Emmy Guide 2019: Limited Series and TV Movies

Jherrel Jerome in When They See Us
Chernobyl (HBO)
Escape at Dannemora (Showtime)
Fosse/Verdon (FX)
Sharp Objects (HBO)
When They See Us (Netflix)

Could win and should win: Chernobyl
Will win: When They See Us
Should have been nominated: True Detective (HBO)

The skinny: Almost every category comes down to Chernobyl or When They See Us. Both were about real-life tragedies and both were quite educational. The former was a ratings juggernaut and water-cooler topic for weeks on the old guard. When They See Us was a devastating critical darling that dropped all at once on the new guard. I could see it going either way, but When They See Us has the edge, given its urgency.

Fionn Whitehead in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix)
Brexit (HBO)
Deadwood (HBO)
King Lear (Prime)
My Dinner with Hervé (HBO)

Could win: Brexit
Should win: Deadwood
Will win: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Should have been nominated: N/A

The skinny: Deadwood should have something to show besides Walter Hill’s award for directing the pilot. This would be a consolation prize, but at least it would be something. But Black Mirror is going to win again.

Jherrel Jerome in When They See Us
Mahershala Ali, True Detective
Benicio del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
Jared Harris, Chernobyl
Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon

Could win: Jared Harris
Should win: Mahershala Ali
Will win: Jharrel Jerome
Should have been nominated: Ian McShane or Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood

The skinny: Newcomer Jharrel Jerome will ride the momentum of the show he anchored, beating out more seasoned veterans.

Patricia Arquette in Escape at Dannemora
Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
Aunjanue Ellis, When They See Us
Joey King, The Act
Niecy Nash, When They See Us
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon

Could win: Michelle Williams
Should win: Amy Adams
Will win: Patricia Arquette
Should have been nominated: Paula Malcolmson or Molly Parker, Deadwood

The skinny: Yet another award Amy Adams will lose. This is a race between her, Michelle Williams and Patricia Arquette, but I think the latter will walk away with it.

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The List: Top 10 ‘Community’ Episodes

Dan Harmon’s Community is easily one of the best ensemble sitcoms of all time, despite a forgotten season where he was replaced as showrunner and a final season on a streaming service that doesn’t even exist anymore. It somehow endured, despite being perpetually on the verge of cancellation. But its characters (and school) were indefatigable, and I love them more with each rewatch. In honor of its 10th anniversary, here are my 10 favorite episodes, which was exceedingly difficult, especially since Season 2 is one of the greatest seasons of television ever produced.

10. “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” (Season 6, Episode 13)
In its fifth season finale, Abed (Danny Pudi) basically taunted NBC to cancel it right to the camera. And then they did, and no one stepped in until Yahoo! emerged at the 11th hour to prop its nascent streaming service Yahoo! Screen. This made the sixth season a little bit scrappier, having lost to Chevy Chase, Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown. To replace them, the extremely game Paget Brewster and Keith David more than rose to the challenge and fit right into Greendale’s collection of lovable weirdos. The finale indulges in some meta fantasies, as the main cast imagines the perfect ending for the show. But just the study group hanging out and cracking jokes was perfect enough.

Community - Season 4
9. “Herstory of Dance” (Season 4, Episode 8)
Easily the best episode from the misbegotten fourth season (which I was a lot more forgiving of at the time), Abed gets a love interest in the form of Rachel (a pre-Oscar winning, pre-MCU Brie Larson) in one of the show’s sweetest subplots. But its the big overarching pop culture gag that I’ll always remember: Britta thinking the Sadie Hawkins dance is a Sophie B. Hawkins dance, then over-committing to the bit. Hawkins herself shows up to sing “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover,” even as multiple characters comment that they prefer “As I Lay Me Down.” The show always found a way to take a joke, take it further than reality would allow, and make it all tie into how much the group supports each other.

8. “Paradigms of Human Memory” (Season 2, Episode 21)
I could pick any number of episodes from Season 2 here. Other than a still-baffling Apollo 13 homage/KFC tie-in, there was a period of about 10 weeks where Community was the best thing on TV (bookended by Abed-centric episodes”Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples” and “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”). But this brilliant deconstruction of the clip show – in which all the clips are wholly invented – is the show at its most daring. It’s an episode strictly for hardcore fans. I’m sure anyone who tuned in at the time would have been alienated, but for me it’s one of the best, because it’s doing something only it could pull off.

