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In this age of instant Twitter snark, it’s a wonder anybody agrees to host the Emmy Awards.
Being in on Sunday night’s social network pile-on was an eye opener. Neil Patrick Harris got harsh reviews here and raves there and this just in the first 10 minutes.
I thought his opener took a while to get started. Too many of these deals start now with elaborate pre-taped bits. Sundays found Harris surrounded by tiers of TV sets and while the idea was to convey that there’s never been more great TV on, it just served to remind me that there was stuff on other channels.
When he finally did hit the stage there was precious little monologue. I thought things finally began to jell once the other Emmy hosts started to emerge, starting with Jimmy Kimmel coming out of the audience and ending with front-row hecklers Amy Poehler and Tina Fey making wise. Audiences got 10 hosts for the price of one.
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This night was a difficult one to host. With all the In Memorial segments, there was a sombre tone to much of the evening. Kimmel’s sharp cynicism, for example, would have been totally out of place all night, he would have seemed as out of place as a smart-ass at a funeral.
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“NPH,” as he’s known in the Twitterverse, did a good job of navigating the room. The show did lurch, however, from brisk and smooth transitions to show-stopping clunkers. By the time we got to NPH’s mid-show song and dance, it just wasn’t welcome. Get to honoring Breaking Bad or we’ll switch over to it, seemed to be on everyone’s mind.
The Elton John song–whoo boy. Somebody blow out that candle in the wind. Coming as it did just as Breaking Bad was breaking in the East it was a real channel turner. Among the Twitter jabs:
The name of this song is “Go Get a Snack Now” #Emmys
— Mo Ryan (@moryan) September 23, 2013
Elton John wrote a song about turning off the #Emmys to watch #BreakingBad?
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) September 23, 2013
“It seemed to me you lived your life like Margo breaking wind,” Elton John pays tribute to “The Millers.”
— Daniel Fienberg (@HitFixDaniel) September 23, 2013
While there was a lot of carping about the lack of clips from Twitter critics, I liked the five memorial tributes. They were simple, stark, and very personal, with Rob Reiner’s tribute to Jean Stapleton the most affecting. Fears that they would hold up the show were unfounded. They each took about a minute and together were the five most powerful minutes of the entire show.
|It didn’t bother me that no clips were shown of Jonathan Winters or others
in the memorial tributes. It’s 2013, go to YouTube already
Could they have added tributes to Larry Hagman and Jack Klugman? Sure they could have, but by the time we got to the memorial “also rans,” it was evident you could do an entire hour of obituaries. Annette Funicello was arguably a bigger TV star than any of them.
Thar segment again featured no clips, just single black and white shots of each personality. I didn’t mind that, but there was one aspect of the tribute I did find jarring, as did others:
It’s creepy when people applaud for the people who died. More for some, less for others. It’s kind of tasteless. Oh, well!
— Martha Plimpton (@MarthaPlimpton) September 23, 2013
The night was already turning into the “saddest Emmys ever,” as Modern Family‘s Steve Levitan cracked. The clip of Cronkite choking up while declaring JFK dead didn’t help. Neither did that sad, unnecessary rendition of The Beatles’ Yesterday.
So Will Ferrell showing up with his adorable kids was exactly what the show needed by 11 p.m., I thought. Let’s not take this all so seriously, read the last few names and get the hell to bed.
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