by Julian Spivey
The 42nd season of “Saturday Night Live” saw a major boost in the show’s ratings and recognition thanks to the wild political climate of the real world and the big-time actors called in by the show to portray these politicians, like Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The show also featured numerous favorite guests of the show, including Baldwin, Tom Hanks, McCarthy, Scarlett Johansson and Dwayne Johnson – all of whom are a part of the 5-Timers Club.
Here are the 10 best sketches of the 2016-17 ‘SNL’ season:
10. Amazon Echo
Ever since “Saturday Night Live” debuted in 1975 it’s commercial parodies have been among the highlights of the show. The best commercial parody this year was the Amazon Echo Silver for elderly people. The Amazon Echo Silver will respond to any name even remotely sounding like ‘Alexa’ and has an ”uh-huh” feature for long-rambling stories. Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones portraying elderly people is hilarious.
9. Jingle Barack
The best President Barack Obama farewell that ‘SNL’ had this year was during the Christmas episode hosted by Casey Affleck when Kenan Thompson and musical guest that week Chance the Rapper did a Run-D.M.C. “Christmas in Hollis” parody about Obama’s last Christmas as President that featuredd actual Run-D.M.C. member Darryl McDaniels and a verse from Leslie Jones. Among the funniest lines were: “kids enjoy the presents while you can/’cause next year you might get a bomb from Iran” and “drinking egg nog like I don’t care/I’m gonna hurt myself before we lose Obamacare.”
8. Aziz Ansari Monologue/7. Dave Chappelle Monologue
‘SNL’ monologues oftentimes seem like a waste of time because the hosts are actors or musicians who aren’t necessarily used to doing comedy, but I always look forward to ‘SNL’ monologues when stand-up comedians host because you know you’re basically going to get a shortened stand-up routine. This happened a few times this season when comedians Aziz Ansari, Dave Chappelle and Louis CK hosted with Ansari and Chappelle’s particularly standing out. Ansari did his monologue the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration and Chappelle’s came the Saturday after Trump was elected and gave each comedian ample material. Chappelle recently apologized for saying he “messed up” by telling America to give Trump “a chance” during his monologue, something many of us were surprised by when it aired.
6. Hillary Actually
One of the most creative political sketches that ‘SNL’ did this season came in December, the month after Donald Trump had won the election when they gave Kate McKinnon’s terrific Hillary Clinton impression the chance to mimic a key scene from the film “Love Actually.” In the scene, an elector played by Cecily Strong opens the door to find Clinton with a set of cue cards asking her to change her vote for the Electoral College.
5. Cathy Anne
Every season it seems that ‘SNL’ debuts a new recurring Weekend Update character for the ages and this year it was without a doubt Cecily Strong’s Cathy Anne, a white trash woman likely from the South who gives her hilarious two cents on political topics ranging from being an undecided voter to President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. The most fascinating part of Strong’s character is how she rattles off the almost indecipherable lines without tripping over herself. I look forward to seeing the character often in the future.
4. Haunted Elevator feat. David S. Pumpkins
There’s little doubt in my mind that David S. Pumpkins was the most talked about ‘SNL’ sketch of the season, even more so than any one Donald Trump or Sean Spicer sketch. This wild-and-wacky character played by Tom Hanks – with a wonderful glee that reminds us that one of the world’s greatest dramatic actors is terrific at sketch comedy, as well – came out of nowhere (actually the mind of new cast member Mikey Day) and took the nation by surprise with its absurdity. Much like the Larry David as Kevin Roberts sketch last season (that wound up at No. 5 on my season end list) the sketch relies on sheer absurdity for its laughs. Any questions?
3. Black Jeopardy!
Black Jeopardy! proved to be one of the show’s best recurring sketches last season, but this season’s lone appearance of the sketch may have been the greatest yet. The premise of the sketch has always been two black contestants competing against a confused white contestant who is completely out of the loop with black culture. But, during the Tom Hanks episode Hanks played a Trump supporter – someone you wouldn’t think would have too much in common with black culture. Well, it turns out we may all have similarities. This sketch was brilliantly written.
2. Sean Spicer
It seems ‘SNL’ has created a trend of famous celebrities not among the cast portraying political figures. It began in season 41 with comedian Larry David portraying Bernie Sanders and continued this season with Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. However, I don’t believe anybody saw Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer coming – and it was a brilliant choice. First, it’s amazing how much McCarthy looks like Spicer with all the makeup on. Second, she just absolutely owned the craziness that is a White House Press Briefing during the Trump era. It’ll be amazing if she doesn’t take home an Emmy for this performance.
1. Presidential Debates
The biggest boost “Saturday Night Live” has seen in years was owed to Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of Donald Trump and the zany antics of Trump that are too often hard to believe. You would think that would make the task of portraying Trump hard, but somehow Baldwin made it work. ‘SNL’ probably went to this well a few too many times during the season, but early on when the show mocked the Presidential debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton (brilliantly played by Kate McKinnon) it provided numerous laughs and proved why ‘SNL’ is always a little bit better in an election year.
by Julian Spivey
Late night television has been in the news a lot this week based on the emotional monologues of both Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert on their respective shows on Monday. Both moments were arguably highlights of each comedian’s late night stints, but as nothing in this country can seemingly be agreed upon both moments also brought out – well I’ll call it like I see it – a flurry of assholes.
