2016 Emmys Review (Misc. Categories…Part 2)

childrens hospital

Even though this blog is supposed to mostly be dedicated to youth media and programming, I just can’t resist talking about the Emmy nominees this year (despite the harsh feelings I had for Margo Martindale’s win for a two minute cameo last year.) So, I will be reviewing many of the categories this year, including all the important comedy, drama, TV Movie and limited series ones. I’ll even discuss some of the “less recognized” categories, like, of course, Children’s Programming, music, variety series, and more. So, stick around, TAKE MY OPINION SERIOUSLY!!…thank you.

PS…these are not “predictions.” These rankings are based on my own subjective personal preference. My actual objective predictions will most likely come closer to the actual ceremony date (although I suck at doing those…)

These are more of the “less recognized” categories. This post is mostly focused on some of the new short form categories, children’s and animated programming, and nonfiction specials. Pretty wide tent if you ask me. NO ONE ELSE ON THE INTERNET IS DOING THIS SO YOU’RE WELCOME.

Children’s Program:

Ranking

  1. Girl Meets World (Disney Channel)
  2. School Of Rock (Nickelodeon)
  3. Dog With a Blog (Disney Channel)
  4. Nick News With Linda Ellerbee: Hello, I Must Be Going! 25 Years Of Nick News With Linda Ellerbee (Nickelodeon)
  5. It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown! (ABC)

Nick News will go down in history as one of the greatest children’s television programs of all time. And I expect the show will win one more well-earned Emmy. However, as well-made as the finale was, it’s, like, 99% past footage from episodes that have already won the show a boatload of Emmys. Frankly, I’m rooting for one of the scripted sitcoms that hasn’t won yet. Girl Meets World isn’t a perfect show. Sometimes its preachiness is clumsily executed and awkward. But, I at least appreciate the producers for being bold and not afraid of discussing real issues with a nice dose of drama and sentimentality. School of Rock is a fun reboot of a millennium classic, and Dog with a Blog is frequently clever and funny despite its premise; but if my Gortimer Gibbon’s couldn’t get a nomination (seriously HOW???) then Girl Meets World winning is the next best thing.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

Best Friends Whenever, Degrassi: Next Class, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street, The HALO Effect: Jaylen’s Challenge, Just Add Magic, Liv And Maddie,  Massively Mixed-Up Middle School Mystery, My Depression: The Up And Down And Up Of It

Animated Program:

Ranking

  1. Bob’s Burgers – “The Horse Rider-er” (FOX)
  2. Phineas and Ferb – “Last Day of Summer” (Disney XD)
  3. South Park – “You’re Not Yelping” (Comedy Central)
  4. Archer – “The Figgis Agency” (FX)
  5. The Simpsons – “Halloween of Horror” (FOX)

I haven’t regularly watched The Simpsons in maybe five or six years. I don’t love this episode of The Simpsons like most critics and fans seem to, but I did get a kick out of  the “NC-17 Halloween” number. I had pretty mixed feelings about this season of South Park (appreciate the serial nature, but that “police brutality” episode was a head scratcher). This episode, however, which lampoons Yelp reviewers, is the season highlight. Once again, a musical number is the episode’s highlight. In the end, I’d like to see either Bob’s Burgers or Phineas and Ferb win. Phineas and Ferb’s series finale (which is akin to Groundhog’s Day) is two parts cleaver, one part heart…and another part hilarious. Phineas and Ferb has been around since I was in high school. It finally seems like a chapter of Disney Channel is closing. However, Bob’s Burgers is just so funny, and this episode in particular (Tina goes to horse camp) is just delightful. The show always seems to submit “Tina episodes.” Not a bad strategy, considering how she’s one of the best cartoon characters on television right now. Overall, I wish voters would go outside the box a bit more with their choices, but it’s not bad list of nominations.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

BoJack Horseman, F is for Family

Documentary or Nonfiction Special:

Ranking

  1. Listen To Me Marlon (Showtime)
  2. What Happened, Miss Simone? (Netflix)
  3. Everything Is Copy (HBO)
  4. Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures (HBO)
  5. Becoming Mike Nichols (HBO)

