Highlight: A tense standoff between the U.S. Army soldiers protecting Louie and his USO tour colleagues from a visiting band of gun-toting Afghans ends in shared laughter and fellowship when the duckling Louie’s been toting around gets loose from his bag.
Sidelight: The show was inspired by Louis C.K.’s own tour with the army of Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, as well as an idea his daughter came up with after taking care of ducklings for a school project.
Highlight: After falling asleep on the F train following a tumultuous dust-up with Adam (Adam Driver), Hannah (Dunham) finds herself at Coney Island, where she sits on the beach, staring out at the water and eating cake.
Sidelight: The season ended as it began, with Hannah eating, but in the pilot, it was with an obliviousness to the impending news of her parents cutting her off. On that beach, however, it can only qualify as the one sweet thing to have happened to her that day.
“New Girl” (Fox)
Highlight: Stranded in a restaurant and stood up by a creep, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) gets a spirit-lifting visit from her new male roommates, who sing her the song from “Dirty Dancing” publicly and loudly to the consternation of the other diners.
Sidelight: The punch line for the opening, in which Jess describes her humiliating experience being naked when she discovered her boyfriend’s infidelity, is that it was apparently in response to her future roommates’ query, “Do you have any pets?”
“Modern Family” (ABC)
Episode: “Baby On Board”
Highlight: On a trip to the Calexico hospital to visit the newborn who will become their second child, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) — with Gloria (Sofia Vergara) in tow as a translator — walk into a real-life telenovela involving a sexy priest, a hot nurse and a ranchhand brother back from the dead.
Sidelight: Though goofing on Mexican soap operas and big-reveal finales, the episode featured its own last second surprise: the news that Gloria is pregnant.
Robert B. Weide
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
Episode: “Palestinian Chicken”
Highlight: The shot of Larry David in the middle of a protest, torn between siding with his Jewish friends railing against the opening of a Palestinian restaurant next to a kosher deli, and acknowledging his taboo love for the Palestinians’ delicious chicken.
Sidelight: Larry discovering what passionate sex with a hot young anti-Semite sounds like (and, naturally, not minding it).
“Modern Family” (ABC)
Episode: “Virgin Territory”
Highlight: Visibly shaken by accidentally learning that his daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland) isn’t a virgin anymore, and with it clearly on his mind, Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) repeatedly refers to a broken doll of his niece’s in ever more hilariously metaphoric terms.
Sidelight: The doll subplot — in which Phil, Haley, Alex (Ariel Winter) and Lily trek to the mall to get Lily’s “My Sweet Companion” doll fixed at a doll hospital — is the show’s parodic take on the “American Girl” phenomenon.
Weide keyed to subjects’ needs
And the nominees are:
Comedy | Drama | Minis & Movies | Variety | Nonfiction