Last week Jimmy Kimmel abruptly cancelled tapings of his ABC nightly talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and on his return Monday he tearfully announced that the cancellations were brought upon by the birth of his son Billy and health complications of his son, who required life-saving heart surgery. Billy will thankfully be OK, though he will require two more future surgeries, but the traumatic moment for Kimmel led to his most emotional moment on television where he talked of the importance of healthcare and challenged President Donald Trump’s views on it.
Kimmel said: “We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all. Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.
If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”
Kimmel’s monologue brought tears to the eyes of many, including myself, because not only was it emotional to hear his traumatic story, but because he was right about healthcare and the fact that the implementation of Trumpcare could cause many deaths – including those of innocent babies (who many conservatives only seem to care about when in the womb).
On Monday night, Kimmel’s monologue was well-received by many, but then conservative pundits took to the airwaves and social media on Tuesday to blast the late-night comedian for bringing politics into his monologue. They took a moment of absolute empathy and showed that they have absolutely no feelings for anyone other than themselves.
Former Illinois Sen. Joe Walsh (not to be confused with awesome rocker Joe Walsh) took to Twitter to spout this hatred: “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s heath care.”
And, if that wasn’t asshole-ish enough there was Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt who accused Kimmel of turning his personal story into a political one (which, by the way, he has every right to do as it’s his show).
Hurt wrote: “After his slobbering wet kiss to federal bureaucracy, Mr. Kimmel then went squealing on about Obamacare and how insurance companies, the government and your neighbors should all be forced to pay for everybody else's health care. Easy thing to say for a gazillionaire from Hollywood."
I can’t imagine how big of a prick one must be to run-down somebody who not only underwent such a horrific life moment, but also had the bravery to talk and cry about it to a national television audience.
But, while Kimmel was getting emotional over a family health crisis on Monday night Stephen Colbert was emotional in an angry sense with President Trump on his ‘Late Show’ over on CBS.
Over the weekend, President Trump appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview with CBS News political director John Dickerson, in which the President demeaned Dickerson’s show, profession and walked out of the interview when asked a reasonable question.
Colbert, who is friends with Dickerson, stood up for his friend and journalism in general with an angry set of jokes that culminated in: “The only thing your mouth [Trump’s] is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cockholster.” The last word was partially censored by CBS.
Almost immediately Trump supporters took to social media with the Twitter hashtag #FireColbert, which trended all day on Tuesday, decrying the late-night host for his joke and accusing him of homophobia. It’s laughable that Trump supporters would want someone fired for homophobia given who the Vice President is and the fact that Trump will supposedly sign an anti-gay religious freedom executive order in the upcoming days.
The reality of the #FireColbert campaign was that Trump supporters were butthurt over Colbert blasting President Trump and used political correctness, something they hate until they can use it for their own good, to cause trouble. Some even compared Colbert’s joke to former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s firing for sexual harassment, as if sexual harassment and a crude joke are equals.
Colbert gave a statement about his joke during his Wednesday monologue, even though he really didn’t need to do so.
Colbert said: “I had a few choice insults for the president … I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight. So, while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be. I’m not going to repeat the phrase, but I just want to say for the record, life is short, and anyone who expresses their love for another person, in their own way, is to me, an American hero.”
It’s that last part that seemed completely unnecessary, as only a real loon would have taken Colbert’s “cockholster” remark to be homophobic. Joking about oral sex, even when it’s an act of the same sex, isn’t homophobic. The joke would only be homophobic if the one telling it were to joke about how immoral or disgusting or wrong the act is – something Colbert did not do. Basically, the joke is about how under Putin’s thumb Trump is – nothing more.
The joke was one that took me by surprise a bit, just because I’m surprised it was something CBS would allow on air, but as someone who studied journalism in school and respects the medium I was mostly thrilled that Colbert took the time to stand up for journalism at a time when the President demeans it almost daily.
Frankly, I find it incredible that late night hosts are getting more personal and emotional on their shows. It makes them more down to earth, more affable. And, it’s important to note that these shows have their names on them and thus they can do and say as they please, if the network allows it. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.
by Julian Spivey
“Saturday Night Live” made history on Saturday, April 15 with the first ever episode to air live in all time zones throughout the country. Unfortunately, for everybody watching the historical episode was mostly a let-down.
I had great anticipation for this episode hosted by former ‘SNL’ cast member and current ‘Tonight Show’ host Jimmy Fallon, a man who’s do a terrific job hosting the show before. It just seemed that the writing staff didn’t do the show many favors this week, much like last week’s also anticipated, but ultimately disappointing show hosted by Louis CK.
