Friday, July 20, 2012

For British Eyes Only (#1.20)

First, Emmy nominations reactions...
Overall, I am pretty happy with the Drama nominations.  The only exception would have been some love for Fringe, but I don't know that I ever let myself get my hopes up for that.

I am fairly upset about the Comedy nominations.  Not including Parks and Recreation, or Nick Offerman, is the biggest mistake the Academy voters made.  The second biggest was no love for Community (save for one writing nomination) or any of its fabulous actors.  And after that, of course, I am not happy with the lack of nominations for Raising Hope or Happy Endings, but again, my hopes were never that high for those shows anyway.  Of the shows that did get nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, only Girls (and probably 30 Rock) deserved to be there.

However, I am not an academy voter, so I will have to settle for what has been chosen.  Not that I'm not qualified.  I have, in fact, seen all episodes for the twelve series nominated in the Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Comedy Series categories (Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men, The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, Modern Family, 30 Rock, Veep).  But I don't mean to brag (yes, I do).

And on that note, I will switch gears and talk about my newest television obsession - Downton Abbey.
Wow.  I forgot what it was like to fall in love with a new series and be completely consumed by the world it has opened up.  It can be quite a rush when that new show is all you can think about and all you want to do is watch more and then scour the internet for anything remotely related.  It's a bloody brilliant feeling and this new obsession with Downton Abbey has got me using British-isms like Michael Bluth (you know, like how they say go-up-box instead of elevator).  But more importantly, this is a very, very well-made television series and if you haven't seen it, GO NOW.  I'll wait.

Quite simply, Downton Abbey - not DownTOWN Abbey - is the story of the aristocratic Crawley family, their estate, and their many servants.  It takes place in Yorkshire, England starting in 1912 and continues up through World War I (as of the end of the second season).  When I say all that to most people, they think it sounds boring.  I can assure you that this is absolutely NOT a boring show.
For me, the basis of any great series is great characters.  If I love the characters, I'll stick with them no matter what they do.  And having lovable characters does not always mean that they will be likable - we all know there are some terrific villains out there.  But with Downton Abbey, there is no end to the list of wonderful characters.  And the performances behind these characters are phenomenal, as well.  Six different actors from the series were nominated for Emmys yesterday - Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt, and Maggie Smith - all of them deserving of the honor (particularly the women, in my opinion).

The music is fantastic, as well.  I am always fascinated by the relationship between television and music and the way that one can have a profound impact on the other.  John Lunn does a great job with the music for Downton Abbey.  It perfectly evokes the time period, as well as the drama, of the series.  Check out the title sequence - I could listen to it all day:
All in all, it's a brilliant show and I very much look forward to the next season.  For those of you who have already seen the show, I leave you this treat (apologies for the poor quality, but I could not find a better one)...
P.S. Of course, I will, between now and September 23rd, be posting my picks for all the major Emmy categories.  I have a bit of research and soul-searching to do before then.  At least in drama, there was a lot of great TV on this past year.  There was also a lot of great comedy, but my opinion is that it will go largely unrecognized by the Emmys, so those decisions will be much easier to make.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

And The Winner Is... (#1.19)

Emmy season is upon us.  The nominating ballots are out and I couldn't be more excited.  I have given my picks (if I were able to vote) a lot of thought and I am ready to reveal them.  Hooray if you agree, and if you don't, I look forward to your convincing argument as to why you disagree.

I chose my nominees by first scrolling through the submissions - you can't get nominated if you aren't submitted.  I then created a list of all shows/people from shows that I watch.  I didn't pick anyone that I haven't seen in action myself.  And then I narrowed those lists down to my top 6 nominees.

Once the official nominees are announced on July 14, I'll give you my picks for the winners.  As much as I'd love for my list to be the real list, it's likely that the academy and I will see differently, particularly in the comedy categories.  Also, you'll notice no explanation below for my choices.  If you want to know why I picked someone (or some show), hit me up in the comments and I will be more than happy to explain on a case by case basis.

Without any further ado, here are my choices, alphabetically, in each of the major categories...

