Predicting the 2016 Emmy Nominees (Part I) – Drama

I’ve joked in the past that this is the post-Breaking Bad era, though it doesn’t totally feel like it thanks to Better Call Saul. You could say it’s more of the post-Mad Men era, after Jon Hamm rode off into the sunset with as many Best Actor awards as he could grab. Come July 14th, we’ll see which of our favorite shows, actors and actresses are getting the credit that we know their due.

Emmy voting will begin June 13th, as the networks and streaming services had from March 28th until May 2nd to make submissions. To qualify for this year’s Emmys, a show had to air from June 1st of 2015 to May 31st, 2016. This is why it feels weird when shows from last summer (forever ago) are nominated or may feel looked over from this past year. That’s why Mr. Robot Season 1 will be considered as well as HBO’s Show Me A Hero miniseries.

To prepare for the announcements coming in the middle of July, let’s speculate on which titles and whose names will be called as 2016 Emmy Nominees. Since there are 18 different categories, we’ll break the predictions up into 3 different “Parts” – Drama, Comedy, and Limited Series/TV Movies/Variety Shows. We’ll also determine the number of nominees based on last year’s total per category.

Beginning with the Drama Categories…

Outstanding Drama Series 

Game of Thrones (HBO)

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Last year’s winner has put together a very good follow up season. It’s filled with the twists and heartache that you’ve come to know Game of Thrones by, but also many more “wins” that viewers don’t normally get. HBO’s most popular show is just a few more years from wrapping up, there are more answers than questions and that’s been very satisfying.

Better Call Saul (AMC)

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The sophomore season of the Breaking Bad spinoff has established itself as something completely different from its predecessor, and it’s even better than the first. Whereas Breaking Bad was a suspenseful crime thriller, Better Call Saul is a slower paced Law Dramedy with some elements of the original series. Who knew such a hit show could be developed around a smaller supporting character like Saul, carried by comedic actors (Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean)?

House of Cards (Netflix)Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 12.12.54 PM

The fourth season of House of Cards felt like a much needed rebound from the third. Part of the suspense of this show is that you always fear the worst for anyone who gets in Frank Underwood’s way. The tearing down and rebuilding of his relationship with Claire, plus the relevance of an election campaign were especially compelling.

Mr. Robot (USA)

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Mr. Robot’s pilot episode was one of the best in recent years. It was an honest look into the world of hacking, not the superficial “CW spin” or goth look with a strand of hair dyed a different color. The show remained suspenseful and worth watching thanks to the performance of Rami Malek as the ultimate introvert protagonist, which cut through many of the pretentious themes and the blatantly “Fight Club” ripoff. It was still very refreshing and helped legitimize a network that really needed a hit.

Narcos (Netflix)

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Narcos was one of the big surprises of 2015 and had similar storytelling that you’d find in a Scorsese film. Even if most of the dialogue was in subtitles, you could argue that the action and acting helped make this take on the life of Pablo Escobar one of the most suspenseful show’s of the year.

The Americans (FX)

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For years, The Americans has been one of the most critically acclaimed shows on television but has only received two Emmy nominations, one for writing and a win for Margo Martindale’s guest appearance. With Mad Men finally ineligible and Homeland having a weak season (in my opinion), it seems to be now or never for the Russian Spy/Cold War thriller.

Downton Abbey (PBS)

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It was the farewell season. Has to be nominated, right?

Also Consider: 

Billions

 A personal favorite with some of the best writing this year. 

Horace and Pete

Louis C.K.’s web-drama. He didn’t feel he needed to promote it until he noticed nobody was watching it. You’ll be glad if you do.

Homeland

If so, it’ll be by reputation and not merit. Last year was not a good followup to a great 4th season. 

 

Outstanding Lead Actress

Robin Wright, ‘House of Cards’ (Netflix)

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Every year I try to predict this category, I go with Robin Wright (and usually lose). You could make an argument that her character shined even more than the iconic Frank Underwood this season.

Julianna Margulies, ‘The Good Wife’ (CBS)

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One of network television’s biggest hits in recent years also said farewell, The Good Wife, and their leading lady literally got slapped in the face (on the show). Hopefully the 12-time nominee will get some love from the Emmys make that feel better.