Saturday’s episode got off to a decent start with the usual Alec Baldwin reprisal of President Donald Trump in an ‘Apprentice’ spoof where he must decide between keeping Steve Bannon, always hilariously portrayed as the Grim Reaper, or his son-in-law Jared Kushner, portrayed without speaking by Fallon, because apparently, nobody’s ever heard the man say a word. The had its moments, but I feel the frequent Baldwin as Trump bits have stalled. The scarier Trump gets in real life the less funny the portrayal on the show seems to be. An interesting tidbit I thought of during the episode is that many, including myself, have claimed Baldwin is a lock to win an Emmy for his portrayal as Trump. The obvious Emmy category would be ‘Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series,’ but the Emmys have a rule stating that an actor appearing in 50 percent or more of a show’s season isn’t eligible. Baldwin should be very near that mark.
Fallon’s monologue was unusual, partly because it wasn’t actually a monologue. Fallon simply took the time to cover David Bowie’s classic “Let’s Dance” while being followed behind the scenes of Studio 8H by choreographed dancers. It was unusual, but still worthwhile and fun.
The post-monologue sketch was the often-used Family Feud, which almost always runs too long and has gotten a little old, but I always find at least somewhat humorous for Kenan Thompson terrific Steve Harvey impression. The sketch featured a time-travel episode featuring celebrities from today against celebrities from the ‘70s, which seemed to be written to solely feature Fallon’s John Travolta impression from both eras and make him have to run back-and-forth on the stage during a live episode to do both. It was unique, but not necessarily funny.
One of the weakest bits of the night was the ‘Legally Blonde’ high school musical taped sketch that had one punchline of “high school musicals/plays are always” awkward that couldn’t carry an entire sketch.
It was followed by another one-note joke where an ex-boyfriend is trying to win back his girlfriend by performing Savage Garden’s “Truly, Madly, Deeply” for her before proposing and her saying, “No, you dragged a man off a plane this week.” It certainly wasn’t the place where I thought we’d get the obligatory United Airlines joke this week and got the loudest laugh of the night from the studio audience, but it was another example of how one joke can’t carry an entire sketch; something ‘SNL’ does too often these days.
The best part of the episode wasn’t even performed live in New York City, but (once again) uniquely from Los Angeles where Melissa McCarthy, another seemingly Emmy lock, reprised her impression as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. In his third performance as Spicer it felt like the bit was wearing a little thin, as well, but it was still hilarious.
Weekend Update was a snoozer this week, as it has been often lately. The worst aspect of it was the guest characters – the much too often used Jewish teen Jacob, played by Vanessa Bayer, and Kyle Mooney’s terrible stand-up comedian Bruce Chandling, by far the worst current Update character in the show’s rotation.
There wasn’t too much worth raving about during the second half of the episode, but it was kind of nice to see Fallon and former cast member Rachel Dratch bring back their classic Boston Teens – Sully and Zazu. It wasn’t my favorite sketch back in the day, but having not seen it in years it wasn’t unwelcomed.
The best bit during the second half of the show was the very last bit of the night, a pre-taped sketch of a director filming a basketball movie in which the extras attempting to play ball in the background of the scene are the world’s worst basketball players. It was an easy attempt at humor, but watching Fallon and Mikey Day suck at basketball did make me chuckle more than most anything did during the episode.
It was a historical night for ‘SNL’ airing live coast-to-coast for the first time in its legendary 42-year history, it’s just a shame the comedy couldn’t bring the A-game on the same night.
by Julian Spivey
NBC is celebrating its 90th anniversary as a network, starting out as a radio network and later television, this year and the Paley Center for Media paid tribute to the network with a three-hour retrospective on Sunday, Feb. 19. The milestone had me thinking of my all-time favorite NBC shows, and you could argue the network is the greatest of all-time based on its terrific output.
Here are my 10 favorite NBC shows of all-time:
10. “Late Night”
‘Late Night’ has seen four terrific hosts (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers) in its 35-year history on NBC who all have brought their own style and brand of humor to the show. It’s often been an edgier, funnier version of “The Tonight Show” that has led its hosts to often brighter and bigger careers in late night television.
Basically, any sitcom that has succeeded in the last 25-30 years owes a debt of gratitude to “Cheers,” which essentially took a group of completely different strangers, tossed them into one location and made a family out of them. The sexual tension between Sam and Diane in the show’s first seasons essentially created the “will-they-or-won’t-they” aspect we’ve seen in numerous sitcoms ever since.
8. “Mad About You”
“Mad About You” is probably the most underrated sitcom on NBC’s acclaimed “Must-See TV” comedy lineup of the ‘90s. It doesn’t have the legacy of a “Friends” or “Frasier,” but the show featured one of the most realistic relationships in television history with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt having one of the best chemistries of any duo on television.
Frasier Crane was honestly not one of the more interesting character on “Cheers,” but lo and behold the spinoff featuring his character actually made for a funnier show, in my opinion. “Frasier” featured Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce in terrific roles as sophisticated know-it-alls, who cracked us up with their one-upsmanship.
6. “Friday Night Lights”
On the surface “Friday Night Lights” might just seem like a show about football, but it truly captures the realities and hardships of small town life, relationships and friendships in a realistic way that hadn’t been seen often on network television. At the center of the show was the fantastic relationship portrayal by actors Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.
