The 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards are on September 18th, and it’s time once again for Fienberg and I to discuss whom we think should and will win(*) some of the major categories. Next up is a twofer: Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.
(*) As always, we remind you we do not have impressive track records at prognostication. Place your wagers (or, preferably not) accordingly.
On the comedy side, it’s a battle of new Emmy favorite “Modern Family” against a pair of technically-challenging “30 Rock” and “How I Met Your Mother” episodes. The nominees:
“30 Rock” – “Live Show,” Beth McCarthy-Miller
“How I Met Your Mother” – “Subway Wars,” Pamela Fryman
“Modern Family” – “Halloween,” Michael Alan Spiller
“Modern Family” – “See You Next Fall,” Steve Levitan
“Modern Family” – “Slow Down Your Neighbors,” Gail Mancuso
Alan’s pick: These would certainly not be my five nominees (no “Louie,” “Community” or “Parks and Rec,” all of which presented some wonderfully-directed episodes), and include one of my least favorite “Modern Family” season 2 episodes (“Slow Down Your Neighbors”) and a “30 Rock” episode I was impressed by but didn’t really enjoy. Still, I can’t blame Mancuso for a bad script, or McCarthy-Miller for pulling off an experiment that seemed misguided to me. Though I’m tempted to pick Fryman just for her great work episode after episode, season after season on “HIMYM,” or Levitan for doing one of the best “Modern Family”s of the season, I think what McCarthy-Miller did in translating the very single-camera style of “30 Rock” into a live stage production was by far the most impressive achievement in the category.
Dan’s pick: The lack of nominations for “Community” and “Parks and Recreation” in this category is laughable. And I wouldn’t have included either “Halloween” or “Slow Down Your Neighbors” among the best directed “Modern Family” episodes this past season. And Pamela Fryman getting a nomination *now* for “How I Met Your Mother”? Yeah, this category is a bit of a sham. But I did think Levitan did great work on “See You Next Fall,” one of the “Modern Family” episodes that best captured the show’s tonal versatility. But if the category is going to be balky to begin with, I’ll throw my support behind the director who certainly had the toughest job and that would be McCarthy-Miller, who had to execute two different versions of the live “30 Rock.” Do we know if this nomination was for East Coast or West Coast? It hardly seems fair that she gets TWO submission episodes in one.
Alan’s pick: It’s either the live “30 Rock” or “See You Next Fall,” which is the most impressive of the three nominees for a show that Emmy voters clearly love a lot. I’m going to guess that those three episodes split just enough of the vote that the ambition and execution of “Live Show’ carries the day.
Dan’s pick: Yeah, gotta stick with McCarthy-Miller here, while once again lodging a protest against the overall lameness of the whole category.
On the drama side, it’s four directors with impressive resumes showing up so they can lose to Marty Scorsese. The question is, do any of them deserve to beat him? Your nominees:
“Boardwalk Empire” – “Anastasia,” Jeremy Podeswa
“Boardwalk Empire” – “Boardwalk Empire (Pilot),” Martin Scorsese
“The Borgias” – “The Poisoned Chalice/The Assassin,” Neil Jordan
“Game of Thrones” – “Winter is Coming (Pilot),” Tim Van Patten
“The Killing” – “Pilot,” Patty Jenkins
Alan’s pick: I’m actually going to pick the non-Scorsese-directed “Boardwalk” episode that was nominated. What Scorsese does in terms of establishing the look and tone and world of that show cannot be underestimated, and when he wins on the 18th because the TV Academy has a serious inferiority complex when it comes to movie people, I will not be in the least bit displeased. It’s a very good pilot. But the Podeswa-directed “Anastasia” was, I thought, the episode where “Boardwalk” started to take the leap from very good to potentially great. It featured a couple of hypnotic sequences that couldn’t be more different: Margaret Schroder being swept off her feet at one of Nucky’s parties, and then Chalky White delivering his instant-classic “I ain’t buildin’ no bookcase” speech. Everything about it felt richer, and while some of that is just the nature of an ongoing series, Podeswa managed to expertly mimic the style Scorsese established in the pilot while getting some very deep performances from Michael Kenneth Williams, Kelly Macdonald and several other members of the cast.
Dan’s pick: The “Game of Thrones” pilot was terrific and Tim Van Patten was the only credited director, though he was also working with bits and pieces from original director Tom McCarthy, which makes his work rather intriguing and perhaps even more impressive. So he’s my “should win” pick here, for finding a full and satisfying realization of a complicated and foreign world and doing so without alienating genre-averse viewers. That shouldn’t take anything away from Scorsese’s work on the “Boardwalk Empire” pilot, which is rather gorgeous filmmaking and utterly Scorsese-esque. [I also don’t understand the lack of even a single nomination for “Mad Men.” Are you honestly telling me that “The Suitcase” wasn’t one of the five best directed drama episodes of the year? Jennifer Getzinger directed that one. ]
Alan’s pick: Marty. Next?
Dan’s pick: What he said. Martin Scorsese’s not losing this category.
What do you think?