2017 Guild Awards Honor Children’s Television

gortimer gibbons

It’s awards season! In terms of literature, the Youth Media Awards just announced the best YA books of the year. And the various guild awards, particularly the Writers Guild Awards, the Producers Guild Awards, and the Directors Guild Awards, have respective television categories dedicated to children’s television. The only major Guild award to not have a special category for children’s media is, of course, the relatively bare bones Screen Actors Guild Awards. Let’s take a quick at the nominees for each award group.

Compared to the other guild awards, the PGAs are relatively new at recognizing children’s television. I’m not exactly sure when the separate category for children’s television was inaugurated, but I’m pretty sure the category hasn’t been around for as long as the ones for the WGAs and the DGAs. Last year, I was pretty hard on the group’s nominations. This year, with the inclusion of Girl Meets World and School of Rock, the list is a little more promising although, as we will see, not nearly as exciting as the other two award groups. Rounding out the nominees are last year’s winner Sesame Street, Spongebob Squarepants (a show that’s been around since I was eight, but it is apparently only in its 10th season), and some show called Octonauts, which I’m guessing is about octopus astronauts. Am I right? Am I really correct here? It would be nice to see Girl Meets World get a goodbye hug here, but if the voters are as lazy choosing a winner as they are choosing the nominees, then Sesame Street will most likely win again (can they just have a separate category for preschool shows? How can a show for preschoolers be compared to a show written for the 10-16 age group?)

The WGAs are always a little weird. They have two separate categories: one for regular series and the other for one-off TV specials; however, the latter category has rarely been used the last decade or so. Sometimes, they are no winners or nominees in that category. Last year, the only nominee was Disney’s The Descendants. Presumably, that movie won. This year, however, in the longform category, there are three nominees. This category has not had competitive “nominees” since 2011, and at least three of them since 2009. Oh happy day! The actual nominees themselves are, overall, mediocre, in my opinion, however. Youtube Red’s Dance Camp (the summary of the movie is the title pretty much) would be my pick for the win. However, I think, clearly the Sesame Street Christmas special with the all star celebrity cast has the best chance at winning. Daytime Emmy winner RL Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls rounds out the nominees.

The WGAs also have a children’s television category for episodes of regular series. Last year, the WGAs (rightfully) filled the category with episodes of Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. This year, the show has a chance at repeating with “Mel vs. The Night Mare of Normal Street;” an episode where Mel tries to come to terms with her mother’s death from last season. It is the best overall show in the category, and this episode is most deserving of the win. But, this is a very solid category. Amazon’s other series, Just Add Magic, is nominated for “Just Add Mom,” along with Sesame Street for “Mucko Polo, Grouch Explorer” and Girl Meets World’s “Girl Meets Commonism,” an episode that actually (gasps!) argues against communism. This is Girl Meets World’s third year being nominated here, and it’ll probably be its last (unless voters remember the cancelled show by December of this year). Again, like the PGAs, I could see voters wanting to honor an unrewarded show that’s ending; but, as I’ve learned, industry award voters aren’t usually very sentimental. Again: Mucko Polo, Grouch Explorer is nominated.

The DGAs, like the PGAs, only have one category devoted to Children’s television. Individual series episodes have to compete against TV Movies and Documentaries. When it comes to its nominations, the DGAs usually lean towards the movies. A “DCOM” is always guaranteed a slot. This time around, the channel’s 100th DCOM, Adventures in Babysitting, received a nod for its director John Schultz. He’s probably the favorite to win. Hallmark Channel’s A Nutcracker Christmas received a surprise nod here. I believe this is the first time a Hallmark movie has a received a nomination in this category (at least one that first aired on the channel). A Nutcracker Christmas is about a former ballerina (Amy Ackler) who reluctantly allows the daughter of her deceased sister join a prestigious dance troupe for their annual performance of The Nutcracker. It’s actually a really good family movie and I’m impressed that it got recognized here.

But I hope any one of the other nominees wins. I already wrote about American Girl’s Melody 1963: Love Has to Win. It’s one of the best specials of the year. The script is a bit half baked, but the period drama is certainly shot perfectly. Once again, Gortimer Gibbon’s received a nod here, this time for the season 3 premiere where Gortimer magically becomes skilled in every activity he tries. Every episode of that show has top notch direction that rivals any adult show out there. But…it is a little disappointing that Luke Matheny couldn’t also get a nomination for the touching series finale. But, the DGAs, unlike the WGAs, are pretty strict when it comes to the number of nominees; usually, there are no more than five. And it’s absolutely wonderful that the fifth spot went to the pilot episode of The Kicks, Amazon’s newest high quality children’s series about a struggling soccer team. Overall, I want Gortimer Gibbon’s to win a DGA, but the Amazon programs, as a whole, clearly rule this category. C’mon, voters! Think outside the box for once!