“Parenthood” brought realistic family drama to NBC (and network television in general) that it hadn’t seen in many years, and perhaps had never been done as well. The Braverman family instantly melted our hearts on a weekly basis and is likely the reason why NBC’s current hit “This Is Us” is what it is.
4. “30 Rock”
If you like absurdist and witty humor than “30 Rock,” from the brilliant and wacky mind of Tina Fey, is definitely for you. Fey took her time spent on “Saturday Night Live” as that show’s head writer and imagined what it would be like as an absurdist sitcom. The result became one of the most critically-acclaimed sitcoms in television history.
For a show about nothing “Seinfeld” was really quite something. Focusing on a group of four friends in New York that weren’t the greatest people in the world the show based on Jerry Seinfeld’s brand of stand-up about the little things in life became the most critically-acclaimed sitcom in television history.
2. “Saturday Night Live”
For more than 40 years “Saturday Night Live” has been at the center of pop culture on NBC. The greatest sketch comedy series of all-time has seen legends of comedy born on its stage and created numerous memorable sketches and moments that we will never be able to forget.
1. "The West Wing"
“The West Wing”In my opinion, there has never been a better or smarter drama on television than Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing.” “The West Wing” succeeded in making both politics and smart writing/television cool, something that many didn’t think was possible. The stellar performances all-around likely make the show’s cast the greatest ensemble in TV history.
by Julian Spivey
The sixth season of “Scandal,” delayed to the spring due to Kerry Washington’s pregnancy, premiered on Thursday, Jan. 26 with a predictable and fast-moving episode.
The season picks up on Election Night with First Lady and Republican candidate Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) believing she is about to be elected the first female President of the United States, before being shocked by Frankie Vargas being the winner. This all happens before the title card is even displayed.
I think “Scandal” chose to blow through the Presidential campaign and election far too quickly, which was also my take on the end of the show’s fifth season. I would’ve liked to have seen the drama and action spread out at least over a few episodes – but that doesn’t appear to be the way things are done in Shondaland. There’s a good chance that Washington’s pregnancy delaying the season until the end of January led to creator Shonda Rhimes speeding up the process to time the premiere’s Election Night shocker with the inauguration.
The big shock of the Election Night episode “Survival of the Fittest” wasn’t that Mellie lost the election, but that Vargas was assassinated during his victory speech. Except if you’re a fan of “Scandal” it wasn’t really that shocking, but rather predictable. The “surprise” of Vargas’ Vice President pick Cyrus Beene (the always entertaining Jeff Perry) being the one to have Vargas knocked off was also too predictable. Sure, there was a thought that it may have been Olivia’s father Rowan Pope (the excellent Joe Morton), who’s in a battle for the ages with Cyrus for TV’s biggest villain, but the death of Vargas didn’t have much for him to gain.
The only real question about the death of President-elect Vargas is … who is the shooter? We know the man arrested for doing it is a patsy. But, the show gave a big clue that it might be Jake Ballard (Scott Foley), who mysteriously went missing right after the election results and showed back up instantly as the fake shooter was detained. The shooter could easily be Jake, but in typical “Scandal” fashion this could also be a MacGuffin.
The most interesting aspect of the season six premiere of “Scandal” was the choice President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) had to make following the death of Vargas. Despite Vargas winning the election, the results would eventually come down to the Electoral College that didn’t necessarily have to go with Vargas’ VP choice. Fitz could’ve put in a good word for Mellie and gotten her the Presidency, as Attorney General David Rosen (Joshua Malina) said it would, but after being involved in fixed elections before Fitz was ready to make the right decision – despite not knowing he played right into Cyrus’ hand.
The only real question after the premiere of “Scandal” is can Olivia (Washington) and her team find a way to stop Cyrus from taking the oath of office, which should set up an interesting series of episodes down the road. I just felt like everything that happened in the premiere could’ve been seen from a mile away.
by Julian Spivey
“This Is Us” has been such a surprising hit out of the gates for NBC that the network made the rare decision to renew the show for not just a second season, but also a third on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Each season will feature at least 18 episodes.
President of NBC Entertainment Jennifer Salke told Deadline: “’This is Us’ is as good as anything we’ve ever had, we’re thrilled to renew it for two seasons and there’s no doubt it will have a long life at NBC.”
The show, which features a cast of Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz, is about two generations of the Pearson family and uniquely features two different timelines throughout the series.
“This Is Us” is no doubt one of the two or three best new dramas of the 2016-2017 network television season, and by far the buzziest. But, there’s one thing about the series that irrationally bugs the hell out of me and has since its debut was met with so much success and critical praise and it really has nothing to do with the show at all. This irrational irritant popped up again on Wednesday when the network decided to give the show two more seasons before its first even wrapped.
When “This Is Us” debuted the popular thing to do among critics was to compare the show to NBC’s previous realistic family drama “Parenthood,” which aired six seasons from 2010-2015. Other than being realistic portrayals of family life the two shows don’t hold many other similarities with “This Is Us” featuring two different timelines.