Tatiana Maslany, ‘Orphan Black’ (SyFy)

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There’s a lot to be said for an actress who plays as many characters as you can count on your hand, and you forget that each one is the same person…and also clones. I just recently jumped on the Orphan Black bandwagon and I get the hype now.

Krysten Ritter, ‘Jessica Jones’ (Netflix)

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In a world (movie trailer guy voice) where superheroes dominate the box office, they also have begun taking over the small screen as well. Netflix expanded the Marvel universe and is doing it the best on television with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. The latter has received more acclaim and credibility because of Krysten Ritter’s performance as the whiskey drinking, super-strength wielding private eye.

Eva Green, ‘Penny Dreadful’ (Showtime)

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I am unsure if there is an actress on television right now as scary as Eva Green in Penny Dreadful. She has this unbelievable ability to be so warm and then so terrifying in a blink of an eye. It’s about time she got some love for it.

Viola Davis, ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ (ABC)

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Last year’s winner has clearly brought her Oscar nominated acting chops to TV and could be carrying the mantle for network representatives as Margulies seems to be putting it down…for now.

Also Consider:

Claire Danes, ‘Homeland’

I have no doubt she will snag one of the nominations from my predictions above, since she’s been nominated each of the last 4 years. Carrie Mathieson needs some new life, and thankfully the series is taking a year off to find it. 

Taraji P. Henson, ‘Empire’

Nobody puts Cookie in the corner.

Olivia Wilde, ‘Vinyl’

Olivia Wilde really did the best she could with a script that didn’t give her character enough credit. Hope they right that wrong in Season 2. 

Outstanding Lead Actor

Bob Odenkirk, ‘Better Call Saul’ (AMC)

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I love that Bob Odenkirk is where he is now. Comedy is one of the hardest things to do for an actor, and he’s a master of that. So it’s no surprise he’s turned the creation of Saul Goodman into something we all can’t seem to get enough of.

Kevin Spacey, ‘House of Cards’ (Netflix)

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You can imagine Spacey will be a staple in this category for as long as House of Cards is running. It’s very interesting how the character has aged in such a short span, but that may be the point the show is making with the “reality of being president”.

Rami Malek, ‘Mr. Robot’ (USA)

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Rami Malek makes Mr. Robot worth watching. He plays the role perfectly and keeps the viewer at edge with what will happen to him next.

Kyle Chandler, ‘Bloodline’ (Netflix)

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t like the newest season of Bloodline. It was too miserable for my taste, but Kyle Chandler’s acting was something worth rooting for. He presents John Rayburn’s fall from grace perfectly and it’s just so damn heartbreaking.

Liev Schreiber, ‘Ray Donovan’ (Showtime)

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Ray Donovan has one of the best casts on television, but the title character is why you watch it. Schreiber was nominated last year for the role, but his best acting was certainly executed in the most recent…I’ll reference the Season 3 finale as enough evidence to earn Schreiber a surprise win.

Damien Lewis, ‘Billions’ (Showtime)

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Both leads in Billions, including Paul Giamatti, deserve nominations. They played off each other perfectly but if one of them has to be named, it should be Lewis. In a day and age where Wall Street is the Big Bad Wolf (another Scorsese reference), Lewis portrays a hedge fund antihero of sorts…or villain you can’t help but cheer for because he is so well written.

Also Consider:

Paul Giamatti, ‘Billions’ 

For the reasons above, but as a Federal Attorney.

Bobby Cannavale, ‘Vinyl’

I didn’t really like Vinyl as a show but Cannavale’s performance alone is enough to watch all 10 episodes of the first season…so is the music.

Wagner Moura, ‘Narcos’

His performance as Pablo Escobar is so unpredictable, just the slightest movement makes you jumpy over what will happen next.

Outstanding Supporting Actress

Uzo Aduba, ‘Orange is the New Black’ (Netflix)

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Last year, Uzo Aduba shifted categories, from comedy to drama, and won again. If you ask me, she’s the best thing Orange is the New Black has going and I probably wouldn’t be looking forward to the next season if it weren’t for her. The erotic novelist arc of “Crazy Eyes” in season 3 was the most entertaining part of the most recent season.

Lena Headey, ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)

Cersei

Mark my my words, Lena Headey is going to get a win before Game of Thrones is over. She gives some of most powerful performances and scenes on TV’s most talked about show, and her character has gone from hatable to fan favorite in just a year’s span.

