Thursday, 30 December 2010

The TV or not TV Awards 2010

After the, ahem, success of last year’s end of year awards, I’m back with TV or not TV’s 2nd annual year end awards post.

I’ve altered the style of this year’s awards slightly to greater reflect the Emmys and the sort of categories they hand out awards too, this is mainly due to my utter disbelief at some of the winners they handed out awards to earlier in the year and so I could stick my oar in on who really deserves praise for their TV work in 2010.

So without further rambling let’s delve into the nominees and winners of this year’s TV or not TV awards…

Outstanding Leading Actor Drama

Nominees:

- Kiefer Sutherland (24)
- Timothy Olyphant (Justified)
- Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy)
- David Duchovny (Californication)
- Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

All the above are worthy contenders for this award, which in a roundabout way was won by Charlie Hunnam last year under it’s ‘Man of the Year’ guise as four of the five shows were my favourite four shows of the year (with the exception of the rather disappointing final season of 24 – more on that later though) and this is largely due to the performances of the leading men named above.

24’s final season may have been a letdown but no one can argue that with the exception of some scenery-chewing guest stars, Kiefer Sutherland pretty much carried 24 across the finish line all by himself. The myriad deaths in the show’s swansong allowed Sutherland to tap into Jack Bauer’s softer side once again and then his downward spiral into renegade angel of death allowed him to give us one last taste of the bad-ass Jack we all loved from day one.

Justified was one of the best new shows to hit our screens this year and that was in no small part to the performance of Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens. The supporting cast, with the exception of Walton Goggins, aren’t really given much to do on Justified so every episode as good as features Olyphant in every scene and he is always great and never once outstays his welcome.

Sons of Anarchy’s second season was even better than its sublime first and Charlie Hunnam was once again the heart and soul of the show as Jax Teller. The supporting sons got a lot more to do this year, which led to Hunnam’s burden being lifted slightly, but whenever he was asked to do the weighty stuff he never once disappointed.

Some people have expressed disappoint of sorts with Mad Men’s fourth season but for me it was the best season the show has had and Jon Hamm was sensational throughout as he portrayed Don Draper’s fall and rise, in another year he may have taken this award if not for the unparalleled third season of Californication.

A lot of people don’t like/get Californication, but for me it is quite possibly the best show on television. You may argue it doesn’t even belong in the drama category but any show that can pull on you heartstrings and be as gutwrenching as Californication can has to be classed as a drama. DAVID DUCHOVNY excelled himself as Hank Moody this year, turning in episode after episode of some of the sharpest, funniest and touching acting you could ever find on TV. Without a doubt this year belonged to Californication on TV or not TV and for that reason this award goes to Duchovny.

Outstanding Supporting Actor Drama

Nominees:

- Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy)
- Walton Goggins (Justified)
- Evan Handler (Californication)
- John Slattery (Mad Men)
- Tim DeKay (White Collar)

The debutants of White Collar and Justified are both well-represented here; Tim DeKay may not be as eye-catching as co-star Matt Bomer but he definitely carries the acting side of the crime-caper. White Collar really became a firm favourite this year and it was largely down to the sheer likeability of DeKay.

Walton Goggins literally chewed the scenery of Justified every time he appeared on screen – the show must have known they were onto something good when they quickly bumped him up from guest star to a main cast member. Goggins and Timothy Olyphant had a superb chemistry together and his return for season two can only be a good thing for the show.

John Slattery’s Roger Sterling has become less of an important figure on Mad Men over the last few seasons but the move to SCDP meant he had more to do and thus more screen time and he never failed to disappoint in his un-PC, bourbon soaked ways.

David Duchovny was sublime on Californication this season, this we have already established, but so too was Evan Handler. Handler’s Charlie Runkle pretty much became Californication’s whipping boy as he was humiliated in every which way possible but through it all it’s impossible not to get behind him and cheer on the pathetic loser and that is testament to Handler’s performance.

This award though belongs to RYAN HURST who built on last year’s brilliant guest role and made Sons of Anarchy’s Opie into the darkest, complex and tortured soul on the show. Opie still isn’t featured as much as I would like but every time he is on screen, Hurst instantly captivates and you can’t take your eyes of the man-mountain. Hopefully season three will continue the evolution of the show’s best character by far.

Outstanding Leading Actor Comedy

Nominees:

- Joel McHale (Community)
- Jay Harrington (Better off Ted)
- Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
- Ty Burrell (Modern Family)

A bit of a tough category to call this one, as it’s often difficult with ensemble shows to decide who is a leading actor and who is a supporting actor. So I’ve made my choices based on who I think is portrayed in a leading way and hopefully there’ll be no controversy.