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad - Fringe - Game of Thrones - Homeland
Mad Men - Shameless

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Jason Isaacs - Awake
Damian Lewis - Homeland
William H. Macy - Shameless

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes - Homeland
Mireille Enos - The Killing
Sarah Michelle Gellar - Ringer
Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men
Emmy Rossum - Shameless
Anna Torv - Fringe

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones
Giancarlo Esposito - Breaking Bad
John Noble - Fringe
Mandy Patinkin - Homeland
Jimmi Simpson - Breakout Kings
John Slattery - Mad Men

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Morena Baccarin - Homeland
Emilia Clarke - Game of Thrones
Anna Gunn - Breaking Bad
Lena Headey - Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks - Mad Men
Kelly Macdonald - Boardwalk Empire

Outstanding Comedy Series

Community - Girls - Happy Endings - New Girl
Parks and Recreation - Raising Hope

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Louis C.K. - Louie
Adam DeVine - Workaholics
Garret Dillahunt - Raising Hope
Danny McBride - Eastbound & Down
Joel McHale - Community

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Courteney Cox - Cougar Town
Zooey Deschanel - New Girl
Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Martha Plimpton - Raising Hope
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Charlie Day - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Max Greenfield - New Girl
Nick Offerman - Parks and Recreation
Danny Pudi - Community
Jim Rash - Community
Damon Wayans Jr. - Happy Endings

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Eliza Coupe - Happy Endings
Cheryl Hines - Suburgatory
Gillian Jacobs - Community
Ellie Kemper - The Office
Kaitlin Olson - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Kristen Wiig - Saturday Night Live

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Prison Break-In (#1.18)

Dear Alcatraz,
Thank you for finally reaching your potential.

Since Alcatraz began its first season back in January, I have wanted it to dive deeper into its mythology.  I quickly grew tired of the criminal-of-the-week story lines and wanted to learn more about the why and the how of the central mystery.  Monday night during the season finale, my wish finally came true.

WARNING: Potential spoilers below.

I was first drawn to Alcatraz because of its trippy premise - in 1963, everyone on the prison island of Alcatraz mysteriously disappeared and they are now showing up, un-aged and committing crimes, in 2012.  Sounds like a good mixture of science fiction, period drama, and procedural (something I can usually do without, but I understand the need to appeal to a more casual kind of viewer).  It also happens to be created by JJ Abrams and stars Jorge Garcia and primarily takes place on an island, a winning combination for me in the past.  Plus, I've been to Alcatraz.  I've taken the tour.  It's a super creepy place already, without adding elements of time travel and medical experiments.

Anyway, Alcatraz started and it was cool.  Nothing super amazing, but I liked the concept and cast and was ready to move forward with the mythology set-up in the pilot.  And then Alcatraz sort of settled into something much closer to a standard procedural where almost nothing was learned about why these inmates were appearing and what role each person played in the situation.  It was a little bit of a snoozer.

Each week a new inmate (or in one case, a guard) would appear, proceed to commit identical crimes to the ones that landed him in Alcatraz in the first place, and then Doc (Garcia) and Rebecca (Sarah Jones) and Hauser (Sam Neill) would chase him around San Francisco until finally catching him right before the end of the episode.  Great.  But it got old pretty quickly and I was frustrated that it wasn't quite living up to its potential.  My hopes for a super cool and weird show were dashed.

Occasionally, something cool would happen.  Holy cow, Dr. Lucy (Parminder Nagra) was on Alcatraz in 1963 and made the jump with all the prisoners!  Rebecca's grandfather wasn't a guard, he was an inmate?!  And he killed her partner?!  What exactly is the Warden (Jonny Coyne) up to, taking so much blood from Tommy Madsen (David Hoflin), anyway?!  But, nothing really happened to help with the big picture of why and how this is happening.  Sure, we found out that weird, old keys were involved, but since when are secrets not locked away somewhere?

On Monday, however, the finale brought it hard and it was awesome.  Of course, we didn't learn everything, but we did get a reason for the medical experiments, some insight into Tommy Madsen's role in the endgame and his commitment to it, and one hell of a shocker to leave us hanging off a cliff, particularly since the show's renewal chances are less than certain.  But can you believe what happens?!?!  I haven't been this shocked by something on TV since... (Family Guy cut-a-way)... Really, though, it has been a while since I was this truly surprised.  And although Charlie's death on Breakout Kings kind of rocked me to the core, I still cannot believe Rebecca died.  I definitely did not see that coming.

In any case, I am now very intrigued by where all this is headed and I hope Fox brings Alcatraz back for another round.  I'd like to find out exactly how this time jump happened and to what end the Warden is working.  I'd love to see how Rebecca's death affects the team and if they'll try to revive her via silver-enhanced inmate blood.  I like where this is headed and I'd like to see it through.

