Yesss!!! Netflix has finally released the trailer for season 3 of The Crown, coming out November 17th. The next two seasons will have a new cast playing royals Elizabeth, Phillip (Tobias Menzies) and Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) in their middle aged years, and new additions like Charles and Camilla as young adults (before bringing in Diana next season!!!). I can’t wait.
At first glance, a saga about the Game of Thrones-style battles to succeed the patriarch of a Murdoch-esque business empire seems like the last thing I’d want to watch in this day and age. I mean, who are we supposed to be rooting for in a family of assholes and monsters? And I’ve had issues with shows where the ensemble is made up of entirely awful people (see my past reviews of House of Cards and Veep for example), but admittedly, Succession is the one that pulled me in- I may still have my moments of hatred towards an occasional character, but the trick of creator Jesse Armstrong’s writing (aside from the Veep-like constant snark; the series could qualify as a comedy), is to make you sympathize with one character for one episode while rooting against another, and changing it all around from week to week as you watch these family members do battle under the thumb of their monstrous father’s manipulations.
Let’s talk about that monstrous father for a second. All hail Brian Cox, who plays media tycoon Logan Roy, the Rupert Murdoch stand-in, with so much effortless dominance that it’s quite a feat of acting. He’s arrogant, he’s abusive, he’s manipulative, he’s deceitful, he’s entirely in control of his business and his children, and Cox plays him without an ounce of sympathy. If anything the writing dodges some of the evil that men like Murdoch spew every second of their shameful existence in this world by avoiding portraying any explicit racism and misogyny coming directly out of Logan’s mouth or by letting us see those kinds of actions (only obliquely referring to past events), but Cox gets around that by letting the audience know, through his subtleties of delivery and force, that this guy is bad. And he’s so good at it that this bad, bad man is kinda the reason you want to watch. At least it is for me. Get the Emmy statue engraved right now. I’m sure he’ll be taking it home next year, and deservedly so.
But there’s a larger ensemble, and even though the various Roy kids flatten under their dad’s iron fist and never manage to spark too much sympathy, the one that comes closest is Jeremy Strong as Kendall, who turns in a quietly amusing performance (and even affecting at times) this season as a pathetic hangdog so utterly defeated by his Chappaquidick incident last year (covered up by Daddy of course) that he gives himself up to Logan entirely, doing and saying whatever he says, whatever he wants, until that killer twist in the season finale, which is built up all season long and makes you desperate to see what happens next (am I actually rooting for poor little rich boy Kendall after what he did? Maybe I am, which tells you how skilled the writing is on this show, and how it can jerk you around).
Keiran Culkin and Sarah Snook continue to be good as Roman and Shiv, who get their own storylines, especially Shiv, who firms up into the whole Ivanka thing with ease (the haaaate, I can feel it growing), while Culkin gets the bulk of the zingers from the scripts. Shakespearean stakes aside, the show’s not quite as smart as it thinks it is, with one Kavanagh hearings-inspired episode that was a particular trigger for me and included some highly ludicrous actions that would never, ever have taken place in reality, and you can’t help but think about reality when a show wants you to believe it’s knee deep in the weeds of corporate takeovers and board meetings and the like. It wants you to think this stuff is really happening with the Murdoch family, and tries to make you understand this world without glorifying it. But…it’s still entertainment first, and whenever British writers have their hands in something American politics adjacent, I can always tell where they just don’t get it (cough, race, cough). Even so, the show succeeds where it matters most this season- the personal fight between Logan and his kids, and it pulls off the trick of making me feel very highly invested in where it’s going. For that I salute them, and I salute Brian Cox most of all. Well done, sir.
Yay! Okay, so yes, the last season was…less than good because of the Brianna stuff, but if I remember correctly she has a much less important role in Book 5. Actually, I don’t know if Outlander is going to keep going for each and every book or maybe start condensing the later ones, so it doesn’t have to go on for fifty years, but if it does, maybe go ahead and send Roger and Bree back to the present earlier? No one would complain, believe me.
The pioneering actress Diahann Carroll passed away today at the age of 84. The Oscar nominee was the first black woman to win a Tony award and the first African-American woman to star in a non-stereotypical lead role on television in NBC’s Julia, which ran from 1968-1971. She got her first film role in 1954’s Carmen Jones, alongside Dorothy Dandrige, and then went on to act in films like Porgy and Bess and Paris Blues before winning the Tony in 1962 for the musical No Strings. She won a Golden Globe and was Emmy nominated for Julia, and was then nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for 1974’s Claudine. She joined the cast of Dynasty from 1984-87 as Dominique Deveraux, and was nominated for a third Emmy for her recurring role on A Different World in the late 80’s. She went on to guest star on television into the 2010’s and was finally inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2011.
