Tag Archives: American Horror Story

For Your Consideration: Hugo Award Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

The deadline for nominating works for the Hugo Awards is March 11, 2012. Members (as of January 31, 2012) of Renovation, Chicon 7, or LoneStarCon 3 are eligible to nominate. For the Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category, I have compiled a list of productions that are eligible to be nominated this year. It is a long list, and undoubtedly not comprehensive. My purpose is to remind nominators that there are worthy productions that do not have Doctor Who or Game of Thrones in their names.

I’ve listed the titles of individual episodes because the Hugo rules require individual episodes to be nominated. A multi-part production such as Game of Thrones or Torchwood: Miracle Day can be nominated in the Long Form category if nominators feel that the mini-series should be taken as a whole, rather than as individual episodes. The dividing line between Short Form and Long Form is 90 minutes running time, but may be adjusted slightly one way or another if a majority of nominators place a borderline work in the other category.

I haven’t made up my mind what I’m going to nominate, other than I will definitely be nominating The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, a terrific short film (available as a free download from iTunes). My expectation is that one or more episodes of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones will be nominated no matter what, so I will use my nominations for more obscure works that can fill in the remaining slots.

For your consideration:

Adam And Dog (Short Film) [winner of the Annie Award for Best Animated Short]

Adventure Time (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Mystery Trainx



Alphas (TV Series)
Episode: Original Sin

American Horror Story (TV Series)
Episode: Smoldering Children

The Ballad Of Nessie (Short Film)

Batman: The Brave and the Bold (TV Series)
Episode: Mitefall!

Batman: Year One (Direct-to-Video) [nominated for an Annie Award]

Being Human (TV Series)
Episode: Though the Heavens Fall

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien (TV Series)
Episode: Prisoner #775 Is Missing

The Big Bang Theory (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: The Good Guy Fluctuation

Camelot (TV Series)
Episode: Reckoning

Community (TV Series)
Episode: Remedial Chaos Theory [a humorous take on parallel dimensions]

Doctor Who (TV Series)
Episode: The Doctor’s Wife







Eureka (TV Series)
Episode: One Giant Leap…

The Event (TV Series)
Episode: Arrival

The Fades (TV Series)
Episode: Episode #1.4

Falling Skies (TV Series)
Episode: What Hides Beneath

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore(Short Film) [nominated for an Academy Award]





Fringe (TV Series)
Episode: The Day We Died

Futurama (TV Series)
Episode: All The President’s Heads

Game of Thrones (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Baelor

Generator Rex (TV Series)
Episode: Ben 10/Generator Rex Heroes United

Green Lantern: The Animated Series (TV Series) [nominated for an Annie Award]
Episode: Beware My Power, Parts 1 and 2

Grimm (TV Series)
Episode: Danse Macabre

Haven (TV Series)
Episode: Sins of the Fathers

Hoops & Yoyo Ruin Christmas (TV Special) [nominated for an Annie Award]

I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat (Short Film) [nominated for an Annie Award]

La Luna (Short Film) [nominated for an Academy Award and an Annie Award]

Lost Girl (TV Series)
Episode: Barometz. Trick. Pressure

The Mercury Men (Web Series)
Episode: The Battery






Merlin (TV Series)
Episode: The Darkest Hour, Parts 1 and 2

A Morning Stroll (Short Film) [nominated for an Academy Award]

No Ordinary Family (TV Series)
Episode: No Ordinary Powell

Once Upon a Time (TV Series)
Episode: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Outcasts (TV Series)
Episode: Episode #1.4

Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice (TV Special) [nominated for an Annie Award]

Primeval (TV Series)
Episode: Episode #4.1







Robot Chicken (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Robot Chicken’s DP Christmas Special

Sanctuary (TV Series)
Episode: Into the Black

The Simpsons (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Treehouse of Horror XXII

Smallville (TV Series)
Episode: Finale

Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II (Web Series)
Episode: Enemy: Starfleet!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TV Series)
Episode: Carnage of Krell

Stargate Universe (TV Series)
Episode: Gauntlet

Steins;Gate (TV Series)
Episode: Prologue to the Beginning and End

South Park (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Crack Baby Athletic Association

Sunday (Dimanche) (Short Film) [nominated for an Academy Award]

Supernatural (TV Series)
Episode: The French Mistake

Teen Wolf (TV Series)
Episode: Code Breaker

Terra Nova (TV Series)
Episode: Resistance

Thundercats (TV Series)
Episode: New Alliances

Torchwood (TV Series)
Episode: Miracle Day: The New World

Transformers Prime (TV Series)
Episode: One Shall Rise, Parts 1, 2, and 3

True Blood (TV Series)
Episode: You Smell Like Dinner

Ugly Americans (TV Series)
Episode: Callie and Her Sister

V (TV Series)
Episode: Mother’s Day

The Vampire Diaries (TV Series)
Episode: The Reckoning

The Venture Bros. (TV Series)
Episode: From the Ladle to the Grave: The Shallow Gravy Story

