On Sept. 21 on ABC, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the winners of its 60th Primetime Emmy Awards live from the NOKIA Theater in Los Angeles. Here's a few of the highlights of that telecast.
There weren't that many surprising wins that night. John Adams on HBO, 30 Rock on NBC, and Mad Men on AMC were the three programs going into the award show with the most nominations. All three walked away as the top winners. Predictable!
John Adams won Outstanding Miniseries. 30 Rock won Oustanding Comedy, and, Mad Men won Outstanding Drama Series.
Regardless of who won, however, the best part about watching these shows are the funny bits that are thought up to transition us from each award to the next as well as what the winners are going to say once they get on stage.
One memorable acceptance speech included Tina Fey, the writer and actress of 30 Rock, who won twice that night. Fey held her trophy and said thanks to her parents "for raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate to my looks and abilities." By the way, Fey's skit on Saturday Night Live on September 13 as Sarah Palin was hilarious!
Oprah Winfrey kicked off the night with a very inspiration monologue about the power and importance of television, which was then quickly debased when the five hosts got up and did their schtick about how they have nothing to offer to Hollywood, an inside joke that only us savy Hollywood watchers got.
Yes, there were not one, not two, not three, but five hosts: Howie Mandel from Deal or No Deal, Jeff Probst from Survivor, Heidi Klum from Project Runway, Tom Bergeron from Dancing With the Stars, and Ryan Seacrest from American Idol. The Emmys added a new category this year, which made of all them nominees from their respective, reality TV shows.
Their schtick about having nothing to offer proved right. Despite Heidi Klum getting her clothes ripped off and then later being thrown to the ground, the show could have done without them. Their presences were ultimately forgettable.
Speaking of which, when Matthew Weiner won his Emmy for Outstanding Writing for his show Mad Men, he actually forgot his kid's name, as he was trying to thank them all.
Yet, while Weiner was trying to remember, I was trying to forget the awful rendition by Josh Groban of about 30 TV theme songs. I don't know who came up with the idea to have him sing a medley of theme songs from shows as diverse as Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to South Park to The Love Boat, but it was awful.
And, what was singularly strange is the fact that the announcer sounded retarded. Usually, when a winner's name is announced, as the person walks on stage, the announcer will spit out some facts about the winner, how many times that person was nominated or how many times he or she has won, but that night the announcer was spitting out phrases that were at times incoherent and made no sense.
Hands down the funniest part of the night was Ricky Gervais presenting an early award, pausing to accost Steve Carrell about stealing his Emmy from 2007 because Gervais wasn't there to accept it that year. Gervais pointed to Carrell who was sitting in the front row and who would not respond nor give back the Emmy. Gervais told him snidely, "I made you what you are and this is the thanks I get."
Other bits from comedians like Amy Poehler and Conan O'Brien were delightful, but the night had to have belonged to the old comedic legends. Tommy Smothers, Don Rickles, Betty White, and the late George Carlin were all given special honors.
Sets of legendary TV shows were also given special honors. The hosts and other presenters lapped it up on re-creations of the sets of Dragnet and Seinfeld, although the set of Mary Tyler Moore was only given a lame rear-screen projection.
Lastly, being that this is an election year and we're on the cusp of a historic moment come Nov. 4, the winners here couldn't help but be political. From the Smothers Brothers to Tom Hanks, many of the Emmy accepters took a moment to make some comment about the state of politics. It felt weird, but given the nature and circumstances, it didn't surprise me.
It wasn't a great awards show, but at least it was better than last year's.
Three Stars out of Five
Running Time: 3 hrs.