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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Few Thoughts on the Emmys

I don't usually watch the Emmys (at least I don't go out of my way to watch them) because they usually celebrate shows I don't watch or can't watch (cuz they're on HBO/Showtime). This year, three words made me tune in: Neil. Patrick. Harris. I dig his work on "How I Met Your Mother" and in "Harold and Kumar" and his gig on SNL last year was one of my favorites. Plus, he hosted the Tonys earlier this year (an awards show I have even less interest in watching than the Emmys) and did a bang up job. Also, thanks to the magic of DVR, it's much easier to watch a show like this when I can fast forward through commercials and overly long and boring acceptance speeches.

NPH did another stellar job with his hosting duties Sunday night. His musical opening, while not as bombastic as Hugh Jackman's Oscar opener (which, incidentally, won an Emmy) was just as fun, especially his breathless recitation of all the channels viewers could be watching instead of the Emmys and his pokes at the slow decay of network television. Also, the way he handled losing the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy award to Jon Cryer (more on that later) was well done: ''Well, the night could've gone in two directions. We are now in the second direction.... It's not awkward...I won't let it get awkward.''

The big change to the Emmys this year was the addition of an extra nominee in each category. The idea behind this was that by widening the field to include more shows and actors, the favorite shows of more viewers would be acknowledged, giving those viewers more of a reason to tune in to the awards broadcast (and thus increase the ratings). The theory was a good one, and I certainly have no problem with adding extra nominees (which afforded some of my favorite shows and performances, like "Family Guy", "Big Bang Theory", "How I Met Your Mother" and "Flight of the Conchords" a little extra attention) but the fact remains: unless you watch "Mad Men" or "30 Rock" (which I don't) there was little to get excited about, awards-wise.

You know, there's something about Kristin Chenowith I just don't like.

Lots of people were sporting Nerd Glasses last night, including Kiefer Sutherland, Simon Baker and Dana Delaney.

Throughout the evening, John Hodgeman (who plays the woeful PC in those Mac commercials as well as being a Daily Show correspondent) served as the shows announcer and his dry delivery and loose facts as winners made their way to the stage were hilarious. Amongst the highlights: When Hugh Jackman's Oscar opening number won, he said, "this was, apparently, the first time a musical number was written for a wolverine” and later, when the Daily Show won best variety show, "This is their 900th Emmy, and frankly that's too much."

There was a lot of buzz pegging NPH as the winner of the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy award, but I was fully prepared for any one of the other nominees except for Jon Cryer to win it instead. So who won it? Jon freakin' Cryer, for his one-note performance (neurotic) on the one-joke Two and a Half Men (oh, Charlie Sheen is an amoral womanizing man-child, hilarious!). Two and a Half Men is one of those shows that is mystifyingly popular while lacking in any critical praise, yet Cryer managed to win over numerous more-deserving nominees. 

The Amazing Race won Best Reality Show for the seventh consecutive time, and remains the only show to ever win that particular Emmy. I'm no reality show junkie and have never seen the Amazing Race, but is it really that good? Every clip I've ever seen of it makes it seem terribly schmaltzy and manipulative. It isn't like I'm outraged or anything, I just have to think there's another reality show that's as good or better.

Jimmy Fallon's intro to the Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics award, including a hilarious pratfall, was probably the funniest thing I've ever seen him do. And I'm not trying to damn with faint praise.

I enjoyed the assorted shots at Kanye throughout the evening, such as NPH's line, ''It's my job to make sure things run smoothly. So let's hope that Kanye West likes 30 Rock.''

Dr. Horrible interrupting the Ernst & Young "reading of the rules" segment to extoll the virtues of watching TV online and sound the death knell of traditional TV (only to be beat down by Captain Hammer) was a hoot, especially the "buffering" gag. If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog yet, check it out.

The "In Memorium" segment learned it's lesson from the Oscars: while it featured a live performance, the camera stayed focuses on the screen listed those who had passed in the last year instead of cutting back and forth.

Ricky Gervais knocked it out of the park in his token segment once again, including a bit about how much better the Emmys are than other award shows: "The thing about the Golden Globes and the Oscars is that they have film stars with their jawlines and chiseled looks. But in this room, I'm probably above average. Steve Carell is considered handsome [here]."

It was exciting to see Michael Emerson pick up a win for his portrayal of Ben on Lost. He's definitely one of the more deserving actors amongst a large group of contenders on that show. Plus, his speech was a model of an acceptance speech: he was moved, but not so moved as to be unintelligible, he was gracious, heartfelt, and managed to say a lot and still be brief.

Bob Newhart was Bob Newhart, and he was hilarious in his usual way.

I didn't watch last year's show (which was, I believe, the debacle in which instead of one host five reality show hosts MCed the ceremony) but after Sunday night, I feel like I watched last year's ceremony, considering the best dramatic actor and actress awards, as well as Best Comedy Series and Best Dramatic Series, went to the same people as last year.


  1. I know by it's nature the In Memorium places more importance on certain people's death than other people's (and the loud applause for some and complete silence for others doesn't help), but couldn't they at least present the people in alphabetical order? Or am I being too much of a pinko Commy?

