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.

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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.

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)

HOC S3

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

Jon Snow 2015

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!

 

The 2016 SAG Award Nominations and My Thoughts

The 2016 SAG Award nominations were announced Wednesday morning, and two things struck me:

  1. The Screen Actors Guild LOVED Trumbo, maybe a bit more than me.
  2. I don’t think they’ve seen Fargo yet on FX. Seriously…

This is just one of several award shows (which airs Jan. 30th on TNT and TBS), but it’s one of the few that gauges my interest more than others because it acknowledges both the film and TV world. Here are the nominees and some quick thoughts on each category.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
  • Johnny Depp – Black Mass
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

I really have no problem with this category. I have yet to see Revenant or The Danish Girl, but I don’t doubt the performances of DiCaprio or Redmayne carry their films like the other nominees. If there was someone that I would like to see get more credit, it’s Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace in End of the Tour. It didn’t take much transforming, aside from the obvious hair and glasses, but Segel’s performance is as engaging and natural as any from the summer…especially in his interactions with Jesse Eisenberg.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Helen Mirren – Woman In Gold
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
  • Sarah Silverman – I Smile Back

I can’t get upset about this category because I think it’s Brie Larson’s award to lose, and hers alone. However, I’m surprised Jennifer Lawrence was left out after another highly anticipated David O’Russell  role. Of course the film hasn’t hit theaters yet, so I can’t really talk..Alicia Vikander deserves more love for Ex Machina because she still haunts my dreams for her performance.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale – The Big Short
  • Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
  • Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
  • Michael Shannon – 99 Homes
  • Jacob Tremblay – Room

This category is HEAVY. Even without Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Sylvester Stallone (Creed) or Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), it looks stacked…but I’d like to see them all in it.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Rooney Mara – Carol
  • Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
  • Helen Mirren – Trumbo
  • Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Helen Mirren has 3 nominations here and I’m not sure she’s winning any of them. It will be fun to see what her batting average is though by the night’s end. I would be interested to see what kind of buzz Jennifer Jason Leigh gets after Hateful Eight is released.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

  • Beasts of No Nation
  • The Big Short
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • Trumbo

Spotlight is my favorite film from this year and it deserves all the good things that come its way. I am surprised both The Martian or Steve Jobs were left out of this category, considering how star studded their casts were. Their performances didn’t disappoint either.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

  • Idris Elba – Luther
  • Ben Kingsley – Tut
  • Ray Liotta – Texas Rising
  • Bill Murray – A Very Murray Christmas
  • Mark Rylance – Wolf Hall

I don’t have many thoughts on this other than (1) Luther rules, (2) I turned off A Very Murray Christmas after 10 minutes and (3) Where is Oscar Isaac for Show Me A Hero. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

  • Nicole Kidman – Grace of Monaco
  • Queen Latifah – Bessie
  • Christina Ricci – The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
  • Susan Sarandon – The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
  • Kristen Wiig – The Spoils Before Dying

I literally have zero thoughts about this one, because I haven’t seen any of the nominated performances yet.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

  • Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
  • Jon Hamm – Mad Men
  • Rami Malek – Mr. Robot
  • Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
  • Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

I’m happy to see Rami Malek get props for playing the best introvert on TV, but this is Don Draper’s victory lap and I don’t see anyone getting in his way. I’m also always shocked to not see Mads Mikkelsen ever nominated for Hannibal. I guess that’s for fringe loving types like me.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

  • Claire Danes – Homeland
  • Viola Davis – How To Get Away With Murder
  • Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife
  • Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey
  • Robin Wright –House of Cards

Viola Davis has the momentum from the Emmys but I will always maintain that the past two seasons of House of Cards have been great nearly because of Robin Wright as much as Spacey.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Ty Burrell – Modern Family
  • Louis C.K. – Louie
  • William H. Macy – Shameless
  • Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
  • Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

Modern Family to me is “What Will Phil Dunphy Do Next?” because that’s all I watch for now, but Jeffrey Tambor holding a torch for the transgender community has become way more important.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black
  • Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
  • Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
  • Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation

