This column was originally published in The Valley Patriot, July 8th, 2014.
The Primetime Emmy nominations will be announced on July 10th and every year I like to review the past year in TV and give my Emmy Wish List. This is my list of performances and shows that I really hope get recognized by the Television academy. The nominations are almost certain to include members of the cast of Fargo, Breaking Bad, True Detective, Veep, and House Of Cards just to name a few. However, there is always that one performance you really want to be recognized. So I may not cover every category, just the ones where I really feel the chances of someone being overlooked exists. So here we go.
Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead, AMC - In my opinion, no one gave a more heart-wrenching, compassionate, powerhouse performance this year than Melissa McBride. In particular, in the episode “The Grove.” When her character, Carol, has to commit an unspeakable, tragic, but necessary act, you couldn’t help but be riveted to your TV screen. In this show, full of amazing actors, McBride’s work stood above the rest this year and deserves a nomination.
Matthew Rhys, The Americans, FX – The most improved show on TV this season was FX’s cold war spy drama The Americans. Season 1 was good. Season 2 was phenomenal. No bigger reason for the shows improvement than the performance of its lead actors Matthew Rhys, and Keri Russell. Rhys is mesmerizing in his role as Philip Jennings, torn between his actions as a spy and his life as a father to his two children. Bryan Cranston and Matthew McConaughey are the favorites in this category, but at the very least Rhys should be recognized with a nomination.
Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel, A&E – Last year I felt that Bates Motel’s best performance came from Vera Farmiga as Norman’s mother Norma. That still might be true, but this year it got a heck of a lot closer. Hightower’s work this year as future Psycho Norman Bates was really something to behold. Watching Norman’s slow but certain descent into madness was riveting, and while a nomination here is a long shot due to the competition, it is most certainly deserved.
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black, Netflix – People who are not Netflix subscribers are really missing out on some great TV. Along with House of Cards, Orange is the New Black is among the best shows on TV right now. TV’s best ensemble cast delivers episode after episode, and this season Uzo Aduba’s turn as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren was touching, funny, and you couldn’t take your eyes of the screen when she was on it.
Keri Russell, The Americans, FX – Much like her co-star Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell absolutely should be nominated for her outstanding work on FX’s The Americans. Russell perfectly portrayed Elizabeth Jennings, a ruthless cold war spy, who balances her job with the roles of mother and wife, and struggles with her feelings of loyalty to her country, and her loyalty to her family.
Ray Romano, Parenthood, NBC - It’s always great as a TV fan when you see a performance that surprises you. For me, this year, that performance came from Ray Romano and his turn as a dramatic actor on NBC’s Parenthood. Romano’s work as Hank Rizzoli tugged at the heartstrings. Hank’s realization, as he learns more about Max's Asperger's diagnosis, and comparing it to his own personality traits delivered some exceptional scenes. It really says something when an actor who is known for his comedy stands out among such a great cast.
James Spader, The Blacklist, NBC – NBC’s The Blacklist was the best drama on broadcast TV this year. The role of Raymond Reddington joined the list of great TV Villains, and was played incredibly by James Spader. I will make this guarantee. James Spader WILL win an Emmy for this role. It may not be this year, but it will happen. He is that good. It’s an extremely tough and crowded category, but Spader deserves to be mentioned among the best dramatic actors on TV.