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Emmys 2011: Alterna-Emmys Staff Picks

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Aug 16, 2011 | 5:34am EDT
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Every year, the Emmy nominations come out and while we're happy to see some names make the list, there are always a significant few missing. Shows that have tiny audiences, fringe appeal or no-name stars are relegated to praises from critics and fans, but rarely receive the shiny, golden praises that their bigger shows enjoy. Well, we can't hand out any golden statues, but we can attempt to give praise where it's due. Without further ado, here our Hollywood.com's Alterna-Emmys staff picks.

Drama Series

The Walking Dead AMCThe Walking Dead

I know I’m not alone here: The Walking Dead was such a surprise in quality that I’m not sure if I was more overwhelmed by how good it was, or by how shocked I was over how good it was. A series like this can really only turn out to be one of two extremes: horrible—in its reliance on action and raw suspense, utilization of familiar horror tropes (with no original twist), and thin characters written just to serve as casualties in a zombie apocalypse—or, as is the case here, fantastic. After a somewhat slow start, The Walking Dead ended up being an innovative, outstanding adaptation of the comic book series. The humanization of an apocalyptic society makes for particularly intriguing storytelling—the series delivers a world with an amazing balance between survivalism and interrelationship conflicts. While the zombie issue is rarely below the foreground, the subjects of marriage, unrequited love, loss of loved ones, prejudiced, guilt, faith, hope and so much more are illustrated with terrific sincerity and complexity. -Michael Arbeiter

Castle ABCCastle

Many dramas today are all relatively the same. You’ve got CSI, CSI Miami, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, the list goes on and on with the same old plot: someone dies, they analyze the clues, and catch the killer. Castle is a completely unique drama unto itself, with a sturdy foundation and plot. It's got the perfect blend of comedy, mystery, suspense, and even a little flirting. The show follows famous mystery novelist and bachelor, Rick Castle, as he uses NYPD detective Kate Beckett as inspiration for his books. The two bicker and banter in a very Starsky and Hutch kind of way, but they've got real chemistry. The beauty of the show though, is that the potential love interest isn't its main focus. Sure, flirting occurs and they tend to truly care about each other and work well as a team, but it doesn’t dilute the action. The writers could easily have the dynamic duo hook up in Season One, but they choose to drag it out and make us wonder if the relationship will ever venture from the friend-zone. But even if it doesn’t, the show doesn’t need a romance to keep it afloat. Unlike other criminal or detective shows, Castle isn't a mere procedural. Just because the crimes are different doesn’t mean we’re starting from scratch each week and even though it can become rather dark, there’s always a burst of comic relief that prevents viewers from cycling into a depressed state, which is why it deserves an Emmy nomination. Hopefully next year! -Kelly Schremph

Spartacus showSpartacus

Spartacus is not the most highbrow show. The first few episodes earned the series a reputation for gratuitous nudity, violence, and sex. But beneath that scandalous outer layer was a clever and emotionally wrenching show that took risks few established series would. The second season managed to continue that trend, despite the loss of charismatic lead actor Andy Whitfield. While the star’s unfortunate cancer diagnosis forced the series to improvise a prequel series, creator Steven S. DeKnight took advantage of the situation to flesh out the characters in new, exciting ways. And boy, when we say “exciting," we mean it. There are no half-measures in classical Rome. -Natalie Silverman

Comedy Series

Archer FXArcher

If you don’t think Archer is funny, then you aren’t watching it. Archer has transcended its original premise of a dated Bond-parody to become one of the most clever, surreal, and hilarious things on television. Replete with ornate historical in-jokes, elaborate backstories, and callbacks that Arrested Development would envy, Archer offers some of the most complex, varied comedy on television. Plus, the show isn’t afraid to go for a great dick joke, should opportunity present itself. I challenge you to find an episode of television funnier or more outrageous than this season’s “Placebo Effect," in which Sterling Archer goes on a hunt for an Irish gang leader while undergoing chemotherapy. You’re definitely not going to find it on Two And A Half Men. -Natalie Silverman

It's Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Alright, this show will never be nominated for an Emmy. It’s rude and ridiculous, but it’s also slightly brilliant. Creators Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney manufactured quite a demented little universe that I fear only fans of absurd comedy can appreciate. While it may never attract broad audiences, It’s Always Sunny has got its schtick down to a science and after five seasons, The Gang is still going strong, blowing our minds and making us laugh at every turn. Besides the show’s airtight comedy, the cast is damn near perfect; Howerton, Day and McElenney are perfect at the center of the cast with Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito helping to hit every (off) beat. It never ceases to disgust, surprise and enthrall viewers and for that, It’s Always Sunny deserves a little time in the sun. (I couldn't help myself.) -Kelsea Stahler

CommunityCommunity

Dan Harmon’s little opus to pop culture never seems to reach as many people as it should, but believe me, it’s brilliant. Sure, it helps if you’re as pop culture-obsessed as Abed (Danny Pudi), but the fact is, Community is smart, hilarious and incredibly well-written and it’s got a cast with talent for days. The versatility of the cast and the writers can take us from a full-on Dungeons and Dragons spoof to save suicidal outcast to a stop-motion Christmas episode that actually unpacked the holiday successfully and meaningfully in a mere 22-minute episode. But we also find homages and winks to various tropes of television – these writers have done their homework, they are students of television and they take every opportunity to play with TV history to create new, brilliant comedy. In a nutshell, Community takes television’s own formulas and makes something new and there’s no reason something that smart and well-made shouldn’t get a spot at that ceremony in September. -Kelsea Stahler

It seems that every time I bring up Community, folks tend to go on and on about Gillian Jacobs, and sure, she’s great on the show. Britta is a constant buzzkill and a person deeply in need of growth and Jacobs brings that to fruition brilliantly, but Brie’s weekly performance is quite literally off the charts. It may be helped by the fact that she’s been dealt a more interesting character than Jacobs, but Brie’s performance is so multifaceted, requiring her to use a range that includes dramatic acting, physical comedy, and hilarious delivery. There is not a single episode in which Brie isn’t responsible for a significant share of the laughs. She’s truly gifted and though Community isn’t the biggest show on television, she’s a big reason it’s worth watching. -Kelsea Stahler

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