Yes, I know it's Monday night, if not later.
Photo: Mario Anzuoni / Landov via Entertainment Weekly
I couldn't actually "live-blog" during the Emmys because the Internet connection was down (big surprise). But I typed up notes on the laptop anyway and fleshed them out during the commercials and after the show. In the spirit of Bests and Worsts or Cheers and Jeers, they're accompanied by certain exclamations I realized were recurring from my fingertips, so here — at least a day late and probably redundant to countless other cyberspots — are my...
2009 Emmy Yays, Heys, Hmms, and Huhs
Hey! I'm just one letter off the Tetragrammaton.
Yay! Neil Patrick Harris is already enjoyably smooth-with-a-wink. It took me a few sentences to realize that he was doing the faux-newsreel voiceover himself. And that white tux jacket is a bold but winning choice.
I fall into the sliver of my generation that doesn't have Doogie Howser nostalgia, by the way. The series was on during my college years, when my TV time was pretty much limited to the news (including Gulf War I, two Presidential elections, the Clarence Thomas hearings, the Rodney King riots, and the fall of the Soviet Union) and weekly indulgence in Star Trek: The Next Generation. I think the adult NPH is a real hoot, however, on How I Met Your Mother and just in general from what I've seen of him.
Hmm. The song started off a little light. And it's hard for one guy, not hoofing it much (partly 'cause he's singing live, I think, so points for that), to roam a huge stage sans a visible band or backup dancers without looking small. He ended strong and that staccato rundown of the various channels rocked, but some backing vocals might have made it sound meatier.
Hey! Jon Hamm is indeed a very handsome man.
Hmm. So who does have awesome opening montages these days, theme-song or otherwise? I watch approximately two sitcoms, 30 Rock and HIMYM, both of which oddly enough have quick titles with vocals but no actual lyrics; they're both good, although 30 Rock's is best skipped if you're viewing episodes in succession on DVD. I don't follow Desperate Housewives anymore, but its original credits sequence was imaginative and nicely executed. The recently departed Battlestar Galactica had an excellent theme. Big Love and True Blood, both of which I catch up with on disc due to not having HBO, use actual songs very effectively. Mad Men's opening probably gets the gold right now for its music and visuals both — not only wouldn't I think of fast-forwarding through it, I look forward to it.
Hey! That's the voice of John Hodgman. Niiice.
Yay! I'd probably have voted for SNL's Amy Poehler, but I'm glad for Kristen Chenoweth — she's talented, she was on a brilliant-but-canceled series, and she's just so happy about the award. We should ask the Fringe folks how to find the alternate universe where Bryan Fuller is splitting his time between Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls, neither of which is on opposite Boomtown.
Huh? "Doctors... Patients... Donors..." The come-on for CBS's transplant-oriented medical drama Three Rivers was surely not meant to be a nearly LOL moment.
Yay! On the other hand, this remark from Julia Louis-Dreyfus was: "Amy and I are proud to be presenting on the last official year of network broadcasting." I howled.
Hmm. Jon Cryer seems like a nice guy and the speech opened funny, but I'm not too familiar with his current work, having seen exactly one episode of Two and Half Men. The 30 Rock guys do great stuff, but I'd have voted for NPH (well, if I were actually voting, I'd have seen all the submissions, so maybe not, but presumably). Everyone who enjoys sharp, adult-oriented laughs should at least try HIMYM; I don't think it belongs on at 8 p.m. and can't believe what it gets away with sometimes, but the same was true for Friends.
Hey! Justin Timberlake looks strangely like Simon Baker. He also really does resemble Robin Gibb, even without the suit, wig, and makeup. Why does it feel like the glasses somehow play into that when neither of those dudes wears glasses?
Hmm. I wonder if turning orange is a side effect of certain makeup or tanning products in combination with HD TV cameras, at least as seen on non-HD televisions. David Letterman has been looking orange on my set for a while now, and as of his show's switchover so does Craig Ferguson. Now half the Comedy Lead Actress nominees are orange, and the other half are quite pale (but they wear it well).
Hmm. How do I precede a comment on Toni Collette's win since I've never watched United States of Tara? (You'd think a guy who purportedly blogs on television would have at least HBO or Showtime, I know, but they cost the money.) My pick was Tina Fey.