I had hopes for Community so when it finally debuted in the UK in the autumn I was thrilled. Joel McHale does a great job as the show’s leading man Jeff Winger, he is both cool and funny and McHale has proven more than once that he isn’t afraid to look like a complete fool.

Better off Ted was one of the surprise finds of the year for me, already axed in America when it debuted in the UK, it quickly became one of my favourite comedies of the year. Jay Harrington didn’t initially win me over as Ted; he’s far too handsome to try and feel sympathy for or to even think he might struggle with some of the things Ted did have difficulty with. But by the end of the series Harrington had won me over with his effortless charm and charisma.

Neil Patrick Harris has and will always be fantastic as Barney on How I Met Your Mother – even when the show has an off year, as it did this year, he is routinely the best thing on the show by a mile.

The award has to go to TY BURRELL though, who for Modern Family’s one and a half seasons thus far has been the funniest thing in a very funny show. Burrell’s Phil is delusional, pathetic and ignorant but is also sweet, kind and impossible not to like. Burrell brings a loveable goofiness to the role that could have gone either way in all honesty, but he is note-perfect and he is simply brilliant every episode.

Outstanding Supporting Actor Comedy

Nominees:

- Mark Salling (Glee)
- Tracy Morgan (30 Rock)
- Will Arnett (The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret)
- Chevy Chase (Community)

Does Tracy Morgan belong in this category? Some would argue not, but he is increasingly being treated less like a leading man and more like the supporting clown to Fey and Baldwin’s stars on 30 Rock. That said, every time Morgan, as his alter ego of sorts Tracy Jordan, opens his mouth hilarity ensues on 30 Rock.

The same argument could also be made for Chevy Chase on Community – is he more of a leading man than a supporting star in 2010’s best new comedy? Again I would argue yes, as Pierce is often used as the light relief in an episode heavily focussed on one of the other characters’ less bizarre issues. Chase really surprised me with his role on Community; he has always been thought of as notoriously difficult in Hollywood so to see him take on a part in an ensemble and to do it so brilliantly, really was nice.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret squandered so much promise and really ended up being a disappointment to me but the one saving grace was Will Arnett. Sure Arnett was playing the same type of sleazy corporate scumbag he could play in his sleep, but unshackled from the constraints of network TV his profanity-riddled performance was fantastic for the majority of the season.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly though this award goes to MARK SALLING of Glee for almost always being the highlight of that extremely uneven and disjointed show. Salling was able to take the jock stereotype Puck was initially saddled with and actually do something interesting with it, he also made the character go from being unliked to one of the more popular ones on the show, hopefully season two of Glee will see him featured more prominently than some of the less interesting characters we had rammed down our throats in season one.

Outstanding Leading Actress Drama

Nominees:

- Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy)
- Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
- January Jones (Mad Men)
- Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse)

There can only be one winner here and that is KATEY SAGAL, robbed of even a nomination at the Emmys, no one else nominated here even holds a candle to what Sagal did on Sons of Anarchy this year. She was brilliant during Sons’ first season but for season two she was nothing short of mesmerising and that scene where she finally revealed the horrific rape she suffered in the season opener was the most visceral, tear-jerking scene I saw on television this year.

The two Mad Men ladies deserve a mention for maintaining the high standard of acting on that show – Jones especially because as much as I loathe Betty Draper, that is the point I think, so Jones must be doing something right. As for Moss, she just is Peggy now to me – I saw Get Him to The Greek the other day and I couldn’t understand why Peggy off Mad Men was having a threesome with Russell Brand and Jonah Hill.

Dollhouse was again uneven and frustrating in its second and final season but the gorgeous Eliza Dushku was as magic on screen as ever and had to be included here for playing so many roles on one show and doing it so effortlessly well, and sexy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress Drama

Nominees:

- Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy)
- Natasha McElhone (Californication)
- Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
- Ally Walker (Sons of Anarchy)

Christina Hendricks got some of the screen time she missed last year back in season four, she also got some more substantial storylines to sink her teeth into, which meant we got a chance to see what a fantastic actress she really is.

I was worried at one point that Natasha McElhone was going to be forgotten on Californication but once she returned full time she was great, her nomination here is almost solely down to a scene where she didn’t even have a speaking line – that final scene of the season three final as Hank revealed his Mia indiscretion was so gutwrenching and emotional and to do that with no dialogue is credit to both Duchovny and McElhone.

