Emmy Awards, Neil Patrick Harris, TVI’m lucky to write for GuysGirl, and the reason is our outstanding Founder and Editor in Chief, Blythe Brumleve.  As you may have noticed, I had to take a few months off from writing this summer, and I am grateful Blythe was completely understanding and patient in letting me come back.  So everyone go read her whatever her latest posts are because they’re all awesome.

OK, sappy I know.  Now back to the business at hand, handicapping the Emmys...

SUPPORTING ACTOR-COMEDY

The Favorite:  Ty Burrell, Modern Family

The Challenger:  Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family

The Dark Horse:  Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

The Field:  Ed O’Neill, Modern Family; Adam Driver, Girls; Tony Hale, Veep

Annoying Emmy hog Modern Family has claimed this category three years in a row, including Burrell’s win in 2010.  You have to figure one of those guys will win it again, and since Ferguson is currently the odd man out, maybe it’s him.  Hader is certainly deserving for his amazing character creations on SNL, but that show has never won an acting award, and there may be resistance to having Hader be the first.  Finally, keep an eye on Adam Driver.  I can’t stand Girls, but I’m hearing a lot of buzz that he may sneak in if the Modern Family vote gets split.

And the winner is. . .Jesse Tyler Ferguson

 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS-COMEDY

The Favorite:  Julie Bowen, Modern Family

The Challenger:  Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

The Dark Horse:  Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock

The Field:  Anna Chlumsky, Veep; Merritt Weaver, Nurse Jackie; Jane Lynch, Glee; Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory

Bowen has won this award two years in a row.  Last year, Mayim Bialik should have won it.  This year, I think Bowen steps aside for either Sofia Vergara or Jane Krakowski.  Krakowski should have won at least two Emmys by now but has been snubbed, and with 30 Rock off the air, this is the last chance voters get to right the injustice.

And the winner is. . .Jane Krakowski

 

BEST ACTRESS-COMEDY

The Favorite:  Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

The Challenger:  Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

The Dark Horse:  Lena Dunham, Girls

The Field:  Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Laura Dern, Enlightened; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie;

This category is really loaded.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus is flat out hilarious on Veep, and it won’t surprise me at all if she wins, but I’ll be pulling for Amy Poehler, who has been so good and so funny for so long on Parks and Rec that it is really her time.  I’ll throw up in my mouth if they give this award to Lena Dunham.  If the academy wants to give her a statue, make it for writing (or directing), please.

And the winner is. . .Amy Poehler

 

BEST ACTOR-COMEDY

The Favorite:  Louis C.K., Louie

The Challenger:  Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

The Dark Horse:  Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

The Field:  Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Don Cheadle, House of Lies; Jason Bateman, Arrested Development.

Louis C.K. won every award they made at the American Comedy Awards, and for good reason.   Parsons and Baldwin have both won this award twice, and while I’m more impressed with Louie as a show than I am with Louis C.K.’s specific performance on it, I think he edges out Matt LeBlanc to win here.  If anyone else gets it, I’ll bet the best comedy series goes to Louie (which, to be honest, it probably should anyway).

And the winner is. . .Louis C.K.

 

BEST COMEDY SERIES

The Favorite:  Modern Family

The Challenger:  Louie

The Dark Horse:  30 Rock

The Field:  Girls, The Bang Theory, Veep

Modern Family has won this award three years in a row, so calling anything else the favorite is silly.  Girls was the hot show in its first season, but its second season was very uneven.  30 Rock could draw sentimental votes since this is the last time anyone can vote for it, but on merit Louie was absolutely amazing this season.  The season finale/Christmas episode was not only side-splittingly funny, it was absolutely ground breaking television.  It would be a crime if Louie doesn’t win.

And the winner is. . .Louie

 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS-DRAMA

The Favorite:  Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

The Challenger:  Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

The Dark Horse:  Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones

The Field:  Morena Baccarin, Homeland; Christina Hendircks, Mad Men

No matter who wins this award, it will be deserving.  I think Anna Gunn WILL win, notwithstanding that Maggie Smith has a Modern Family-like hold on this category, but to be honest, if I had a vote, I’d cast it for Emilia Clarke, who is responsible for more goosebumps on Game On Thrones than any other actor.