Opening credits of Julia (1968-71):
My latest favorite teen drama is back for Season 2 and it’s sooo good!! Yes, I’m starting to believe that eight episodes really is the perfect amount for a show like this- enough time to do an overarching storyline plus outlandish soap opera twists and raunchiness without suffering through plot burnout or characters pulling 180 degree personality switches or too much mix ’n’ match coupling to start rolling your eyes at.
Elite is better than ever this season, even with the introduction of some new kids, as all shows like this are wont to do (with the departure of characters like Marina last season and in some plot turns necessitating the early absences of Christian and Nano, you need some replacements to fill out the group). For the most part, the three new kids are integrated well- we have Valerio as Lu’s half brother sent over from Mexico (the best new addition to my mind), Rebeka, a newly rich student due to her mom’s thriving drug business who prefers to hang with the un-rich, like Samuel and Nadia, and Cayetana, the secret daughter of the custodian posing as one of the wealthy to befriend the elite. Cayetana is probably the least successful of the new kids, as her pathetic posing is kind of irritating, but it does serve a purpose by season’s end.
The main thrust of the season is the continuation from last year, with Marina’s murder not forgotten, and the flashback mystery this time involving Samuel’s supposed season end “disappearance.” He’s desperate to free Nano from prison and find Marina’s real killer, and to do so he attempts to seduce ice queen Carla of all people. However, this pairing does not work, mostly because Samuel has zero chemistry with any of his co-stars, least of all romantic (I wasn’t into him and Marina last season either). Luckily, with a big ensemble cast, you don’t spend too much time with any one character or pairing, so we get the continuation of Nadia and Guzman’s romance, Ander and Omar’s, and most juicy of all, the season long manipulations of Carlo and Polo (and eventually the poor, tortured Ander) to hide what they did from their own friends, so they can all still be a group. That is one cold, murderous duo. I love it. The show also has plenty of rich teen show staples, like the big party/event of every episode, a taboo incestual romance for Lu and Valerio, and a casual hookup between gay Ander and bi Polo while hanging out in the same bed as their straight pal Guzman (not kidding!). The show doesn’t shy away from raunch while keeping focused on its season long mystery and there’s nothing about the many pleasures it delivers that feel guilty. It joins the ranks this season of the best of the genre. Don’t miss it.
I’m not a big fan of endless teasers rather than a simple, full trailer, but since El Camino is on Netflix October 11th, I’m guessing teasers is all we’re going to get leading up to it? Still, so psyched about seeing Aaron Paul as Jesse again. Looks like the happiness from his mad dash to freedom didn’t last long. But he’s not Jesse if he’s not being made to suffer, right?
ETA: Apparently I spoke too soon the other day, or at least posted too soon, because lo and behold, we now have the full trailer for the movie after all! Looks good.
Wow, what a slate of winners! Jodie Comer and Phoebe Waller-Bridge for lead acting! Jharell Jerome! Michelle Williams! Billy Porter! I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many Emmy winners that I flat out loved and would have chosen myself- which tells me that the voters in the TV Academy actually watched the shows this year. Who’d a-thunk it, huh? What a concept. But to pick actors like Porter, Jerome, Williams, and Comer over the other nominees means they had to have seen those shows, or at least the submission tapes. And all the Fleabag love? I never would have predicted that to happen, but the show deserves every bit of it. It really is THAT good, and maybe since the season was so short (just six episodes at a half hour each), that probably means the voters really did watch the whole thing. I went 13/19 in my predictions, which for me, for the Emmys, is actually pretty good! Especially considering that my alternates won in three more categories, and dark horses in the rest. At least there weren’t any I was way off in, unlike in most years. As good as the winners and a lot of the speeches were, the show itself was crap and one of the most poorly produced Emmy telecasts in recent memory (what was up with that snarky commentator throughout the whole thing?), with cringe comedy bits for almost every presenter, and a painful to watch dance number that acted as one of Fox’s endless plugs for The Masked Singer. The last time the Emmys were on Fox it sucked as well, so how about just not airing the show on Fox anymore? Can we do that, people? Also, unlike the Oscars, clearly this show needs a host. Badly.
2019 EMMY WINNERS
Series: Game of Thrones
Lead Actor: Billy Porter, Pose
Lead Actress: Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Supporting Actor: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Supporting Actress: Julia Garner, Ozark
Lead Actress: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
Lead Actor: Bill Hader, Barry
Supporting Actress: Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Supporting Actor: Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
TV Movie: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Lead Actor: Jharell Jerome, When They See Us
Lead Actress: Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon
Supporting Actor: Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal
Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, The Act
Talk Series: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Sketch Series: Saturday Night Live
Reality Series: RuPaul’s Drag Race
Directing: Saturday Night Live
Writing: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The long wait between seasons two and three of The Crown is finally over, and Oscar winner Colman looks great. At first glance, her voice is a jarring contrast from Claire Foy’s deeper one, but actually the real Queen’s voice was higher, closer to Colman’s here. The new season comes out on Sunday, November 17th. I can’t wait.