This year, all the nominees are really biographies of famous people who have passed away. So, as someone who hadn’t watched any of these specials before the nominations were announced, it was an interesting two days of reliving these stories of people I mostly looked up to. The only person I wasn’t familiar with was Robert Mapplethorpe, but I still found the documentary really well made and certainly more experimental than the disappointing Becoming Mike Nichols. Everything is Copy and Miss Simone feature honest, yet touching, portraits of Nora Ephron and Nina Simone respectively. However, Listen to Me Marlon is the one that really stands out. The documentary features no interviews. All the narration is comprised of rare personal audio recordings and interviews from Marlon Brando, with film and stock footage overlaying this audio. It’s an interesting angle from which to tell this story, and for that, it’s my top choice. As an unnecessary side note, there is another category that’s similar to this one titled “Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking,” which focuses more on documentaries that aim to have a more social impact. However, I will not be covering that category because I am lazy.

Worthy Snubbed Specials

30 for 30: Fantastic Lies, Jackie Robinson, Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper, Walt Disney

Short Form Animated Program:

Ranking

  1. Adventure Time – “Hall of Egress” (Cartoon Network)
  2. The Powerpuff Girls – “Once Upon A Townsville” (Cartoon Network)
  3. Robot Chicken – “Robot Chicken Christmas Special: The X-Mas United” (Adult Swim)
  4. Steven Universe – “The Answer” (Cartoon Network)
  5. SpongeBob SquarePants – “Company Picnic” (Nickelodeon)

This is a category I’ve never paid much attention to. I don’t really watch cartoons made for children anymore. I probably haven’t regularly watched one on television in a decade. So, before reviewing these episodes, I wasn’t familiar with Adventure Time or Steven Universe. I found Adventure Time‘s episode submission so intriguing, yet funny. I felt like the premise could have filled a two hour movie. I wanted more. It was so fascinating. I think the next time I’m channel surfing, I’ll stop at Cartoon Network if I see Adventure Time playing. Despite the bad reviews I’ve been reading, I quite enjoyed this episode of “New” Powerpuff Girls. I was obsessed with the show when I was little. It doesn’t seem to have the same grit as the original series, but, again, I liked this musical “Disney parody” the episode seemed to be going for. But, yeah…I don’t really watch these eleven minute cartoons anymore so…maybe I’m not an expert here.

Worthy Snubbed Program

Disney Mickey Mouse

Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Her Story (Youtube)
  2. Childrens Hospital (Adult Swim)
  3. UnREAL The Auditions (Lifetime)
  4. Hack Into Broad City (ComedyCentral.com)
  5. Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462 (AMC)

Really, this category, for me to you dawg, is between Childrens Hospital and Her Story. Childrens Hospital is a crazy, irreverent, hilarious series that ended earlier this year. The show certainly ended with a bang, and its final season had a lot of fun guest appearances and cameos. It’d be great if the show, which has boldly stood by its “short” format, won this relatively new category. I only put Her Story above it because Childrens Hospital has already won a couple Emmys, and it’d be so awesome to go one step further in recognizing a true independent project. Her Story is a six-part series about the dating lives of a couple transwomen. It’s a simple show, but it covers a lot of ground, and that simplicity is really refreshing. It’s a show that anyone could understand, and maybe even appreciate. The nomination was a huge surprise for its creators, so in a way they’ve already won. But what a statement a win would make! The other three shows are good, and it’s very nice that Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City can officially call themselves Emmy nominees; but I have to support real short form series, as opposed to companion programs of regular TV shows. Frankly, I’m not sure if both these types of shows should be competing against each other in the same category (I feel like the companion series belong in the “Interactive” category).

Worthy Snubbed Series

Acting Dead, Everyone’s Crazy But Us, Keith Broke His Leg, Lonely And Horny, Thingstarter, Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell

Short Form Nonfiction Or Reality Series:

Ranking

  1. A Year In Space (TIME)
  2. National Endowment For The Arts: United States Of Arts (arts.gov)
  3. Jay Leno’s Garage (NBC.com)
  4. Inside The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
  5. Roots: A New Vision (HISTORY)