Of the Sons of Anarchy duo, MAGGIE SIFF has to triumph, as good as Ally Walker is as the almost cartoonishly evil Stahl. Siff’s Tara had a lot to deal with this year and seeing her go from the victim to be a bit of a bad ass whilst still retaining the vulnerability that helps us relate to her and makes her almost our eyes in the club as she too is an outsider to this world, really was an enjoyable ride. Katey Sagal’s award show snub really was a crime but Maggie Siff not even getting a look in was also a travesty especially after such a strong year for her on Sons.

Outstanding Leading Actress Comedy

Nominees:

Jane Lynch (Glee)
Portia De Rossi (Better off Ted)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)

In a roundabout way I guess Tina Fey took this award last year by taking the Woman of the Year title. That said, 30 Rock’s mediocre fourth season and not enough of the Liz Lemon neuroses that we know and love mean that this isn’t her year, in spite of still being a brilliantly funny as ever on 30 Rock.

Modern Family’s two leading ladies Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara are often difficult to separate in votes likes this but for doing the more physical and foolish things for a laugh, Bowen gets my vote over Vergara.

At the start of the year Jane Lynch had this award sewn up, but by Glee’s season end Sue Sylvester had kind of become a bit of a cartoon. Sue Sylvester still is one of the greatest comedy characters ever created but Portia De Rossi’s deadpan delivery as Veronica on Better off Ted was one of the unexpected joys of the year.

Anyone who hasn’t seen Better off Ted really needs to if only to see Portia De Rossi alone. Mrs. Ellen absolutely owns that show and I have no hesitation in saying that without her Better off Ted probably would have never even seen a second season, so for that reason this award goes to PORTIA DE ROSSI.

Outstanding Supporting Actress Comedy

Nominees:

- Jane Krakowski (30 Rock)
- Heather Morris (Glee)
- Alison Brie (Community)
- Andrea Anders (Better off Ted)

This award belonged to Glee’s unsung star HEATHER MORRIS for most of the year, with only the unbelievably cute Alison Brie even coming close to catching her.

Morris’ deadpan delivery of some of the most wonderfully insane non-sequiturs as Brittany is the best thing about most Glee episodes and how she hasn’t yet come to be featured more prominently is beyond me. Brittany is by far the funniest female character on television at the moment.

Community (and Mad Men)’s Alison Brie was an unexpected delight on the year’s best comedy. Only knowing her as Mad Men’s Trudy, seeing her handle comedy with the deftness of a seasoned pro really was a joy to behold.

Jane Krakowski and Andrea Anders were both great supporting players on their respective shows, Krakowski in particular taking Jenna’s insanity to new levels of brilliance but this year belonged to the lady who thought that dolphins were just gay sharks.

Outstanding Guest Star

2009: Jerry Seinfeld (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Nominees:

- Titus Welliver (Lost / Sons of Anarchy)
- Callum Keith Rennie (24)
- Will Ferrell (30 Rock)
- Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
- Gregory Itzin (24)

Callum Keith Rennie narrowly missed out on this award last season but his scenery-chewing performance on 24 this year single-handedly made 24’s final season great even if he only was in it for a few episodes. Every moment of his hammy appearance as Russian mobster Vladimir Laitanan was unintentional comedy gold and for that reason CALLUM KEITH RENNIE finally takes home the guest star of the year award.

I love Titus Welliver – I think he could quite possibly be the coolest actor on TV. He was amazing as The Man in Black on Lost, bringing great humanity and tragedy to one of the most evil characters on television. Then on Sons of Anarchy he was brilliantly scary doing a ridiculous Oirish accent as IRA bigwig Jimmy O.

Will Ferrell’s ‘Bitch Hunter’ cameo on 30 Rock was undoubtedly the funniest cameo of the year and Lennie James’ mesmerising guest role in The Walking Dead’s opening epic episode was definitely the most heartbreaking guest appearance.

Gregory Itzin’s return as Charles Logan on 24 whilst not quite as brilliant in my eyes as Rennie’s role on that same show was still something very special and was the lone reason to keep up with the show heading towards the finale.

Outstanding Drama

2009: Sons of Anarchy

Nominees:

- Sons of Anarchy
- Mad Men
- Justified
- The Walking Dead
- Californication

Justified and The Walking Dead both had great debut seasons this year but realistically they were never going to outdo the old stalwarts of Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men and Californication in their first year (although last year’s winner Sons of Anarchy did win in its first year).

As much as I enjoyed Mad Men’s fourth season this year belonged to two shows: Sons of Anarchy and Californication; and for me, and not just in the interest of fairness, this year really belonged to Hank Moody and CALIFORNICATION.