I also want to quickly mention that the Humanitas Prize announced its finalists for their “Live Action” children’s category. Once again, Melody 1963 received a nomination, along with Degrassi’s #TurntUp (an episode that deals with mental health) and Girl Meets World’s “The Forgiveness Project,” which would have been a better representation for its WGA nod. Truly, one of the more emotionally satisfying episodes of the series. Any of these programs could win.

Although, I have to say, it’s very disappointing that the Saturday morning CBS drama The Inspectors was snubbed across the board. Do voters even realize this show exists? That’s the only explanation I can think of for these snubs. At least a writing nod would have been appropriate. Well, hopefully, the Daytime Emmys will come through again!

The winners will be announced at various times. I will update this page when they are.

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

2016 Emmys FYC #2 (Amazon Originals)

It’s that time again! That’s right. It’s Emmy season. And ballots for most of the major categories have been released to the public. For the next few weeks, I will be discussing and making pleas for some of the “children,” family, and youth programs from the 2015-2016 season that I believe deserve a shot an Emmy. I’ll also, of course, predict whether these programs even have a chance in the first place. 

gortimer

After its success with Transparent, it looks like Amazon is ramping up its Emmy campaign this year, most notably in regards to two of its children’s series. While Annedroids was submitted for Daytime Emmy consideration (and received a bunch of nominations as a result), Amazon (or the producers/TPTB) has decided to submit Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street and Just Add Magic for Primetime Emmy consideration. Since, unlike with the Daytime Emmys, there are fewer categories exclusively for “Children’s Programming” (really, just one category), the actors, directors and writers from both those shows are being submitted in categories that more “adult” comedy series would also be submitting. So, for example, in regards to Gortimer Gibbon‘s, Sloane Morgan Siegel is submitted as a Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, while his co-stars Ashley Boettcher and Drew Justice are submitted in the supporting categories. Meanwhile, Lost alum Elizabeth Mitchell submitted as a Guest Actress for her performance in the season 2 standout “Mel vs. the Future.” Likewise, the six actresses (half teens, half adult) that make up the cast of Just Add Magic also submitted in the categories that have been dominated by the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Allison Janney. The programs themselves are, of course, being submitted in the “Children’s Program” category.

It’s a fun gamble on Amazon’s part. It’s also unexpected. Children’s programs don’t usually get recognition outside their designated category. There are a few exceptions. Alfre Woodard received an Emmy nomination in 1990 for her performance in the “Children’s Program” A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story. The next year, the Disney Channel movie Mark Twain and Me won the Children’s Program category and its director Daniel Petrie received a Directing in a TV Movie or Miniseries nomination. The Kevin Sullivan produced programs Avonlea and Anne of Green Gables also received recognition both in and out the Children’s program category. And, of course, Kenny Ortega received a surprise Directing nomination for High School Musical (he won an Emmy for choreography). So, it’s not impossible for a Children’s Series to break though…but, again, it’s a gamble. I remember almost a decade ago when Miley Cyrus submitted herself in the Lead Comedy Actress category for Hannah Montana. She actually received a little buzz, but didn’t even make the shortlist (that was the year when the Emmys had “shortlists.”) Disney Channel (and Nickelodeon) submit its programs for Emmy consideration, but not their actors. Dove Cameron and Laura Marano probably choose to submit for themselves, considering none of their co-stars show up on the ballots.

But if there’s a “children’s program” that deserves to “break out” of the Children’s Program category, it’s Gortimer Gibbon‘s. It is currently the best looking children’s show on television. And its season two finale “Gortimer, Ranger And Mel Vs. The Endless Night”(which is submitted in both the Directing and Writing” categories) remains one of the best half hours of television this season. Ashley Boettcher’s performance in “Mel vs. the Future” (the episode where her character’s mother unexpectedly dies) is heartbreaking. She’d make my top six in the Supporting Actress category. Even Just Add Magic, a wonderful show based off the book about three girls who concoct magic recipes, is pretty close to Gortimer’s quality. I wish the Primetime Emmys, like the Daytime Emmys or even the Canadian Screen Awards, respected children’s television more and offered separate categories for the performers, writers and directors of this genre. But, in my opinion, the performers, writers and directors of these Amazon Originals can stand by the ones who make more general television. So, Emmy voters, open your mind, get an Amazon Prime subscription, and actually be unpredictable for once!