Christine Baranski, ‘The Good Wife’ (CBS)

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Christine Baranski has been nominated for each of the last six years and hasn’t come away with a win. She actually has 14 total and hasn’t won since 1995. Her character delivers the aforementioned “slap heard around the world” and is rumored to be getting a spinoff, so she must be doing something right.

Maggie Siff, ‘Billions’ (Showtime)

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Maggie Siff was an absolute scene stealer in the first season of Billions and went toe-to-toe with both of the leads. If there was a “hero” type character on the show, it’s hers and she deserves all the acclaim she gets for her performance.

Constance Zimmer, ‘UnReal’ (Lifetime)

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UnReal is Lifetime’s saving grace from the victim formula movies and bad “Real Story” biopics. Constance Zimmer is a big reason for that, showing you the reality of producing reality television. She could be the breakout that the network needs to be taken seriously.

Regina King, ‘The Leftovers’ (HBO)

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Regina King is one of my favorite actresses, who will likely be nominated again for her role in the American Crime anthology miniseries. She was a great addition to The Leftovers and represents a whole bunch of actresses who could easily fill this category if needed.

Also Consider:

Joanne Froggatt, ‘Downton Abbey’

It’s Downton victory lap.

Maggie Smith, ‘Downton Abbey’

Same reason.

Sissy Spacek, ‘Bloodline’

The story is not much to write home about but there are multiple times you almost expect the Carrie hellfire to rain down on those opposite her. Great acting.

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Peter Dinklage, ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)

Tyrion

Dinklage’s role hasn’t been prevalent as it was in the latest season, but the performance has still been nomination worthy (6 episodes in). Actually, the scene he has taming the dragons could put him over the top again, when push comes to shove. It was everything we’ve come to love about Tyrion Lannister as a character and more.

Jonathan Banks, ‘Better Call Saul’ (AMC)

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The Mike storyline in Better Call Saul has the familiar suspense and danger that we knew and loved from Breaking Bad. Jonathan Banks may be the biggest reason some fans love the show, and I wouldn’t blame them.

Jim Carter, ‘Downton Alley’ (PBS)

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Like many of the other Downton Emmy contenders I’ve mentioned, it’s victory lap time for the show. It would just feel wrong to leave the 4-time nominee out.

Joel Kinnaman, ‘House of Cards’ (Netflix)

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The Killing alum Joel Kinnaman deserved more credit for his performance on that show, and he proved to have even more range after joining House of Cards. He should be nominated alone for making a Republican candidate seem…*gulp*…relatable. Even if it is for a short time.

Alan Alda, ‘Horace and Pete’ (LouisCKNet)

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The role may have originally been written for Joe Pesci (as Louis C.K. has admitted) but what ISN’T Alan Alda good in? It’s kinda funny seeing Hawkeye from M.A.S.H. play a character who represents almost everything he hates.

Also Consider:

Michael Kelly, ‘House of Cards’

If Kinnaman isn’t nominated, Doug Stamper totally will be. 

Christian Slater, ‘Mr. Robot’

He’s riding a lot of momentum after winning a Golden Globe for the award. 

Ben Mendelsohn, ‘Bloodline’

Mendelsohn is turning out to be one of my favorite actors as of late. He may get nominated based on reputation but his character does nowhere near enough as he had in the first season. He’s more of a symbol than a player. 

Stay Tuned for “Part II – Comedy” coming soon. 

Follow for more on Facebook or Twitter. You can subscribe to The Piffcast on iTunes too.

Piffcast: Chris Petlak and Jim Kozyra Kick Out ‘THE JAMZ’ on Netflix

The creators/writers/co-executive producers/stars of The Jamz, Chris Petlak and Jim Kozyra, join the show! We discuss how the workplace comedy came together, the New York Television Festival and Indie TV, influences for the show and characters, plus filming in and identifying with Chicago. Jim, Chris, TJ and I also hold a “Favorite Chicago-based Films and TV shows Draft”. You can let us know who won and also watch the show on Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and XBOX. (23:17 mark, if you want to jump ahead)

Meanwhile, a congratulations is in order for TJ, spoiler-less reaction to Game of Thrones, superhero show rankings, and a preview of the upcoming Summer TV that we’re looking forward to.

Follow for more on Facebook or Twitter. You can subscribe to The Piffcast on iTunes too.

