It’s that time of the year, now that the regular television season is over, when folks start putting together a short list for Emmy Nominations. I’ll do mine in few installments, starting today with supporting performances in a comedy.
TNRLM Shortlist: Supporting Actress/Comedy
Lizzy Caplan, Party Down: Caplan’s Casey, a wannabe stand up comic coming out of a bad long distance relationship, was a great romantic foil for Adam Scott’s Henry, creating one of the most deadpan comic couplings this year (Caplan was also fantastic in True Blood last year, as Jason’s unhinged blood junkie girlfriend).
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies: A tiny whirlwind of comic charm and spunky sass, with bonus points for glorious singing.
Portia de Rossi, Better Off Ted: Veronica was as icy and buttoned up as Lindsey Funke was scattershot and dimly self aware, and both were played to perfection by de Rossi.
Jane Lynch, Party Down: Lynch is hit or miss for some folks, and I’ll admit that a little of her goes a long way. Party Down used her to great effect as a bawdy former C-level actress.
Cobie Smulders, How I Met Your Mother: Both ladies (including Alyson Hannigan) from HIMYM are worthy, but since Hannigan was sidelined for month or so on maternity leave, let’s give the show’s nomination here to Smulders, who did great work all season, culminating in a terrific finale with Barney.
Jenny Wade, Reaper: Though the plotting in Reaper was as disappointingly unfocused as last year, the performances really stepped up. Wade was a fantastic addition to the cast, giving her “reformed” demon an adorable quirkiness underscored with some not so human menace.
TNRLM Shortlist: Supporting Actor/Comedy
Adam Baldwin, Chuck: First, we have to address the question of whether or not to classify Chuck as a “comedy,” since it’s a little bit of everything (romance, comedy, spy caper, action adventure). Given how loaded the pure “drama” categories are, and how many smiles and chuckles Chuck brings to the party, I think it’s fine to put it here, and nobody does more with less than Baldwin’s Agent Casey. Whether it’s a grunt, a look or a nod, Baldwin is consistently entertaining, funny and badass.
Rick Gonzalez, Reaper: It took me a while to warm up to Gonzalez. I couldn’t stand his performance or his character on Reaper last year, but he completely won me over in the show’s second (and hopefully not final) season. His romance with Jenny Wade’s demon Nina was the heart of the show this year, and his off-kilter and underplayed line readings were appreciably surprising and delightful.
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother: Harris should be a shoo-in winner in this category. He takes what could be a broad cartoon in a lesser actor’s hands, and infuses the scheming, womanizing Barney with an innate likeability. A masterful creation, masterfully played.
Chi McBride, Pushing Daisies: Reliably exasperated and caustic, McBride handles the labyrinthine plot twists and tangled, brilliant dialogue with aplomb.
Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother: Marshall and Lily’s relationship is one to envy, in no small part because of Segel’s ability to play endearingly schmoopy. Plus, this last season gave him a chance to show more of a bromance with Barney, a welcome pairing we haven’t seen that often before.
Ray Wise, Reaper: Wise’s grinning, malevolent Prince of Darkness is a consistently terrific comic creation, completely dominating the screen while taking souls, looking for love or running a suburban botox party. If Reaper doesn’t get picked up by another network (or sold into syndication), I’d certainly watch a half hour sitcom with the Devil as a central character. He’s that “good.”