Sometimes it's the writing and dialogue that brings us in to TV shows. Other times, it's the actors themselves.
Dr. Gregory House: House, M.D.
Hugh Laurie imbued the anti-social House with more layers than the thickest onion. He also gave nearly every man out there an excuse to explain to their significant other why they hadn't shaved in three days: "Well, you love that Hugh Laurie scruff..."
Walter White: Breaking Bad
It's still hard to believe that Bryan Cranston, who has been a genius in showing the transformation in White from good to evil played the hapless dad on Malcolm in the Middle. His work during the last episodes of this show has been nothing short of a master class in acting. People are on the edge of their seat to see what happens with this druglord.
Tony Soprano: The Sopranos
Rest in peace, James Gandolfini. Your work as Tony Soprano was some of the best acting seen on TV. Your portrayal of the head of a Mafia cartel who juggles both business and home life was a mix of fury and pain (both personal and meting it out on others).
Omar: The Wire
One of the best characters on TV in the past decade, a thug with a strict code who also happened to lead a lifestyle that didn't mesh with his tough-guy exterior. It's a shame he went out like he did - shot in a convenience store.
Don Draper: Mad Men
Draper, a man who is not who he says he is, is played to perfection by Jon Hamm. It's a good thing Thomas Jane passed over the role. A philandering husband with no sense of loyalty would be hard to like, but the suave Madison Avenue ad man pulls it off. It's going to be interesting to see what happens to him during the final season.
Frank Pembleton: Homicide: Life On the Streets
Andre Braugher's work as Pembleton, a tortured man whose dedication to justice came at the expense of everything else was near perfect. His seething intensity in the interrogation room (aka "the box") was a sight to behold and Braugher was mesmerizing in every line he spoke. He brillantly handled his character having a stroke as well.
Dr. Mark Greene: ER
Anthony Edwards played Greene as the anti-House - a doctor who cared. He also showed how a doctor's personal life can spill over into his professional life, especially when he got attacked in the bathroom. His death from a brain tumor remains one of the saddest moments on any show.
Dana Scully: The X-Files
Gillian Anderson was much more than a pretty face to play alongside David Duchovny's Mulder. She had brains and skepticism to his almost childlike willingness to believe everything.
Dexter Morgan: Dexter
A sympathetic serial killer? Michael C. Hall is able to show someone devoid of real emotion as someone we can root for. It's too bad that this show's final season is also the same one as Breaking Bad.
Vic Mackey: The Shield
Michael Chiklis was far from The Commish when he portrayed this utterly corrupt cop that still had the tiniest shred of conscience buried inside of him despite everything. He first thought he was getting results, no matter what, but that soon spiraled into doing things like murdering a new member of your own squad and other things like that. Mackey lived life brutally.
More:Unexpected Music Star ReinventionsParks and Recreation Season 5 Gag ReelFilms About Nostalgia
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
The men who have been nominated in the Emmy category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series is a bit unique this year, because it mostly consists of people who have been nominated several times before but have never actually walked away with an award. I’d guess that the majority of the public hopes the statue goes to Jon Hamm for his role of Don Draper on Mad Men, because he’s been nominated four times and has yet to be recognized by the academy. However, there are two people in this category who have been nominated and lost more times than Jon Hamm: Michael C. Hall has been nominated (over the course of his career) 5 times (mostly for playing Dexter Morgan on Showtime’s Dexter), and Hugh Laurie has been nominated six times for his role of Dr. Gregory House on House. But I believe this just isn’t Hamm’s time to shine (because when was the last time Mad Men was actually on TV, anyway?), that two Golden Globes are enough for Laurie to feel good about himself, and that we should all direct our attention to why Michael C. Hall deserves the Emmy this year.
In the past, Hall has been nominated against some pretty outstanding actors. And while his repeated losses are unfortunate, they’re also slightly understandable. In 2002 he lost to Michael Chiklis for his role of Vic Mackey on The Shield (I did not watch The Shield but I’m told it was extraordinary). In 2008, 2009 and 2010 he lost to Bryan Cranston for his unforgettable and incredible portrayal of Cancer patient turned meth distributor Walter White on Breaking Bad. This year, in addition to Hamm and Laurie, he's up against Timothy Olyphant for Justified, Steve Buscemi for Boardwalk Empire, and Kyle Chandler for Friday Night Lights. It would be astonishing if Olyphant were the award’s recipient because this is his first nomination and general consensus seems to be that he needs to spend a bit more time in the big leagues before he gets to eat his dinner next to an Emmy. Steve Buscemi has also been nominated for four Emmys in his career but this is his first one he received for his work on Boardwalk Empire, which is a fairly new show that’s good enough to not be going anywhere anytime soon so Buscemi's in no real rush. Then there’s Kyle Chandler, who’s just received his second nomination for FNL, which of course ended this year to the dismay of a very few (but very passionate) fans. But since the show ended and everyone can’t stop talking about it, the category could easily go to Chandler. However, is the end of little show about football in Texas the reason to hook an actor up? Not exactly.
