Sunday’s Emmy Awards proceeded on their usual annual course, allowing viewers to experience the unique pleasures of celebrities engaging in uncomfortable red carpet pre-show banter, followed by celebrities engaging in uncomfortable attempts to read lame jokes as they scrolled by on a teleprompter. (“It’s bizarre how much effort goes into something that can seem so phoned-in,” colleague Hank Stuever notes in his review of the Emmy telecast. So true.)
And yet there were some decidedly weird Emmy moments, ones that added a much needed dose of freakiness to what otherwise might have been a purely standard exercise in fashion marketing and trophy distribution. Some of those weird moments were delightful. Others were just plain awkward. These are the top five, in no particular order.
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Will Arnett takes over for Ryan Seacrest and interviews wife Amy Poehler
As red carpet pre-show host Ryan Seacrest helped legend Betty White off the raised E! interview stage, he tossed his microphone to Will Arnett and asked him to take over for sec. Brilliant move. Without a pause, Arnett launched into pre-show cheeseball mode, throwing questions at his wife and “Parks and Recreation” star while barely listening to the answers. Surely I wasn't the only viewer who wished he would keep his hand on that mic for the rest of the night and give Seacrest some time off.
Charlie Sheen shows up
As rumored prior to the Emmy telecast, the “Two and a Half Men” star indeed took to the stage, technically to present the Emmy that should have gone to Steve Carell, otherwise known as lead actor in a comedy. But he also took the opportunity to make amends with his former colleagues. “From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season,” he said, while making an expression that suggested he might wish at least a couple of other things, too. “We spent eight wonderful years together and I know you will continue to make great television.”
America waited for him to say, “Just kidding, guys. I’m still totally a fricking rock star from Mars and every last one of you in this audience is a troll.” But he didn’t. He seemed to be sincere, or at least sincere — as his recent interviews have suggested — about recrafting his image. Sadly, the camera never cut to Chuck Lorre for a choice reaction shot that would inevitably turn into a primo Internet meme. Missed opportunity..
For reasons that will likely remain a mystery to mankind for the remainder of our existence, someone thought it was a good idea to have the talented and affable Zachary Levi, Cobie Smulders from “How I Met Your Mother,” Taraji P. Henson, Kate Flannery from “The Office,” Wilmer Valderrama and Joel McHale assemble and sing a jaunty little number about each Emmy genre. Together, they would be called the Emmytones. And together, they would gamely soldier through this ongoing embarrassment throughout the course of the telecast.
The segment was at its worst, perhaps, when LL. Cool J popped in to rap about TV movies and miniseries, as if we’d all gain a better understanding of what “Mildred Pierce” and “Downton Abbey” had to offer when set to a hip-hop beat.
“The Office” parody
The best pre-taped bit of the night worked because it embraced the oddest cross-section of people, including Aziz Ansari, Creed from “The Office,” Aaron Paul from “Breaking Bad,” Tracy Morgan and Kim Kardashian, who finally admitted she has no idea what work is.
The Lonely Island medley
Andy Samberg. Michael Bolton crooning about Capt. Jack Sparrow in his SNL Digital Short pirate garb. Maya Rudolph dressed like a fashion-challenged Fly Girl. Ed Helms and John Stamos in the “**** in a Box” R&B singer roles, singing about three-ways. Akon boldly declaring “I Just Had Sex.” All this mash-up insanity can only be summarized in the insightful words Samberg spoke as he closed the Lonely Island number while wearing a sash that said Sex Champion: “Wack excellence.”