Similar to my feelings in the previous “Short Form” category, I just can’t really root for “companion” series. As interesting as Inside The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is, it’s essentially one long commercial for the series. There’s more insight on the production of the limited series, rather than OJ, racial politics, and the case itself. Jay Leno’s Garage is good for people into cars (or Jay Leno). I’m not into either; but at least the show is its own thing and sort of commits to the “short form” format. Ultimately, I’d only be satisfied with my top two winning. United States of Arts is an interesting project sponsored by the NEA, where each state highlights their unique arts culture and accomplishments. There is a video overview for each state, and some supplemental information that’s more focused. It’s an interesting project, and I’m impressed that the Emmys found a way of honoring it. But my top vote goes to TIME’s A Year in Space – a documentary about Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko’s year long expedition into space. It’s a fascinating study, particularly the earlier episodes where Kelly’s preparing for the trip, and saying goodbye to his family. But it’s also incredibly shot. The cinematography is so gorgeous; this could have been a theatrical Oscar contender. But, at the same time, there’s something so simple and earnest about the documentary, most having to do with the fact these astronauts are simple people who don’t feel the need to boast about their accomplishments. It’s one of the best documentaries of the season. The OJ Simpson program is going to win a lot of Emmys in the limited series categories. Let’s give this one to real, honest nonfiction achievement.

 

Actor In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Rob Huebel – Childrens Hospital
  2. Rob Corddry – Childrens Hospital
  3. Lou Diamond Phillips – The Crossroads Of History (“Columbus”)
  4. Oscar Nuñez – The Crossroads Of History (“Columbus”)
  5. Jack McBrayer – Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell (“Shoulder Work”)

So this is the first year the Emmys have honored performance in a short form series. For once, they’re actually taking the Daytime Emmys’ lead (I wish they’d consider adding more Children’s Programming categories but that’s another post for another time). It’s a strange category because series regulars are competing against guest stars. Not that a guest star couldn’t be worthy of an Emmy, but, right now, I am rooting for either Huebel or Corddry to take the top prize for really their 7+ years. Huebel as Owen had some really funny moments this season, from dating his own mother to uncovering a tongue depressor conspiracy. Corddry, who is the creator of the show, and, with his permanent face makeup, is the most recognizable element, also does great stuff in “DOY” as his character accepts his Doctor of the Year award, an award he always wins because he’s the one who oversees it. If a guest star has to win, Lou Diamond Phillips stands out as the dry and sarcastic Chieftain whom Columbus meets during his first trip to America.

Worthy Snubbed Actors

Lloyd Ahlquist (Epic Rap Battles Of History), Diedrich Bader (Everyone’s Crazy But Us), Brian Beacock (Acting Dead), Amir Blumenfeld (Lonely and Horny), Jake Hurwitz (Lonely and Horny), Brendan Meyer (Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462), Keith Powell (Keith Broke His Leg), Peter Shukoff (Epic Rap Battles Of History), Henry Zebrowski (Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell)

Actress In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Erinn Hayes – Childrens Hospital
  2. Tracie Thoms – Send Me
  3. Michelle Ang – Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462
  4. Janey Varney – Everyone’s Crazy But Us
  5. Patrika Darbo – Acting Dead

This a stronger category than “Actor.” You could make the case for any of these actresses. Seeing Patrika Darbo of Step by Step and soap fame with a Primetime Emmy nomination makes me giddy. Reminiscent of Sydney Pollack in Tootsie, she plays the kooky agent of a struggling actor. Everyone’s Crazy But Us is a funny comedy web series that does a better job at showing marriage squabbling than This is 40 (and Varney and her screen partner Diedrich Bader work well together). I have zero interest in watching Walking Dead or the other show, but Michelle Ang’s performance has some fierce urgency to it. Send Me, about a married couple who has the power to send people back to slave times, has an intriguing premise, but so-so execution. However Thoms purely dramatic performance stands out from the others. But, ultimately, I want the actors from Childrens Hospital to win these acting categories. They never had the chance during the 7 previous years the show was airing. This would be a great opportunity. Besides that, Erinn Hayes is comedic gem, particularly in the episode where she reunites with an old acapella group. I just wish Lake Bell could have received a nomination as well…

Character Voice-Over Performance:

Ranking

  1. Trey Parker – South Park (“Stunning and Brave”)
  2. Seth MacFarlane – Family Guy (“Pilling Them Softly”)
  3. Matt Stone – South Park (“Tweek x Craig”)
  4. Keegan-Michael Key – Supermansion (“Puss in Books”)
  5. Chris Pine – Supermansion (“The Inconceivable Escape of Dr. Devizo”)

