It's nothing new to say that the Emmys as a show generally sucked, and although this year actually had a few great moments, overall, there was a lot to be wanting both in the show itself and several of the award choices. After three hours and 15 minutes of that crap (OK, I watched it on delay, fast-forwarding through the commercials -- sorry Fox -- so it was probably more like 2:45), I don't know that I have the patience to actually write that much. So with that in mind:
Best moment of the night: After announcing that Ricky Gervais had (shockingly, I must say) won the Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Award for Extras and then noting that he wasn't there, Jon Stewart said that he and co-presenter Stephen Colbert said they would just give the award to their good friend Steve Carell, at which point Carell ran up to the stage screaming and the three of them started yelling and hugging excitedly on stage before running off. Realistically, Carell should have won for his brilliant performance in The Office. Arguably, if he was to lose, it should have been to Alex Baldwin, without whom 30 Rock would be literally half-as-funny. I love Gervais, but in this case, he was the third best in the category.
Biggest disappointment of the night: After losing the Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for the second year in a row to a singer with a one-time special, neither Colbert nor Stewart made any comment about history repeating itself. Instead, before presenting the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Award, they did an overlong schtick about Hollywood's sometime disingenuousness regarding energy consumption and global warming. I'm sure both (especially Colbert) will have plenty of fun with Tony Bennett taking Barry Manilow's place this year during the coming week on their shows, but it would have been more entertaining during the Emmy's had Colbert at least mocked disappointment again instead of totally ignoring it. And while we're at it: I'm sorry, but it really is time they split performances in one-time specials into a different category from performers who do a show four-to-five times a week, 30 plus weeks a year. They have separate categories for the programs themselves; why should the performance category be any different. It is thoroughly ridiculous that Colbert, Stewart and David Letterman should be judged against Bennett and Ellen Degeneres (for hosting the Oscars).
Best acceptance speech of the night: Hands down, James Spader, who won Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Boston Legal. I can't take that show anymore, although I'm sure Spader is still terrific on it. My problem with it was always that the show had nothing to it other than these two amazing characters created by Spader and William Shatner. Even so, was he he really so very good again this year that he should have won again over Denis Leary (who is tremendous in Rescue Me) or Hugh Laurie (consistently great in House). And no, that doesn't even take into account James Gandolfini. Still, his two lines were better than any of the as-usual-crappy-ass-banter written for the presenters of the show. First, upon reaching the microphone he said, "I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob." And then he said, "I've been to thousands and thousands of concerts in my life, and I can tell you, these are the worst seats I've ever had.' The second comment was utterly apropos as ...
Biggest production blunder of the night: In the round? WTF? At what time did that seem like a good idea for the home or live Shrine Auditorium audience. What did it add to the show other than really bad seats for many of the nominees. For one thing, virtually all the presentation was still done as if on a proscenium stage, facing out to the main part of the audience. Who has these ideas and why isn't there ever one person with common sense on the entire production crew to say, "Uhm, no, that actually wouldn't be cool."
Biggest mystery (at least to me) of the night: What was with the two cut-aways, one early in the show while Ray Romano was presenting and one later when Sally Field was accepting. Obviously, it was Fox's oh-so-subtle way of making sure they didn't receive any FCC fines. Or was it a Fox mandate for nothing too political? Whatever it was, if they were going to censor some of this live broadcast, couldn't they have thought of a more elegant solution? (I'm sure what it actually was is out there somewhere, but I don't have the time or patience to look it up right now.)
Best production choice: Brian and Stewie from Family Guy opening the show. The song itself was uneven, but it still was better than having to watch Ryan Seacrest cold open. His eventual introductory monologue (or whatever) was as mediocre as expected.
Most unexpected moment: It wasn't an award; it was Lewis Black's stand-up. He ravaged network executives on the one night that they live for because it's the only night that they get public congratulations so that the average TV viewer (as opposed to industry-ites who read the trades) can hear their names. But on this night, Black made them out to be the people actually standing in the way of the home viewers ability to simply enjoy the shows they want to watch. I thought it was great and hysterical, but you know that at least a few muckety-mucks -- especially those in the marketing departments -- must have gotten their undies in a bunch.