“Parenthood” was one of my all-time favorite TV dramas and while six seasons is a fantastic achievement for network television the show never really got the respect it deserved from NBC. Only half of its season received a full order of 18 or more episodes and the show was always seemingly on the chopping block come time for renewals and culminated in a final season where prices were cut so much for its survival that all the cast members had to appear in fewer episodes.
Fans of “Parenthood” were always on pins and needles come the spring when the fall schedules for the next season were announced and it was truly unfair for the network to do for such an amazing show.
“This Is Us” may become a classic TV drama, it’s too early to tell, but it’s kind of irritating to see the show get so much love from NBC when an arguably better series struggled so much and for so long just to survive. I understand it’s a ratings business and “This Is Us” first season is averaging more than twice the number of live viewers than the final season of “Parenthood” did two seasons ago, which is strange to me in general with the similarity of the two shows being family dramas, but it’s still something that draws a slight bit of jealousy from me.
“This Is Us” has been fantastic in its freshman season and I hope it continues to provide great entertainment, but “Parenthood” – I got your back.
by Julian Spivey
FX’s “Atlanta” is the wacky brainchild of multi-talented actor, comedian and rapper Donald Glover, who takes on multiple roles on the show as actor, writer and executive producer. Like “Black-ish,” “Atlanta” is able to give viewers a realistic and unique look at race, but in a more mature way without the constraints of network television. Glover plays Earn Marks, a Princeton dropout looking to make it as the manager of his hip-hop performer cousin Paper Boi (the hilarious Brian Tyree Henry). The first season was slightly uneven, in my opinion, but when it hits it hits hard. This one will make a lot of year end lists.
9. This Is Us
NBC’s “This Is Us” is the surprise hit drama of the fall network season, riding an incredible “you didn’t see it coming” shock ending to its pilot to a successful first half of its freshman season. The realistic family drama follows two generations of the Pearson family through two different eras, in a unique format that many network viewers haven’t seen before. The realism of the show is akin to former NBC series “Parenthood,” which was an all-time favorite of mine.
ABC’s “Black-ish” after only two and a half seasons has turned itself into the best sitcom on network television. The show following the Johnson family manages to make race funny in a way that we rarely ever see from a network comedy and more importantly it often does so in a manner that makes you think. The lead performances from Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross are among the best and funniest on television.
Fox’s “Pitch” is my favorite new series from the network’s fall season. Sure, as a huge baseball fan I’m probably a little biased, but the show has been incredibly entertaining and well-made. “Pitch” follows Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), the first woman to pitch professionally in Major League Baseball thanks to her mastery of the specialty screwball pitch. The show gets the life of baseball down pretty well and mixed the sports scenes with drama better than just about any show ever, outside of “Friday Night Lights.” “Pitch” recently wrapped its first season, but unfortunately due to low ratings it may not see a second.
6. Orange is the New Black
I know multiple people who were put off by the fact that Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” took on a more dramatic, dark turn in its fourth season. But, as someone who’s always enjoyed the dramatic aspects of the series a little bit more I absolutely ate it up. ‘OITNB’ got real in season fourth with topics that mirrored real life issues – like race relations and police (or in the show’s case guard) brutality. TV is often at its best when bringing in the realness of the world and ‘OITNB’ proved it tenfold.
5. The Blacklist
I must be honest about this one – I actually haven’t started the fourth season of NBC’s “The Blacklist” yet, with episodes piling up on my DVR to be binged at a later date. So, “The Blacklist” selection on this list is solely for the second half of the show’s third season, which wrapped up in May. In my opinion, season three of the show was its best yet with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) on the run and then presumed dead and Red Reddington’s (James Spader) reaction to both.
4. The People v. O.J. Simpson
It’s not often you see what is essentially a mini-series raved about as much as FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” was this spring. It took the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which took America’s interest by storm 20 years ago, and showed us an accurate behind the scenes portrayal featuring fantastic performances all around, especially from Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance and Sterling K. Brown. Creator Ryan Murphy will take on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the second installment of this series.
For years I’ve been watching the annual Emmy Awards and seeing Julia Louis-Dreyfus take home the honor for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy for her performance in HBO’s “Veep,” but had never gotten around to seeing it. This summer I finally started the series and before I knew it had binged through all five seasons, the fifth of which aired this summer. It’s quite simply the funniest show on television now, and frankly seems to be getting better. Watching it during this year’s weird political climate likely helped the entertainment factor.
2. Late Night with Seth Meyers
Seth Meyers took a struggling ‘Late Night’ and completely revamped it into what’s currently the best late night program on network television and he did it by mixing his old job at ‘SNL’ doing Weekend Update and filling the hole left behind by Jon Stewart by calling out the B.S. of the political world. Meyers’ “Closer Look” was one of the smartest and funniest things on television all year and with the election of Donald Trump the segment and its importance probably won’t be ending anytime soon.
1. Person of Interest
CBS essentially burned off the fifth and final season of crime drama “Person of Interest” during the early summer, but the show went out on top story-wise. “Person of Interest,” one of my favorite shows on television over the last half decade, was true to itself to the very end, which meant not necessarily giving fans a happy ending, but certainly a breathtaking one.
by Aprille Hanson
In the years since the TV show “Gilmore Girls” ended after seven seasons in 2007, fans have been guzzling coffee, eating tacos and waiting patiently … or actually let’s be real: crying out that ‘We need sustenance!’ in the form of a movie or revival featuring the best mother-daughter duo ever to grace any size screen.