I’ve pretty much said all I can about the show in my in depth reviews of each episode but the marriage of a veritable smorgasbord of brilliant guest stars, a scenery-chewing Kathleen Turner and Duchovny and Handler on fine form and back together as Hank and Charlie made this season something very special indeed. I defy anyone to find a more stomach-churning episode of television anywhere than the dark and destructive season finale. For me Californication was the TV show of 2010.

Outstanding Comedy


2009: The Thick of It

Nominees:

- Community
- Modern Family
- How I Met Your Mother
- 30 Rock
- Better off Ted

This is a really tough category to call. 30 Rock didn’t have a vintage year this year as funny as that show always is so I think we can take them out of the equation this year.

As much of a firm favourite as Better off Ted became, I almost kept myself at a distance really knowing that it would not be around for too long so that kind of damaged my enjoyment slightly.

How I Met Your Mother, again had another fine year but wasn’t quite up to what I was hoping for and the same can also be said of Modern Family – I know how brilliant the show can be so it can often be frustrating when it falls short of those lofty heights.

Therefore for sheer consistency it is only fair that this year’s winner of best comedy be COMMUNITY. I had high hopes for the show and they were not only met but exceeded by this brilliant, brilliant new comedy. From what I’ve heard season two is even better so I am really excited for when we finally get to see it in the UK.

Best New Show

Nominees:

- White Collar
- Justified
- The Walking Dead
- Community
- Thorne:

I’ve just extolled the virtues of Community above and it may feel a bit stupid that the show that won best comedy loses out here to a show that didn’t win best drama but it is literally like comparing apples and oranges.

Comedies always feel a bit lightweight and disposable next to dramas so it is inevitable that when bracketed together that the comedies will ultimately suffer by comparison.

White Collar really did become a TV or not TV favourite in 2010 but compared to what Justified and The Walking Dead were doing it wasn’t exactly must-see TV.

Sky1’s Thorne: series was another unexpected discovery – it’s not the sort of thing I would normally go far but it was dark, disturbing and kept me hooked for its short run.

This might surprise a few people but for me the best new show of 2010 was JUSTIFIED. Justified just seemed to have more direction and felt more like a proper series than The Walking Dead did; I have every confidence The Walking Dead, which was still great, will address this balance with their second season but for now Raylan Givens swaggered out on top.

Biggest Disappointment

2009: FlashForward

Nominees:

- The Event
- Scrubs: Med School
- Shattered
- 24

Much like last year, the biggest disappointment of the year for me was the most hyped new show THE EVENT.

It was literally like FlashForward V2, huge hype machine but no effort seemingly put into making the show coherent or worth investing in emotionally. There is literally so much going on in most episodes its impossible to follow and the constant time-jumping is distracting rather than engrossing like it was on Lost.

I think the writing is very much on the wall for The Event and I’ll personally be amazed if they get a second season.

Elsewhere, I’ve already expressed my disappointment with 24’s final season – it could have been so much but just didn’t hold a candle to those first few brilliant years.

Shattered is a show I only checked out due to one of my favourite actors Callum Keith Rennie being in it, but purely based on the unrealistic expectations I had based on the star, it disappointed massively.

And what they were thinking with Scrubs: Med School I have no idea – it takes a lot for me to switch a show off mid-run but that is what happened with this utter pile of shit.

Room 101 Award for TV star you wish would just fuck off

2009: Cheryl Cole

Nominees:

- Cheryl Cole
- Fearne Cotton

Only two nominees in this category this year (maybe I’m mellowing) although that said, BBC’s Matt Baker could have cracked the nominees if he didn’t seem to be such a nice guy – seriously man, is there any show you won’t host/appear on!?

Instead it is down to two of the most irritating women in the world: Fearne Cotton (speaking of appearing on literally anything that will have you) and last year’s winner Cheryl Cole.

And as much as Fearne Cotton’s faux-yoof shtick irritates the living snot out of me, how can anyone other than CHERYL COLE be the recipient of this award!?

Whether it’s the cynicism of releasing her new album right after X Factor came back on or her inconceivable tag as ‘the nation’s sweetheart’ every single thing this woman does annoys me and to make matters worse if she does end up on US X Factor her over-exposure is only going to get worse. God help us all.

So that’s it for TV or not TV for 2010, it’s been a great year but 2011 looks like being even better with some amazing looking new shows on the way plus the return of lots of old favourites.

Thanks for reading and see you in the New Year!


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