Poehler Thug

That is all.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men

If you’ve been watching the second season of Fargo, you’re probably wondering if perhaps the actors didn’t know how to spell it filling out their nominations, considering every Monday night feels like the show’s best episode…If you’ve been watching Homeland this seasonyou might be wondering why it’s on here. The season finale is in a week and I still have no idea if it was good or not this year.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Key & Peele
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Transparent
  • Veep

I would love to see Key & Peele ride off into the sunset with some hardware.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

  • Everest
  • Furious 7
  • Jurassic World
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Fury Road is one of the best films of this year and a modern classic. Pick against it and you lose.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

  • The Blacklist
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • Marvel’s Daredevil
  • The Walking Dead

I just watched end Episode 2 of the first season again. This is why I love Daredevil.

How are you pulling for this Awards season? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

 

It’s Good to be a Geek

I envy everyone who attended San Diego Comic-Con 2015 this past weekend. Attendees were lucky enough to witness first looks at upcoming Star Wars, DC, and Marvel films. Fortunately, those of us who couldn’t attend have the internet and access to the streaming of panels, and releases of footage (official or leaked). Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice finally gave us their first full trailerDeadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Suicide Squad headlined with panels and trailer presentations that made their way to the internet shortly after. Even THE MUPPETS made their presence felt, discussing their mockumentary series that will air on ABC later this year. The biggest takeaway from the SDCC weekend may have been exactly what all of us young (and old) padawans have been waiting for…Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens coming to life.

If you’re like me, you salivated at the idea of “real sets” and  “practical effects”, which were missing from Episodes I-III…and Jurassic World for that matter. (CGI takes the magic away from things, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

This past weekend, overall, was an excellent reminder of how good it is to be a geek these days. A generation that grew up on comic books, video games, and Superhero cartoons are now being treated to a Hollywood that appreciates those mediums. Before the first Iron Man movie, did you expect to see a full timeline of Avengers/Marvel films scheduled through May 3rd, 2019? Following Revenge of the Sith, Did you imagine Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford would team up again as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo? You’re lying if say you did…Or have a time-traveling DeLorean in your garage.

While we have new Superhero films hitting theaters every 3-4 months now, television has caught up to the big screen as an excellent resource for geek entertainment (and distraction). What Marvel has accomplished with feature films and creating an epic universe for the Avengers, DC has done on the CW network with Arrow, The Flash and the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow…

Fox’s Gotham and ABC’s Agents of Shield series are fun, but not nearly as compelling as the stories presented in the Arrow/Flash universe (which I wish the DC film division took notice of). Meanwhile, Netflix has entered the ring with excellent original programming. The first season of Daredevil cleansed the pallet of a fans who were left with a bad taste after the previous adaptation, starring Ben Affleck. It also opened the door to a universe that will involve 4 other Marvel series on Netflix, including Jessica Jones later this year, then Luke CageThe Iron Fist, and then The Defenders. 

Recently, I’ve noticed a contrarian and trendy narrative in TV shows, such as Community and Mr. Robot, that suggest people are suckers for enjoying Superhero films. In the writers’ opinion, we’re all lemmings for going to the movie theater and paying money for these films, and that’s just simply wrong. Just about every one of the Marvel films consist of better stories and dialogue than you’ll find in any of other franchises getting recent installments (looking at you Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys and ALL of the Transformers films). I also think those are counter-culture comments being made for the sake of being counter-culture. Consider that a win, Geeks. You are today’s “culture”, and it’s wonderful.

Have you ever Googled the definition of “Geek”? The definition isn’t particularly flattering and may have been written by Biff from “Back To The Future”…

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.07.03 PM

Yep. straight from Google. (Google is a jerk sometimes). Those who believe in the “unfashionable” and “carnival performer” assumptions are the same people who made fun of you to feel better about themselves and are probably looking forward to their high school reunions way more than the average person should. 

