We want to say “awards season is upon us”, but let’s be honest, it’s kind of always awards season in the entertainment industry. There are something like seven award shows just for country music alone. Regardless, there’s always room for more awards and so we’ve stepped in with the Spunky Awards.
Yes, we’re once again giving out Spunkies for the best in TV. Best Superhero! Best Fight! Outstanding Performance by an Inanimate Object! And so many more! In fact, there are so many that we have to break the awards up over two weeks. And yes, we expect you to sit and wait in your formal wear. We only have so many seat fillers to go around.
So put on your finery, mute your phone, and take your seat for Part One of the Eighth Annual Spunky Awards!
Best Superhero – We had an unprecedented number of superheroes on TV this year. Well, not strictly “unprecedented” since Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006) had sixty members. But still, we can agree there are a lot of superheroes and it’s going to take time to weigh all of our options. Just kidding, it’s Batman. It’s always Batman.
This year, we saw young Bruce Wayne take tangible steps toward his future alter ego on Gotham. And the man himself consistently appeared on Cartoon Network’s Justice League Action (voiced by Best Batman, Kevin Conroy). Batman’s win streak remains intact!
Best Villain – Aubrey Plaza as Legion’s Lenny Busker was a revelation. We’re fans of Plaza to begin with, and her character initially seemed like a slightly more malevolent take on April Ludgate. But as the season went on, we learned more about Lenny’s true nature and she became a more active force against David, Plaza did some amazing work. She did something different every week, including a striking turn as a silent movie villain. There was an intensity we never would have expected from her as one of our favorite comedic performers turned into something deeply unsettling. Which is really what April would have wanted.
Best Fight – Daredevil has had this category locked up for the last couple of years, but there’s finally a worthy challenger to the blind lawyer ninja, and it’s Alison Brie. G.L.O.W. was full of impressive wrestling, but the fight that stands out to us is Brie’s Ruth vs. Herself. With her partner holding out, Ruth had to show off all the communism-themed moves she’d created without an opponent and so she had to wrestle herself. It was an amazing bit of physical comedy alongside some impressive technical prowess. And she continued even when she wasn’t the focus of the scene – people are talking and in the background, Ruth is fighting to get out of the chokehold she put on herself. It’s awesome and it’s the best one-person fight since Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead 2.
Best Battle – Yes, Game of Thrones had some massive battles this year, including setting a record for the most stuntpeople set on fire in a single scene. And we’re not going to pretend that isn’t awesome. But we know what we like, and what we like is the Season Three finale of Gotham where Mr. Freeze and Firefly fought ninjas. And then Jim Gordon, afflicted with the Tetch Virus, turned into a rage monster and grabbed a sword and just started stabbing everybody and it was rad.
The “Jon” from Delocated Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Abbreviating Words (The Award Formerly Known as Best ‘Breve) – This year, in its penultimate episode, Review pulled off something “Jon” never dared to imagine. A Triple ‘Breve. Tasked with reviewing “Being Helen Keller”, Forrest McNeil (Andy Daly) made a helmet that would block his hearing and vision. He called this Helen Keller Helmet a HelKelMet and ‘breve history was made.
Most Inspired Casting – When The Good Place’s Janet used her powers to create a new boyfriend to help get over Jason, it could only be Jason Mantzoukas. The spunkyfave and scene stealer was the perfect choice to play a new human being generated by somebody who doesn’t understand humans with his combination of innocence and anger. There’s a special talent Mantzoukas has in the way he plays characters the audience loves but everybody in the show hates, and you still understand why they’re right. You understand why the people who live in that world are terrified of his character, but you want his characters to hang around forever.
Best Eyebrows – We started this category for one reason – to honor Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi and his magnificent “attack eyebrows”. And since his tenure as the Doctor has come to an end, we feel like the man deserves a second award as a bookend.