7. “Modern Warfare” (Season 1, Episode 23)
This is the episode where the show went from a scrappy pop culture-heavy hangout show to something that would eventually run for more than 100 episodes. An action-packed half-hour directed by Fast & Furious franchise veteran Justin Lin, this is the show fully embracing parody. It might have gone to that well a few too many times in the future, but if you pulled it off so successfully your first go-round, you’d probably want to see if you could do it again and again.

The cast of Community
6. “Cooperative Polygraphy” (Season 5, Episode 4)
Easily the best post-peak episode the show ever did. Incorporating the notoriously difficult Chevy Chase’s departure into a moving exploration of what his death does to the group was tricky to pull off (and still ends on a big joke that lands a dig at Chase), let alone weave into Donald Glover’s own impending departure. But they made it work in this gut-busting episode, featuring guest star Walton Goggins as the administer of Pierce’s estate, who requires the study group to undergo a polygraph test as part of Pierce’s last wishes. It’s the most rapid-fire the show’s ever been, yet still keeping its heart intact.

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Things I Wrote: Summer 2019

I have somehow gone this far into 2019 without doing a round-up post on things I’ve written for respectable publications thus far. This is Part Three. (Find Part One here and Part Two here.)

REVIEWS (for College Movie Review)
Dark Phoenix
Once upon a Time in Hollywood
The Kitchen
Good Boys
Angel Has Fallen

ARTICLES (for Central Track)
Coming Attractions – June 2019
Coming Attractions – July 2019
Coming Attractions – August 2019

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Things I Wrote: Spring 2019

I have somehow gone this far into 2019 without doing a round-up post on the things I’ve written for respectable publications thus far. This is Part Two. (Find Part One here.)

REVIEWS (for College Movie Review unless otherwise noted)
Captain Marvel
Greener Grass
Little Woods
Teen Spirit
The Hustle
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
All Is True
Domino (Central Track)

ARTICLES (for Central Track)
Coming Attractions – March 2019
Coming Attractions – April 2019
Coming Attractions – May 2019

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Things I Wrote: Winter 2019

I have somehow gone this far into 2019 without doing a round-up post on things I’ve written for respectable publications thus far. This is Part One.

REVIEWS (for College Movie Review, unless otherwise noted)
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (Fresh Fiction)
The Kid Who Would Be King
Apollo 11
The Sharks
Birds of Passage
Give Me Liberty
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
This Is Not Berlin
Where’s My Roy Cohn?
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
They Shall Not Grow Old
Miss Bala
Isn’t It Romantic
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

ARTICLES (for Central Track)
Coming Attractions – January 2019
Coming Attractions – February 2019

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What I Watched This Week: 1 Sep 2019

The Righteous Gemstones – “They Are Weak, But He Is Strong” (B+)
Walton Goggins arrives as Baby Billy Freeman and tears the roof off the place. The show grows darker in its final moments, and it’s becoming clear this is more of a crime drama than a wacky comedy, but it’s still not a bad thing.

The Office – Season 1 (A- average)
A so-so pilot gives way to a strong debut season, one that’s a lot meaner than the show would become. But in some ways, I think I actually prefer the pudgy, thin-haired, obliviously cruel Michael Scott than the big softie who just wants to be loved that he became.

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What I Watched This Week: 25 Aug 2019

The Righteous Gemstones – “Is This the Man Who Made the World Tremble” (A-)
A nastier, funnier episode than the premiere. But then it pulls off one of the most jaw-dropping twists I’ve seen on TV in some time. Was not expecting anything like that, especially from this show.

The Righteous Gemstones – Pilot episode (B+)
Not quite as gut-busting as I was hoping, but still an extremely strong pilot. It knows what kind of show it wants to be. That’s just not the show I was expecting.

Schitt’s Creek – Season 1 (A- average)
A delightful, sweet fishes-out-of-water comedy that grows on you, just like the titular town.

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Streaming Picks: September 2019

Top Picks
Kicking and Screaming – Hulu and Prime 9/4
Ravenous – Hulu 9/1
Mouse Hunt – Prime 9/30
Superbad – Netflix 9/1

The world is literally on fire, so I’m recommending comedies to take your mind off that for a bit. First up is Superbad, which has had some imitators in the past 12 years, but no equals. Its dead-on portrayal of high school seniors in the mid-00s still feels authentic, while never being less than hilarious.

