FX has released a 30-second trailer for the upcoming second season of its Emmy-winning series Fargo, based on the Oscar-winning film by the Cohen brothers. The sophomore season includes an all-star cast, including Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, and Jeffrey Donovan, among others. Other than all the stars, there’s not much else you can discern from the trailer other the violence and homespun midwestern whimsy (“chocolate glaze”).

Fargo premieres all the way in September. And that’s fine, dontcha know?

In advance of Thursday’s 2015 Emmy nomination announcement, the Awards Daily TV crew of Megan, Joey, and Clarence are each providing their predictions in the major Emmy categories. Check back on Thursday to see who wins the Awards Daily TV Emmy prediction crown. Want to play along? Leave your predictions in the Comments section below.

Today, we continue with Joey who is hoping the Emmys don’t ignore the comic genius of Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He also goes out on a few, very shaky, limbs.

 

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Louie
  • Modern Family
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent
  • Veep
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

 

Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy

  • Louis C.K., Louie
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Billy Crystal, The Comedians
  • William H. Macy, Shameless
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

 

Outstanding Lead Actress, Comedy

  • Jane Fonda, Grace & Frankie
  • Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
  • Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
  • Lily Tomlin, Grace & Frankie

 

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy

  • Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Tony Hale, Veep
  • T.J. Miller, Silicon Valley
  • Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

 

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy

  • Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Anna Chlumsky, Veep
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Judith Light, Transparent
  • Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

 

Outstanding Drama Series

  • The Affair
  • Downton Abbey
  • Empire
  • Game of Thrones
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men
  • Orange is the New Black

 

Outstanding Lead Actor, Drama

  • Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
  • Jon Hamm, Mad Men
  • Terrence Howard, Empire
  • Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
  • Clive Owen, The Knick
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

 

Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama

  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
  • Taraji P. Henson, Empire
  • Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife
  • Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

 

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama

  • Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
  • Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
  • Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
  • Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
  • John Slattery, Mad Men
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

 

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama

  • Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
  • Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
  • Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
  • Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Lorraine Toussaint, Orange is the New Black

 

Outstanding Limited Series

  • American Crime
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • The Honorable Woman
  • The Missing
  • Olive Kitteridge
  • Wolf Hall

 

Outstanding TV Movie

  • Bessie
  • Derek: The Final Chapter
  • Killing Jesus
  • Nightingale
  • Stockholm, Pennsylvania
  • Worricker: Salting the Battlefield

 

Outstanding Lead Actor, Mini Series or TV Movie

  • Adrian Brody, Houdini
  • Timothy Hutton, American Crime
  • Ricky Gervais: Derek: The Final Chapter
  • Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
  • David Oyelowo, Nightingale
  • Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall

 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini Series or TV Movie

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
  • Felicity Huffman, American Crime
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Queen Latifah, Bessie
  • Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
  • Frances O’Connor, The Missing

 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini Series of Movie

  • Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall
  • Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
  • Jonathan Pryce, Wolf Hall
  • Stephen Rea, The Honorable Woman
  • Michael Kenneth Williams, Bessie
  • Finn Wittrock, American Horror Story: Freak Show

 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Mini Series or Movie

  • Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Mo’Nique, Bessie
  • Janet McTeer, The Honorable Woman
  • Cynthia Nixon, Stockholm, Pennsylvania
  • Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Susan Sarandon, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

 

Outstanding Reality Competition

  • The Amazing Race
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • Project Runway
  • So You Think You Can Dance
  • Top Chef
  • The Voice

 

Outstanding Reality Host

  • Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
  • Anthony Bourdain, The Taste
  • RuPaul Charles, RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
  • Heidi Klum/Tim Gunn, Project Runway
  • Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night

 

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

  • The Colbert Report
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Late Show with David Letterman
  • Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

 

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

  • Comedy Bang Bang
  • Drunk History
  • Inside Amy Schumer
  • Key & Peele
  • Portlandia
  • Saturday Night Live

Ghost in the Machine

Season 1, Episode 7
Director: Jerrold Freedman
Writer: Alex Gansa, Howard Gordan

Day 7. One week into this 201-day journey, and I’m still going strong. The exercise is proving fascinating both in terms of a 90s-era time capsule experience with shoulder pads, silk suits, and big floral print dresses all over the place and in terms of where the hell was I when this was originally on air. Overall, the “Squeeze” episode is clearly the superstar of the first seven episodes. It’s canon.