And the winner is. . .Emilia Clarke

 

SUPPORTING ACTOR-DRAMA

The Favorite:  Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

The Challenger:  Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

The Dark Horse:  Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad

The Field:  Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

This is another tough one.  Aaron Paul and Mandy Patinkin have both been amazing on their respective shows, and I’m not sure I want either of them to win.  That’s because Jonathan Banks, in a limited role, created such a memorable and unique character on Breaking Bad that he’s my sentimental favorite (he’s not gonna win though).

And the winner is. . .Aaron Paul.

 

BEST ACTOR-DRAMA

The Favorite:  Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

The Challenger:  Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

The Dark Horse:  None

The Field:  Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey; Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom; Damian Lewis, Homeland

I was tempted to indicate no challenger in this category, because Bryan Cranston is a mortal lock to win here.  If you are one of those people who feels the need to bet on everything, bet most of your Emmy money on Cranston, whose performance as Walter White will go down as one of the all time greatest performances on television.   Cranston is already one of only two actors to win this award three years in a row (Bill Cosby is the other, for I Spy), and a win here would tie him with NYPD Blue’s Dennis Franz as the only actor to win four.  He deserves it.

And the winner is. . .Bryan Cranston

 

BEST ACTRESS-DRAMA

The Favorite:  Claire Danes, Homeland

The Challenger:  Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

The Dark Horse:  Kerry Washington, Scandal

The Field:  Connie Britton, Nashville; Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel; Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey; Robin Wright, House of Cards

Once again, there is no wrong winner for this category, all of these women are amazing.  If I had a vote it would certainly go to Elisabeth Moss, who has eclipsed even the amazing Jon Hamm on Mad Men.  Watch out, however, for Kerry Washington.  True, Scandal is a lot more sensational and melodramatic than you would normally see in an Emmy winner, but it’s been 18 years since an African American woman has been even nominated in this category, and Kerry would make a worthy trailblazer.

And the winner is. . .Elisabeth Moss

 

BEST DRAMA SERIES

The Favorite:  Breaking Bad

The Challenger:  Homeland

The Dark Horse:  House of Cards

The Field:  Downton Abbey, Game Of Thrones, Mad Men

Can it be possible that Breaking Bad has never won this award?  It can be and it is, and that’s an oversight the voters will need to rectify this year, since Bad is ending its amazing run.  I consider this another category where you have a true prohibitive favorite, even though the other nominees are all outstanding, and both the Netflix entry House of Cards and the feature-film production quality Game of Thrones are remarkable television achievements in their own right.

And the winner is. . .Breaking Bad

QUICK TAKES

Despite a puzzling lack of love from TV critics, HBO’s The Newsroom just concluded what I consider a fantastic second season and, thankfully, has been picked up for a third.  Give this show a look – you won’t be sorry.

Reality Check:  Whether you’re a card-carrying commie liberal who loved Keith Olbermann on MSNBC and CurrentTV, or a neo-nazi conservative loony who loathed him, no one should miss Olbermann on ESPN2, which features the volatile commentator’s signature blend of intelligence, trivia and humor, focused by his keen insights into the world of sports.  Before Olbermann became a polarizing political commentator, he was part of the best sports commentary team EVER on television (with Dan Patrick, on Sportscenter).  Don’t miss the chance to see him work his craft now (keeping in mind that Keith O. rarely lasts very long on a show before personalities clash and he’s moved on to something else).

Under The Dome concluded it’s first season this week, and while the Steven King-inspired sci fi drama has been a bit uneven, it was certainly one of the most interesting and entertaining things to watch this summer.  I’m glad it will be back again next year.

With Arsenio Hall back on TV, and W. Kamau Bell now expanded to 4 nights a week, the late night selection has gotten wildly crowded.  How to decide what to watch?  Pick the show with the best guests.  Here’s some I make it a point not to miss:

Bob Costas – He may be known as a sportscaster, and he does have a whole host of obscure facts, trivia and anecdotes from the sports world that are interesting, but Costas is also quite a student of pop culture and media, and he can offer up great stories about television, broadcasting and the music business as well.  Costas is almost always interesting when he appears on late night television.

