The show really took a turn for the dull when Charlie Sheen came onstage — after all that we have been through; the audience clenched at the sight of him here — and had only drippingly warm good wishes for his former colleagues at “Two and a Half Men.”
The point of an Emmy Awards telecast, besides fashion and sideways advertising and cross-promotion for the fall shows, is to be light and hilarious. Alec Baldwin declined to come to the show after producers cut a pretaped skit in which he made a joke about the British phone-hacking scandal that has wracked Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns Fox, which broadcast the Emmys this year.
But that’s the exact sort of thing this show needed. Oh, how far we’ve come from last year’s far more kinetic production, hosted by Jimmy Fallon over on NBC — which, I seem to recall, included plenty of swipes at NBC and the then-still-seething Leno/Conan fiasco.
Thus, in more ways than one, funny was elusive at this year’s Emmys: A category motif featuring the “Emmytones” singers (a group that included “The Office’s” Kate Flannery, “Community’s”Joel McHale, “Person of Interest’s” Taraji P. Henson and Wilmer Vilderrama) was one of those bits that needed to be abandoned, not repeated all the way through. Amy Poehler and her fellow comedy-actress nominees pulled off a pitch-perfect bit behaving like Miss America contestants as the award was announced. The Emmy went to Melissa McCarthy for CBS’s heavy-set sitcom “Mike and Molly.” Everyone likes her a lot, but can some of us pretend this award was actually for her part in the film “Bridesmaids”?
Ricky Gervais showed up, early and pre-recorded, because, he joked, “During any award ceremony, I’m not even allowed on American soil.” That, in reference to the now distant memory of his Golden Globes hosting last January, an overblown controversy that we should have stopped talking about long ago. (In fact, most of us have.) “Someone didn’t get enough hugs from Mommy and now it’s Hollywood’s fault,” Lynch quipped, reading the lines written (mostly badly) for her.
Poor Jane. She tried it all: A sketch in which she played a sinister New Jersey reality show boss. A tepid opening musical number (“TV is a vast wonderland,” she sang at the beginning of the show. “A world of enchantment and awe/ A liquid-crystal paradise, a high-def Shangri La.” A vast wonderland? Prove it) that had her waltzing on to “Big Bang Theory” and “Mad Men” sets alike. She came out onto a bright-orange, circa-1987 stage set at the Nokia Theater, finishing the dance number in a silver gown that seemed to be made from Jiffy Pop foil. “Try doing that in triple Spanx,” she huffed. She even made lesbian jokes about herself. Nobody cared. Someone be very nice to her tomorrow.