The truth lies somewhere in the sub-definitions. “A knowledgeable enthusiast” (obsessive is a bit strong) or one who “becomes extremely excited about a subject” sounds more like a typical fan than a “socially inept person”. It also applies to more than comic books, video games, and superheroes. If you are amped up for next seasons for The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, or even less fantasy-driven shows like House of Cards or Empire, you are indeed a geek. If you are checking every new beer you try on the Untappd app, you are a geek. If you are over-preparing for your upcoming fantasy football draft or really looking forward to when Blackhawks tickets go on sale, you are a geek…not a freak.

Geek is fun. Geek is chic. Geek is “normal”…I use the term “normal” very loosely because I don’t think there is such thing as normal. We all have different backgrounds, different interests, different hobbies, and different experiences. When we can bond on any of those different things, then maybe we start to feel “normal”. Being a geek is sort of like that.

I love that I can discuss the things I get excited about on this website like movies, music, TV, sports and food, because I know there are many who share these same interests…many of whom, are in fact geeks (whether they identify as such or not). It’s a community that grows everyday thanks to social media and the ever-evolving entertainment culture, one that can be both appealing but sometimes over-critical.

For now, it’s just simply good. I mean, who ISN’T geeking out about Star Wars returning this Winter?

[Update]

Of course as soon as I mention it in this post, Warner Bros releases the Suicide Squadtrailer. Enjoy!

Have something to add? Continue the conversation on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03

TV Guide: 2015 Summer Recommendations

For a while, people used to say that Summer Television was weak on options…Reality shows, Major League Baseball, and a handful of decent premium channel programs…

Thanks to networks like FX, AMC and streaming platforms like Netflix, that simply is not the case anymore.

Tyrion & Jamie Lannister

We’ll go network by network with premiere dates, but first…

Now Playing

Netflix

Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen

Very entertaining and original. The love-square (get it, because there’s 4 of them?) between the award winning acting veterans and Sorkin TV alums is an excellent watch for those who want what’s next after The Odd Couple and Modern Family…and Sam Waterston is adorable.

The Chef’s Table

Chef's Table

If you need inspiration to play around in the kitchen, ideas for a new a restaurant to checkout, or need a docu-series to make you hungry, this is the one for you. Beautiful cinematography, moving music selection, and I highly recommend pouring a glass of wine while you watch.

HBO/HBO GO (streaming)

Game of Thrones

Thrones S5

Peter Dinklage, Lena Heady, Kit Harrington, Sophie Turner, Emilia Clarke

Believe it or not, some people haven’t watched this show yet…The 5th season has been slow, and even offensive at times, but there are a lot of power moves being made that seem to be leading to fireworks!…Or Dragons fire, whatever your preference is.

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley S2

Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods

From the beautifully messed up mind of Beavis & Butthead/Office Space creator Mike Judge, Silicon Valley is a breath of fresh air to comedy television. If you’ve ever worked for a startup or in tech, you’ll actually be able to relate. If not, you’ll just laugh your ass off.

Veep

Veep S4

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh, Tony Hale

I have to admit, I’m catching up on this show myself…but I get why people like it. It’s that mix of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, and MAYBE Seinfeld kind of humor (not West Wing by any degree)…and House fans should be interested in Hugh Laurie being included in the fourth season.

Showtime/Showtime Anytime (streaming)

Penny Dreadful

Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Harry Treadaway

Are you one of those people who hate-watched True Blood all the way through but feel like there’s now a void where monsters, drama, and sex used to be? This show’s for you…Josh Hartnett’s acting chops are on full display. Eva Green will haunt your dreams (in good ways and bad), and it’s terrifyingly elegant.

Happyish

Happyish S1

Steve Coogan, Kathryn Hahn, Bradley Whitford

All honesty, I plan to check this show out this holiday weekend to see what’s up. The cast is stellar but could have been as Phillip Seymour Hoffman was set to play the lead.

AMC

TURN: Washington’s Spies

TURN Season 2

Jamie Bell, Seth Numrich, Daniel Henshall, Heather Lind

I liked when the show was just called “TURN”, but it’s still very good and gripping. You don’t have to be a history buff (although it doesn’t hurt if you are) to appreciate this spy story. The chess game between Great Britain, the colony rebels, and their counter intelligence “divisions” is too much to not get caught up in…and at times you forget who you’re rooting for.

