Controversy, shmontroversy: I think the Emmys pretty much got it right this year.
(If you’re still watching the West Coast feed and want no spoilers, wait a couple of hours.)
“24” got its long-awaited Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Sure, its plot holes and/or convolutions can be mind-bending, but whether you watch it for the high drama or to chortle at the its more preposterous moments — I’m still trying to get my head around the whole President-in-league-with-terrorists thing, which makes whoever cooked that up a mad genius, but a genius nonetheless — you’re quite likely addicted to it. That’s great TV.
And “The Office,” no matter which version on whatever side of the pond you watch, is a brilliant TV series, so its win for Outstanding Comedy Series is completely justified. As for Tony Shalhoub’s third win in the acting category, over Steve Carell, well, you can’t stop Emmy voters from a kneejerk repetitious vote here or there. Megan Mullally’s win over “My Name is Earl’s” Jaime Pressly in the Supporting Actress/Comedy category was a similar head-scratcher — maybe if Emmy voters were coaxed to think in terms of a fresh comic creation, results might be a little different.
Perhaps most gratifying was HBO’s little-seen “The Girl in the Cafe’s” strong showing, which proves that, honest, the voters really are sitting down and watching these things.
Other pluses: Conan O’Brien was terrific as host, backed by some very sharp material. Presenter patter was less insipid than usual — occasionally, even funny, particularly Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s hilariously blinkered and back-handed honoring of the Reality-Competition category. (Which makes you wonder — did they rig it so that Barry Manilow would beat Colbert and Stewart, just so Colbert could have his spectacularly funny meltdown over losing to Manilow? Because, honestly, they couldn’t have scripted that outcome any better.) Bob Newhart’s deadpan peril, likewise, was very amusing, as was his bewildered dismay that 6 percent of the viewers bothered to vote that they had “no opinion” as to whether he should live or die. Hugh Laurie, as perhaps the most egregiously snubbed performer, was nevertheless a gentleman and a laugh riot, participating in not one but two bits of amusing Emmy-night business. And, year in and year out, one of the funniest things about the Emmy ceremony is the presentations of the long lists of writers for the Variety/Music/Comedy shows (Letterman, O’Brien, Stewart, Colbert, etc.), and this year, gratifyingly, was no exception. Maybe next year, some intrepid entertainment journalist should do a story about how these guys go about creating their mode of ironic self-exaltation.)
Weirdest thing about the ceremony: That my piece in today’s Daily News (see blog entry below for the full experience) was so astonishingly prescient, yet was written for a laugh. (I only got one thing wrong, and even Stewart, whose “Daily Show” won for its writing, admitted that “The Colbert Report” deserved to win.)
Bad thing about the ceremony: The music- and video-cue guy was awfully slow on the uptake when winners were announced. There was a frequently weirdly uncomfortable silence while winners made their way to the stage. It reminded me of the muted reaction when I won a writing award (which, granted, hasn’t actually happened, but a hushed, almost hostile, response is what I would sort of expect if I actually won anything.)
Worst thing about the Emmys: That despite the fact that information is disseminated at record land-speeds across The Internets, the networks still insist on running most awards shows (sparing only the Oscars) on tape-delay on the West Coast. Naturally, it’s a financial decision (prime-time commercials cost more than those at 5 or 6 p.m.), but, let’s face it — eventually, that’ll prove to be a wash, because everyone on the West Coast will know all the winners before the broadcast and tune out, which’ll lower ad rates anyway. It’s particularly insane to delay the broadcast in the industry’s home in L.A. — they wouldn’t tape-delay automotive awards ceremonies in Detroit, would they?
So congratulations to all the deserving winners, nice-going to all the undeserving ones, and a hearty I’m-just-as-pissed-as-you-are to the losers whose sterling work merited a better outcome.