What are the chances?

Well, hopefully, GG and JAM will at least get nominated in the Children’s Program category. Both shows have a good chance. Just Add Magic is apparently Amazon’s most popular Kids program. Sometimes, I think voters just choose shows their grandchildren are watching (mixed in with an important HBO doc and the token Nick News special). Maybe they’re watching Just Add Magic. Meanwhile, Gortimer Gibbon’s has had a pretty successful awards run this year so far, winning the Humanitas and the Writers Guild Award. It was also the only series (not special) to get a Director’s Guild nomination. There isn’t another children’s show that’s received more acclaim this year…but, Amazon is still pretty new to the Emmy race. An “online series” has never received a nomination in the Children’s category (although they haven’t existed for very long). I hope hope hope the recognition from the guilds is enough to give Gortimer Gibbon’s an edge. But, again, with Nick News and HBO guaranteed at least a spot each (and Degrassi also most likely in the mix), Amazon will have to compete with Disney Channel for those remaining two slots.

Guild Awards Recognize Children’s Television

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Here’s a pop quiz: What do the Writers Guild Awards, the Directors Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Prize have in common? They all nominated Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street for their Children’s Program categories. It is the only show this year to gain this distinction. If you’ve watched the series, it’s very easy to see why. For all the recent bellyaching I’ve done about the current state of youth television, I did overlook a show that is pretty much doing everything right. Gortimer Gibbon’s, which is currently available through Amazon Video, is a show about three friends and their encounters with the strange stuff that happens in their community (“Normal Street”). The show is speculative (which has never been my favorite umbrella genre of fiction), but it’s also grounded and simple. The show features real issues that all teens go through, just with little touches of fantasy, mystery, and sci fi here and there. It’s similar to the unfairly cancelled Spooksville, but, admittedly, that was a show I admired and appreciated more than genuinely enjoyed. In my opinion, Gortimer Gibbon’s is my probably  favorite speculative children’s series since…Phil of the Future? (a two-season series that Disney cancelled for the awful Cory in the House almost ten years ago). The difference is that while Phil of the Future played for laughs, Gortimer Gibbon’s is never afraid of being dramatic and displaying raw emotion from the characters. Really, there are moments that straight up make me cry (yes, I’m talking about “Mel vs. the Future”).

Along with the stories, the writing, and the A+ performances, this show has terrific technical credits. I’ve made this point before, but it’s refreshing that while Disney and Nickelodeon are mostly filming their series with multi-camera to save money, children’s series like Gortimer Gibbon’s and CBS’s The Inspectors are taking advantage of the power of single camera. Single camera looks better, and gives more storytelling opportunities. The world doesn’t have a fourth wall inhabited by a live audience. Single camera just looks and feels more real, and I’m so glad Gortimer Gibbon‘s invests in that realness, while other shows that use visual effects like Liv and Maddie and The Haunted Hathaways inexplicably don’t. Along with the cinematography — the editing, the MUSICAL SCORE, and the animated sequences are all top notch. I can’t get enough of this show. It’s pretty much “hit or hit.”

The show was created by David Anaxagoras. Luke Matheny, who won an Oscar a few years ago for Short Film (I remember him for his hair during that Oscar ceremony) also executive-produces the show. It stars Sloane Morgan Siegel as Gortimer Gibbon, along with the Emmy nominated Robyn Lively as his mom, and Drew Justice and Ashley Boettcher, who play his best friends. The show premiered in 2014 and its second season premiered last fall. The final season will air spring of this year. I really wish this show wasn’t ending (couldn’t we follow the characters through high school?) But I trust that Amazon will continue to invest in high quality live-action children’s television.

Anyway, this post is really supposed to be about the children’s programs nominated for the WGA, DGA, PGA, and Humanitas. Let’s start with the PGA’s because that group is the lamest.