TV Character Madness – The Sweet 16

<< Previously on TV Madness

After 4 days of voting, we have some GREAT characters in the Sweet 16, and a few who have teamed up in the past…

Walter and Saul

 

Matchup #49 (Sidekicks)

(6) Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead

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vs.

(2) Josh Lyman – The West Wing

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Matchup #50 (Antiheroes)

(1) Tony Soprano – The Sopranos

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vs.

(13) Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman – Better Call Saul

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Matchup #51 (Heroes)

(6) Buffy – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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vs.

(2) Gregory House – House M.D. 

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Matchup #52 (Comedy)

(9) Leslie Knope – Parks and Recreation

vs.

(4) Ron Swanson – Parks and Recreation

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Matchup #53 (Sidekicks)

(1) Dwight Schrute – The Office

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vs.

(4) Marshall Eriksen – How I Met Your Mother

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Matchup #54 (Antiheroes)

(3) Dexter Morgan – Dexter

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vs.

(2) Walter White – Breaking Bad

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Matchup #55 (Heroes)

(1) Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones

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vs.

(12) Jessica Jones – Jessica Jones

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Matchup #56 (Comedy)

(3) Liz Lemon – 30 Rock

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vs.

(2) Michael Scott – The Office

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Elite 8 voting begins Tuesday, April 22nd. Follow along for more on Facebook and Twitter

 

Next on TV Madness >>

TV Character Madness: Round 2 – Part I

<< Previously on TV Madness…

Three matchups went down to the wire, and some big names were upset. Like Jack Bauer. thanks to Jessica Jones.

Jessica Jones win

Now we move to Round 2, where decisions only get tougher.

Matchup #33 (Sidekicks)

(6) Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead

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vs.

(3) Jesse Pinkman – Breaking Bad

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Matchup #34 (Antiheroes)

(10) Jax Teller – Sons of Anarchy

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vs.

(2) Walter White – Breaking Bad

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Matchup #35 (Heroes)

(12) Jessica Jones – Jessica Jones

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vs.

(13) Sterling Archer – Archer

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Matchup #36 (Comedy)

(1) Homer Simpson – The Simpsons

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vs.

(9) Leslie Knope – Parks and Recreation

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Matchup #37 (Sidekicks)

(5) Joey Tribbiani – Friends

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vs.

(4) Marshall Eriksen – How I Met Your Mother

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Matchup #38 (Antiheroes)

(1) Tony Soprano – The Sopranos

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vs.

(8) Hannibal Lecter – Hannibal

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Matchup #39 (Heroes)

(6) Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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vs.

(3) Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock

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Matchup #40 (Heroes)

(7) Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm

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vs.

(2) Michael Scott – The Office

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Voting will resume Sunday morning, April 19th, to see who will advance to the Sweet 16.

Follow along for more on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Next on TV Madness >>

TV Character Madness: Round 1 – Part II

<< Previously on TV Madness

Some close calls, upsets, and absolute dominance. 

Now for the second half of the Round 1 showdowns.

PiffBracketTV-02 (1)

Matchup #17 (Antiheroes)

(4) Omar Little – The Wire

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vs.

(13) Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul

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Matchup #18 (Comedy)

(8) Barney Stinson – How I Met Your Mother

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vs.

(9) Leslie Knope – Parks and Recreation

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Matchup #19 (Sidekicks)

(7) Jack Donaghy – 30 Rock

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vs.

(10) Crazy Eyes – Orange is the New Black

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Matchup #20 (Heroes)

(2) Dr. Gregory House – House M.D.

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vs.

(15) Coach Eric Taylor – Friday Night Lights

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Matchup #21 (Antiheroes)

(6) Frank Underwood – House of Cards

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vs.

(11) Ray Donovan – Ray Donovan

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Matchup #22 (Comedy)

(3) Liz Lemon – 30 Rock

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vs.

(14) Selina Meyer – Veep

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Matchup #23 (Sidekicks)

(1) Dwight Schrute – The Office

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vs.

(16) Gary Walsh – Veep

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Matchup #24 (Heroes)

(5) Jack Bauer – 24

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vs.

(12) Jessica Jones – Jessica Jones

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Matchup #25 (Comedy)

(4) Ron Swanson – Parks and Recreation

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vs.

