A Plea To Emmy Voters To Consider Overlooked Shows And Actors

The prime-time Emmy award nominees will be announced on July 10. Our TV critic points out some under appreciated performances that Emmy voters should recognize.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

For Emmy insiders, today is crucial. It's the last day for those who vote on the Primetime Emmy Awards to select the nominees. The nominations won't be announced until July 10th, but NPR TV critic, Eric Deggans, is going to make some early calls and point out some great, underappreciated performances that Emmy voters should recognize. Eric, welcome to the program.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hi.

WERTHEIMER: Now, you seem to think that Emmy voters need a bit of a nudge in the underappreciated direction.

DEGGANS: Well, you know, critics, we always think that we know best, right? So - but one thing we can say about the Emmys is that sometimes they can be a bit predictable. They nominate the same people, in the same categories, year after year. One actress, for example, who was criminally overlooked last year, was Tatiana Maslany, on BBC America's "Orphan Black." Now, she's done an amazing job playing many different characters who are all clones of each other. But she didn't get an Emmy nomination last year because the show wasn't that well-known. And I hope voters will make up for last year's mistake this year.

WERTHEIMER: So anybody else who you are afraid might be overlooked?

DEGGANS: Well, FX's adaptation of "Fargo" is going to get a lot of attention. But I hope Emmy voters look beyond Billy Bob Thornton, who plays the flashiest role. He plays this eccentric hit man, Lorne Malvo. There's a newcomer actress, Allison Tolman, who does a great job as the show's crime-solving hero, Deputy Molly Solverson. And Martin Freeman, who people are going to know from "The Hobbit" movies and from the "Sherlock" series, is amazing as this nerdy loser who winds up killing his wife. Listen, here, to Freeman's performance, where his character is begging for help from Thornton's character, barely able to say what he's done to his wife.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FARGO")

MARTIN FREEMAN: (As Lester Nygaard) She's - my wife - she's - ah, hell. I think I - she's in the basement, dead. And - look, I'm freaking out here. I don't know what to do.

BILLY BOB THORNTON: (As Lorne Malvo) Lester, have you been a bad boy?

FREEMAN: (As Lester Nygaard) Geez. Yeah.

DEGGANS: Yeah. Now, Freeman's British, but he nails that Minnesota accent very well. (Speaking with accent) Oh, yeah.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughing) Another place, I gather, you think something like the "Fargo" thing might happen, is "True Detective."

DEGGANS: Yeah. HBO's "True Detective" was a really great showcase for Matthew McConaughey. He played this really eccentric detective named Rust Cohle. But, you know, his partner, Woody Harrelson, who's also his off-screen friend, did a really great job playing a more conventional detective. And I hope Emmy voters pay attention to his performance because he did a great job in a thankless role, which is being the sidekick to the really outstanding, flashy role.

WERTHEIMER: What about supporting actors who are maybe a little bit more like supporting actors than Woody Harrelson is.

DEGGANS: Well, here's an interesting twist. Joe Morton, I think, does an amazing job playing the father of Kerry Washington's character on "Scandal." He's actually suggested as a guest actor on the show. But he's amazing. He has the ability to make these improbable mountains of dialogue from creator Shonda Rhimes really sound compelling and believable.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCANDAL")

JOE MORTON: (As Rowan Pope) I'm a man. I have worked for every, single thing I have ever received. I have fought, and scraped and bled for every inch of ground I walk on. I was the first in my family to go to college. My daughter went to boarding school with the children of kings. I made that happen.

DEGGANS: Now that is a powerhouse speech.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughing) Who else do you think deserves attention?

DEGGANS: Well, in comedy there's been two really longtime injustices. Nick Offerman has not been nominated for his amazing turn as Ron Swanson on NBC's "Parks And Recreation." And Patricia Heaton is an unsung hero as a dysfunctional, Indiana mom, Frankie Heck, on ABC's "The Middle." Now, in drama, last year, Demian Bichir did a great job playing this Mexican detective working with U.S. police officers on FX's "The Bridge." And Jeffrey Wright was just really great as a murderous drug dealer on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." So with any luck, a few or all of these performances will see some recognition next month.

WERTHEIMER: Emmy nominators, pay attention. Eric, thank you very much.

DEGGANS: Thanks for having me.

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