Yay! Falsely bitter NPH is even funnier than regular NPH. We could've done without the gag cut-in to Jon Cryer's press Q&A, though.
Hmm. Look, I know most of the heterosexual-male population will be rueing the existence of double-sided tape while staring at the astounding adherence of Blake Lively's and (later) Anna Torv's dresses to their — whaddayacallit — boobs. I submit, however, that without such tape we wouldn't have seen any accidental flashing because we wouldn't have gotten that much boobage to begin with. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to figure out exactly how I atone for using the word "boobage" on my blog before Yom Kippur rolls around.
Huh? I do have a sense of humor that can appreciate dark, wicked comedy. But that Family Guy bit with Stewie beating the dog was just wrong.
No offense to those who enjoy it, but I'm not a viewer of "reality" TV — as opposed to what Emmy rightly separates out in the Reality Competition category. I can see enjoying stuff on cable about making cakes and working tough jobs in insane climates and surviving life as a meerkat, but the likes of Jon and Kate and Real Housewives... I'd rather feel better about life in general by watching people triumph than feel better about just my life by watching people unravel and make me thankful that I'm not them (then make me fear for their children's future besides). There's a place in scripted drama or thoughtful documentary for "there but for the grace of God go I"; those stories, though, still tend to be ultimately uplifting and insightful about the human condition. Even the generally positive and thrilling Amazing Race will occasionally linger on behavior that's baser or more manufactured for the camera than I expect or desire to see.
Huh? Race has won an award in every one of the previous half-dozen years it's been nominated, and yet the band appears not to have rehearsed the theme.
Miniseries and Movies:
Hmm. We've already been through me not having HBO, so it's no surprise that I haven't seen any of the nominated material in this category except for 24: Redemption. Yes, I know I can rent the DVDs, but when you're dealing with heavy stuff there's a kind of intertia that sets in if you don't watch it while it's actually televised and there's so much other good material, usually lighter or serialized fare, in your Netflix queue. Anyway, Shohreh Aghdashloo was fantastic alongside Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley in the film The House of Sand and Fog, as well as on 24 a few seasons back, so I'm happy for her.
Yay! I heard Grey Gardens was very good; we really should slot it in for a stay-at-home movie night. Ken Howard just earned bonus points for "I'll make my speech short in the hope that it won't be interrupted by a Congressman or a rapper." And the genuine thanks to the woman whose kidney he now has was even more moving than that was funny.
Hmm. Does anyone else think that ever since Alec Baldwin started doing his great (just great) impression of Tony Bennett on SNL he's been unable to totally shake it off?
Yay! The rumored Dr. Horrible piece has arrived in delightful fashion, and it's legen— [buffering]...
Hey! I just did a search for the supremely funny "YouTwitFace" and found that since Conan O'Brien coined the term it has, as the kids say, gone viral and of course is now an actual domain that (also of course) won't load for me. If you haven't seen the original sketch introducing the term, just Gahooglepedia it — and, please, after the term "Gahooglepedia" goes viral itself, let's all remember that Gahooglepedia is a trademark of Brian Saner Lamken.
Yay! The rundown of Variety Series Writers nominees is always a highlight. I think this year the Late Night with Conan O'Brien Facebook gag was tops, but Billy Crystal's bit for Letterman and Brian Williams' rundown of SNL writers were close behind.
Huh? I'm glad that the Daily Show gang won, but every year it's harder to fathom how that incisive program, like all its brethren (sexist implication intended), has an overwhelmingly male group of jokers with writer/correspondent Wyatt Cenac the only black man in sight. Rather than the lame line "I haven't had anything to say since Bush left office," the gang's acceptance speech could easily have made a topical reference like "Wow. I didn't expect to win. I only showed up tonight because I thought President Obama was going to be here." And then they could've gone home to think about why Congress has larger percentages of color and estrogen than they do.
Hey! Jimmy Fallon took a pretty good stunt fall. We're just about at the saturation point of Auto-Tune jokes, I think, but clearly there's some humorousness left.
Hey! The Sarah Silverman Program's Rob Schrab is up there as part of the group who won for writing Hugh Jackman's opening number on the Oscars telecast. I interviewed him in New York fifteen years ago when he was doing a comic book called Scud: The Disposable Assassin (and performing with an improv group). The series went on a long hiatus before being completed and collected last year by Image.
