Everyone’s favorite messed-up meth saga did at last win the best drama award, so the night wasn’t a total wash, but all those highfalutin theses about the Netflix-y future of television failed to materialize. Claire Danes won lead actress (drama) for Showtime’s “Homeland” for the second year in a row, and, inexplicably, Jeff Daniels won lead actor (drama) for HBO’s “The Newsroom.”
“Modern Family” won best comedy series for what seems like the squillionth time, but it is really just the fourth. HBO’s Washington-based comedy “Veep” took two acting awards — Tony Hale for supporting actor, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for lead actress the second straight year. And Anna Gunn won for supporting actress (drama) for AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”
That’s most of the news, now for the snooze, starting with a dreary opening sketch that featured Harris locking himself in a multi-screen chamber to binge the entire 2012-13 season of every television show in a matter of minutes.
Once onstage, Harris was joined by former Emmys hosts (Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien), who needled him in one of those tiresome meta-routines in which all the comedy is directed at the existence of the show itself, in real time. The joke just got staler when an unamused Kevin Spacey, the star of Netflix’s hit “House of Cards,” turned and addressed the camera as House Majority Whip Francis Underwood, his fictional character from the show.
Later, Harris’s “How I Met Your Mother” co-stars confronted him in an intervention for “EHD” (excessive hosting disorder), treatable only at the “Ryan Seacrest Center for Excessive Hosting.”
Halfway through the evening, Harris finally brought out the jaunty song-and-dance routines, the main symptom of his EHD, with a number called “The Number in the Middle of the Show.” (Sample lyric: “The Emmy Awards are three hours long / Now there’s three minutes less to go.”) One can’t imagine a flashier way to demonstrate that Hollywood’s awards-show writers desperately need to think of a way to tell jokes that aren’t about telling jokes; to stage a show that’s not only about the show.
The best line of the evening came very early on from Merritt Wever, who seemed so shocked at winning the supporting actress Emmy for a comedy show (“Nurse Jackie”) that she went with her flusteredness and said: “I gotta go, bye.”
The rest of us (well, some of us) gotta stay, alas, in a listless position on the couch while the Emmys poked along as flatly as possible. The banter had no flair for comedy. The tributes — including short monologues from Robin Williams, Rob Reiner, Michael J. Fox and Jane Lynch (honoring the recent deaths of comic actor Jonathan Winters, “All in the Family’s” Jean Stapleton, producer Gary David Goldberg and “Glee’s” Cory Monteith) sometimes seemed stiff and, most curiously, clip-less.