FX

The Comedians

The Comedians S1

Billy Crystal, Josh Gad, Stephnie Weir 

I’m not totally sure what the hype was on this show before it premiered, but I am very sure The Comedians has met it. As themselves, Billy Crystal and Josh Gad are natural and hilarious…like in real life. The guest appearances and cameos are top-notch as well.

Louie

Louie S5

Louis C.K., Pamela Adlon

I may have stepped away from Louie for a little bit, but then I came back for season 5 and I didn’t miss a thing. I think that’s the beauty of this show. Maybe someday it will play in reruns on every network like Seinfeld and Friends….nawwwww.

Louie headshake

Coming soon…

CBS

Under The Dome

Head's Will Roll

Dean Norris, Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Alexander Koch

WHY!? WHY WAS THIS SHOW RENEWED!?…Because jerks like me got suckered into watching the first episode, which led to the whole first season, which led to the even weirder second season…It’s really dumb, but every episode ends with a cliffhanger that makes you curious of what’s next.

Season 3 Premiere: Thursday, June 25th – 8:00 PM CT

Zoo

Zoo S1

James Wolk, Nonso Anozie, Billy Burke, Nora Arnezeder

“We really want the whole world to fear their schnauzers,” said producer Scott Rosenberg. This adaptation from James Patterson has animals everywhere turning on humankind…I say NOPE, but you might be interested. There will be blood. At least Bob Benson’s in it.

…which may be how I feel about Zoo.

Season 1 Premiere: Tuesday, June 31st – 8:00 CT

NBC

Hannibal

Hannibal - Season 1

Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas, Gillian Anderson

If there is a show I’m looking forward to returning the most, it’s Hannibal. This is the show you wish Dexter was in the final two seasons. It’s 1,000 times gorier than you would have ever expected to find on network television yet so elegant. And it’s visually the coolest thing you could find on a Friday night, but now NBC will run it on Thursdays.

Season 3 Premiere: Thursday, June 4th – 9:00 PM CT

Aquarius

Aquarius NBC

David Duchovny, Claire Holt, Emma Dumont, Gethin Anthony

David Duchovny returns to network television on the same channel and evening as his X-Files partner, Gillian Anderson. While Anderson’s character will be married to a serial killer (Hannibal), Duchovny will be hunting a famous one…Charles Manson

Season 1 Premiere: Thursday, May 28th – 8:00 PM CT

Mr. Robinson

Mr Robinson NBC

Craig Robinson, Tim Bagley, Peri Gilpin

NBC has been on quite the comedy slump after The Office and Parks and Recreation went off the air. So they give Office alum Craig Robinson his own show as a middle school music teacher…The show is called Mr. Robinson, yet his character’s name is Craig Rice…Okay.

Season 1 Premiere Date: Wednesday, August 5th – 8:00 PM CT

ABC

The Whispers

LILY RABE, KYLE HARRISON BREITKOPF

Lily Rabe, Barry Sloane, Milo Ventimiglia

Lily Rabe is starting to fit well in horror and suspense TV shows. The American Horror Story actress now has to deal with possessed creepy children and a mysterious force that threatens all of humanity…Nothing too dramatic.

Season 1 Premiere: Monday, June 1st – 9:01 PM CT

The Astronaut Wives Club

Astronaut Wives Club

Yvonne Strahovski, Odette Annabelle, Evan Handler, Desmond Harrington 

With Mad Men now off the air, The Astronaut Wives Club fills in as the new 60’s period piece. Astronauts were America’s heroes during that time, which makes this look at the women who stood by them, watched them launch, and waited for them to land safely all the more intriguing. And more Yvonne Strahovski is never a bad thing.

Season 1 Premiere: Thursday, June 18th – 7:00 PM

USA

Mr. Robot

Mr Robot

Rami Malek, Christian Slater

Following the very recent and very famous Sony hack, USA produces a TV show about hacking…Super antisocial Rami Malek is recruited by an anarchist named ‘Mr. Robot’, and connects with people through hacking them.