<geekrant>

It is extremely unfortunate – for The X-Files, that is – that I recently watched John Badham’s 1983 classic WarGames. That film blended early computer technology, a timeless sense of wonder, and a brilliant lead performance by Matthew Broderick to tell the story of an A.I. (“Joshua”) attempting to win the game of Global Thermonuclear War at any cost. The X-Files seventh episode, “Ghost in the Machine,” tells an admittedly more advanced version of the same story. However, WarGames feels as if it were written by someone who at least casually understood computers and technology while “Ghost” feels as if it were written by someone who wishes they casually understood computers and technology. That aside, “Ghost” completely lacks the humor and amusing back-and-forth banter between Mulder and Scully. If I’d been disappointed in a few early offerings, then this is The X-Files first real dud.

The episode opens at the headquarters of software company Eurisko where two men are arguing over the direction of the company: founder Brad Wilczek and CEO Benjamin Drake. Drake proposes a cost-cutting measure of shutting down the computerized brains of the building – the Center Operating System (COS). As he drafts a memo outlining his proposal, COS apparently “reads” the text and orchestrates an elaborate death for his CEO nemesis. Mulder and Scully are approached by Mulder’s former partner, Jerry Lamana, who is investigating Drake’s death. Seems that Lamana is a terrible FBI agent and needs Mulder’s superior skills to solve the crime. Lamana ultimately steals Mulder’s notebook (clearly a crime punishable by death) and attempts to solve the crime himself only to be killed in an elevator shaft by COS. The episode wraps up when Wilczek, arrested for the two murders, develops a virus that Mulder ultimately installs in the computer, effectively killing COS. There are even cries of surprise and sadness from COS, a la HAL from 2001. But is COS really dead? And do we care?

“Ghost in the Machine” rises and falls on its understanding and relationship to technology, and as another “monster of the week” episode, it struggles to find ways to make COS a threatening entity. The “killer” electrocutes and drops his victims in elevator shafts. He surreptitiously logs into the FBI computers to read their reports. He even uses massive winds to (comically) blow Scully around some airshafts and almost into a giant circulating fan. None of this feels especially scary, a huge negative given this was their first Halloween episode (the prior episode “Shadows,” featuring an actual ghost, was much scarier in retrospect). Plus, the episode loses a great deal of authenticity when it describes techies as “neat and scruffy,” a simplistic characterization of tech-minded people by those who clearly don’t understand them at all.

But just to satisfy The X-Files faithful, they throw in a cameo by Deep Throat just to anchor it to any sense of mythology the show, at the time, was trying to build. The cameo felt tacked on and unnecessary, an explanatory scene to offer Mulder explanations he didn’t need. Not because he didn’t want to know the truth but because he’s smart enough to figure that truth out on his own.

And in case you’re wondering, “Joshua” could kick “COS” in his virtual ass.

</geekrant>

 

Is “squeeeeeeeee” a word?

Showtime dropped the first real trailer for The Affair Season Two today, a handful of days before it hopefully receives strong news at Thursday’s 2015 Emmy nominations announcement. The new trailer focuses heavily on the fallout from the events that closed Season One and indicates a broadening of the show’s perspective to incorporate the Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney characters in its storytelling.

The Affair will return to Showtime in the fall.

In advance of Thursday’s 2015 Emmy nomination announcement, the Awards Daily TV crew of Megan, Joey, and Clarence are each providing their predictions in the major Emmy categories. Check back on Thursday to see who wins the Awards Daily TV Emmy prediction crown. Want to play along? Leave your predictions in the Comments section below.