Best Sound Effect – Look, anybody can make the sound of an explosion or a car crash. Actually, we can’t. Sound effects people are really good at jobs that we can’t possibly do. Regardless, it takes a special talent to create the meaty “thwap” of Kevin’s penis hitting the penis-recognition tray in the dream episode of The Leftovers.
Scene Stealer of the Year – Netflix’s Love boasts two compelling and hilarious supporting players in Claudia O’Doherty and Mike Mitchell so the show quickly put the two of them in a relationship. This year the show dug into Bertie and Randy a little more and the hilarious best friends became more layered and interesting. It’s tough to steal a show from people we like as much as Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust, but these two do it.
Best Weapon – After missing for just long enough that it was hard to remember where we saw him last, Gendry returned to Game of Thrones. And while he didn’t get a lot to do in the two episodes in which he appeared this season, he brought a pretty sweet war hammer with him. Frustratingly, he left it behind when he had to run from zombies and it wasn’t clear whether anybody recovered it. We just want him to crack some White Walker skulls!
Most Weirdly Endearing Performance – Though the real versions aren’t exactly sympathetic figures, we’re kind of in love with Mikey Day and Alex Moffat as Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump on Saturday Night Live. When these two show up on Weekend Update, it’s so much fun. Moffat plays Eric as a basically sweet dummy and Day’s Junior is a loving brother. Even when they’re defending something terrible, there’s something really heartwarming about Junior always calling Eric “buddy” and the kindness he shows the poor doofus And then the way Eric tries to mimic his big brother’s hand motions is just hilarious. They find a depth that the real people haven’t exhibited yet.
Outstanding Performance by an Inanimate Object – In the episode titled “La Abuela”, the Last Man on Earth crew moved into a mansion formerly owned by a drug cartel and managed to make a pinata absolutely terrifying. A series of flashbacks led us to believe that there was a bomb inside a pinata to take out the leader of the cartel. So we spent a whole episode panicking every time Tandy took a swing at it or Jasper played with it. Like, just sweating every time they cut back to it. In the end, we learned that the bomb wasn’t in the pinata at all, but in the Rubik’s Cube instead so that tense experience has turned into weeks of stress. (We know Tandy’s not going to solve that cube, but if Todd or Gail ever touches it, we’re going to scream.)
Best Running Joke – The best running jokes happen so gradually that you don’t really notice them until they’ve been in place for a while. That happened this year with Brooklyn Nine-Nine where Boyle is casually mean to Terry. Boyle is usually so sweet and Terry is the coolest guy, and so when Boyle insults him out of nowhere, it’s very funny. Especially when he makes fun of his physique, because Terry Crews is a real life superhero Our favorite example came when Boyle was talking about how he wanted to be Jake’s best man and he mentions the other people he could pick and says to Terry that Terry would be the worst case scenario. And then everybody throws a surprise party so Jake can make a big deal about asking him and Boyle’s immediate response is “In your face, Sarge!”. (Terry: “What? I helped plan a lot of this! I’m holding a sparkler for you!”)
Biggest Surprise – It’s been almost a year and we still don’t like saying it out loud because we don’t want to spoil anybody who hasn’t jumped on the show yet, but…. The Good Place is actually the Bad Place. The Season One finale turned the entire show on its head with a reveal nobody was expecting and if you go back and watch the whole season again, it totally tracks. In retrospect, it’s clear the big reveal was always part of the plan, but in real time it was a jaw dropper.
Best Reboot – The new version of DuckTales on Disney XD is an absolute delight. With a cast that includes David Tennant, Bobby Moynhihan, Kate Micucci, Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz and Beck Bennett (and guests like Paul F. Tompkins, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Margo Martindale), the update has been a lot of fun in the way it plays with the conventions of the original series, gives the ducklings individual personalities, and built an interesting mystery about Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s long-absent mother. The adventures are fun, the jokes are legitimately funny, and it’s got a weird hybrid animation style that isn’t quite Disney. It’s a strange concoction and it’s a ton of fun.