What did you think of Alcatraz and its ramped-up finale?  Are you anxious for a season 2 or ready to let it go off into TV heaven?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments (#1.17)

Why Can't I Stop Watching House of Lies?!?!
House of Lies is a new series on Showtime.  It seems like it should be really good.  It has a great cast with Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, and Ben Schwartz.  Even the guest stars looked good - Alan Dale, Richard Schiff, Andrea Savage, Greg Germann.  I was really looking forward to its premiere in January.  But then I watched it.  And I kept watching it.

You see, I don't like this show very much.  But for some unknown reason, I keep tuning in, week after week.  The actors, of course, are great.  However, the characters are not.  I'm all for unlikeable characters.  I'm all for douche-bags and jerks and bitches, as long as they serve a purpose.  As long as these characters have reasons for being assholes or have something more to them than their crass and selfish ways, I'm OK with it.  Kenny Powers has to be one of the most unlikeable people on the planet, but I still laugh with every episode of Eastbound & Down.  Really, I love when shows blur the lines between good guys and bad guys (which is done magnificently on Showtime's own Homeland).

On House of Lies, though, the four main characters - Marty (Cheadle), Jeannie (Bell), Clybe (Schwartz), and Doug (Josh Lawson) - are dreadful because they only have two dimensions.  The one note they play over and over is not only monotonous, but extremely unlikeable.  This quartet works for a management consulting firm.  What is that, you ask?  Well, that's most of the premise - not knowing what the hell these people actually do.  It basically surmounts to them systematically screwing clients over by doing very, very little work, dishing out a lot of B.S., and collecting their multi-million dollar fees.  And not in a funny way.
During this process, they are rude and crude with no regard for anyone but themselves.  They aren't even nice to each other.  And not in the teasing, I-mock-because-I-love-you sort of way.  In the most recent episode, Doug, the only vaguely almost kind of likeable one, attempts a conversation with Marty about being mentored by him.  Marty not only shuts him down, but is a complete sarcastic dick about it.

And Clyde, who rarely says anything that isn't a direct sexual reference, makes Barney Stinson look tame in the ways he will fool women into bed with him, and without any of Barney's redeeming qualities.  The team even has a "Hook-Up Points" game they play while traveling.  This could easily work, if it weren't so forced.  It's like the writers don't know how to tell a story without some strange or alarming sex situation.  These stories don't feel natural.  It's like they're purely there for shock value.
But I still continue to watch.

Every once in a while there is a ray of hope.  Jeannie suffers a panic attack while attempting to plan her wedding.  It might be the man or the commitment, but it's the first sign of emotion and humanity we see from her.  Marty finds himself in a similar situation when confronted with the memory of his mother's suicide.  It's a brief moment in a single episode, but it shows a little bit of what makes Marty tick.  Moments like these, though few and far between, show that this series and these characters are capable of more than the surface level douche-baggery.  I wish they'd explore these levels more, but as each episode passes (seven so far), I find myself continuously disappointed.

Maybe this is what the show is and maybe this is what I signed up for.  Shoot, maybe I like the shock value.  I really don't know.  But if things don't get better by the end of this season, I hope I have the willpower to step away.  My friends know I have a hard time quitting shows, no matter how they turn out.  But for now, I'll keep watching and waiting and hoping that things improve, hoping these characters are more than just a pretty face and a bad attitude.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chuck Versus the Goodbye (#1.16)

