Monday, August 30, 2010

MTVP 2010 Emmys Coverage: The Aftermath

“The Island it was mythical, and in the end they died. I didn’t understand it, but I tried”
-Jimmy Fallon

It feels like with this year’s Emmys broadcast, NBC execs said to Jimmy Fallon, “You know that Emmy show last year with that Neil Patrick Harris guy that actually didn’t get panned by critics? Do that..but, you know, with you instead.” Yes, there were many elements of the 2010 Emmys broadcast that were very reminiscent, and in some cases identical to, the 2009 broadcast on CBS. I loved the 2009 broadcast, so you might think this would make me happy, but I actually think that many of the elements of last night’s show that worked well (and there were definitely good moments) were tailored to Jimmy Fallon as an individual performer, rather than the elements that were reused because they worked well last year for a Neil Patrick Harris-helmed show. This was not a bad Emmy’s broadcast, really, certainly not as bad as the Ryan Seacrest helmed “theatre in the round” of 2007 or ABC’s horrible idea to have five co-hosts in 2008, or heck, even the 2010 Academy Awards. I did not personally, however, enjoy this year as much as I enjoyed last year. Part of that, to be fair, is because Neil Patrick Harris is one of my favorite entertainers, and obviously he isn’t going to be hosting two years in a row. Another element is that in most categories, the nominee I was really pulling for didn’t win.

We’ll start with the repeat elements that I didn’t like, just so I can end this on a more positive note. First of all, John Hodgman was back doing his silly facts about the winners as they walk to the stage bit. This was hilarious and fresh last year, but repeating it so soon feels stale. There was also, once again, an emphasis on what was happening behind the scenes at the show. Every time the broadcast came back from commercial, we heard the director announcing what everyone needed to be doing. There were also multiple screens visible showing different behind-the-scenes elements like the show time clock. It was innovative when these elements were introduced last year, but doing the same thing this year, again, feels stale. When Jimmy Fallon sported a white dinner jacket for the entire final hour of the show, it really, really started to feel like they were simply trying to recapture last year’s lightening in a bottle. There was one “repeat” element that worked for me, and that’s because it involved Neil Patrick Harris (big surprise). After Harris’ win for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series was announced, Harris was called upon to present an award. As he walked onto the stage, the orchestra played the opening bars of “Put Down the Remote,” the big song-and-dance number he performed to open last year’s show.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I thought the show worked best when it was tailored specifically to Fallon. I really enjoyed the opening sketch, which involved Fallon and some of the “Glee” cast trying to put together a glee club to raise money so the Glee kids could attend the Emmys. The funniest part of the skit was when the group recruited Jon Hamm, who was getting dance lessons from Betty White. I’d really like to see Hamm show off his comedic talents more often. I also found it amusing that Fallon introduced each category of awards by singing a little song and playing his guitar along with someone from that category (ie Kim Kardashian for Reality and Tom Hanks for Movie/Mini-series). Finally, I also enjoyed Fallon’s musical tribute to three long-standing shows that ended their runs this year: “24,” “Law and Order,” and “Lost.’ He parodied a different classic end of year video song for each. My favorite was his song about “Lost” sung to Greenday’s “Time of Your Life.”

There were also some things I liked that weren’t specifically related to Fallon’s performance. I liked that when writing and directing nominees were announced, there was a video of each of them humorously answering a question. I thought that was a great way to put a face and personality to a name. I also appreciated the sendoff for the late Captain Phil Harris, my favorite of the “Deadliest Catch” captains. The heart breaking scene of Phil’s son Josh telling Phil’s other son Jake about their father’s death was included in the Best of Reality montage, and Phil himself was included in the In Memoriam segment. Lightening things up a bit again, Ricky Gervais was one again by far the most entertaining presenter. He had waiters go out into the audience and serve beer to all the invitees. Finally, George Clooney received the Bob Hope Humanitarian award, and it’s the first time I’ve actually sat through and appreciated one of the big awards. Clooney gave a very timely speech, considering it was the fifth anniversary of Katrina, about how we need to still think about areas affected by disasters for long after the disaster happened.

The actual winners were a mixed bag for me this year. Once again starting with the negative, I was somewhat unhappy that Neil Patrick Harris lost Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for the fourth time. On the positive, Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family won that category, so at least Jon Cryer didn’t repeat. I was somewhat disappointed that Bryan Cranston won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama for the third time in a row (although he gave a very classy acceptance speech), just because he’s won twice already and there were other deserving nominees. Overall, I was disappointed that there was no love for “Lost.” Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad” won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama over both Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn, and Matthew Fox obviously did not win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama. Also, “Mad Men” won Outstanding Drama Series yet again as opposed to giving “Lost” an award to send it on its way. “Modern Family” won Outstanding Comedy Series, which was kind of a “meh” win for me, since I’ve never watched it. I suppose I have to appreciate that the “30 Rock” dynasty has toppled, although I would have preferred a win by “Glee” or for “Community” to have been nominated at all.

There were really only three wins that made me especially happy. The first was Jane Lynch winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work as Sue Sylvester on “Glee.” Sue is an iconic character after just one season, and Lynch’s acceptance speech was very gracious and classy and not at all like her character. I also liked that “Top Chef” finally unseated “The Amazing Race” in the reality competition category. “Top Chef” is an excellently produced, exciting show, and that team definitely deserves the Emmy. The best win of the night for me, of course, was Jim Parsons winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance as Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory.” Parsons has an “aw shucks” attitude, and he seemed truly grateful and humbled by the win. So, on that positive note, that’s all I’ve got to say on the subject of the Emmys until next year. Here’s hoping, presuming the Emmy broadcast contract is renewed with the same terms they’ve been using in the past, FOX doesn’t tap Ryan Seacrest to host again!

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