Second favorite part of the night: For the last several years, the announcement of the nominations for the Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series prize has always included the individual shows submitting some sort of video "introducing" all their writers. This year, the individual bits -- with the exception of the one for Late Show With David Letterman were all hysterical. The Colbert Report featured each of the writers punching out Colbert; The Daily Show had multiple (yet all unique) clips of Alberto Gonzalez saying, "I don't recall," before the writers' names were dubbed in; Late Night With Conan O'Brien showed a bunch of day laborers climbing into a pick-up truck before it's driven away by O'Brien; and Real Time With Bill Maher did a scan under the doors of a string of men's bathroom stalls with some foot tapping and multiple pairs of feet visible as it continued along, all before Maher exited the last stall spraying breath freshener in his mouth. What would Maher have done with no Larry Craig in the world? Lucky him.
Weirdest transition of the night: Ellen Degeneres introduces a pointless montage of the best one-liners featuring all the various late night talk show hosts. It was utterly pointless, although it then seemed to all be a preamble to clips of each of the late night talk hosts mentioning the death of Tom Snyder and how much he meant to each of them. Huh? Awkward and absurd are both understatements.
Yes-they-deserved-it-but-not-as-much-as ...In addition to Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, the two most competitive categories -- at least for my money -- were Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. I was thoroughly shocked at America Ferrara's win in the Actress category. She beat Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Felicity Huffman and Mary-Louise Parker. Personally, I would have given the award to Parker -- consistently brilliant in Weeds -- or Louis-Dreyfus for her hysterical turn in The New Adventures of Old Christine. Maybe not as shocking but somewhat disappointing to me was Jeremy Piven's repeat win. I love Ari Gold and Entourage as much as the next person who loves Ari Gold and Entourage, and Piven plays him fantastically, but it's not like there was really anything new that came to the character or portrayal this year. Meanwhile, Rainn Wilson's Dwight on The Office and Neil Patrick Harris' Barney on How I Met Your Mother are two of the best performances of the funniest characters anywhere on television. How I Met Your Mother is probably one of the most underrated shows on the air right now. It is downright funny week-in and week-out even if it doesn't completely reinvent the sitcom form. And most of the laughs come from Harris, who would have had my vote.
The new power in primetime? They may not be a good channel for classic movies anymore -- as I've complained about previously -- but is AMC about to become the next powerhouse cable channel, competing with not just FX, TNT and USA but also Showtime and HBO? Broken Trail took home its share of awards this year, and next year the brilliant Mad Men should be quite competitive in all the series categories.
No longer that amazing: I have long been a huge fan of The Amazing Race, and every year, I have cheered its repeated Emmy wins. I still think it's a great show, but I don't believe this past season was anywhere near its best. Meanwhile, both Project Runway and Top Chef are huge successes for Bravo, and I don't simply mean in the ratings. Both series manage to be hugely entertaining, and they manage this not solely due to casting the most outrageous characters. In fact, Top Chef isn't really that character driven at all. But both series have simple yet compelling formats, are slickly produced and utterly addictive.
The Biggies: Congrats to both The Sopranos and 30 Rock, two great shows, and two undeserving winners. Like there was any doubt that The Sopranos would win? Now look, I'm in the camp that actually loved the way David Chase chose to end the series. And I was not only happy but also found it quite interesting that Emmy chose to award Chase with the Writing Award specifically for that final episode, "Made in America." However, I found the final season to be as uneven as the last few, and as important a show as The Sopranos was, it was not the best series of the 2006-07 television season. Of course, this was possibly the worst category in terms of nominees of the night with several more deserving series in absentia. Nevertheless, of the choices at hand, I would have given it to either House or Heroes, and more likely the latter which, from start to finish through 23 episodes was one of the most interesting and exciting regular hours of television this year.
As for 30 Rock, the series definitely grew into itself after a shaky start and become one of the season's best shows by the time it wrapped-up in May. And again, there are at least a few comedy series that should have been nominated yet weren't, especially when considering that the popular but stupid Two-and-a-Half Men was honored. Still, I think The Office was more deserving, especially when considering start-to-end consistency.
Last but not least: Why did this show run over its already-more-than-necessary three hours. Yes, it was only 15 minutes, but there was so much fat that could have been trimmed, and it's the same fat that's always there. Why can't some Awards show producer one day dispense with the crap enough to get the show to finish on time. Oh wait, you know who does that regularly? The Tonys. The crappy Tonys that nobody watches never runs one minute over because CBS won't let them. But at least they never utterly bore and run long. Take a lesson Emmy and Oscar.
There's more, but I'm wiped out and ready to move on to the new season. So goodbye Emmy 2007. Thank goodness you're done.