Weirdest Coincidence – It would have been good enough to have two shows in one year with Carrie Coon as the lead actress. It was even better that The Leftovers and Fargo aired at the same time of year. And then, in the same week, both shows aired episodes where Carrie Coon’s character wasn’t acknowledged by electronic devices. It was a one-episode thing on one show and a character-defining trait on the other, but it led us to believe that maybe it’s a problem she has in real life and they just had to write it around it.
Best Politician – For the first time, we’ve giving this award to an actual politician. Huntington, West Virginia’s Mayor Steve Williams was a constant foil on Seeso/VRV’s My Brother, My Brother & Me, with the McElroys visiting his office in almost every episode to try and win him over with an insane idea. You know, a permit for a tarantula parade or being appointed temporary Mayors. And Williams just denied them every time, which shouldn’t make for good comedy, but it was somehow hilarious. The man’s just trying to do his job and he’s got these goofs asking if he’ll sign a decree granting them broad powers in the area of ghoul smashing. Every single appearance was very funny, and it’s even better knowing that after they wrapped filming, your sweet baby brother Griffin McElroy accidentally hit the Mayor’s parked car.
The David Tennant Award for Best Line Read – Remember in Doctor Who when David Tennant’s Doctor was about to regenerate and he said a simple “I don’t want to go”? There’s nothing special about those words but his line read is so perfect, casual and heartbreaking at the same time. And so, we want to honor the person who told a story with some simple words. In the “Certified” episode of The Leftovers, Nora tracks down the possibly fake scientists who claim they can reunite her with her children. She wants to undergo the procedure that will almost definitely kill her and when her brother Matt offers to stay with her and wait, the way Carrie Coon says “OK” is brilliant. It’s full of surprise and sorrow and gratitude and you feel the entire weight of this lifelong relationship that we’ve only seen hinted onscreen.
The “Like Father, Like Daughter” Award – Toward the end of the year, we met Rosa Diaz’s parents on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Who could possibly play the father of our favorite badass? And in retrospect, the answer is obvious. There’s only one man who could pull it off and we hope whoever cast Danny Trejo as Rosa’s father got a raise or at least a nice bottle of wine.
Best Duo – There is a lot to love about Ghosted, but it all begins with the truly wonderful chemistry between Adam Scott and Craig Robinson. Setting up these two goofs as the 21st Century Mulder and Scully works brilliantly and they’re such a perfect pair even early on in Season One. In fact, just check out the “fixing the copy machine” scene from the pilot – it feels like they’ve been working together for years already. Or maybe working on Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was really a formative experience, like how all the Lord of the Rings guys got matching tattoos.
Supporting Player of the Year – You know who’s an absolute delight? Spunkyfave and Work Juice Player Marc Evan Jackson. We’re always happy to see or hear him, and just this year he was in so many of our favorite shows. He had voice roles on Adventure Time and DuckTales (as Scrooge’s buzzard accountant). He had a run-in with Larry on Curb Your Enthusiasm, reprised his role as Holt’s husband Kevin on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, examined the cast of The Detroiters, ran a cult on Wrecked (which left him with the amazing IMDB credit of “Father Daddy”), and adjudicated over The Good Place as supreme judge Shawn. He was even on GLOW, for pete’s sake. The man appeared on all the good shows this year and still found time to be a delight in Kong: Skull Island. He’s like the human version of the Nintendo Seal of Quality.
Best Thing We’ve Ever Seen – We had to create a special category for a moment this awesome. In Gotham’s “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”, Jerome (the guy who might turn out to be the Joker) kidnapped Bruce Wayne and brought him to what can only be described as a murder carnival. Jerome, it should be noted, had to staple his face on because somebody previously cut it off to use as a mask. In the climactic moments of the episode, Jerome made one last attack and that’s when Jim Gordon punched Jerome so hard that his face flew off and landed in a puddle. We will treasure that moment forever.
That’s it for Part One. We’ll be back here next week with another round of awards including…. Entertainer of the Year!