Today, we’re starting with Megan who is predicting a big Emmy hug for Mad Men’s final year.

 

Best Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Jane The Virgin
  • Last Man on Earth
  • Modern Family
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent
  • Veep

 

Best Actor, Comedy

  • Louis C.K., Louie
  • Will Forte, Last Man on Earth
  • William H. Macy, Shameless
  • Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

 

Best Actress, Comedy

  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
  • Gina Rodriguez, Jane The Virgin
  • Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
  • Lily Tomlin, Grace & Frankie

 

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy

  • Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Tony Hale, Veep
  • T.J. Miller, Silicon Valley
  • Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
  • Sam Waterston, Grace & Frankie

 

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy

  • Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Gabi Hoffman, Transparent
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Judith Light, Transparent
  • Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

 

Best Drama Series

  • Downton Abbey
  • Empire
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men
  • Orange Is the New Black

 

Best Actor, Drama

  • Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
  • Jon Hamm, Mad Men
  • Terrence Howard, Empire
  • Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
  • Dominic West, The Affair

 

Best Actress, Drama

  • Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
  • Taraji P. Henson, Empire
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Ruth Wilson, The Affair
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

 

Best Supporting Actor, Drama

  • Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
  • Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
  • Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
  • Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
  • Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
  • John Slattery, Mad Men

 

Best Supporting Actress, Drama

  • Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
  • Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
  • Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
  • Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Sissy Spacek, Bloodline

 

Best Limited Series

  • American Crime
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • The Honorable Woman
  • The Missing
  • Olive Kitteridge
  • Wolf Hall

 

Best Movie Made for Television

  • Bessie
  • Derek: The Final Chapter
  • Killing Jesus
  • Nightingale
  • Stockholm, Pennsylvania
  • Worricker: Salting the Battlefield

 

Movie/Mini Actor

  • Adrien Brody, Houdini
  • Ricky Gervais, Derek: The Final Chapter
  • Timothy Hutton, American Crime
  • Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
  • David Oyelowo, Nightingale
  • Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall

 

Movie/Mini Actress

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
  • Felicity Huffman, American Crime
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Queen Latifah, Bessie
  • Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
  • Frances O’Connor, The Missing

 

Movie/Mini Supporting Actor

  • Michael Chiklis, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall
  • Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
  • Jonathan Price, Wolf Hall
  • Stephen Rea, The Honorable Woman
  • Michael Kenneth Williams, Bessie

 

Movie/Mini Supporting Actress

  • Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Judy Davis, Worricker: Salting the Battlefield
  • Claire Foy, Wolf Hall
  • Monique, Bessie
  • Janet McTeer, The Honorable Woman
  • Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show

 

Reality Competition Program

  • The Amazing Race
  • Celebrity Game Night
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • Project Runway
  • So You Think You Can Dance
  • The Voice

 

Reality Host

  • Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
  • Carson Daly, The Voice
  • Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
  • Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
  • Heidi Klum/Tim Gunn, Project Runway
  • Jane Lynch, Celebrity Game Night

 

Variety Talk Series

  • The Colbert Report
  • The Daily Show
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

 

Variety Sketch Series

  • Comedy Bang Bang
  • Drunk History
  • Inside Amy Schumer
  • Key and Peele
  • Portlandia
  • Saturday Night Live

NBC premiered the full-length trailer for its upcoming reboot Heroes Reborn at Comic-Con today. Starring Zachary Levi, Jack Coleman, and Ryan Guzman, the 13-episode miniseries will premiere on September 24 at 8pm EST.

The Water Cooler podcast team – Joey, Megan, and Clarence – reveal their picks for the best television of 2015 at the midway point of the year. This exercise proved to be much harder than originally imagined since the first half of 2015 includes the back half of the 2015 Emmy eligibility window, so there’s a lot of quality shows to sort through. You’ll find some of the usual suspects (no, The Affair wasn’t eligible despite Megan claiming Clarence would find a way to include it), and you’ll hopefully find some forgotten gems you need to catch up on.

Look for extensive Emmy nomination coverage starting Wednesday, July 15, and extending into next week’s podcast. Until then, enjoy!