Many of us were unhappy with the final season, particularly the last episode after the exit of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel. For six years, Amy had taken us along this journey into the quaint town of Stars Hollow, Conn., with its cast of characters that could easily be found across small-town America that nestled their way into our hearts. Central to everything was Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), the woman who escaped the luxuries of her debutant upbringing in Hartford, Conn., with parents Richard and Emily (Edward Herrmann and Kelly Bishop) when she found herself pregnant at just 16 years old. She fled to Stars Hollow, working as a maid at the local Independence Inn to afford a living for herself and daughter, Rory (Alexis Bledel).
We enter onto the scene when Rory is 16 years old and what could easily have been a series just focused on a sweet mother and daughter relationship turned into a story told with masterful writing -- rivaling only Aaron Sorkin -- that was witty, biting, culturally relevant and easily lived up to its tagline: “Life’s Short. Talk Fast.”
It spawned a following and a “Gilmorisms” guide for fans to keep up. When we left Stars Hollow, Rory, the new Yale grad, was jetting off as a political reporter, following the campaign then-Senator Barack Obama on his bid for the White House. Lorelai and crotchety diner owner Luke Danes’ (Scott Patterson) relationship was left somewhat up in the air and fans never got to hear the final four words that Amy had always envisioned to end the series.
“Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” premiered on Netflix Nov. 25 and fans rejoiced that Amy and Daniel were back at the helm. The miniseries consisted of four hour-and-a-half episodes that followed all three of the Gilmore girls -- Emily, Lorelai and Rory -- throughout a year of their life in present day. The original intent was to release each episode to correspond with the season it represents -- Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall -- but given the very nature of Netflix and binge-watching, the streaming company opted against Sherman-Palladino’s wishes and released them all at once.
In the week or so since I completed all four episodes, I’ve read several articles of commentary and reactions from a Gilmore Girls fan group I’m apart of on Facebook and it occurs to me that I might be in the minority when it comes to my opinion about the revival.
Overall, it was everything I hoped it would be. Right out of the gate, we see Lorelai and Rory meet at the Stars Hollow gazebo as the town sits blanketed in snow and launch into an epic back and forth banter about how Rory should look more disheveled after flying in from London. It leaves both actresses gasping for some air, smiling about how they haven’t done that in a while. It was the perfect, feet-first jump into this story that’s been on pause for almost 10 years.
The first episode and the last were my favorites, as the first re-introduced us to characters we’ve missed: Kirk (Sean Gunn), who cares for Petals, a pet pig bought for him by the town when they caught wind that he and his wife were considering having a baby. He’s focused on his new ride service called OOOber, not to be confused with Uber; Lane Kim and her husband Zack (Todd Lowe), who still have rock star dreams and jam out when they can; Michel (Yanic Truesdale) who is ornery as ever and pissed that Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) has disappeared for two years from the Dragonfly Inn to study food growth, leaving them chef-less; Stars Hollow Mayor Taylor Doose (Michael Winters) who thinks the only thing the town is missing to make it perfect is a sewer system; the infamous Paris Geller (Liza Weil) who is going through a divorce but successfully running her own surrogate business that boasts of “top breeders” and clients like Neil Patrick Harris; and Luke Danes (Scott Patterson), who is still with Lorelai and managing Luke’s Diner, where he fends off WiFi-craving weirdos by giving a different password every time someone asks what it is. Some of the gems were the cameos from Peter Krause, Jason Ritter and Mae Whitman, who starred alongside Graham on the critically acclaimed but sorely underrated show “Parenthood,” which wrapped up after five seasons in 2015.
One character is notably missing -- Richard Gilmore. The actor Edward Hermann died of brain cancer in 2014, leaving the show to deal with the passing of the family’s staunch, but lovable patriarch.
While the series is very much about bringing us back into this world for another glimpse of what these characters have been doing, its central focus is an odyssey story for the Gilmore girls. Emily must learn how to live a life without her other half. Lorelai must come to grips with the death of her father and what the future holds for her in a life that has pretty much stood still since we last saw her. Rory must figure out where her life is heading after she is essentially a freelance writer, couch surfing after selling her Brooklyn apartment to chase the next story while finding each of her “irons in the fire” she boasts about cooling off. There’s no mention of why this driven Yale grad doesn’t have a steady job or what happened to her on the campaign trail when we last saw her. Her love life, as always, was a mess as she casually hooks up with former love Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry) in his London apartment while he’s engaged to a French woman.
What this series did was add a depth to the three women that lacked in the original run. The show never pretended that life was rosy for the women, but the revival showed just how lost each of them were. What shocked me the most was the epic backlash by fans and critics against Rory. She was always a flawed character with great drive but an immature outlook on the world. Fans expected Rory to be mature, to accomplish great things in her life but we find her, she’s a hot mess in her career and love life.