Finally, here we are now with the top series categories. There’s one lock, one two way race and one with I think three of four distinct possibilities.
Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
This is Us
The least suspenseful award of the night goes to Game of Thrones in a walk, given its record nomination haul and the recognition of the series long achievement as a whole. I don’t think anything else stands a chance actually, so I’m not sure what else to even make a case for. It will be a more interesting race next year, when Succession’s buzz will have grown even higher, in my opinion, and perhaps with The Handmaid’s Tale back in contention as well.
Winner: Game of Thrones
The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
This one is more difficult, because I think the winner could be any one of either Veep, Maisel, Barry or Fleabag. But, I will adhere to my own Emmy rule- when in doubt go to last year’s winner. So as much I really would like Barry to win and was excited at first about its chances when it got so many nominations, I think it’s in competition with Veep as the other HBO series (and that one being a multiple past winner that just had its final season), and that leaves space for the voters to just go with Mrs. Maisel again, which got a bunch of creative arts Emmys last weekend and seems to still be on a high with the industry in general. The other choice here is Fleabag, which has no other chance to ever win, but I still think that’s a major dark horse, despite the huge buzz surrounding Phoebe Waller-Bridge. My guess is that show wins a writing award for its creator/star, while the top ones go to something else.
Winner: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Dark Horse: Barry/Fleabag
Escape at Dannemora
When They See Us
I believe this one will go to HBO’s Chernobyl, but it’s in a head to head fight with Netflix’s When They See Us, and it’s probably closer than people think. Both series are incredibly powerful and got showered with nominations this year, and the passion for them is high. But I think When They See Us will take an acting award and possibly directing for Ava Duvernay, leaving Chernobyl, as the prestige HBO series (the network still triumphs over streaming) to come out on top in series. As for the other shows, probably Ben Stiller’s Escape at Dannemora is in third, with Fosse/Verdon fourth and Sharp Objects having come out too long ago now to sustain its initial buzz, as HBO’s other entry.
Alternate: When They See Us
Dark Horse: Escape at Dannemora
So now we’re on to drama. These are sort of all over the place and I don’t quite feel good about my picks for any of them besides supporting actor.
DRAMA ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This is Us
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Billy Porter, Pose
Milo Ventimiglia, This is Us
Ummm. There’s no real heavy hitter in this category this year, which means it really should be Bob Odenkirk’s turn for Better Call Saul, but I just question the show’s momentum. It’s so quiet at the moment- will voters flock to him? I don’t know this Ozark show, but Jason Bateman is pretty beloved in the industry, so he may win in lieu of another favorite. I don’t think Harington will win lead actor, despite the enormous amount of love for Game of Thrones’s final season (from the Emmys, not the public). Ehh..I’m unsure.
Winner: Bob Odenkirk (really hoping his time has come)
Alternate: Jason Bateman
Dark Horse: Billy Porter (this would be great, and a big surprise and boost for Pose)
DRAMA ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Laura Linney, Ozark
Mandy Moore, This is Us
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Robin Wright, House of Cards
I’m taking this category for my one wild dart and predicting who I desperately want to win, and that’s Jodie Comer. Most people think Sandra Oh will take it this time, as an overdue vet in the industry, but if you actually watch Killing Eve, you will see that Comer is the biggest revelation on it and the true factor in making you want to continue watching. I’m just going to go for it with her. Sometimes surprises occur, especially if people actually view the submission tapes, and hers is a killer.
Winner: Jodie Comer
Alternate: Sandra Oh
Dark Horse: Laura Linney
DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alfie Allen, Game of Thrones
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Chris Sullivan, This is Us
Now, for this one I feel pretty good about predicting Peter Dinklage as Game of Throne’s acting trophy for the final season, and his fourth one for the role of Tyrian Lannister. He’s always been the face of the show and unless one of the other people pulls it off this year, will remain the only actor to win an Emmy for their performance on the series. I’m fine with that choice too, as he’s great and I don’t think the other guys in the category are particularly better than him.
Winner: Peter Dinklage
Alternate: Jonathan Banks
DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones
Julia Garner, Ozark
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve
Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
With a record four actresses from Game of Thrones vying for the award here, it’s a pretty good bet none of them takes it, but if anyone could, I guess it might be Maisie Williams? Of the four, she’s the only one who had much to do in these last episodes. I always wanted Lena Headey to win an Emmy for Cersei, but she couldn’t possibly win it for hanging around on a balcony drinking wine all season, right? Or can she? I don’t know, I think this may go to Julia Garner or even Fiona Shaw, just for standing apart in the category.
Winner: Julia Garner
Alternate: Maisie Williams
Dark Horse: Fiona Shaw