3:39 – The Best TV of 2015 (So far)

Season 1, Episode 6
Director: Michael Lange
Writer: Glen Morgan, James Wong

There’s not a whole lot to say about The X-Files episode six, “Shadows.” It’s a fairly straight-forward ghost story in the show’s “monster of the week” vein, meaning it contains no contribution to the overall series mythology and little advancement in the characterization of the two leads. “Shadows” is eerie and fairly well made for an episode of television horror, but it literally vaporized from my mind as soon as it finished.

The episode begins with administrative assistant (secretary back then) Lauren mourning the suicide of her beloved boss Howard Graves. The same night, she attempts to withdraw money from an ATM machine but is attacked by two assailants. Cut to “two hours later” and a couple wanders down the same dark alley and stumbles upon the assailants’ dead bodies, strategically placed and falling into view in that classic horror movie way. It actually felt very Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, if you ask me. Once the bodies are examined, Mulder and Scully are brought in to compare the bizarre findings against unsolved cases in the X-files. Each body contains an electric charge, is still 98.3 degrees after being dead several hours, and has a crushed throat despite no obvious external influence.

The secret to the episode is the ghost of Howard Graves has aligned himself to his assistant Lauren (he lost a daughter that would have been the same age as Lauren) and protects her whenever she’s in danger. The ghost also shows Lauren the circumstances of his death – it was a murder, not a suicide. Graves’ partner was up to no good and had to “off” Graves to preserve his scheme. Mulder and Scully do their best to solve the case, but it’s basically the ghost of Howard Graves that saves the day, outing his former partner by revealing a hidden disk full of incriminating information. At the end, Lauren leaves town and is no longer haunted by Graves’s ghost.

So, what to make of “Shadows?” Absolutely nothing. Given that my personal well of X-Files analysis was running dry, I sought out information on the Internet and discovered that FOX brass gave the creative team notes to have Mulder and Scully “help people” more often. Hand it to the network for helping to produce this mediocrity that lacks any of the unique X-Files touches. My favorite aspect of the episode was Scully’s dogged skepticism in the face of unassailable odds. They have pictures of Howard Graves’s ghost, and she’s still carrying that “there must be a rational answer” flag. There are a couple of neat allusions to Benjamin Franklin hidden within the episode: Graves’s desk plaque, the setting of Philadelphia, the current of electricity running through the bodies, among others. Yawn.

They can’t all be winners, I guess.

7 Days in Hell isn’t nearly as long as the title suggests. A mere 43 minutes, it feels more like a long Saturday Night Live sketch than an HBO movie. However, you wouldn’t want it any longer because it packs a swift serve of laughs in such a tight set.

Before they get to the actual match, the film directed by Jake Szymanski takes a look at the background of the two contenders that competed in the greatest tennis match of all time.

First, there’s Aaron Williams (Andy Samberg), the hot-rod who gets reverse Blind Side-d when the Williams family (yes, Serena and Venus) adopts him. Think John McEnroe on PCP (sometimes literally). In fact, tennis greats like Serena, McEnroe, and Chris Evert appear as themselves in the film to comment on Williams’ rise and fall. After accidentally killing a guy with a 174-mph ball in a match, Williams goes MIA, before resurfacing in Sweden as the inventor of a special underwear that lets it all hang out, so to speak. Unfortunately, the underwear causes infertility and elephant testicles in men, and Williams faces legal trouble because of it. In one of the funniest moments of the film, the commentators go into great detail about a courtroom sketch artist and his avante-garde work that changed the genre of courtroom drawings.

7 Days in Hell is really Samberg’s game, though. Kit Harington (better known as Game of Throne’s Jon Snow) is more of a spectator. His storyline as the indubitably thick-headed Charles Poole falls flat compared to Aaron Williams, with a domineering mother (Mary Steenburgen, who isn’t given enough to do). Although the frequent voicemail threats (that turn into a physical altercation in an elevator) from Queen Elizabeth are pretty hilarious.

