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Ed O'neill (#110 of 8)

2013 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions

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2013 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions
2013 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions

What you’re about to read is a fool’s errand, as without a plethora of precursor awards leading up to television’s biggest night, predicting the Emmys will always be less of a science than predicting the Oscars. But while less energy, hype, and expense may go into buying an Emmy, Neill Patrick Harris won’t exactly be hosting a purity ball on September 22nd at the NOKIA Theatre in Los Angeles. This is an industry show after all, so expect much back-patting, if not to the magnitude of AMPAS’s anointment of Argo as their latest Best Picture winner, essentially an award to Hollywood itself for making movies that affect politics. Case in point: American Horror Story: Asylum, which ended its initially dubious second season on a frenzied high note, as a distinctly Lynchian elegy to the suppression of women. It enters the Emmy race with 17 nominations, more than any other show, yet it will lose the award for Miniseries or Movie to Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra, a predictable and emotionally flat retelling of Liberace’s life that was deemed too gay for the big screen. TV better than movies? Not really, but at least television will let you see Michael Douglas stroking Matt Damon’s leg hair.

2011 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions

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2011 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions
2011 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions

On September 18, Bryan Cranston will not win his fourth trophy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, as Breaking Bad’s fourth season fell outside the award show’s eligibility period—and if you think that bodes well for the AMC program’s chances for Outstanding Drama Series in 2012, remember that Mad Men’s much-delayed fifth season is still slated to fall within the upcoming Emmy calendar. Standing to gain from Cranston’s absence is always-a-bridesmaids John Hamm—unless Steve Buscemi’s Golden Globe and SAG victories earlier this year, and the chillier-than-Mad Men Boardwalk Empire’s surprise showing at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend—weren’t just flukes of nature. A three-time winner for Outstanding Drama Series, Mad Men may have to move over for the new HBO prestige drama on the block, and if Betty White doesn’t win her 3,897th Emmy for acting saucier than your grandmother, that may be enough for this Sunday’s telecast to go down as the Year of the Passing of the Guard. Below, my predictions in a handful of the major categories—brought to you with less than my usual dash of wish-fulfillment.

John from Cincinnati Recap Season 1, Episode 10, “His Visit: Day Nine”

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John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episode 10, “His Visit: Day Nine”
John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episode 10, “His Visit: Day Nine”

“Back in the game, Mitch Yost.” –John Monad (Austin Nichols)

Here is the revelation: John Monad and Shaun Yost (Greyson Fletcher)—missing for all of a purgatorial day—surfing in unison across the Imperial Beach horizon, a picture-perfect, per the accompanying Bob Dylan song, “Series of Dreams”. The return of the monad and his young prodigy in the final installment of John from Cincinnati’s first season (“His Visit: Day Nine”) sends a similarly unifying shockwave through IB—whether aware of it or not, all are now joined in singular principle and purpose, even if the only explicit example of this, at first, is the prophesied blow job that rocks Meyer Dickstein’s (Willie Garson) world.

John from Cincinnati Recap Season 1, Episode 9, “His Visit: Day Eight”

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John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episode 9, “His Visit: Day Eight”
John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episode 9, “His Visit: Day Eight”

“Big pipe’s easy. Dry land’s hard.” –Mitch Yost (Bruce Greenwood)

Concurrent with the moment in John from Cincinnati’s ninth episode (“His Visit: Day Eight”) when Mitch Yost makes contact, on the U.S./Mexico border, with his old friend and shaman Erlemeyer (Howard Hesseman), the inevitable happens: Mitch’s wife Cissy (Rebecca De Mornay) awakes back in Imperial Beach to find their grandson Shaun (Greyson Fletcher) vanished without a trace.

This sets off a viral chain reaction, with Cissy’s fear and paranoia infecting everyone in her path, a surge of emotion that reaches its apex when drug dealer Steady Freddy Lopez (Dayton Callie) goes all Death of a Rat on a leather-jacketed teddy bear belatedly gifted to him by his knockaround sidekick Palaka (Paul Ben Victor). “You do not buy a gift and not give it. That’s the oldest bad luck in the world,” says Palaka before Freddy callously tosses the bear into the Snug Harbor Motel parking lot. Palaka immediately retrieves the gift and timidly pleads with his boss to take it. “For the boy,” he finishes.

John from Cincinnati Recap Season 1, Episodes 7 & 8, “His Visit: Day Six” & “His Visit: Day Seven”

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John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episodes 7 & 8, “His Visit: Day Six” & “His Visit: Day Seven”
John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episodes 7 & 8, “His Visit: Day Six” & “His Visit: Day Seven”

That was most certainly the voice of the Creator taunting the fragile Barry Cunningham in the dilapidated barroom of the Snug Harbor Motel. Figures that Barry’s momentary epiphany about his surroundings (which he parallels to a catbird seat anecdote about Daniel Frohman’s Lyceum Theatre) would be so suddenly quashed by a sentiment from the void. Milch gives voice to the fears that hinder us all—there’s a touch of the misanthrope in how his characters come off as puppets constantly in service to an unfathomable Divinity, but he likewise recognizes that, every now and again, we are capable of breaking through the programming, becoming, even if only for a moment, our tried and true selves.

John from Cincinnati Recap Season 1, Episode 6, “His Visit: Day Five”

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John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episode 6, “His Visit: Day Five”
John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episode 6, “His Visit: Day Five”

“Well. This was time well spent.” Indeed it was Joe. Not that the residents of Imperial Beach, California are likely to have much cognizant memory of the events, mind-blowing all, of John from Cincinnati’s sixth installment (“His Visit: Day Five”). But certainly an interconnected impression has been left, set in stone by John Monad’s (Austin Nichols) final commandment to the gathered masses (in both body and spirit) at the rundown Snug Harbor Motel: “You will not note my Father’s word. Nor remember Cass’ camera. But you will not forget what we did here.” The divine emissary has tipped his hand, revealing the machinations and, at least in part, the intentions of the man behind the curtain.

John from Cincinnati Recap Season 1, Episode 4, “His Visit: Day Three”

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John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episode 4, “His Visit: Day Three”
John from Cincinnati Recap: Season 1, Episode 4, “His Visit: Day Three”

If we were to distill John from Cincinnati to a single image, to a single visual trope, it would be the one that kicked off the series’s fourth episode, “His Visit, Day Three.” John Monad (Austin Nichols) stands before the skeletal circular structure that first figured in a brief aside during episode two. Now as then, he looks at the structure knowingly, but the really telling details come from the camerawork. When John is in close-up, the distance between him and the structure is increased, rendered in Citizen Kane-like deep focus; when John is in long shot, the distance between the two objects is suddenly collapsed, so that the structure effectively dwarfs its observer.

John from Cincinnati Recaps Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2, “His Visit: Day One” & “His Visit: Day Two”

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John from Cincinnati Recaps: Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2, “His Visit: Day One” & “His Visit: Day Two”
John from Cincinnati Recaps: Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2, “His Visit: Day One” & “His Visit: Day Two”

Credit is due to David Milch: It took balls to commence his new series, John from Cincinnati, with a weathered and wizened Luke Perry (as surf promoter Linc Stark) stepping from an SUV into the early morning quietude of a California beach. For those many souls reeling from the now-infamous final moments of The Sopranos, the transition between James Gandolfini’s quizzical mug and the age-hollowed stare of a former beach bum teen idol was an associative burden I suspect they’d rather not bear. “The end is near,” says John Monad (Austin Nichols), who emerges from both the sand dune boonies (teeming with illegal aliens crossing clandestinely into the border town of Imperial Beach) and from the literal shadow of the man who was Dylan McKay.