Sunday, September 21, 2008

These Shows Get Worse Every Year...

Nine months after the WGA and AMPTP came to a not-so-satisfying consensus, five reality television hosts proved those striking writers' points better than they ever did simply by standing on the Nokia Theater stage and basically vamping for an astonishing nine minutes. They talked in circles, made lame and repetitive jokes and simply reminded everyone why television needs writers. Though they talked of feeling like the "redheaded stepchildren" of television and therefore were just happy to be invited, after their ego-filled (seriously, Probst, put on an F-ing tie!) and worse than lackluster banter, we can only hope next year the reality category will be banished back to the Creative Arts Emmys (or, as my pick Kathy Griffin would say, The Schmemmys).
Tom and Heidi's boredom was supposed
to be feigned, but viewers in living rooms
all across the country understood the
sentiment.

The 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were shockingly mismatched and underwhelming overall this year with everything from bits to presenters to who was handed statues. Though claps echoed from living rooms everywhere when Tina Fey and a very-pregnant Amy Poehler were brought out at the top of the show, hopefully assuming their quick wit and deadpan delivery could salvage the night, their prompter copy was drier than Baby Mama, and they didn't even get to hand out an award. Wasted talent; Amy should have just stayed home, put her feet up, and eaten Chinese food (like I did!) in an attempt to pop that kid out faster.

Recreating recognizable sets from programs past and present that served an extraordinary purpose in pop culture was a cute revolving theme but sadly lost at the back of a fairly deep stage and an overly convoluted show that consisted of clip montages that only reminded us how great these presentations could be and have been. Sure, Ricky Gervais had his fun (at the expense of Steve Carrell), and 30 Rock cleaned up with awards for Lead Actor, Lead Actress, and Best Comedy, but for the most part, the Emmys followed much more in the footsteps of the Academy Awards rather than the Golden Globes: they were stuffy, predictable, longwinded and completely self-indulgent (even the director accepting an award for a previous ceremony in the production truck allowed himself a speech even though he acknowledge the show was running "way over"-- and it was only 8:35).

I used to get so excited about Emmy season I would fill out my prediction ballot weeks in advance, take part in pools, follow the Suites and Lounges, and even host a viewing party. When I was in college, and the show still taped at the Shrine, I would stand in the Trojan Vision parking lot and watch the crews unload set pieces and equipment and build the bleachers. This year, the show seemed to sneak up on me, though, and the only reason I knew to tune in at all was a client mentioned rush delivering some Emmy assets to me on Monday for a forty-eight hour turnaround. I barely remembered who was nominated but could already tell you the winners before anyone hit the red carpet; it's one part politics, one part tradition, and so the same old faces would undoubtedly fill my screen. Still, I tuned in, lying in bed, eating cookies and reading in the commercial breaks (and I admit it, anytime the show got boring); I managed to finish my book, realizing I wasn't focused on the show barely at all, let alone with the intensity and interest I once held in years (and for years) past. I fear for what might happen next year, though, if the producers don't find a way to gain some of the magic back.

Back in the day, award ceremonies like this one were held in hotel banquet rooms: they were not televised, and they did not invite "excess" like mass media, fans, or industry personnel whose names did not show up in at least one category. It truly was an event for and by a very niche peer group and only became a spectacle years later when the fashions began to get notice in mainstream newspapers, and networks built a show around it accordingly. Big sets, big stars, and even bigger production numbers were added in little by little but what has grown in size and glitz has diminished in quality. Maybe it's just not as easy to surprise and elate industry-savvy audiences these days, or maybe focus has just been pulled to the wrong part of these evenings, but either way, the ratings just aren't there anymore. And if something doesn't change soon, award shows like the Emmys may slowly find themselves spiraling back toward those tucked away banquet rooms... and that would truly be the death of them, as everyone knows the reason so many celebrities show up in the first place is for the exposure.

Oh yeah, and Neil Patrick Harris should have won for his turn as womanizer and suit enthusiast Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother.

1 comment:

Kate, Dating in LA said...

Nearly the entire show was a yawn (I did get a kick out of Gervais). It's weird because I like the people who won, so you'd think I would have been excited. Instead, I turned it off at 9pm and checked the winners list this morning.