It was a bit jarring, but ultimately, it’s a trajectory that the show’s creator planned from the beginning. Rory did have some success -- including a piece in The New Yorker -- but we wanted more. But while many felt everything came crashing down for her life in the final four words of the revival, I viewed it entirely different.
In a series of challenges that lands her as the editor of the Stars Hollow Gazette, she finally meets up with Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), a fan favorite that most hoped she’d wind up with in the end. While she doesn’t end up with him -- at least for now -- I feel his contribution to her life is the most important of the whole revival. He suggests, as she’s floundering and complaining about what to do next, that she write a book about the relationship between her and her mother.
This is the moment where Rory’s life comes together, despite Lorelai’s initial resistance to their life sprawled across the pages of a book for all to read. She finally found the greatest story she could ever write, aptly named “Gilmore Girls.”
Emily finds her new life in Nantucket while Lorelai finally decides to marry Luke, in a scene that will leave all fans wishing to stay in that moment just a little longer.
Until the final four words, their lives were wrapped up in a neat bow. Then Sherman-Palladino yanked it lose.
“Mom,” Rory said. “Yeah,” Lorelai replied. “I’m pregnant.”
The entire series really did come full circle and made sense from a creative standpoint. It was her wish all along for those to be the final four words because Rory is essentially a mini Lorelai, in more than just her never-enough appetite and caffeine cravings. Logan (presumably the father of Rory’s child) is Christopher, Rory’s father and Jess is Rory’s “Luke.”
I don’t believe for a second Rory’s life is destroyed. I envision “Gilmore Girls” being a bestseller and for Rory to navigate her new role as a mom with her best friend and the ultimate role model in Lorelai by her side.
The revival was not perfect. That Stars Hollow musical that wouldn’t end took up valuable time. Rory complaining about money problems yet jetting back and forth to London doesn’t make sense (coupled with the fact that her inheritance from her grandfather probably would have kept her set for life). And I would have loved to see a little more Sookie than we were granted.
I would love to see another revival or a movie. But as a fan, I would also be satisfied to leave it at that.
Amy Sherman-Palladino opened this world for us and if this was always where it was heading, then I will happily rejoice in the journey I’ve been able to take with two coffee-addicted, fast-talking best friends.
by Julian Spivey
The 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast on ABC on Sunday evening (Sept. 18) at 7 p.m. The 68th annual Emmys feature a mixture of usual suspects from the last few years on television, alongside some new blood that has both critics and viewers excited for this year’s ceremony. The ceremony will be hosted by comedian/late night television host Jimmy Kimmel.
Here are 10 actors/actresses or shows I’d like to see take home some hardware on Sunday night:
Best Comedy Series: “Veep”
I’m a hardcore supporter of network television shows. I’m not thrilled that there hasn’t been a network drama series nominated for an Emmy in five years. Before this summer I would’ve loved to have seen ABC’s “black-ish” win this award for comedy series, and I still wouldn’t mind it. However, this summer I binge-watched HBO’s “Veep” and maybe it’s because we’re in the midst of an election cycle, but I found it to be the perfect show for me at this time and the fifth season was arguably its best season yet.
Chances of Winning: Likely
Best Actor in a Limited Series: Courtney B. Vance (American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson)
I’ve never really been one to watch a limited television series or what they used to refer to as mini-series and to be honest a lot of the shows nominated in this category I feel should actually be eligible for the drama series one instead. But, I tuned into FX’s first installment of Ryan Murphy’s “American Crime Series” this summer that focused on the O.J. Simpson trial of the mid-‘90s and was floored by it. One of the greatest things about the series was how veteran character actor Courtney B. Vance inhabited attorney Johnnie Cochran. Vance is in a high profile category that includes Bryan Cranston for “All the Way,” Tom Hiddleston for “The Night Manager” and Benedict Cumberbatch for “Sherlock,” but I’ve got to think his chances are really good.
Chances of Winning: Highly Likely
Best Actress in a Limited Series: Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson)
While Courtney B. Vance absolutely became Johnnie Cochran for FX’s ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson,” it was Sarah Paulson’s performance as attorney Marcia Clark that was essentially the heart and emotion of the limited series. No offense whatsoever to terrific actresses like Kerry Washington (“Confirmation”), Felicity Huffman (“American Crime”) and Kirsten Dunst (“Fargo”), but this is the one category you should definitely put money on.
Chances of Winning: A Lock
Best Actor in a Comedy Series: Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth)
Last year’s winner in this category was Jeffrey Tambor for Amazon’s “Transparent” and he continues to be flawless in that role and should likely be considered the favorite, but the role is honestly more dramatic than it is funny. I’m almost torn here between Anthony Anderson for ABC’s “black-ish” and Will Forte for Fox’s “The Last Man on Earth,” but I’d narrowly give my vote, if I had one, to Forte. It’s a genuinely hilarious, while at the same time shockingly honest performance.
Chances of Winning: Slim
Best Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the most honored television actress of all-time and with good reason. She has had three different television comedies (“Seinfeld,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Veep”) and has won this award for all three. Louis-Dreyfus has won this very honor for all four previous seasons of HBO’s “Veep” leaving many wanting to see new blood in the category. But, in all honesty season five may have been her greatest performance.