Wow.  I finished watching the series finale of Chuck about two hours ago and I can't get it out of my mind.  I haven't cried that much since the series finale of Friday Night Lights.  And before that?  Probably the series finale of Lost.  Perhaps you notice a pattern.  Seems like I really only cry for TV shows and especially during finales.  I haven't quite mastered saying goodbye to these friends I've spent years with.  Of course, all shows have to end sometime (except, maybe, The Simpsons), but that doesn't mean goodbye doesn't hurt.  Still, Chuck and Sarah and Casey and Morgan gave me plenty of good times to remember, plenty of laughs to think about and the pain subsides a little.  Here's a raised glass, a toast, and a salute to the show that brought out the inner geek in all of us - Chuck.
Chuck started in 2007, created by Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak.  Mixing genres left and right, Chuck was funny, romantic, and packed to the gills with action.  Centered around a Buy More (think Best Buy) computer nerd who was suddenly infused with the world's most dangerous and advanced intellectual weapon - the Intersect - Chuck quickly became the origin story every present-day geek would have written for himself.  I used the male pronoun there, but who am I kidding?  I would LOVE to have the Intersect.  Anyway, Chuck (Zachary Levi) is soon courted, falsely, by his CIA handler Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski).  Their fake, cover relationship eventually becomes real and by season five Chuck and Sarah are happily married and looking to quit the spy game and start a family.
And then there's Casey, Morgan, Ellie, Awesome, Jeff, Lester, Big Mike, and Alex to round out this strange, but loving family the Chuck universe has created.  The characters, as with any great series in my opinion, are the foundation that made it worth watching.  They become your friends and your extended family that you choose to spend time with every week.  And it was such a wonderful journey to watch them grow.  Seeing Casey go from trained assassin to caring father.  Being with Ellie and Devon as they became parents.  Learning how smart Jeff could be when he stopped sleeping in his van with the engine running.  All of these discoveries were great because we were with people we loved.
Another of my favorite things about Chuck was its ability to combine so many different types of shows.  It was a romantic comedy and a procedural.  It was an action series and a workplace sitcom.  It had mystery and it had emotion.  I laughed.  I cried (obviously).  I sat on the edge of my seat in suspense.  Through five seasons, Chuck gave the viewers a little bit of everything to enjoy.  And the viewers did what they could to give that joy back.
Now, maybe it didn't always have the biggest fan base.  In five seasons it was on the verge of cancellation after each and every one of them.  But that small fan base, let me tell you, was so loyal and dedicated that every year these people showed NBC that they wanted more Chuck and they wanted it now.  They ate their way through more Subway sandwiches than could be counted and saved the show time and again.  So for this show to have gotten the five years that it did, I can be nothing but grateful.
But I'm still sad it's over.  Because the creators knew this season would be Chuck's last, they were able to provide closure to these fans that loved the show so much.  And although not everyone loved the way the finale left things, I can certainly find some comfort in how it ended.  I don't want to give anything away for those of you who will give this series second-life on DVD, but while the finale was not all rainbows and smiles, it left me with a feeling of hope and, in my mind, I know everything will be okay for Chuck, Sarah, and everyone else.
I love Chuck and I will miss it like crazy for a while.  But someday, I'll pull out the discs and start over from the beginning.  I'll start this adventure again and find new things to love and admire along the way.  Because although it may be gone, Chuck will never be forgotten.

And I still have quite a few things to watch between now and then.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Won't Back Down (#1.15)

Last night, I went to an event sponsored by the creators of a little program called Cougar Town.  It was a very fun night with the writers and cast and a bunch of journalists looking to learn more about the show and get some interviews.  The reason for the event - briefly - is that every year the Television Critics Association (TCA) hosts panels and screenings for each of the networks to showcase the series they are most excited about, new and old.  This year, Cougar Town was not a part of that conversation, so they decided to help themselves and hosted this party (open bar!).

It was a lot of fun hanging out and meeting new people, but what I came to quickly discover is that I am not a journalist.  I could talk to you and anyone else about television all day.  That's essentially what I did at the event.  I walked around the room, met some new people - cast members, writers, and journalists alike - and spoke with them about TV shows.  It was great!  But getting an "official" interview?  Not so much my strong suit.  Still, it was a good night that I am not likely to forget anytime soon.  This article isn't about me, however.  I am already a regular and committed viewer of Cougar Town, but I know that a lot of other people are not.  This is my plea for you to give this show a chance.
There are many, many, many people who are turned off simply because of the title.  I don't quite understand this logic.  I mean, I can see how at first the title could make a lot of people feel like this would not be a show they'd be interested in.  On that part, I agree.  But lately, there has been a lot of effort on the part of the creators and fans to explain that the title is a very poor reflection of what the show is actually about.  There have even been multiple attempts to possibly change the title altogether, although there were concerns that doing so might confuse the viewers Cougar Town already has.

In an effort to convince you that you really should look past the title, I'm going to stick with the abbreviation CT from here on.  And as Jeff Winger would say, "Look, if you want me to take it seriously, stop saying its name."  The point I am eventually getting to here is that CT actually has nothing to do with cougars - an older woman seeking a much younger man (boy?) for dating purposes, if you were unaware.  It also has nothing to do with the animal cougar, just in case that was also a concern.  CT is, at its essence, a show about a group of middle-aged friends who hang out and drink wine.  They live in a cul-de-sac and they spend time together and they partake of red wine.  It really is that simple.  Maybe in the beginning Jules (Courteney Cox) dated a younger man or two, but then something great happened and the show became more about her support group than her love life.

