Awards Season begins right now with the Ninth Annual Spunky Awards. Every year, we honor the best and weirdest in television, in the categories that nobody else bothers to honor. Best Hat! Best Kittycat! Outstanding Performance by an Inanimate Object! And so many more! Put on your finery and take your seat, because the show’s about to start. Don’t keep the hosts waiting!
Best Superhero – At this point, there are so many TV shows based on Marvel and DC characters, not to mention some outside the mainstream superheroes and original creations. The competition has never been fiercer and we really had to…. No. We’re not fooling anybody. It’s Batman. He was pretty much limited to Gotham, where we’re seeing a young Bruce Wayne, but we actually saw some shadowy dream glimpses of the future and that’s enough for us.
Best Villain – We’ve been conditioned to like Spunkybuddy Marc Evan Jackson because he’s a delight. And yet as The Good Place’s Shawn he is a literal demon. But he’s a demon in Jackson’s deadpan style, which is both funnier and scarier than your average demon. Torturing human souls for eternity is his job, and he’s very good at his job. And as the moral universe of The Good Place develops the scales are stacked so heavily in Shawn’s favor that it seems impossible that he won’t ultimately win. It may be that our favorite hot messes are only delaying the inevitable and in the end, Shawn awaits.
Best Villain (Animated) – Another one of the great villains who’s just doing his job is Big Mouth’s Shame Wizard as voiced by David Thewlis. “Imaginary” characters are nothing new for the puberty cartoon – you’ve got the Hormone Monster, the Ghost of Duke Ellington, and a whole range of others. But the Shame Wizard is unique in the way he’s shared by everybody – people only see their own Hormone Monster, but everybody knows the Shame Wizard and nobody admits it. Between a chilling musical sequence where he puts Andrew on trial for perversion and an epic two-parter where he nearly drives the entire school to chaos, he’s an absolute and fully relatable nightmare.
Best Fight – A perennial winner in this category is Netflix’s Daredevil and this year is no exception. In the fourth
episode of the third season, there is an eleven-minute fight scene with no cuts in which Matt Murdock fights his
way out of prison. It’s less grandiose than Daredevil beating up twenty bikers in a stairwell, but it might be more intense. Matt’s been injected with a paralytic and when a gang of prisoners employed by Wilson Fisk try to take him out, it’s a desperate fight. These guys don’t stay down when he knocks them over and as the fight wears on, he starts actively trying to break bones and cause concussions just to end it. And once he gets past those guys, a couple crooked cops in riot gear attack. It’s beautifully choreographed and the fact that it’s a single shot is mind-blowing. Especially because Matt is not in costume. There’s no face-obscuring mask to hide a stuntman. It’s Charlie Cox on camera the
The “Jon” from Delocated Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Abbreviating Words (The Award Formerly Known as Best ‘Breve) – With Jon Glaser taking a year off from his love of gear, somebody had to step up to fill the ‘breve void. And that somebody was The Good Place’s Eleanor Shellstrop who started referring to Saint Thomas Aquinas as “Tommy Quine Quine”. You know it’s a great ‘breve when they unnecessarily repeat a syllable to make it longer but funnier. The Good Place gets it.
Most Inspired Casting – Hear us out. Maybe you can just accept that Sophia Lillis as the young Amy Adams in Sharp Objects was an amazing bit of casting and they found a young actress who not only is immediately believable as Adams’ teenage self but in some transitions, it might even take a second to realize who you’re looking
at. Yeah, you can accept that. Or you can buy into our theory that they actually shot the flashback scenes
twenty-five years ago and sat on them all this time, like Boyhood without the boring middle parts. We see that as equally plausible.
Best Sound Effect – Is there a signature sound that’s become iconic as quickly as Janet’s entrance ding on The
Good Place? Season Three has been a little short on dings with Janet confined to the mortal realm and all, but when we heard it for the first time in a long while during a bonkers fight scene, man, it was hard not to stand up and applaud.
Scene Stealer of the Year – It’s hard to steal scenes in a show where the ensemble is as good as the cast of G.L.O.W. but Chris Lowell’s Bash Howard managed to do it. Whether it was his color commentary that ranged from the incredibly obvious “That guy just did a backflip!” to the bizarre “And what’s a mother without her daughter? Just a person!”, or his hilarious reactions (he does the funniest take of the season at the hospital and and you’ll know it
when you see it), Bash adds so much to the show. And that’s not to discount the slowly simmering storyline about his sexuality, because Lowell’s also great at exploring the character in a more serious way. But put him on that microphone, and it’s going to be amazing.
Best Reboot – We’re not sure this qualifies as a full reboot, but it’s worthy of note. As the mothership waned, the spinoff Fear the Walking Dead went big. The show introduced a whole new batch of characters for Season Four
and pushed the established cast to the background. With a new semi-Western vibe, the new characters gradually joined the existing narrative and after an apocalyptic mid-season finale that killed off the lead character, they brought in Morgan from the original series and gave the characters a focus beyond survival and killing the people who threaten them and that brought so much life to the show. A previously forgettable series turned into something really fun and interesting.