While most of the real-life interviewees in this film ace their returns (surprisingly David Copperfield is a standout), not all of them work. Lena Dunham’s role as a Jordache executive feels like Hannah Horvath with a Rod Stewart wig on. One would have liked to have seen her a little more out of her element like Michael Sheen, who plays the smoldering TV host of Good Sport that mentally molests Charles Poole.

When the film actually gets to the match is where the movie especially shines. Anything, and everything, ensues, including an orgy, a broken limb, and a coke binge (Samberg snorting the white lines as coke is an image you won’t forget).

Why this film was made isn’t clear (maybe to give Jon Snow something to do in his off-season from GoT). But for whatever the reason, it’s a creative take on sports documentaries and the bombastic nature in which commentators speak about historic games. And you don’t even need to love tennis (or Andy Samberg) to appreciate it.

I will be the first to admit that, after a wildly quality diverse second season, I really wasn’t looking forward to a third season with Masters and Johnson. The series seemed to struggle to identify exactly what story they wanted to tell of the legendary sex research pair. Taking not only the blossoming sexual revolution but also laying that with character studies on the two leads plus the occasional side jaunt into the socio-political climate of the 50s and 60s always seemed like such a mouthful. One that, unfortunately, the show choked on more than successfully swallowed. Still, there were always the bright spots that happened when the show focused squarely on Bill Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) and their complicated relationship (see last year’s “Fight” episode).

However, tonight’s Season Three premiere takes an interesting approach to the story. After 12 years of research (we have another leap forward in the story’s time line), Masters and Johnson are about to publish their famous work and open themselves up to a firing squad of reporters during a press conference. Aligned with this major event is a long holiday weekend between the Masters and Johnson families during which we acquaint ourselves with Virginia’s grown children and the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the still married Bill and Libby. All of this somehow really works and makes me wonder is this section of the famed sex researchers’ lives really the story the creators wanted to tell? My hope is yes.

The premiere equally divides its screen time to dissecting the on-going partnership between Bill and Virginia – still a sexual partnership – as Virginia argues with Bill over the time off to finish her degree. She’s nervous about publishing the sex research in association with Bill and not being able to withstand the pressure of lacking the expected credentials to back it up. When Bill and Virginia drive to a lakeside cabin for a long weekend with Libby, you’re initially unsure as to what the dynamics at hand truly are. Shortly, we see that Bill and Libby are still married, still frigid to each other, and the effect is noticeable on their children, particularly their oldest son who strikes out at Bill in an epic manner later in the episode. Libby is also a pill-popper – the stress of a loveless marriage and social injustice in the South too much to take.

Virginia’s children aren’t any better: her daughter, Tessa, is blossoming into womanhood and has a deep interest in sex, drinking, and smoking. She’s pretty much just like her mother, I would say. Her son is sexually active and lacks focus or direction in his life. He makes a pretty significant choice toward the end of the episode, however, much to Virginia’s shock and alarm. I’m slightly concerned as to where his story will take the series. I can only imagine it’s going in one very specific direction, but time will tell.

Overall, I’d forgotten how much I really admire the central performances of the show, and it was easy enough to fall back into thanks to them. Sheen and Caplan continue to form a remarkable pair even as they tackle the tricky task of being charismatic actors who need to downplay some of that to maintain the awkwardness of Masters’ relations with any human being not under study. Now that the sex research is ready to be published, it will be interesting to see how much farther the series will dive into the clinical sex scenes many expect. One has to imagine they’ll find creative ways to continue to infuse sexuality and nudity in this very cable-friendly series.

But here’s hoping this phase of the Masters and Johnson saga is the story the creators wanted to tell in the beginning. The awkward steps taken to get to this point, at least for now, feel worth it as we begin to explore a more interesting phase in their lives. And exploring the impact of Masters and Johnson’s choices and professional subject matter on their children seems like very fertile territory for good drama.

Masters of Sex, Season Three, premieres tonight on Showtime at 10pm EST.

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