This support group includes her son Travis (Dan Byrd), her ex-husband/current-friend Bobby (Brian Van Holt), her best friend and neighbor Ellie (Christa Miller), Ellie's husband (and Bobby's best friend) Andy (Ian Gomez), her co-worker and other best friend Laurie (Busy Phillips), and her neighbor-turned-boyfriend Grayson (Josh Hopkins).  Let the shenanigans begin!

Jules can't quite find the boundary of where a proper mother-son relationship ends and a weird one begins.  Bobby lives on a boat that rests in a parking lot.  Ellie and Laurie, despite being Jules' best friends, can't seem to find anything they like about each other.  Grayson makes up fun little songs on his guitar.  Andy and Bobby test the limits of what a bromance really means.  It's relatable, but in a way that is probably a little funnier (and zanier, as I read somewhere) than your real life.

And that may be the most important reason you should give this show a chance - it is really funny!  I sincerely mean that, too.  It hasn't been on in quite some time, but the second season was consistently funny and a show that I looked forward to from week to week.  That is a clear indicator, to me, of how good a show really is.  If every week you can't wait to see it, it must be doing something right!  It is certainly better than a lot of the stuff on TV right now that seems to have viewers entranced.  But the good news is you don't have to take my word for it.  You can and should find out for yourself!

Of the upcoming third season, I have only seen a sizzle reel, but that alone had some very funny stuff in it.  I have heard that this year it will only continue to get better.  And that information comes from a very, very reliable source who knows funny and has had close proximity to the creation of season three so far.  You may have seen her article.
I saw somewhere that when CT finally returns, it could possibly be paired up on a new night with Happy Endings.  This seems like a much better fit than either of these shows with Modern Family (a show with which I am still disappointed) and a night I would certainly make a priority.  Don't watch Happy Endings either?  Who are you?  But really, a CT/HE pairing feels right to me.  They have similar styles that would compliment each other well on a night of comedy relating to friends and the secondary families we create for ourselves.  (Side note: this pairing could potentially also include the new Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, of which I have seen nothing and heard very little, so the jury is still out on what this show will bring to the table.)
Speaking of the return, it would be a lot easier for me to convince you to tune into CT if I knew when you should tune in.  ABC has yet to set an official start date for season three, but I will be sure to keep you updated.  The latest news is that it would return sometime in March.  All this vagueness, though, is certainly troubling to the creative forces behind the show who have taken it upon themselves to build awareness and keep fans informed and excited for the upcoming premiere.  How so?  Well, that event I attended last night was organized (and paid for) by the show's creators, Bill Lawrence (yes, he also created Scrubs) and Kevin Biegel, without the outside help of the network.  What better way to raise awareness of the show than by hosting a party for TV reporters and bloggers?

Additionally, the creators, cast, and writers have begun hosting viewing parties all across the US in order to give fans a taste of what's to come this season.  So far, these viewing parties have been held in places like Louisville, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Sarasota, Chicago, San Diego, and others, with still more on the horizon.  At each screening, at least one writer and one cast member are in attendance to greet the fans (who have gotten their tickets via social media contests) and hang out while a couple of new, unaired episodes are screened.  I had a last-minute opportunity to attend one of these in LA, but couldn't make it work.  I heard it was a blast, though!  Follow Bill Lawrence on Twitter (@VDOOZER) or check out his fan page on Facebook for your chance to attend one of these parties.
To me, the fact that these people are fighting and working so hard for their show means that they must really believe in it.  These viewing parties and events are not something mandated in their contracts.  This doesn't seem to be just another job to them.  These writers and cast members really love the work they are doing.  They want it to succeed not for their own sake, but because it truly is a great and funny show that people would love, if they just gave it a real chance.  I know this to be true especially because I spent my evening yesterday talking to these writers and cast members.  They love CT, hell, Cougar Town, despite its unfortunate name and the fact that it was dismissed by many before it had even begun.