Goodness! What a sausage fest! It’s never good when all the nominees are men. But, I am very happy that creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker somehow finally received recognition for their voices (even if some of them are altered via computer technology). Trey Parker, in particular, for his performance as “PC Principal” is deserving of an Emmy. I don’t think there was a funnier scene this year than PC Principal beating up Cartman in the bathroom for not being “PC” enough. That scene alone puts Parker in my top rank. Seth MacFarlane, however, is a master at what he does, and he seems to continue getting nominations even though the show itself is mostly ignored. His voices as Peter, Quagmire, Stewie and Brian, after 15 years, are probably second nature to him. But, hey, he still nails it, and he chose the perfect episode that showcases all four characters.

Narrator:

Ranking

  1. Anthony Mendez – Jane The Virgin (“Chapter Thirty-Four”)
  2. Laurence Fishburne – Roots
  3. David Attenborough – Life Story (“First Steps”)
  4. Keith David – Jackie Robinson 
  5. Adrien Brody – Breakthrough (“Decoding the Brain”)

I feel like this shouldn’t be a category anymore, considering voters seem to be playing “famous name bingo” with four out of five of the nominees duller than dirt. Anthony Mendez is wonderful, and if he doesn’t win, it’ll be a travesty. But, arguably, he is sort of playing a character…at least enough of a character that he could compete in the other voice-over category and be competitive. The other four nominees? I feel if hosts can get nominated alongside producers in the Special Class category, then maybe narrators should just be nominated alongside producers in the main Nonfiction/Documentary category. Do you understand what I’m saying? I mean, these nominees are just talking…in their normal voices. I don’t even know how to judge this category, except for putting Mendez at number one. So, yes, Mendez is the only deserving nominee here.

Directing For A Nonfiction Program:

Ranking

  1. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos – Making A Murderer (“Fighting For Their Lives”)
  2. Matthew Heineman – Cartel Land
  3. Davis Guggenheim – He Named Me Malala
  4. Liz Garbus – What Happened, Miss Simone?
  5. David Gelb – Chef’s Table (“Gaggan Anand”)

He Named Me Malala received, for the most part, mixed reviews when it was first released. While I sort of understand that (the documentary does jump all over the place), I still think it’s a beautiful and inspiring portrait of a girl who risked her life for the greater good. The animated sequences (which I hope win special Emmys later on) in particular add a nice touch. Cartel Land gives us up-close intensity of the drug war that soils the Mexico/US border. However, Making a Murderer is one of my favorite documentary programs of the year. The series should pretty much win every category it’s nominated for. Demos and Ricciardi were technically nominated for the finale, but they actually directed all ten hours of the series. For all that, they deserve this Emmy. The series is just an intimate and upsetting look at how unreliable our justice system is. The ending makes us feel angry, but also fired up. They should win.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

Everything Is Copy, 30 for 30: Fantastic Lies, Jackie Robinson, Lip Sync Battle (“Channing Tatum Vs. Jenna Dewan Tatum”),  My Depression: The Up And Down And Up Of It, Walt Disney

Writing For A Nonfiction Program:

Ranking

  1. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos – Making A Murderer (“Fighting For Their Lives”)
  2. Anthony Bourdain – Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (“Borneo”)
  3. David McMahon and Sarah Burns – Jackie Robinson
  4. Mark Zwonitzer, Sarah Colt, and Tom Jennings – American Experience (“Walt Disney”)
  5. Jacob Bernstein – Everything Is Copy

This is a really strong category, and, in my opinion, any of these nominees would be worthy winners. But, once again, I have to give most of props to Making a Murderer. Unlike Jackie Robinson or the Walt Disney program, Murderer doesn’t feature much scripted narration, but it’s just so impressive how Ricciardi and Demos storyboarded this upsetting narrative. The way they tell this story is incredibly effective. The series deserves all the Emmys (including for Nonfiction Series, which I will not be covering for this year). Anthony Bourdain is second because his writing is so personal and clever, and occasionally funny. It stands out from the other nominees. And, of course, special shout out to Jacob Bernstein, the son of his documentary’s subject Nora Ephron. Everything Is Copy has a lot of heart, and just because it’s fifth here, doesn’t mean I think the writing is bad in any way. Again, strong category.

Worthy Snubbed Program

My Depression: The Up And Down And Up Of It

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