Then we’ve got two ’90s entries that I only recently discovered. Kicking and Screaming is a hilarious and sometimes self-lacerating portrait of a group of college students and the aimless year after they graduate. Who knew talking about pop culture minutiae instead of getting your shit together would feel so relevant? Ravenous had a troubled production and flopped hard in the legendary 1999, but its cult has grown over the years, thanks to the pitch-black comedy of a Union officer (Guy Pearce) stationed in remote California, who discovers a cannibal in his camp.

And then there’s the wild and wildly inappropriate Mouse Hunt, Gore Verbinski’s somehow PG-rated tale of two broke brothers and their attempts to restore the house they inherited. It’s pretty much a Tom and Jerry cartoon come to life, but with lots of jokes that are absolutely not for kids.

Recent Selections
After the Screaming Stops – Hulu 9/1
Bolden – Hulu and Prime 9/1
A Dog and Pony Show – Hulu 9/1
Monsters at Large – Hulu 9/1
Rebel in the Rye – Netflix 9/1
Red Dog: True Blue – Hulu 9/1
Turtle Tale – Hulu 9/1
Matriarch – Hulu 9/2
We Die Young – Hulu 9/3
The World We Make – Netflix 9/4
Article 15 – Netflix 9/6
Hotel Mumbai – Hulu 9/9
Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure – Netflix 9/9
Curious George: A Royal Monkey – Hulu 9/10
Head Count – Netflix 9/13
We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Netflix 9/14
Aniara – Hulu 9/19
Crypto – Hulu 9/19
Daddy Issues – Netflix 9/20
Furie – Netflix 9/25
Teen Spirit – Hulu 9/30

Untouchable – Hulu 9/2
Late Night – Prime 9/6
Tall Girl – Netflix 9/13
Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates – Netflix 9/20
In the Shadow of the Moon – Netflix 9/27

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What I Watched This Week: 11 Aug 2019

Legion – “Chapter 27” (A-) / series finale
About as satisfying a wrap-up as a show this messy and ambitious could have. Whereas last year’s musical showdown (set to the Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes”) was a letdown, this year’s (set to Pink Floyd’s “Mother”) felt a lot more resonant and fulfilling. The ending doesn’t let David off the hook, but it does make right a lot of his mistakes. While this show was inconsistent, it was one of the most daring things on American TV.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Mayday” (A) / season finale
Last season’s rescue mission felt frustrating because June went back after all that effort to get her back. But this season justified it and then some, as she focused the energy she had to save her daughter (who’s now God knows where) on rescuing as many other stolen children as she could. The reunion of Kiki and her dad was one of the most emotionally overwhelming things I’ve seen on TV this year. And the show’s girl power moment felt earned, unlike the one in Avengers: Endgame.

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Too Early for This: Oscar Picks – 13 Aug 2019

With the announcement of a new Academy president (a casting director, no less), there’s buzz building that the Oscar will finally honor ensemble casts, or at least the casting director that helped pick them out. We’ll see if that actually becomes a category, but for now, we’ll stick with the usual.

The Farewell
Ford v. Ferrari
The Goldfinch
The Irishman
Just Mercy
The Laundromat
Little Women
Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Queen & Slim

The skinny: Starting with 10 this year, because there is absolutely no frontrunner at the moment, and only The Farewell and Once upon a Time in Hollywood have even been released so far. Most of these are premiering at Telluride, Toronto and/or Venice, so it would be very easy for one or more to get sunk by bad early buzz. Dry Run and The Last Thing He Wanted (both starring Anne Hathaway) don’t even have a firm release date, while Fair and Balanced certainly seems likely since Vice was a big player last year, but there’s been nary a peep about Showtime’s The Loudest Voice miniseries, which covers the same topic.

Sam Mendes, 1917
Lulu Wang, The Farewell
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino, Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim

The skinny: Is this finally the year the Academy nominates more than one woman here? It would certainly seem possible finally, especially since Greta Gerwig – already a nominee for Lady Bird – has a surefire contender in Little Women.

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Robert De Niro, The Irishman
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Tom Hanks, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Daniel Kaluuya, Queen & Slim

The skinny: Tom Hanks hasn’t been nominated since Cast Away, despite consistently turning in great work. Playing Mr. Rogers seems like a lock, but recent history would suggest otherwise. And Antonio Banderas should finally get to call himself a nominee, especially if Pain and Glory hits as big as Roma.

Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Brie Larson, Just Mercy
Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim
Renée Zellweger, Judy

The skinny: Unless it turns out to be a fiasco like The Birth of a Nation, Cynthia Erivo can go ahead and start writing her acceptance speech.

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