Season 1 Premiere: Wednesday, June 24th – 9:00 PM

Complications

Complications - Pilot

Jason O’Mara, Jessica Szohr

Jason O’Mara plays a doctor who is reeling from the death of his daughter, starts a gang war trying to save someone from a drive-by shooting, and it carries over to his hospital…Yep, complications.

Season 1 Premiere: Thursday, June 18th – 8:00 PM

TNT

The Last Ship

The Last Ship

Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, Adam Baldwin, 

I really didn’t know how far they could stretch a show where everyone on Earth is dying from a pandemic, except those on US Naval ship…but it IS very entertaining.

Season 2 Premiere – Sunday, June 21st – 8:00 PM (2 hours)

FX

Tyrant

Tyrant S2

I found Tyrant to be one of the great TV surprises of last summer. It’s a roller coaster of suspense and power plays with a corrupt family run government in the Middle East…You could compare the Al-Fayeeds to the Lannisters from Game of Thrones, but even more dysfunctional.

Season 2 Premiere: Tuesday, June 16th – 9:00 PM CT

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll

Denis Leary, John Corbett, Elizabeth Gillies

I don’t know if this show will be any good or not, but Denis Leary as a washed up rockstar in an FX comedy is something worth rolling the dice on.

Season 1 Premiere: Thursday, July 16th – 9:00 PM

The Strain

The Strain S2

Corey Stoll, Mia Maestro, Kevin Durand

Guillermo del Toro’s brutal and original take on vampires is like nothing else. Along with TyrantThe Strain was another great surprise from last summer and was one of the best new TV shows as well.

Season 2 Premiere: Sunday, July 12th – 9:00 PM CT

HBO

True Detective

True Detective S2

Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch

The long awaited follow up to Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s incredible first season is almost here. A new cast, a new crime, a new location…but let’s hope for the same dark and great writing that made the first so successful.

Season 2 Premiere: Sunday, June 21st – 8:00 PM CT

Ballers

Ballers S1

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rob Corddry, Omar Benson Miller

The hardest working man in showbiz, The Rock, has a new TV show about life after pro sports and “what’s next”. It feels like a beefed up sequel to Entourage but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Season 1 Premiere: Sunday, June 21st – 9:00 CT

The Brink

The Brink HBO

Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Aasif Mandvi, Pablo Schreiber

Have you noticed how AMC has been running Shawshank Redemption like crazy lately? That may be because of this Tim Robbins dark comedy about diplomacy to prevent World War 3…Yeah, that doesn’t seem too dramatic or anything…

Season 1 Premiere: Sunday, June 21st – 9:30 CT

Showtime

Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan S3

Liev Schreiber, John Voight, Dash Mihok, Eddie Marsan

Everyone has their show that not everyone watches…This one is mine. Liev Schreiber is a badass as Ray Donovan, leading one of the best casts you’ll find on TV. The show also adds Ian McShane and Katie Holmes for season 3, which will be very interesting to see play out.

Season 3 Premiere: Sunday, July 12th – 8:00 PM CT

Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex S3

Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan

I have been meaning to get caught up on this show. It’s remarkably smart and sexy. And if you’re drawn to period pieces and the pop culture of the past, it’s hard not to be intrigued.

Season 3 Premiere: Sunday, July 12th – 9:00 PM CT

Netflix

Orange is the New Black

OITNB S3

Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba

Loved how season 2 ended and it has my psyched to see what’s next…What I’m not psyched for is more Piper and Alex drama, because that’s what it all seems to be. I do look forward to how everyone else’s stories progress.

Season 3 Premiere: Friday, June 12th

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

Wet Hot American Summer Netflix

Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Christopher Meloni

It’s a prequel, so I don’t think you have to have seen the classic film…but you should anyway. The cast is stellar and they have added Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Jason Schwartzman, Richard Schiff and Josh Charles. It’s going to be ridiculous…ridiculously good.

Premiere: Friday, July 17th 

BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman

Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Allison Brie

This show is dumb. Really dumb. But it’s the kind of show that once you pop, you just can’t stop. Yes, BoJack Horseman is the Pringles of TV shows. You’re welcome.

Season 2 Premiere: Friday, July 12th 

Did I miss anything? What TV shows are you looking forward to the most? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.