Well, the 2015 Emmy Awards have come and gone, and as per usual, most of the winners (in fact, this year, I believe ALL of the winners) were shows I could care less about. I know a lot of people watch the shows that did win, including Game of Thrones and Veep, but because I don’t subscribe to HBO, or because I just simply don’t care much for the actors involved, I was none to pleased with the outcomes this year. So, once again, I’ve compiled my own list of awards given to both outstanding and poorly executed shows — moments and episodes that deserve a little recognition over the *yawn* inducing categories and nominees that show up every year on the Emmy voter’s radars. (Click here for a look at my 2014 awards). Please Note: these are for shows and episodes of television shows I watch that aired between May 2014 and May 2015.
Best New Show: The Flash
With not a whole lot of “great” shows premiering this year, there were a few that stood out, but none so much as the The Flash. It may have been spun-off of CW’s Arrow, but The Flash is definitely more Smallville than Gotham. Like the first season of any show like this, The Flash started with a “monster” of the week storyline, but did so with a whimsical attitude. As the season progressed and questions were answered (mostly in relation to Dr. Harrison Wells, played beautifully by the always charismatic Tom Cavanagh), the show steadily became more serialized and grew into its own mythology quite well. Grant Gustin does a terrific job as Barry Allen, adding just enough charm to his awe-shucks personality and lively attitude toward learning what he can do with his new abilities, from running up buildings, running on water, using his vocal chords to mask his real voice (take that Arrow synth-box!) or how much he has to eat to keep up his metabolism. And much like Clark Kent, Barry has an idealistic outlook that might just give the Kryptonian a run for his money.
Worst New Show: Z Nation
When I got toward the end of the first episode of Z Nation, I thought to myself, “Why does this feel like I’m watching a SyFy Original movie?” Later I found out that the creators of the show were also behind Sharknado and other such Z-grade cheese-fests. And then it all made sense. With poorly written dialogue, even more poorly written characters, and horrible time placement (I’m not sure where they were at the beginning of the show, but it took one of the characters a year to travel to New York on his way to California… which would mean either he was somewhere in England or the surrounding areas, or he took some major wrong turns in his trip across the U.S. — Did anyone ever think to say, “Hey, you’re going the wrong way!). Add to that DJ Qualls overacting a step above normal overacting and a weird little zombie baby that dies for no reason whatsoever, and you’ve got yourself a Walking Dead style spoof that thinks it has a steady heartbeat, only to find out it’s actually a corpse lying wait in a river for its cue to be scary.
Best New Character: Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), Gotham
Of all of the new characters on the air this season, there was only one that stood out as being the perfect case for locking someone away in Arkham Asylum. Oswald Cobblepot is the clearest definition of multiple personality psychopath who really doesn’t have a multiple personality disorder, and Taylor takes this maddening personality trait and imbues Cobblepot, aka “The Penguin”, with so much to both like and hate at the same time. He is so much fun to watch, so electric on screen that it doesn’t matter whether he’s killing someone, taking care of his mother, or cowering in the darkness to stay alive, when he’s on screen, you never really know what he’s up to. Cobblepot in that way is a master of manipulation, and I can tell, Taylor has made sure to craftily manipulate us, the audience, to love to hate in the best possible way.
Worst New Character: Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong), Scorpion
If it wasn’t for the rest of the cast of Scorpion, I may have left the show early on because of one person: Happy Quinn. I’m not sure if it’s the actress, or the writing or what was going on with that character, but every time she was on screen, at least in the early episodes, I cringed. Thankfully, due in most part to Eddie Kaye Thomas, Ari Stidham and the chemistry between the entire cast, I stuck with it, allowing Happy to eventually (albeit, very slowly) grow on me enough to where she was no longer a distraction. That doesn’t mean I’m on board; it just means I can now tolerate her and sometimes even enjoy the occasional repertoire between her and Thomas.