The Walking Dead (TV Series)
Episode: Pretty Much Dead Already

Warehouse 13(TV Series)
Episode: Emily Lake






Wolverine (TV Series)
Episode: Kikyo

American Horror Story

American Horror Story (FX Network)
Written by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk; directed by Ryan Murphy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Snapshot: very creepy, but ultimately not very satisfying; it’s hard to see how it can stretch into thirteen episodes, let alone more than one season.

Spoilers ahead!

Psychiatrist Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) and his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) are suffering severe marital strife, so they decide to try to start over by moving from Boston to Los Angeles. What caused the strife? Vivien had a miscarriage at 7 months, and soon thereafter caught Ben having sex with one of his students. My first thought upon learning this back-story somewhere near the end of the episode was, wow, they must love each other an awful lot to stay together under those circumstances. But love was really nowhere in sight. Lust, yes, but love, no.

Complicating their lives is their teenage daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga) who is reacting to this turmoil by cutting herself and contemplating suicide.

Then the real horror begins.

The stately Victorian house they buy turns out to make the Amityville house look like the Cleaver household. Beginning as far back as 1978, possibly earlier, the house has been host to at least seven murders, all under very mysterious circumstances.

Then there’s the creepy next-door neighbor Constance (Jessica Lange) and her Down syndrome daughter Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) who keeps telling everyone they’re going to die.

Vivien hires the previous owners’ housekeeper (Frances Conroy), a nice matronly woman. The only problem is that Ben sees her as a hot young seductress (Alex Breckenridge).

Ben’s first patient, who he sees in his home office, is a troubled teenager named Tate (Evan Peters) who immediately confides that he is planning a massacre at his high school. Luckily for Tate, Ben isn’t a very good psychiatrist and doesn’t notify the authorities. Tate strikes up a friendship with Violet, and together they stage an elaborate ruse to scare school bully Leah (Shelby Young) into leaving Violet alone. However, the ruse turns weird when Tate seemingly turns into a monster that tries to rip Leah’s face off.

Last, but not least, Ben is visited by Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare), one of the previous owners who murdered his wife and children by setting them on fire, and has third-degree burn scars over 70% of his body. Larry warns Ben about the malevolence in the house, but of course Ben completely discounts what he says.

In the process of introducing these characters we are subjected to many haunted house staples: creepy hand-held camera shots, body parts in jars, evil twins, a dark basement, a dusty attic filled with weird stuff, dead animals, strident music (I’m sure I heard Bernard Hermann cues from Kill Bill (2003) and Vertigo (1958)), and lots and lots of bad decisions. We are also subjected to lots and lots of butt shots of Ben sleepwalking through the house, and a spirit dressed in S&M gear who rapes Vivien (she thinks it’s Ben).

Series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have given us both Nip/Tuck and Glee. American Horror Story is no Glee, that’s for sure. They seem to think that by being on FX they can and should have as much sex and violence as possible, but they forget that sympathetic characters ground true suspense, and so far the Harmons are not at all sympathetic. Take Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) as an example of a very similar situation. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) was a caring family man who got caught up by his paranoia and fear. Ben Harmon is just a self-absorbed jerk who really just wants to have sex with his wife after a year of abstinence, and so ignores all the warning signals. Vivien is cold-hearted and weak-willed. Violet is an uncaring brat. And none of them talk to each other about the odd things that are going on.

Or look at Twin Peaks (1990), filled with quirky characters you cared about, fighting a supernatural menace that took the guise of a loving father, enabling a gradual buildup of suspense. Monsters in the basement glimpsed by strobe lights evoke a primitive fear that ultimately cannot be sustained.

The most interesting character by far is Constance, due in large part to Lange’s unnerving portrayal, and to the absence of a clear motive. The best line of the night was when Constance turned to the maid and said, “don’t make me kill you again.” What the what?

American Horror Story has potential. The pilot was packed with enough action, plot points, and characters to fill a feature film. How they can maintain that pace for thirteen episodes will be a challenge. I think the trick will be to create some truly unpredictable plot twists, because for now it seems that almost every character the Harmons encounter is or could be a ghost, and that wouldn’t be too fun if it’s true. According to imdb.com, Zachary Quinto will be appearing in future episodes, so that could spice things up.

The acting and production values are there, but I don’t know if the audience will give the series the time to develop.