[In Week Three of Cultural Learnings’ 59th Annual Emmy Awards Nominations Preview, we’re looking at possible contenders for the Lead Actor awards in both drama and comedy. Today, we present our second set of candidates. For complete listings for the Supporting candidates from the past two weeks, check out our For Your Consideration index]
Lead Actor in a Comedy
Tony Shalhoub (Adrian Monk)
For the past two years, Tony Shalhoub has won the Emmy Award for Leading Actor in a Comedy. And every year, arguably, someone else probably deserved it more. I am not sure if the same will happen this year, but I want to make something clear: despite believing that Shalhoub perhaps isn’t better than some of his other candidates, he is an adept comic actor who infuses Monk with 90% of its charm. As a procedural dramedy, ostensibly, Monk is entirely reliant on Shalhoub’s performance of OCD-riddled, paranoid, uncomfortable and brilliant Adrian. While the show can be uneven, Shalhoub’s performance is always incredibly strong; very rarely do you ever become annoyed by his antics, even as the show sometimes loses sight of its proper goals. Considering his long string of nominations, Shalhoub is clearly a man who gives consistently great performances. And, while I might not select him to win, it’s hard not to consider his portrayal of Adrian Monk for Emmy Awards attention.
In the hands of a lesser actor, I believe that Monk would be an insufferable pain in the ass that we couldn’t imagine anyone actually liking. However, Shalhoub gives him an everyman quality: disconnected from society in so many ways, Monk is much like any other social outsider struggling to find his place in the world. And as he solves crimes in his brilliant fashion, it’s hard not to be charmed by his simple ways and genius mind. What Shalhoub does is make the comedy more pointed, the drama more humorous. Even as the show fails to live up to its potential through stupid stunts such as Monk chasing after a fighter jet (And catching it), Shalhoub always gives a performance that makes you keep watching. And that, although maybe not worthy of beating Steve Carell last year, is worthy of Emmy consideration.
Episode Selection: Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink (Aired August 11th, 2006)
This episode features the best of Adrian’s qualities in one episode. Faced with the thought of his long-time therapist Dr. Kroger (Stanley Kamel) ending, Monk has to face his own personal problems in an accelerated fashion. Desperate for guidance, he goes to his house and attempts to solve the murder in Kroger’s office in order to bring him back to work. It features most of Monk’s best qualities: his feud with fellow patient Harold, his insecurity about his mental health, his reaction to a new therapist with only one arm (Not symmetrical), and his broad comedy. It is a tour de force comic performance, highlighted by his speedy trip through the stages of grief that is basically an Emmy reel in itself.
YouTube – “Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink”
Lead Actor in a Drama
Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars)
I was somewhat surprised to see that Veronica Mars’ Enrico Colantoni had submitted in the Lead Actor category, as I really never saw his performance as being on that level. Sure, I love Keith just as much as the next fan of the show, but he’s being classified a lead actor purely due to his acting pedigree. In reality, I’d call Jason Dohring more of a lead actor this season than Keith was, but I have to go with what was submitted. It’s really not that hard, however, to make a case for Colantoni’s Emmy worthiness. Keith is a memorable television father whose love for his daughter faced many challenges over three seasons but never waned. As the show comes to an end, it is unlikely that it will be garnering Emmy attention as it doesn’t seem to write Emmy bait episodes like other series. However, there is something about Colantoni’s performance that simultaneously portrayed Keith as kind, concerned, protective and pretty darn cool: and that’s worthy of Emmy consideration for the Veronica Mars actor.
It was an uneven year for Keith, to be entirely honest with you: while he enjoyed an end of season run as Neptune’s sheriff, he also spent a fair amount of time in an adulterous relationship with guest actress Laura San Giacomo (His co-star on Just Shoot Me). Keith never quite found his own plots this year: some of the stuff while he was sheriff was just poorly written as a whole. However, Keith was always strong in his relationship with his daughter, and this is where Colantoni shines. This dynamic, between father and daughter, could not have been better handled by Colantoni. Whether it was comic exchanges or dramatic confrontations, he was a consistent influence in his daughter’s life and this is almost entirely due to Colantoni’s performance. And, if Emmy voters see enough of Colantoni with Kristen Bell, I believe that he should be worthy of consideration.Episode Selection: “The Bitch is Back” (Aired May 22nd, 2007)
This decision is easy, in a sense, because I didn’t actually like any of what you would call Colantoni’s “lead” roles during the season other than this one…and even it’s a stretch. With his daughter caught up in a secret society’s business and struggling to keep her identity a secret while gaining the information she needs, Keith has to deal with the fact that she was perhaps the perpetrator. Keith was usually able to deal with her criminal actions, but here she was caught: he found a fiber from her sweater on the doggy door, and she was caught on camera. Battling between his role as sheriff and his love for his daughter, Keith has to make a decision and picks his daughter, erasing the DVR with the tape and being put up on criminal charges right before his Sheriff’s election. This final sacrifice is Colantoni’s strongest character arc all season, and is the proper episode selection for the actor.
YouTube – “The Bitch is Back”