(13) Tina Belcher – Bob’s Burgers

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Matchup #26 (Antiheroes)

(8) Hannibal Lecter – Hannibal

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vs.

(9) Vic Mackey – The Shield

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Matchup #27 (Heroes)

(7) Jimmy McNulty – The Wire

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vs.

(10) The Doctor – Doctor Who

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Matchup #28 (Sidekicks)

(2) Josh Lyman – The West Wing

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vs.

(15) John Watson – Sherlock

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Matchup #29 (Comedy)

(6) Dr. Frasier Crane

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vs.

(11) Sheldon Cooper – The Big Bang Theory

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Matchup #30 (Antiheroes)

(3) Dexter Morgan – Dexter

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vs.

(14) Thomas Shelby – Peaky Blinders

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Matchup #31 (Heroes)

(1) Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones

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vs.

(16) Mal Reynolds – Firefly

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Matchup #32 (Sidekicks)

(5) Joey Tribbiani – Friends

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vs.

(12) Saul Berenson – Homeland

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Round 2 begins Saturday, March 19th. Hear our breakdown of the bracket on the latest Piffcast.

Follow along for more on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Next on TV Madness >>

Piffcast: TV Character Madness Bracket – Selection Show

UPDATE: VOTING HAS BEGUN FOR THE 2016 TV CHARACTER MADNESS TOURNAMENT! 

Just a day after the NCAA Tournament’s Selection Sunday show, The Piffcast announces its own bracket for TV and sports fans alike…

TJ and I reveal the participants of our new TV Character Madness tournament. Voting will begin here on MichaelPiff.com Thursday morning (3/17), as the NCAA Tourney tips off, and YOU will decide who advances toward Television Supremacy.

Also, take a listen for how you can enter our TV Madness Contest and win a Piffcast Prize Pack (Trust us. It’s worth it). Below is the full bracket and you can get copies of your own to fill out on Facebook and Twitter

(Before you freak out about some of your favorites being left out, the bracket goes back to 2000.)

PiffBracketTV (1) (1)

For a closer look at each region…

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Subscribe to The Piffcast on iTunes here. Again, voting begins Thursday morning, March 17th. Have a favorite character you want to win? Let your friends know, and follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

My Favorite 25 TV Shows of 2015

In case you weren’t already aware, I watch A LOT of TV. If you asked me what shows I like, I could list off my weekly schedule with multiple programs every night (and I have). Let’s jut say my DVR gets a lot of usage.

In the post-Breaking Bad era, the quality television has hardly dropped. If anything, TV has stepped its game up across the board and we’re all better off for it. With it now being “Best of” list season, it’s time to sort through all the great shows and some how rank them.

Rather than say “Best” or “Top” though, I have to say “Favorite”. Even if I could name at least 35-40 TV shows that I watched in 2015, I haven’t watched them all. If you get worked up because Transparent, The Americans, or The Leftovers aren’t included, it’s because I didn’t watch them but fully intend to. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thrilled with either The Walking Dead or Homeland’s recent work. And no, I don’t watch American Horror Story anymore. Call me when Ryan Murphy decides to tell better stories and not just be F’d up for F’d Up’s sake.

Now for the TV shows from 2015 that kept me wanting more week to week, or forced me to binge within 24 hours!

25. Bloodline (Netflix)

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Netflix had a KILLER year with their programming in 2015 and Bloodline was very nice surprise from the streaming service. Kyle Chandler cemented himself as this generation’s new TV All-American (on top of Friday Night Lights) and Ben Mendelsohn cemented himself as a pure on-screen asshole (see also Mississippi Grind). Bloodline starts out with a bang, tests your patience in the middle, and then pulls you by your “you know whats” for the home stretch. You get a feeling, Season 2 could be even better. 

24. Gotham: Rise of the Villains (FOX)

Gotham Rise of the Villains

If we were handing out a “Most Improved” award for TV in 2015, Gotham would be strong contender. Season 1 was campy, fun, but not something I would necessarily prioritize my Monday nights for. Rise of the Villains changed all of that. From Cameron Monaghan’s take on the Joker felt perfect (including his shocking plot twist), to young Bruce Wayne’s maturation/Jim Gordon’s descent from innocence, to actually rooting for The Penguin and the cold midseason cliffhanger…Gotham’s finally finding it’s footing in the superhero TV genre. 

23. BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

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This show is dumb for all the right reasons. I like to think Will Arnett’s BoJack is what happened to Bob Saget after Full House went off the air, in half horse-half man form. The ensemble cast of voices, including Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins and JK Simmons, is about as good as there is in animated comedy. And when you think you’re just going to watch for an episode or two, you find yourself losing about 3 hours without even realizing it because it hooked you. 

22. Agent Carter (ABC)

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Agent Carter in a short “special event” season was able to do what Agents of SHIELD couldn’t in its first 2 seasons…separate itself from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and still advance the story. Of all the Avengers heroes, I always found Captain America’s plot to be the most interesting and Peggy Carter is somehow able to continue that from the 1940s-50s by making it her own. It’s also not so dependent on the supernatural but more so on spy and noir storytelling and human action.

21. Mr. Robot (USA)

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Mr. Robot had probably the best pilot for a new TV series in 2015. Unfortunately it never matched that intrigue for the rest of the season, with maybe another episode or two coming close after the halfway point. Rami Malek carries the show as an the incredible introvert a lot of us sometimes feel like. The brutal commentary on modern society feels brilliant at times but then you feel like you saw a lot of this plot in Fight Club…because you did. 

20. Jane The Virgin (CW)

Jane The Virgin

I have to admit, I was pretty late to Jane The Virgin. I loved seeing Gina Rodriguez in her late night appearances and her acceptance speeches at award shows. Then as soon as it was recommended to me, it may have been the quickest 20+ episode binge watch on Netflix I had ever done. It’s fast paced, goofy, and full of cliffhangers. Most soap-style shows would probably be better off with the Jane the Virgin narrator as well. 

19. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Ellie Kemper should be getting way more love with awards show nominations than she has. If you wanted to know what a TV show anchored by Erin from The Office being freed from a cult “doomsday” bunker was like, now you do and it’s hilarious. The cameos get better and better as the season progresses and I was really rooting for Jon Hamm to win a second Emmy for guest appearance. 

18. Archer (FX)

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If there is an animated show that has taken the torch from South Park for better running jokes and one-liners, it’s Archer. H. Jon Benjamin also has this insane ability to make you laugh with just his voice and no context at all.

17. Daredevil (Netflix)

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I personally love the MCU but I understand the criticism that its villains lack the kind of presence that DC movie villains (i.e. Joker and Bane) have. *Enter the Netflix Hell’s Kitchen Series* Daredevil takes place after the events of the first Marvel’s Avengers aftermath and it isn’t as pretty as you’d think. Daredevil himself gives and takes some gruesome beatings with amazing stunts while Vincent D’Onofrio makes “The Kingpin” Wilson Fisk into one of TV’s best modern villains. It’s a great start to series of one-off seasons for Jessica Jones (scroll further down), Luke Cage, The Punisher and eventually The Defenders.

16. Silicon Valley (HBO)

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When Silicon Valley hit in 2014, I thought it was the best new comedy of the year. It’s a hilarious take on the tech world with Mike Judge’s (Office Space, Beavis and Butthead) own personal experience as a Silicon Valley tech engineer in the 80’s telling the story. The show didn’t slow down at all in S2, even though the “Pied Piper” guys got shit on in every way possible.

15. Narcos (Netflix)

Narcos 2015

If you were curious how dangerous and powerful Pablo Escobar was, or how a show that’s mostly in subtitles is so compelling, Narcos is for you. It’s a very cool mix of suspense and dramatized documentary-style storytelling. A little Scorsese-like, in that regard. 

14. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix)

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The prequel series to the cult classic was BETTER than the movie. Yeah, I said it. Mostly because I couldn’t get enough of 40 year-olds acting like high schoolers and the eventual eruption of crazy Christopher Meloni. 

13. House of Cards (Netflix)

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House of Cards is still an excellent show and Frank Underwood is one of the best characters on TV today. But now that he’s at the top, it feels like “now what?”. Claire Underwood’s arc and power plays in S3 was the most interesting to me, and it felt like a big set up for an epic showdown in S4. 

12. Show Me A Hero (HBO)

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The HBO miniseries went a little under-the-radar over the summer, but it was both powerful and relevant to political issues today. If you’re a fan of The Wire, you’ll notice all the parallels David Simon uses in style, cinematography and storytelling. There are also plenty of Wire-alums to get you excited throughout the series. And I have to say Oscar Isaac is reaching modern Al Pacino status with his recent performances, including this.