Tina Fey – Sometimes people are only funny in the movies or on TV, but not Tina Fey.  She is always funny, all the time, and the quick-witted star and producer of SNL and 30 Rock fame often gets the best of the best late TV hosts like Letterman, Jimmy Fallon or Jon Stewart.  Come to think of it, if Tina Fey ever decided to host her own late night show, I’d watch it in a heartbeat.

Kevin Spacey – The Oscar winning actor is not averse to playing for laughs, like in Horrible Bosses, but he’s known for serious roles in films like Se7en, American Beauty and The Usual Suspects, but that doesn’t mean he’s not funny.  In reality, Spacey is really funny, and coming from a guy who so often plays a heavy only makes it that much funnier when he riffs.

Mindy Kaling – Mindy just might be the most likeable person on television right now.  She’s smart, funny, cute and engaging, and comes across like a regular person who just happens to have a ton of talent.  I can’t help but smile anytime I watch her on TV.

Cornell West – You know how some people are so smart they’re crazy?  Cornell West is crazy-smart, and he’s passionate too.  This makes him one of the most unpredictable guests to book on a talk show, because you never know what might set him off on an eloquent speech or impassioned rant about something or other.  Either way, it’s good TV.

Lisa Kudrow – Lisa Kudrow has a quirky, understated sense of humor that just plain works in your typical late-night interview format.  I’ve seen her get laughs out of the most mundane of subjects, usually letting the host walk right into the punchline.  For my money, she is the funniest Friend, even if she doesn’t get the biggest headlines.

Bryan Cranston – Few actors are more versatile than Bryan Cranston.  He was flat-out hilarious on Malcolm In The Middle and is bone-chillingly intense on Breaking Bad.  In person, however, Cranston is personable and funny.  He also has an ear for a good behind the scenes anecdote.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson – I don’t know about you, but I like hearing people speak who know a ton more than I do about everything.  Tyson is known as a brilliant astrophysicist, but he’s far from a science geek who can’t speak about anything else.  He also has an educator’s skill for talking about complex concepts in lay terms and making them easy to understand.  I love watching this guy.

Jennifer Lawrence – Even though she’s wildly successful, you can just tell that success hasn’t changed Jennifer Lawrence at all.  She has a penchant for over-sharing, and comes across as a loveable klutz with a great self-deprecating sense of humor.  It’s no wonder she’s so popular, as she is 100% genuine in her interviews.

Educational TV.  Things we learned from watching TV this week:  1) Concierge is french for “difficult asshole” (Jimmy Kimmel Live); 2) Ted Nugent smells like moose meat and crazy (Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell); 3)  Whatever the U.N. does, it is U.N.likely to succeed (The Colbert Report); 4) Opting for a double major in college gives you twice as many fields in which to be unemployed (Late Night with David Letterman).

Speaking of good summer TV, AMC’s Low Winter Sun has proven to be an engrossing and atmospheric character study about cops and criminals in Detroit.  Yeah, it’s not Breaking Bad, but what is.  Give this one a look too.

Looking Ahead

The Emmy Awards air on CBS on September 22.

The series finale of Dexter airs on Showtime on September 22.

The Voice returns to NBC on September 23.

How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls air season premieres on CBS on September 23.

The Blacklist airs its series premiere on NBC on September 23.

Mom and Hostages air series premieres on CBS on September 23.

Fangasms debuts on Syfy on September 24.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife & Lucky 7 all debut on ABC on September 24.

Person of Interest returns to CBS on September 24.

Revolution and Law & Order SVU air season premieres on NBC on September 25.

Nashville and Modern Family return to ABC on September 25.

South Park airs its season premiere on Comedy Central on September 25.

Back in the Game premieres on ABC on September 25.

Parks & Recreation and Parenthood are back on NBC on September 26.

The Big Bang Theory and Elementary return on CBS on September 26.

Glee returns to Fox on September 26.

The Crazy Ones airs its series premiere on CBS on September 26.

The Michael J. Fox Show debuts on NBC on September 26.

Junior Masterchef debuts on Fox on September 27.

TV’s a big place and I haven’t been to all of it yet.  Got a favorite show you’d like me to comment on?  Post a comment below, contact me on twitter @RobLazlo. or shoot me an email:  [email protected]  I welcome your input!