  2. "Jon freakin' Cryer, for his one-note performance (neurotic) on the one-joke Two and a Half Men (oh, Charlie Sheen is an amoral womanizing man-child, hilarious!)"


    I am intrigued about your dislike of Kristin Chenowith and (as I am horrible gossip) would love to hear why you feel that way.

    Wasn't Newhart great? It made me kind of sad to see him though...eyes watery, a pallor to the skin, jowls hanging...

    The Amazing Race is pretty damn good - I only watch a few reality shows and only sporadically (Project Runway, ANTM, Hell's Kitchen) but I like TAR because most of the players are incredibly unlikable. And I like having people to not like and wish ill upon from a far.

    I didn't know the announcer was the PC! I loved his murmured comments; I ignored them at first until I heard one that sounded off and I was like "Ahaha! This is a funny man!" Because, you see, I had had a couple glasses of wine and was in my "I am pretty sure I can pull off a Polish accent" mood ;)

    Great write up! I read your blogs but one says No Girls Allowed and this one talks about baseball and so I've not much to offer in terms of comments.

  3. Dr. Bitz: well, you ARE too much of a pinko Commy, but yeah, it should be done alphabetically. It always make me wonder how the order is determined since the logical choice would be alphabetical.

    I know they like to save the "big deaths" for the end (which is terrible) but then how do they determine the difference between, say, #11 and #12 in the list?

  4. baroness van bitzenhoferSeptember 22, 2009 at 2:02 PM

    NPH rocks. I had the exact same thought about the opening song as you - awesome as it was, Wolverine was better. And the Mad Men of 30 Rock wins definitely get old.

    I was thrilled that Toni Collette won for her work on United States of Tara and just enjoyed the awards as a whole. The Emmys don't seem to take themselves quite as seriously as the Oscars.

  5. Joan: thanks for coming over and giving us a read! No worries: we here at Gentlemen of Leisure are very female friendly. In fact, some of our most loyal readers are women. And once Lost starts back up, I'll have a weekly post for each episode in which I attempt to cover some ground Nikki leaves untrodden (which is hard to do) and offer my own take on the episodes.

    Newhart was very Newhartian, and I loved it. He definitely looked his age, though.

    I don't watch a lot of reality TV either (mainly just Top Chef and Project Runway), though your take on the TAR players being unlikable seems to gel with what little I've seen of it.

    As for Kristin Chenowith...I really don't know. To be fair, I haven't seen her in much. I didn't watch Pushing Daisies (I know, I know). Part of it may be leftover from the whole Aaron Sorkin business (whose work I love despite some major flaws).

    The whole Matt/Harriet relationship on Studio 60 was, apparently, Sorkin's way of working through his failed relationship w/Chenowith, and also apparently, the line between Matt/Harriet and Sorkin/Chenowith was pretty thin (if you're familiar with Studio 60, the incident that broke up Matt and Harriet on the show, dealing with her involvement with the 700 Club, was almost word for word the cause of Sorkin and Chenowith's breakup, from what I've read).

    Studio 60 was one of those shows with tremendous highs and awful lows, and the way Sorkin spent so much time hammering away at his own issues w/Chenowith under a very thin veil of fiction did a lot to derail it. While I should probably blame that all on Sorkin, I don't see him at awards shows and the like very often.

    I realize that's terribly unfair, but I haven't seen Chenowith in much else in order for me to think of her as anything other than "the woman who got in Aaron Sorkin's head, which (amongst other things) kinda wrecked Studio 60." It's not like I hate her or anything, it's just that anytime I see her on something like this, I think "hmm...she kinda bugs me."

  6. Baroness: I meant to mention the Toni Collette win as well; I've only seen that one episode we randomly watched over at your place once, but I understand she does a phenomenal job on it, and it's one of those shows with a small but devout fan base, and I've been a part of enough of those to appreciate a small show getting recognition even if I don't watch it.

    Plus, her win was something of a major upset, which is always fun to see. I love Tina Fey, but it was nice that someone else won that category.

    The Emmys are definitely less stuffy than the Oscars. I enjoyed this years Emmys just on the strength of the show itself, regardless of who was winning what awards (especially since I couldn't care less about the umpteenth Mad Men and 30 Rock wins).

  7. I thought the deaths were arranged chronologically? (meaning if you died in januray, you would be listed before soemone who died in august). But maybe i was just making assumptions since i don't watch the ememys.
    TAR does have a lot of asses - but occasionally you get that one team of people that are just totes awesome and you can root for them until them lose 3-4 episodes in. I think i'd be good at the "racing" part and the challenges part, but be shitty at trying to get around foreign cities with only english and french skills.

  8. It would make sense to arrange the deaths chronologically, but I don't think they do. At least, I seem to recall that Patrick Swayze WASN'T the last person shown, even though his death was the most recent. I could be wrong.

    At the Oscars, it sometimes seems like they are listing them chronologically, but then they always save one of two "big" deaths to stick on the end, so they have a "big" finish to the montage, which is pretty crass if you ask me. And so in the end, I'm still left wondering "how was that ordered now?"


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