Now, the above analysis of the Halls' fellow nominees is not meant to suggest that Hall isn't worthy of a win. Instead, it's meant to show two things. The first point I was making was that an award finally applauding Hall's contributions to the entertainment industry has been continuously just out of reach for him, but he's never let it convince him to give up acting or stop pursuing great projects for himself. He is an actor who's dedicated to his job, and is someone who doesn't allow praise or criticism to affect whatever he does that lets him churn out radiant performances like hotcakes. And the second point I was getting at was that throughout all the shows that have come and gone over the last nine years, Michael C. Hall has always maintained a significant presence in our televisions and homes, and has quite truly established himself as an icon of the small screen.
But why else should Michael C. Hall win an Emmy this year, especially if this most recent season of Dexter wasn’t the series’ best? The main reason is that he’s demonstrated a repeat ability to brilliantly humanize a reject of society, and it’s just his time. But his performance this year was particularly riveting because he exposed us to Dexter’s emotional side, which is something the writers did not develop for him (basically because in previous episodes, they described it as something that was completely absent from Dexter’s personality). And so after Rita’s murder at the end of Season 4, Hall had to essentially create something for his character without the help of the writers or anyone else. He had to figure out a way to express the feelings of a person who really believed he had no feelings, but then suddenly became aware of them after losing the person he planned to spend the rest of his life with -- and that’s not something anyone could’ve helped him convey. Hall created something out of nothing, and I can’t see how any other actor in his category managed to do the same -- and that's why I'm hoping he finally gets what's been a long time coming to him.
Emmys 2011: Making a Case for Elisabeth Moss
Emmys 2011: Making a Case for Jon Hamm
Emmys 2011: Making a Case for Amy Poehler
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all...hell is about to break loose! It starts when a snowstorm grounds all planes at Chicago’s fictional Hoover International Airport. Nobody’s happy to be potentially spending Xmas at an airport but least of all are the Davenport siblings Spencer (Dyllan Christopher) and his little sis Katherine (Dominique Saldana) as well as airport security boss Oliver (Lewis Black). The two kids are escorted to the airport’s “Unaccompanied Minors Lounge ” where kids run wild and terrorize pushover Zach Van Bourke (Wilmer Valderrama) who acts as chief airport babysitter. One look at the madness is all it takes for Spencer and Katherine to bust out along with fellow kiddie anarchists Charlie (Tyler James Williams) Timothy (Brett Kelly) Donna (Quinn Shephard) and Grace (Gina Mantegna). They embark on a pratfall-heavy game of cat and mouse with Oliver who is the Grinch to their collective Santa Clause as they try and salvage Christmas--and their families. Unaccompanied Minors makes some odd but admirable choices when it comes to the cast with virtually every single actor attempting a “Frat Pack” mutiny--Daily Show mainstay Black is joined by “correspondent” Rob Corddry as the Davenports’ Hummer-hating dad not to mention parts from The Office’s B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling Arrested Development’s Tony Hale and Jessica Walter SNL’s Rob Riggle and Kristen Wiig Paget Brewster David Koechner and a rare Kids in the friggin’ Hall (Kevin McDonald Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney) sighting. But the “Who’s that?” cameos aside the screen time is hogged by Black Valderrama and the children. Black the notoriously vulgar curmudgeon of a comedian shows great range and skill by dulling his shtick down but not so much that the kids watching won’t crack up while Valderrama’s performance is the same as his role--that of a bumbling easily overmatched lackey. With all the proverbial child actors in the mix it can seem a little Star Search-y but Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) steals most scenes with his amazing overall talent while Mantegna (Joe’s daughter) fares well too. Kelly (the bullied kid in Bad Santa) is exploited for his physicality and Christopher will likely go on to be a great actor even if he seems too seasoned at such a young age. The reason for the off-the-beaten-path cast is simple: director Paul Feig. The occasional actor has in the past directed episodes of The Office and the late Arrested Development Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks. It also might explain why he fell for a script--by Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark--that takes a few stabs at grown-up comedy (i.e. Corddry’s character has a car that runs on vegetable oil). Such jokes will be lost on the exclusively preadolescent audience but almost all else will reel them in. Feig also seems adept at making the oft-unfunny (physical pratfalls) somewhat funny and he does so with little mention of bodily functions. Of course he stays true to the formula but all kid flicks are the ultimate exercises in contrivance--Feig just chooses to treat the viewers like kids instead of idiots.