Dueling Emmy predix: Alec Baldwin vs. Steve Carell
Our Emmy experts Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Robert "Rob L" Licuria (Awardsheaven.net) have viewed all of the episodes submitted to judges by the contenders for best comedy actor and they arrive at different conclusions over who'll win Sept. 20.
BEST COMEDY ACTOR: ROB'S PREDIX
1. Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" (Episode 7/10, Buzz 8/10 = Total 15)
2. Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory" (Episode 8/10, Buzz 6/10 = Total 14)
2. Steve Carell, "The Office" (Episode 6/10, Buzz 8/10 = Total 14)
4. Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" (Episode 7/10, Buzz 4/10 = Total 11)
4. Jemaine Clement, "Flight of the Conchords" (Episode 6/10, Buzz 5/10 = Total 11)
6. Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" (Episode 5/10, Buzz 4/10 = Total 9)
ROB'S COMMENTARY: I use a system where I score the episode submitted by each nominee based solely on the actor's ability to demonstrate his or her range, the impact the performance had on me after viewing the episode, the amount of time on screen or in which the actor dominates the scenes he or she is in, the likability factor, and for comedy, the laughs. I then give the actor a score based on other factors, like general industry and critical buzz, perhaps a sense that the actor is overdue for Emmy recognition, and other factors like the popularity of the show itself, both with viewers and with Emmy voters. This combined score helps me determine where each of the nominees stand in the group.
Alec Baldwin's performance in "Generalissimo" is pretty funny. He gets to ham it up on screen as the Generalissimo, and although I found it to be at times a bit silly and over the top, he does a good job of staying in your memory when evaluating the category as a whole. But nothing in this episode comes close to his knockout performance in the episode that won him an Emmy last year. That he is last year's winner (Emmy voters love to repeat themselves) and on TV's coolest comedy also helps him as the category's front-runner.
The last TV season was all about Jim Parsons as the breakthrough comedy performer of the year. Having just won the TCA Award for comedy helps, as does his episode, which I think was one of his best of the season. Hurting his chance is screen time. There are a few extended scenes in which he does not feature.
Steve Carell is overdue for an Emmy, and this submission ("Broke") is probably his best bet so far. The first half of the episode isn't anything too fantastic, but his last few scenes at the negotiation table are comedy gold and put him in a good position to finally take home the statuette.
Many an Emmy commentator will whine and complain over Tony Shalhoub's inclusion in this list, so his buzz is generally low. But if you take the time to watch his performance in "Mr. Monk and the Miracle," you will see a finely crafted comedic performance that actually delivers the laughs. The scene in the church is such a winner. I totally agree with him being nominated if the rest of the season delivers like this episode does for me. Hurting his chances are a perceived general fatigue with Mr Shalhoub in this category and the many long scenes that do not involve his character.
With Jemaine Clement, I guess you have to "get" this kind of humor to fully appreciate how perfect "Unnatural Love" is as an episode submission for Jemaine. He sings, he "dances," and he's in about 90% of the episode. And his die-hard fan base will vote for him, ensuring that he should not be discounted too much in this race. Working against him is that this type of humor is relatively low-key, subdued and, he is really the straight man playing off a madcap performance by Sarah Wynter as his love interest "Keitha."
Finally, Charlie Sheen is OK in his episode. It is quite a funny one, albeit with the laughs mainly coming from Jon Cryer, Conchata Ferrell and the sublime Jane Lynch. I think Charlie will be sitting this one out.
I would say any of the top three above could win this. At this stage, I'm going with Alec Baldwin.
BEST COMEDY ACTOR: BOOMER'S PREDIX
1. Steve Carell, "The Office" ("Broke")
2. Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" ("Generalissimo")
3. Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory" ("The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis")
4. Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" ("Mr. Monk & the Miracle")
5. Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" ("Is It the Ocu or the Pado")
6. Jemaine Clement, "Flight of the Conchords" ("Unnatural Love")
BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: This category is easy to break into two sets of predictions: Carell, Baldwin and Parsons could certainly carry home the Emmy; Shalhoub, Sheen and Clement will not.
Let's start with the bottom half. Shalhoub has sent in his worst episode ever for the judging panel (barely a laugh or even a chuckle in the whole thing). In other winning and non-winning years, at least he had solid material and a great performance. Sheen is actually pretty funny in his episode, but there is no impact moment and nothing much memorable at all. Clement should be very happy with his nomination, because I can't see the Emmy voters going for this sort of character (as good as he is).
As for the upper tier, it really is hard to predict which one will take the prize. I don't think Baldwin's episode is nearly as good as the one last year that earned him the victory. Voters might enjoy the fact that he gets to play Jack plus a Mexican soap star that looks like Jack, but he doesn't have the "wow" factor like in last year's episode.
Parsons submitted perfectly, offering an episode that is an extremely funny mix of his character's personality and some fine physical humor at the end. A win would be deserved. I think it might finally be Carell's time to win his first Emmy. Not only does the voter get the typical "Michael Scott" funny mannerisms and behaviors, but he also offers a nice reverse when negotiating to get his job back (plus the jobs of Pam and Ryan). Carell absolutely deserves to win an Emmy for "The Office" sometime, and I say this will be the year.
Photos of Alec Baldwin, left, and Steve Carell: NBC