Best New Character in an Established Show: Governor John Campbell (Jake Webber), Hell On Wheels
For the first couple of seasons, the main antagonists for Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount) were Colm Meaney’s railroad man Durant and the creepy Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl). But as the Swede took a weird turn toward a religious faith, and Durant started to find a modicum of respect for Bohannan, in came John Campbell, who immediately stirred up the trouble as he looked to claim Charleston away from Durant. At the same time he had a hard-on for ultimately taking down Bohannan, going so far as to hiring a near vigilante (who was also once Bohannan’s friend during the Civil War) to rile him up and get him to make a mistake. I’ve been a fan of Weber ever since his stint on Medium, and here, he takes the wretchedness of a conniving politician and mixes it with the cunningness of a manipulative businessman to give Campbell a sneer and a wink that pulls you in and keeps you entertained.
Worst New Character in an Established Show: Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary), Grey’s Anatomy
I have nothing against McCreary, but haven’t we already dealt with the storyline of Meredith and a long-lost sister? Yes we have, and it was dealt with so much better the first time. With the addition of Maggie Pierce and the revelation that she is the daughter of Ellis Grey (Kate Burton) and Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.), it seems Grey’s Anatomy has hit The Simpsons status of repeating storylines for no other reason than because there’s nothing left to say. And it’s not just because the entire thing feels really forced, it’s because Pierce is nowhere near as entertaining or likable as Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh). Where Lexie was a joy to watch because of her optimism and charismatic lovability, Pierce is a downer – she’s always complaining and never seems happy. She is literally the complete opposite of Lexie, and not in a good way. If I had to choose, I would prefer the absurdity of Lexie’s ghost than have to put up with Maggie Pierce and her unstoppable whining any day.
Series that was better than expected: Galavant
I did not have high hopes for Galavant when I first started seeing the commercials. But the more I watched of the show, the more I got into the absurdity of the entire thing. The cast is not only fun to watch, but they are incredibly intelligent in how they present their characters. Joshua Sasse and Timothy Omundson are both hilarious in an opposites attract sort of way. Sasse plays Galavant with a strong authority that is only hindered by the ridiculous situations that occur around him, and Omundson infuses Galavant’s rival, King Richard, with a endearing stupidity that highlights the kind heart that he ultimately is trying to hide from his people. But credit must also go to the writing team, which does a terrific job in spoofing several genres at once while remaining true to the characters, their adventures and the worlds they inhabit. When it first started, I thought I was going to write it off after the first episode; now, I can’t wait to see where Galavant’s adventures will take him next.
Series that should have been better: Girl Meets World
I am a huge (huge) fan of Boy Meets World. There’s no denying that fact. So when I heard they were resurrecting the show with a continuation of Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga’s (Danielle Fishel) love story by following their daughter, Riley (Roward Blanchard) as she navigates her own world, I was excited. So long as they stayed true to the depth of the original (at least before college), I was on board. But my hopes were crushed pretty quickly as the first episode debuted. It wasn’t so much that I was disappointed enough to stop watching, but I was disillusioned enough to think they could recapture the magic of the original. As the show has marched on, I can say it has gotten better and the writers have done a good job at finding their voice and slowly moving the show away from the full Disney ideology. Yet, even though they’ve recently started to dig into some deeper subject matters, it still feels a bit childish and doesn’t quite hit all of the right notes at all times. You can see this discrepancy much clearer in any episode that brings back the original cast, especially those that have involved Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong). The love the writers show for these characters overwhelms the entire show and really does highlight its flaws. The one main standout of the new generation is Maya (Sabrina Carpenter), who lights up any scene she’s in, no more so than when she’s paired with Shawn. Their chemistry is so strong, the show becomes absolutely magic when they’re together. If Michael Jacobs can infuse the rest of the show and characters with the same attitude Maya always conveys (and shares with almost everyone on screen), the show could grow into something incredibly special. But if they want to be more than just another kids show (as the original made sure they were), I’m sorry to say, they need to ditch Disney (or in the very least, their rigid structure).
Tomorrow, check out more television awards, including the oddest trends, surprising deaths and great homages. (Check out Part 2 here.)