Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: praise for a TV creator who’s doing all the right things.
Michael Schur earned an express pass to the TV Pantheon on the strength of Parks and Recreation, the NBC sitcom he created with Greg Daniels of The Office. But his subsequent efforts have only strengthened his claim to the title of one of the century’s most influential, successful and inventive creators.
Here’s the latest installment of my new tradition: hastily assembled predictions for the winners of tonight’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, broadcast at 8pm on TNT and TBS, and streaming here. (These predictions don’t reflect my preferences, except when they do.)
In an era of Peak TV, for which we need a new and less overused buzzword, a Top 10 list for the year’s best television simply isn’t enough. What follows is a collection of good-to-great shows that, for a variety of reasons, just missed my marquee year-end list. I’ve organized this two-part guide to TV’s wide range of greatness in 2015 through the lens of one key episode per show. Some of these episodes are the best of their respective seasons. Others are the most emblematic of their respective series’ strengths. All of them are worth watching, if you’re so inclined.
(Note: I didn’t include episodes of shows that appeared in my top 10. But if I had, I’d have included the Edward Snowden interview on Last Week Tonight, the Broad City finale “St. Marks” and the Mad Men stunner “Time & Life.”)
The Grinder is an odd duck. It’s not exactly a family comedy or a workplace comedy, though it has elements of both. It’s not exactly a lawyer comedy, though some plot points revolve around legal procedures. It’s certainly not a documentary about the origins of the popular gay corollary to Tinder, though it’s easy to see (or hear) why you would make that assumption.
But there’s one thing that’s easy to say about The Grinder: it’s really funny.
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It’s impossible to have a unified “take” (hot or otherwise) on the Emmy nominations. Anyone who says differently is lying or deluded. This year’s nominations are not only good or only bad, only surprising or only disappointing. Some of the biggest “disappointments” can be read as disappointments only if you expected the Academy would radically alter its modus operandi this year. Some of the biggest pleasant surprises are probably more accidental than intentional. As with every year, the Emmy nominations are a list to be plundered, commented upon, regarded from a safe distance and with a reasonable proportion of salt grains.
With that perspective in mind, here’s a list of my thoughts on the Emmy nominations, in no particular order and with varying degrees of sophistication and seriousness. (And here’s my list from yesterday of wish-list nominees. A few made it to the actual list!)
Here’s an admittedly incomplete, scattered list of shows and performances I’d love to hear on Emmy nomination morning, tomorrow at 11:30am Eastern. If it’s not on here, I either haven’t seen it, don’t like it, or like it but think it’s so likely to get a nomination that writing about it now is just superfluous.
As with most people, the word “reboot” sets my teeth on edge. I’m always a proponent of discarding tired concepts and flagging franchises in favor of original material. But reboots aren’t inherently bad. Tuesday’s “Ghostbusters” announcement offers hope that at least one upcoming remake won’t be cringeworthy. Read the rest at The Eagle.
This list is exactly what it looks like: a list of one great episode in each of twenty shows that I watched this year. I could have filled the entire list with episodes of The Americans and Hannibal, but I decided to impose a limit of one episode per show. This list is different from a list of my favorite TV shows of the year, though there’s plenty of overlap between the two. And if it’s not on this list, I either didn’t like it, liked it but preferred other things, or didn’t watch it.
And now, in chronological order, twenty of my favorite TV episodes of 2014.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie in which a talking raccoon is friends with a talking tree, Andy Dwyer is buff and Dave Bautista demonstrates deft comedic timing. It’s a superhero movie with heroes who aren’t particularly super or heroic. It’s a space opera in an era when that sort of movie has been increasingly marginalized, though Star Wars Episode VII: The Never-Ending Hype Machine will reverse that trend next year. And it’s a Marvel movie that rarely feels weighted down by its obligation to feed the Avengers beast.
In simpler terms: Guardians of the Galaxy is an unlikely triumph.
After an entire TV season of speculation, the 2014 Primetime Emmy nominations were finally announced at the ungodly hour of 5:30am Pacific Thursday morning. (Perks of being on the East coast: waking up was no big deal!) As usual, the nominations provoked a mixture of reactions: surprise, resignation, disapproval, even bitterness. As Alan Sepinwall put it in his pessimistic but reasoned analysis, the television business is evolving too quickly for the Emmys to keep up, especially given that the TV Academy has a history of being slow to adjust to major changes in the industry. With a higher volume and wider array of TV shows than ever before, some quality shows are always going to get left behind. But when the Emmys continue to make apologies for shows that they previously loved, it’s worth wondering how long these awards can stay relevant.
Below, here are five of my thoughts about the nominations list. For more on the list’s weirder surprises, here’s my USA Today article from Thursday. For my dream ballots, click here and here.