Best Jason Mantzoukas – There aren’t many people we love more than Jason Mantzoukas, but this award will isolate which Mantzoukas was the best this year. Adrian Pimento on Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Derek Hofstetler, P.I. on The Good Place? Big Mouth’s dirtbag kid Jay? Marco from No Activity? A Drunk History appearance? This year, we have to go with talk show guest Jason Mantzoukas. Hitting the circuit to promote The Long Dumb Road, he made some memorable appearances. Possibly the high point was visiting Stephen Colbert’s Late Show where he kicked off the interview by declaring “I bet I can get three people in the audience to kill for me. Tonight.” Never change,
Best New Character – The Simpsons isn’t the show it once was, but it’s still got some gas in the tank. And the best reminder of that this year was the 29th season episode “Homer is Where the Art Isn’t” which introduced Bill Hader as Manacek. After Homer was accused of stealing a painting, insurance investigator Manacek was on the case and he was a note-perfect parody of seventies TV detectives like Baretta, Mannix, and, well, Banacek. He had his own opening sequence and everything! It was a fun parody of a genre that doesn’t get a lot of play anymore and Hader turned in a great performance in one of the best episodes in years. We’re going to have to agree with everybody he questions – “I like you, Manacek.”
Best Hat – It was only onscreen for a second, but it reduced one of our writers to tears of joy. Sure, we’ve enjoyed Gotham’s take on Scarecrow, but it was based on the Arkham games, which is sort of a late-in-his-career take on the villain and doesn’t bear much resemblance to his namesake. In the closing moments of the season finale, which set up
storylines for Season Five, the show’s Scarecrow appeared briefly in his classic costume. We’re talking a man dressed as a scarecrow, complete with visible eyes and a moving mouth and…. His iconic Scarecrow hat. Classic Scarecrow has never appeared in live action before, and that brief glimpse was enough for an award.
Best Cameo – Over the last year, John Oliver and Russell Crowe have had quite a ride. When Crowe auctioned off of memorabilia from his movies (including the leather jockstrap from Cinderella Man). And then Oliver’s Last Week
Tonight bought a bunch of those items and donated them to the last Blockbuster Video in Anchorage. Russell Crowe then thanked him by using some of those proceeds to open a koala chlamydia ward in Oliver’s name. A gesture that so impressed Oliver that he pretended to quit the show.
And then, the Blockbuster closed and sent all the items to America’s last Blockbuster. But reportedly, the jock strap didn’t make it. And so the season ended with an absurd trailer for The Wax and the Furious, where Armie Hammer leads a group of the wax Presidents the show bought at a previous auction, in a high-stakes jock strap heist. Then, at the end of the trailer, we see who they’re stealing the jock strap from. Russell Crowe himself. It was the perfect payoff to the bit and earned everybody involved more cool points than they’ll be able to spend in a lifetime.
Great Moments in Metafiction – Over the last two seasons, it hasn’t been entirely clear what’s happening on Archer. After Sterling Archer ended Season Seven in a coma, we’ve only seen alternate versions of Archer including a noir season and this year’s 1930s adventure Archer: Danger Island, featuring different timelines and tweaked versions of the cast. It’s been implied that these are coma dreams, but Archer: Dreamland indicated that maybe
our Archer died and these are different realities. That’s a lot of set-up. Just to muddy the waters, this season included a scene where everybody talks about The Hobbit and mentions that it was published in 1937, so it’s totally plausible
that they’ve already read it in 1939. But the real winner is the moment where Archer refers to a bad situation as a Catch-22 and then realizes “I don’t think that’s a thing yet.” Ha!
The Brock Samson Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Improvised Weaponry – Early this season on Wrecked, insane millionaire Declan decided that Steve (Rhys Darby) was the brains of the operation and had him brought to his office to suss him out. His chess metaphors sailed over Steve’s head and Declan learned he had
maybe misjudged the guy. Once reunited with his fellow prisoners, Steve revealed he’d snatched something from Declan’s office. Not a weapon or radio or something potentially useful. No, he grabbed the bishop from the chess set, figuring losing “the little preacher character” would eventually drive Declan crazy. Cut to the season finale where
Declan has a gun to Steve’s head. In a moment nobody saw coming, Steve stabbed his assailant in the eye with the
little preacher character. Have to admit, that was pretty amazing.
Best Probably Totally Imagined Shoutout – We will freely admit that this was definitely a coincidence. But hear us out. We’ve been calling Ed Harris’ Westworld character “The Cheat Code Cowboy” or “CCC” for short. There are
multiple reasons for this. At one point this season, Akecheta put the unconscious Cheat Code on a horse. Said horse had CCC branded on his haunch. Like we said, probably a coincidence but it’s still so perfect that we’d like to at least revel in the coincidence.
Next Friday, we have so many more awards to give out! Be there!