Producers Guild of America Nominees for Outstanding Children’s Program:

1. Doc McStuffins
2. The Fairly Oddparents
3. The Octonauts
4. Sesame Street
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
6. Toy Story That Time Forgot

Hm…it seems like the voters pretty much nominated shows their grandkids watch on Saturday morning. They seem to think children’s television only includes cartoons and preschool shows. I have all the respect in the world for Sesame Street. And any show that tells little black girls they can be doctors is tops in my book. But, really, I don’t care who wins here. I didn’t even realize Fairly OddParents was making new episodes. For the sake of fairness, I think I’d want Doc McStuffins to win, but Sesame Street will most likely win again. Winner will be announced Jan. 23.

Writers Guild of America Nominees for Children’s Episodic 

1. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (“Gortimer, Ranger and Mel vs. The Endless Night”) – Gretchen Enders and Aminta Goyel
2. Girl Meets World (“Girl Meets I am Farkle”)
3. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (“Gortimer and the Surprise Signature”) – Garrett Frawley and Brian Turner
4. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (“Gortimer vs The Relentless Rainbow of Joy”) – David Anaxagoras and Luke Matheny
5. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (“Ranger and The Fabled Flower of Normal Street”) – Laurie Parres

This is the second year in a row the writers have nominated one episode of Girl Meets World with multiple episodes of another show. Last year, Girl Meets World was beaten by Haunted Hathaways (a show Nickelodeon ended, probably because they realized that kid ghosts can’t age). This year, Girl Meets World might actually win, with a relatively profound episode that deals with the possibility of Farkle having Asperger’s. However, I think Gortimer Gibbon’s is the stronger show, and any of the episodes represented would be more deserving of the win. These episodes center around dealing with the death of a parent, “estranged” fathers, and respecting the earth. However, if I had a choice, I’d give it to “Gortimer and the Surprise Signature” because the episode’s astute comparisons between alienation and being a ghost are really refreshing and poignant, even if it’s not as emotional and gut wrenching as the others in this category. Winner will be announced Feb. 13.

The Writers Guild also has a separate category for “long form” television, which means “TV movies.” For some strange reason, the writer’s guild rarely finds television films worthy of this category. Last year, there were no nominees or winners. This year, only the Disney movie Descendants (Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott) received a nomination…which means it pretty much won…unless there’s something I don’t know. I feel like a year that gave us Bad Hair Day and Teen Beach 2 should be honored with more nominees. Oh well! Good for them!

Directors Guild of America Nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs

1. Invisible Sister – Paul Hoen
2. Sesame Street (“The Cookie Thief”) – Joey Mazzarino
3. Descendants – Kenny Ortega
4. Saving My Tomorrow (“Part 3”) – Amy Schatz
5. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (“Gortimer and the Vengeful Violinist”) – Sasie Sealy

Once again, I am #teamGortimer. Gortimer Gibbon’s is beautifully directed, and this episode is no exception. It deals with Gortimer, haunted by the sounds of a daunting violin, finding the courage to tell his father the truth about his aspirations. Just watch it! It’s great. Sasie Sealy is the only first time nominee here. Paul Hoen and Amy Schatz are strong DGA favorites, having won multiple times before. Joey Mazzarino is nominated for the second year in a row for a clever and star filled Cookie Monster special. However, if I were making a prediction, I’d put my money on Ortega. Descendants was a big hit last year, and Ortega won his last DGA in this category for the first High School Musical movie. Winner will be announced Feb. 6.

Humanitas Prize Nominees for Children’s Live Action Television

1. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (“Gortimer and the Surprise Signature”) – Garrett Frawley and Brian Turner
2. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street (“Ranger and the Legend of Pendragon’s Gavel”) – Gretchen Enders
3. Liv and Maddie (“Rate-a-Rooney”) – Jennifer Keene

OK…I’ll stop salivating over Gortimer Gibbon’s. Earlier, I threw a little shade at Liv and Maddie; but the truth is, the show is occasionally well written with great performances, particularly from Dove Cameron who pulls a Hayley Mills here, and the always hilarious Kali Rocha, who plays the mom. This episode is about the senior boys at Liv and Maddie’s school who rate the girls in school online. It’s not the most unique story line, but the episode ends with an original song that freshens things up a bit. Meanwhile, “Ranger and the Legend of Pendragon’s Gavel” is a political allegory that will probably be written about in college students’ theses for years to come. Once again, “Gortimer and the Surprise Signature” should win, and this time I actually think the show has a chance…unless the show splits votes. I don’t know. I don’t know how voting works here. Winner will be announced Feb. 11.