Chris Anthony as Lady Deluxe Haversham in "Push the Red Button"
Georgia Dolenz as Rhoda in "The Perfect Church"
Katie Leigh as Connie in "Home Again"
Christina Pucelli as Emily Jones in "Great Expectations"
Kimmy Robertson as Penny Wise in "Happy Hunting"
Should/Will Win: When looking at the nominees in this category, I connected Katie Leigh and Christina Pucelli's performances very closely. They both portrayed female characters unsure about their future; Emily about their future career and Connie about Jason's future and her future connections with Whit and Eugene. Emily continues to deepen and develop as a character, but I feel like the emotional weight continues to fall behind Katie Leigh, who has had 25 years to develop Connie. Similarly to the Oscars, it's often difficult to compare dramatic and comedic performances (unlike the Golden Globes), but we are forced to through Chris (who has a delightfully over the top performance) and Kimmy (Penny's mishaps). While I really enjoyed Perfect Church, I thought Georgia Dolenz's performance as Rhoda was good, but not great unlike some of the other nominees. Lady DH was a little too over-the-top for me and Penny is still lacking mature emotional growth, so my Should Win/Will Win falls to Katie Leigh for Connie! Again.
Snubbed: Carolyn Hennesy stole every scene she was in in "Perfect Church" taking on the role of Saphira after similar biblical roles and Mama Shepard in her past AIO career. Disappointed, but definitely not surprised.
Best Sound Design
All episodes nominated
Should/Will Win: Josh is undergoing relistens to Album 56, so hold your horses. However, he really enjoyed sound design for "Perfect Church," done by GAP Digital.
Snubbed: Uh, that invisible episode on Disc 5 definitely should've gotten nominated.
Zach Callison as Matthew Parker in "The Perfect Church"
Jim Custer as Young Whit in "Great Expectations"
Townsend Coleman as Lord Gargantuan Foulspleen in "Push the Red Button"
Dan Hagen as Drill Sergeant Combs in "The Bible Network"
Whit Hertford as Jay Smouse in "Groundhog Jay"
Should/Will Win: The nicest surprise in this category is that Dan Hagen was recognized for all of his great work in "The Bible Network." He played multiple roles, but the drill sergeant was the funniest and had tons of memorable lines. Looking back, there were a lot of great male performances this year. Jay continues to be a fantastic antihero that reflects many moral struggles people go through. Matthew articulated our thoughts and feelings in The IS. And Jim Custer plasters in a very warm quality to his portrayal of Whit, and his ability to sound older as Whit did was incredible. Jim Custer has my vote for "Should Win," (Dan Hagen, don't worry, you're right behind) but I'm predicting that Whit Hertford will take home his second Avery in two years, due in large part to Jay's popularity, and I'm fine with that as well.
Snubbed: JIM CUMMINGS. Come on, his Stephen was one of the best Biblical reenactments I have ever seen. The retelling and the acting were top-notch, and I'm incredibly disappointed he did not get a nod. Can he get a honorary Avery for being Jim Cummings? Heck, why we're at it, let's give Phil Lollar a honorary Avery for "Best Being Back on Odyssey Moment." I would've also liked to see Townsend nominated for "Home Again," but a nod is a nod is a nod. Or something like that.
All episodes nominated
Should/Will Win: If you've been reading this blog, you already know that my Should Win is..."The Perfect Church." As I said in my review, "'The Perfect Church' pulls something off masterfully; it manages to take Scripture (Acts 1:8-8:3) and create a narrative that tells the story and yet makes you wonder how McCusker/Younger are going to tell it." Sadly, I don't believe that enough voters will take notice and the award will probably fall to "Home Again" because Jason and Joanne showed up or "Groundhog Jay" because Jay was in it and had funny things to say. However, I must admit that if "Perfect Church" wasn't in the album, my vote would've gone to "Jay."
Barrett finally realizes the consequences of not tithing in "For Three Dollars More"
Bible Boot Camp in "The Bible Network"
Dale Jacobs learns the whole story from Kenny Rutherford in "The Lost Riddle"
Connie, Wooton, and Penny reunite with Jason in "Home Again"
Lord Gargantuan Foulspleen destroys the Sistine Chapel in "Push the Red Button"
Should/Will Win: Of these particular scenes nominated, the only scene that stuck out to me was Bible Boot Camp. It was the funniest, but also had the best lesson. Jacobs/Rutherford sounded familiar (Buried Sin, Album 32: Hidden Treasures), the reunion scene wasn't as impactful since we'd already heard a lot of Jason and it didn't happen till the middle of Part 2, and I sadly don't remember the Barrett/LGF scenes. I'm thinking voters will feel the same way as me, but don't count out the Jason Reunion scene; pure Jason nostalgia could carry that scene to a victory.
Snubbed: I'm getting tired of repeating my praise for "The Perfect Church," so here's an excerpt from my review: "The most powerful scene was when Jim Cummings as Stehen testified to the high court with his defense. The fact that it was taken literally from the Bible, along with Cumming's commanding performance, made me begin to tear up. Now, I don't cry very often at media, unless some element of the form moves me (See: Clara). His acting is powerful, intense, and speaks to us today."
Best Overall Episode
All episodes nominated
Should/Will Win: And once again, another excerpt: "['The Perfect Church'] speaks to us today. The church today is not perfect as well. The episode shows us how God uses all of us with our flaws for his purpose. We have our flaws, and we have our disagreements, and yet, God still calls us to fellowship, worship, and preach together. This can be hard, as I know well, but it's an important lesson for us to learn today. The whole episode feels very human, as often we think of the people of the Bible as superheroes, but God uses all kinds of people for His plan, from prostitutes to corrupt tax collectors to murderers (Saul!). The theme is beautiful, with wonderful harmonies, and a score that captures the episode completely. Paul McCusker and Marshal Younger have crafted an episode that deserves to be up there with the best of the best in Odyssey. The story is engaging, well-told, fresh, moving, and relevant; with powerful performances, dialogue, and sound." My Will Win falls to "Home Again," though "Groundhog Jay" could always be the dark horse in this race.
Let me know what you guys thought of this season's performances! More Candid KOnversations, Album 56 reviews, and Album 57 discussion to follow in the weeks and months ahead.
Read all of our Album 56 reviews
Buy Album 56 on CBD
Vote for The Grand Design Avery Awards at the Whit's End Blog