the episode, Thompson is excellent and really comes across as a happy husband and father. He does show some range, as he moves from flirtatious to humorous to reflective. However, this obviously lacks the emotional heft of Jackson's reel and is unlikely to take home the gold.
1. Jonathan Jackson
2. Matthew Ashford
3. Jason Thompson
4. Sean Blakemore
5. Bradford Anderson
Of all the drama categories, this one is the easiest to call. Jackson is a lock. Any other outcome should be considered a major upset.
"Please stop talking like a tough guy."
I'm a Spixie fan and a sucker for all things Georgie so this reel should have been a homerun for me but it barely even held my attention. Anderson and especially Storms are effective here but the writing does them no favors. Anderson is handicapped by the gumshoe nonsense and as a result this plays more like a Kirsten Storms reel than a Bradford Anderson one. Jen Lilley's doing an adequate job but this reel makes me miss Storms even more than I already did. I didn't hear anyone talking like a tough guy, I heard Spinelli talking like an even bigger idiot than usual. He shows some emotion towards the end but it would have been much more effective had he dropped the gumshoe speak for those lines. As it is, this reel is a sad case of good actors let down by subpar writing.
"I'm really not in the mood to have my headshrunk tonight"
This reel's a slow starter. Jennifer's on a date with Daniel and Jack's avoiding Marlena for some reason. It turns out Jack doesn't want
therapy for PTSD.This reel's an actors dream. A therapy session covering everything from a serial-killer father, a man who's great love is moving on with someone else to PTSD from serving in the Afghanistan War and Ashford's definitely up to the task. This is meaty, juicy material and he doesn't overplay any of it. Ashford's a fine actor and nicely underplays what could have easily been very over the top. The reel is clearly building up to a big money moment. Jack slowly lets down his guard and reveals a world of pain. Jack describing his fellow soldier's torture and gruesome murder is mesmerizing. Ashford's clearly the star of the reel here, Hall stands back and lets him have his big moment and it's glorious.
"Memorial Day is for remembering the fallen and Veteran's Day is for the living. Sometimes it's hard to separate the two."
That line's a good representative of the type of writing found in this reel. Shawn reveals to Carly that he accidently killed a fellow Marine in a friendly-fire incident and also witnessed his father's murder when he was a child. That baity story should easily make Blakemore a strong contender for the win. Unfortunately, the reel is so poorly written and underacted, that it's just plain dull.
Blakemore's a good-looking man and might be a fine actor but there's just not enough here to tell. Days did the same issue much better by using a character the audience is already attached to, and some much stronger writing. This tape feels like a PSA while Ashford's felt dynamic and dramatic. Blakemore underplays the material far too much. Wright's effective and Carly seems to be more affected by the story than Shawn. The tiny bit of emotion he shows towards the end of the reel is well done, I just wish we could see more. Blakemore seems like a strong actor who's handicapped by a stone-faced character. Even Steve Burton gets to show
off his glassy, tear-filled eyes every 6 months. I wish they had let Blakemore try his hand at that move. As it is, there's just nothing to connect to in this reel.
"Your dad gave it to you and you gave it to me. And it goes on and on and on. It's a curse, it's a curse. Your drinking killed my son."
Incredibly meaty, juicy material in this reel. Geary and Jackson both get to strut their stuff and show off some serious capital-A acting. All the emotion that was missing from Anderson and Blakemore's reels is more than made up for right here. There's enough emotion for 10 Emmy reels in this tape. It all starts to feel incredibly overdone after the first few scenes. There's not a lot of range here. Only screaming, crying and red eyes. There's no build-up, no slow burn, just constant overacting. There are finally some quiet moments in the final scene with Luke. But then the scenes with Dante and Sam at the very end seem like a separate episode and filler scenes like those have no business on an Emmy reel. There's no doubt that Jackson's an excellent actor but this reel's disjointed, hammy and over the top. He'll still win though, Emmy voters are suckers for this kind of Emmy Bait. I just wish he had submitted a tape with a little more subtlety and some genuine emotion.
"Maybe next year."
Kimberly McCullough says the above line at one point during Jason Thompson's reel. My thought's exactly. Thompson's proven himself a fantastic actor and should easily win this category next year but this reel's just too lightweight. Having said that, this
is probably the most enjoyable and entertaining reel in the category and was easily my favorite one to watch. Thompson is light, fun, breezy and sexy here. Thompson has an easy chemistry with McCullough and they make a believable family unit along with the talented little girl who plays Emma. The birthday video they make for Emma is adorable. The scenes of him talking about his daughter are genuinely touching. Thompson is charming and is very believable as a loving husband and father. But as fun, sweet and surprisingly touching as these scenes are, there's just not enough meat here for an Emmy win. But "maybe next year."
Who Should Win
Who Will Win
Ashford gave the most effective performance here but unfortunately, Emmy voters are much more likely to go with Jackson's overemoting.
OLTLfan, I love your use of quotations to introduce your analysis of each actor! Great writing technique! Our reactions to the reels are similar except for Jonathan Jackson. I find him very convincing. But I do agree that Matt Ashford had a smoother reel. You make a rather compelling case for Ashford.
Thanks robbalto. Jackson's a great actor and he had more than enough material last year to justify a win but I really do question the logic of choosing those scenes as his reel. I thought the acting in the Luke/Lucky scenes was overly theatrical but at least the writing in those scenes felt like an Emmy reel. But then the short, pointless Dante and Sam scenes at the very end kill whatever impact the previous scenes had made and the reel ends with a whimper instead of a bang. It feels like the type of reel an actor who was backburnered for the most of the year and really only had a few tapes to choose from would submit. But we know that's not true; Jackson had enough material last year to go Lead and had 15-20 tapes to choose from. I thought he made more impact in Becky Herbst's reel than he did in his own. And of course, his most obvious choice would have been Luke's intervention.
But I still can't come up with a scenario where Jackson doesn't win. The Emmy's have no problem with repeat winners so the fact that Jackson won last year won't be a problem. The other 3 GH reels in this category have no chance so Jackson won't be the victim of vote-splitting. And the same qualities that I dislike about the performance are the ones that Emmy voters will go crazy for. He's the clear winner here; I just wish he had submitted something more nuanced.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series Analysis
Used to think this category was just the worst, b/c it would be the usual suspects and they had lacking submissions. But the last three yrs. have gave us strong nominations and winners. I know there were a lot of gripes about GH dominating here, but it is deserved. Bradford Anderson's character is one that could be either grating or enduring and that was on full display in his reel. I thought it was great, but know it could be seen as hokey and trying. Jason Thompson will win this category next year, but his episode was nice in its strip down approach. Easy acting and off the charts chemistry w/Kim McCullough. The next two people submitted episodes dealing w/the after effects of PTSD. It could go either way. Matt Ashford is the vet getting his first nomination and his approach to the material is very actorly. W/Sean Blakemore it is simple and and easy appraoch that is effective. Last year was Jonathan Jackson's year (even more so than 2010). He was front and center and had so many different stories that he could've went lead and challenged Tony Geary ftw. I didn't think the episode he submitted was the right one, when he had so many other episodes that were better. But that doesn't matter b/c noting is stopping him.
1. Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky, GH)
2. Sean Blakemore (Shawn, GH)
3. Matthew Ashford (Jack, DAYS)
4. Jason Thompson (Patrick, GH)
5. Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, GH)