So, like those who go to work every day for the cul-de-sac crew, I urge you to take thirty minutes on a yet-undetermined evening in March to see what all this fuss is about.  Turn on your televisions and set your DVRs to visit Cougar Town.  If you're still not interested, I will try to understand, but I think those of you who have yet to check it out will be in for one hell of a pleasant surprise.  And those of you who have been anxiously awaiting another round of drinks with Big Carl or another game of Penny Can, the time has almost come.  Just be patient.  It will certainly be worth the wait.

Now, everybody tell me your favorite thing about Cougar Town!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning (#1.14)


I can't contain my excitement anymore!  Although there are still no return dates for my beloved Community or Cougar Town, I can't help but be jazzed for new 30 Rock next week.

30 Rock is one of my favorite, and one of the best comedies on TV.  I am so happy with NBC for allowing this show to get to its 6th season, despite sometimes pretty low viewership ratings (although, of course, I'm still unhappy with NBC for other reasons - #SixSeasonsAndAMovie).

If you have never seen 30 Rock and don't watch the Emmy's and haven't read Tina Fey's book, Bossypants, and don't watch or pay attention to comedy television (why are you reading this?), then I can tell you that 30 Rock takes place in the backstage world of a TV sketch comedy show, similar to Saturday Night Live.  It revolves around the lives of these coworkers - Jack, the executive (Alec Baldwin); Liz, the writer (Tina Fey); Jenna, the diva performer (Jane Krakowski); Tracy, the diva performer, male category (Tracy Morgan); Kenneth, the page (Jack McBrayer); and various other members of the cast and crew of TGS with Tracy Jordan.

One of the things I love most about 30 Rock, is its fearlessness.  They did a live episode.  They've done an episode filmed entirely as if it were a reality show about Tracy's wife, Angie, in "Queen of Jordan."  They aren't afraid to play with the format of the story-telling and it totally works for me.  30 Rock has characters named Dr. Spaceman, Jeffrey Weinerslav, Wesley Snipes, D'Fwan, and the new Hazel Whatshername.  They don't hesitate to include strange story-lines about Liz shouting at the Moon with Buzz Aldrin and Jenna dating a man who moonlights as a cross-dressing version of her.  It's this courageousness that makes 30 Rock unique in today's comedy landscape.

Additionally, 30 Rock is supremely well-acted.  Just ask the 5 wins and 34 nominations in  acting categories for the Emmy Awards.  Everyone on this show is great and despite the off-screen drama surrounding the likes of Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan, they always deliver when they are on-screen.  Particularly the guest stars - which account for a nice chunk of the nominations listed above - are phenomenal.  They may only be in an episode or two, but that doesn't make their performances any less wonderful.

The writing is great, too, but I would expect nothing less from a team headed by Tina Fey.  If you don't know me, then you don't know that I absolutely worship her.  And that I was reduced to a speechless puddle when she signed my copy of her book on my birthday last year.  The point I'm trying to make is that there are a slew of other Emmy nominations and wins for the writing, as well.

Now, you might be thinking, "But what do the Emmys know?!"  And in general, I will agree that they sometimes get it wrong and make me angry (I'm sure I will devote an entire post to this anger come nomination time).  But in this case, their nominations and  awards for 30 Rock's excellence hit the nail on the head.

Anyway, I hadn't really thought too much about the return of 30 Rock this winter - my DVR takes care of me so I don't have to remember the millions of dates - and then Entertainment Weekly posted a preview video today and a short article with an unbelievable fact: 244 days have passed since the last new episode of 30 Rock.

Watch that preview video here:

Now, are you as excited as I am?  30 Rock has always had great guest stars - Will Arnett, Steve Buschemi, Elaine Stritch, Jon Hamm, Steve Martin, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Matt Damon, Carrie Fisher, etc. (I could seriously continue for a while) - but the addition of Kristen Schaal to the regular cast has made me one happy camper.  If you're not familiar with Schaal, shame on you!  But really, you should check her out in The Flight of the Conchords (also, because that show is great).

Plus, there is the addition of James Marsden this season, unfortunately for a limited time, that also has me pretty pumped.

I began this post thinking I'd simply highlight the shows making their winter premiere, and instead I wrote a little love letter to 30 Rock.  That's alright.  There is plenty more I could say on the subject, of course, but I'll leave it here for now.

Are you as excited as I am for the sixth season of 30 Rock?  And what other shows are you looking forward to seeing again this winter?

30 Rock returns Thursday, January 12 at 8:00pm.