Chances of Winning: Highly Likely
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
This is my favorite category of this year’s Emmy Awards. There are seven nominees and I love six of them. I haven’t seen Louie Anderson’s performance in FX’s “Baskets,” but given the ratings for that series I’m not sure anybody else has either. Anyway, considering the fact that I love the other six performances in this category it wouldn’t surprise me to see Anderson win given my luck. My vote in this category would go to Andre Braugher for Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Braugher’s hilariously stoic performance as Capt. Raymond Holt in the police comedy has been pitch perfect for three seasons and it’s time he’s honored for it.
Chances of Winning: Moderate
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Much like the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy category this one is probably a huge toss-up, except I’m not as excited about it despite seeing about half of the nominated performances. The Emmys love Alison Janney, so she might be considered the favorite for “Mom.” Many critics seem to think it could be Judith Light for “Transparent,” as well. If I had a vote it would go to Kate McKinnon for her wildly hilarious various characters and impressions on “Saturday Night Live.” McKinnon has been the MVP of ‘SNL’ for a while now and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.
Chances of Winning: Moderate
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Constance Zimmer (UnReal)
I’m going to be straight upfront here and admit that Constance Zimmer’s performance in Lifetime’s “UnReal” is the only performance I’ve seen in this category. Still, Zimmer’s portrayal of a reality TV producer of a show based off of “The Bachelor” in season one is one of the best personification’s of sheer horribleness and evil that’s been on television lately and this is the era of the TV anti-hero. I won’t even hold the somewhat disappointing recently wrapped second season of “UnReal” against her.
Chances of Winning: Slim, unless the trio of “Game of Thrones” nominees steal votes from each other
Best Variety Talk Series: “Late, Late Show with James Corden”
My real pick for Best Variety Talk Series would’ve been “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” which I was shocked was not nominated and honestly view as the biggest snub of the entire Emmy Awards this year. “Late, Late Show with James Corden” is a nice second choice for me as the incredibly endearing host has kicked-ass in his first year-and-a-half on television and already took home four awards in the Creative Arts portion of the Emmys, including for his primetime Carpool Karaoke special. Because of these wins I think Corden’s show could be a darkhorse, but I believe “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” will ultimately be victorious.
Chances of Winning: Moderate
Best Variety Sketch Series: “Documentary Now!”
The Best Variety Sketch Series category was added to the Emmy Awards last year and the inaugural winner was Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer,” a nominee once again this year. Honestly, this category might not really be necessary, especially given the fact there aren’t too many sketch series on television. The category is mostly Comedy Central and IFC series mixed with the oldest sketch comedy series in the world, “Saturday Night Live.” ‘SNL’ had more bad episodes than good episodes in its 41st season, but IFC’s “Documentary Now!” starring ‘SNL’ alums Fred Armisen and Bill Hader with more ‘SNL’ alums Seth Meyers and writer John Mulaney involved has been a hilarious mocking of some of the biggest documentaries ever made like “The Thin Blue Line” and “Grey Gardens.” The show is probably the least likely to win of the six nominees, but it’d have my vote.
Chances of Winning: Not Happening
In 2010 The Word created its own special awards for broadcast television shows called the Broadys. You may be asking yourself, “Broadys? What is that?” … Well, the Broadys are yearly awards for broadcast network television series and only broadcast network television series. For years I watched the Emmys and Golden Globes and saw almost exclusively cable or premium cable shows (especially in the drama categories) winning all of the awards. Most years you’ll be lucky to see one drama series from broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox & CW) nominated for anything. Why? Because there’s this stigma that because cable and premium shows can show things like graphic violence and sex and harsher language that that somehow makes them more “real” and thus “award-worthy.” That bothers me for two primary reasons: 1) it seems these shows are throwing excess sex and violence that’s unnecessary (don’t get me wrong sex & violence are both fine if they pertain to the story) into their plots and 2) there’s still so many of us television viewers who don’t have networks like HBO and Showtime, etc. and thus we’re not getting to see these shows anyway and want some love for those we do follow. That is why the Broadys exist.
Person of Interest (CBS)
Best Variety Series
Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)
Best New Drama
Best New Comedy
The Carmichael Show (NBC)
Best Actor in a Drama
Michael Emerson (Person of Interest)
Best Actress in a Drama
Megan Boone (The Blacklist)
Best Actor in a Comedy
Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth)
Best Actress in a Comedy
Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Amy Acker (Person of Interest)
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
David Alan Grier (The Carmichael Show)
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Zoe Lister-Jones (Life in Pieces)
Best Guest Actor in a Drama
Joe Morton (Scandal)
Best Guest Actress in a Drama
Artemis Pebdani (Scandal)
Best Guest Actor in a Comedy
Jason Sudeikis (The Last Man on Earth)
Best Guest Actress in a Comedy
Megan Fox (New Girl)
Best Drama Episode
Person of Interest- return 0
Best Comedy Episode
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Yippe Kayak
Hall of Fame TV Show:
I Love Lucy
Hall of Fame TV Legend