11. Hannibal (NBC)

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One of TV’s most visually impressive and goriest shows didn’t get much respect from its own network. Hannibal occupied at least 4 of the 7 nights of the week without announcements of scheduling changes and that made it tough to really build an audience. Regardless, every episode made you ask out loud, “HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH THAT ON NETWORK TV?” Mads Mikkelsen was haunting as Hannibal and Hugh Dancy complimented him perfectly when hunting  him as Will Graham all the way to the bittersweet end.

10. The Muppets (ABC)

The Muppets ABC

This is probably the grown-ass child that I am talking, but I think The Muppets is perfect. It’s an awesome blend of the characters you grew up with, today’s pop culture, and witty/not-so-subtle adult humor that makes it worth watching every week. The Muppets have surpassed Modern Family as ABC’s best sitcom.

09. South Park (Comedy Central)

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In it’s 19th season, South Park did something it really had never done before…It kept a continuous ongoing story, with a plot, arc and character development…and it did so making fun of gentrification, Whole Foods, Yelp, Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, sponsored content, Ex Machina, guns and so much more. It was genius.

08. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation 2015

Like Hannibal, NBC didn’t give Parks and Recreation the respect it deserved. There aren’t many shows that you can say got better as they went on, but that’s exactly what Parks and Rec did. It went from feeling like a spinoff to The Office to it’s own show with arguably better writing and characters that can all be invested in.

07. Justified (FX)

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We all have our shows that feel like OUR shows, the ones that only a few of your friends watches and you persistently recommend to everyone else. Justified will always be that show to me. It was never full of itself. The hero/antihero relationship between Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) was unlike any other. And the finale will go down as one of the best in television history.

06. Master of None (Netflix)

Master of None 2015

Aziz Ansari’s Master of None was my favorite comedy of year. It was honest, unique, and way too easy to binge in one evening. I might have laughed at everything that came out of Arnold’s mouth (Eric Wareheim) and I’m also am keeping the “getaway flight to somewhere awesome” date in my back pocket…for someone special and willing to take me up on it.

05. Jessica Jones (Netflix)

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While Daredevil was excellent for it’s action, Jessica Jones stood out even more as a detective noir/horror/superhero series. Kilgrave raised the the ante for Marvel villains in the scariest way possible, mind control, and that made the season that much more gripping and suspenseful. Just a few words and anything could happen to anyone…Can’t wait to see where they go with the series next.

04. Better Call Saul (AMC)

Better Call Saul

The concern before Better Call Saul premiered was that it was too soon after Breaking Bad to do a prequel. The body wasn’t even cold yet, as they say. That’s fine because the story of Jimmy McGill, before taking on the Saul Goodman moniker, and Mike has proven to be almost as compelling as Walter White’s in its own way. Like Walter, Saul’s transformation is slow but it clearly takes a lot to get from McGill to Goodman. Mike’s subplot may be even more badass than it was in Breaking Bad.

03. Mad Men (AMC)

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The Mad Men final episodes were perfect sendoff for all-time character Don Draper. Hero, anti-hero, villain…I even recall Draper referred to as “The Devil”…an argument can be made for it all, and he made it look cool. Season 7 also wrapped everything up nicely for an ensemble you grew to love for the better part of a decade, that helped the current generation of TV viewers feel historic events and milestones in advertising as they happened in the 1960s. 

02. Game of Thrones

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Was there a fictional TV Show more controversial this year? Fans got angry. Really angry. Publications swore it off. Horrible characters did really bad things to innocent characters (deep, I know)…but you were still invested. We’ve also been debating and speculating on the ending to the season finale ever since it aired, and we’ll do so till S6 premieres. And dragons…F’n dragons. 

Game of Thrones Dragons

 

01. Fargo (FX)

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The finale for S2 airs tonight and I can’t help but be confident it will be as good as the entire season has been. Every episode has been better than the one before it. The character development has been unreal, especially for Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons’s accidentally murderous couple. Nick Offerman shows off some amazing range beyond Ron Swanson. Cristin Milioti pulls your heart strings again (HIMYM, Never forget). And Bokeem Woodbine might be the breakout star of the year. If you haven’t watched…do it, do it now!

 

What does your 2015 Favorite Shows list look like? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!