Hmm. Ricky Gervais is once again proving to be a very funny man whose content and delivery both resonate with the Hollywood crowd. You think he'll finally get tapped to host the Oscars, or is he still too much of an unknown quantity among American audiences who've probably never heard of the original British Office or Extras? Maybe if The Invention of Lying overcomes its leaden title and does reasonably well at the box office.
Huh? Like The Amazing Race, The Daily Show is a repeat winner (and deservedly so), hardly an unexpected win, so you'd think the band could maybe have made sure that the actual melody line of its theme could be heard instead of just that saxophone part. I realize that I've never mounted a live network-television production, but I'm just saying.
Huh? Commercials are mostly getting tuned out here, but this spot for Surrogates drives me nuts with the latest in Bruce Willis' long line of ridiculous wigs. You want to differentiate between the real live guy he plays in the movie from his robot surrogates with the hair, fine, but we all know what he looked like when he had hair, and it was not this. Somebody get Weta Workshop to draw up a short, spiky rug for Willis, please.
Hey! What an unexpected surprise that the Emmys can at least admit that Battlestar Galactica was a legitimate drama series in its quick genre montage, along with one nomination for directing. I promise you all that it's one of the most gripping, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, character-driven television series you will ever see, and it's now all on DVD for your habit-forming pleasure.
Yay! Michael Emerson takes the well-deserved Drama Supporting Actor trophy, and Lost fans around the world rejoice. He was actually in a dream of mine the night before, using that maddening Ben voice of his, but he wasn't "playing" Ben or even himself — he was a stand-in for someone with whom I used to work. It was quite bizarre, only in part because he popped up in a vast library accessed by a bathroom in my grandparents' old house.
Hmm. Sarah McLachlan's rendition of "I Will Remember You" over the memorial segment was lovely. Her cover of XTC's "Dear God" is excellent, by the way; you should totally Gahooglepedia it on YouTwitFace or just buy it from Imazunes.
Hmm. Do you think it's unfair that Mad Men gets more than one slot in Drama Writing, or is it just unfair that the show is as good as it is? I wonder if part of the attention is that Mad Men feels more "written" than, say, Breaking Bad, although it's hardly the first series to jam up the writing or directing categories in either Comedy or Drama with multiple nominees.
Yay! I should point out when the band is doing something right, after giving it grief for notable missteps earlier, and they pretty much nailed that great Mad Men theme.
Huh? Simon Baker not only bears an unusual resemblance to Justin Timberlake, he's also wearing the same sort of thick-rimmed cool-because-they're-unflattering glasses.
Hmm. I've never seen Damages and so can't really quibble with Glenn Close's win, but I was hoping that Elisabeth Moss would take the statue for her understated work on Mad Men.
Yay! The fact that the Drama Lead Actor slate was so strong makes Bryan Cranston's repeat win even more thrilling. I sure hope this translates into more viewers seeking out the devastatingly good Breaking Bad, whose first season is on DVD and second season is repeating Sunday nights at 12 after the 11 p.m. encore of Mad Men.
Yay! I love Bob Newhart for his charm and humor like everyone else, but seeing him is always bittersweet because he looks and even sounds a lot like my late uncle. This joke about the "minus seven" rating is awfully familiar; I've probably heard him tell it before, but he could read this paragraph back to me and it'd be funny.
Hmm. Since my Internet connection was down I couldn't vote online for this Viewers' Choice thing, and all I jotted down was that True Blood won so I don't even remember its competition. But while my formal review's yet to be hammered out, I recently finished the first season on DVD and highly recommend jumping in. After a few episodes of exposition via clunky dialogue it offers up some intriguing mythology, genuinely fine acting, and deliriously, addictively pulpy plots.
Yay! 30 Rock and Mad Men are both deserving of repeat wins, much as I could argue for some of their competition.
Huh? So the producers put the last award of the night, for Outstanding frickin' Drama, in that slot presumably because they deem it the most anticipated if not the most important result. And then the band is cued to play off its spokesman. Geez. Julia Roberts and Kanye West should've tag-teamed the conductor. "Yo, Stickman. I'ma let you finish, but Matthew Weiner created what this audience voted the best show on TV. On TV!"
Hey! The show ended just as my VCR clicked off after taping Mad Men, three minutes after the hour.