Thoughts on the 2009 Emmys

Tina Fey and Jon Hamm of 30 Rock and Mad Men

Tina Fey and Jon Hamm of 30 Rock and Mad Men

Although Neil Patrick Harris, in his dual role as host and producer, tried valiantly to make the Emmys legendary, in the end they were only “Legen”, let down by the utterly predictable winners.  Hoping to bounce back from last year’s lowest rated Emmy telecast ever, the Academy seemed to be ready for change. New faces like Simon Baker (The Mentalist) and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) were nominated, the nomination categories were expanded to allow the inclusion of shows with popular appeal, like Family Guy and How I Met Your Mother, and a new addition asked viewers to vote online for their breakthrough moment.  With the selections being from Gossip Girl, American Idol, and True Blood, it’s very clear exactly which demographic the producers hoped to capture, but under the shiny new coat of paint were the same old flawed Emmys.

The show got off to a great start, with an opening number from Harris written by the men behind the new Broadway-bound adaptation of Catch Me If You Can, and delivered one great surprise in the form of a win for Kristin Chenoweth. With the much loved Pushing Daisies in the ground, she wasn’t the expected choice for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy but she was certainly a deserving one. The win caused Chenoweth to, in this wonderful word choice from the Emmy Awards live blog by The Live Feed, lose “it in adorable squeaky tears”.

Unfortunately, at least as far as the winners went, the awards promptly spiraled downhill from here. With 4 of the 5 nominations for Best Writing in a Comedy taken by 30 Rock, there really wasn’t another way the category would go. In perhaps the only other surprise of the night Toni Colette took home the trophy for Best Actress in a Comedy for United States of Tara and Jon Cryer(?!) won for Best Supporting Actor. I’m just waiting for the Kanye macros on this one, as is The TV Addict who tweeted “Jon Cryer… where’s Kanye when you need him?”

“Jon Cryer I’m real happy for you and imma let you finish but  Neil Patrick Harris had one of the best Supporting Actor in a Comedy performances of all time!”

Two-time Emmy Winner Jeff Probst.

Two-time Emmy Winner Jeff Probst.

I’ve never been a Survivor fan and couldn’t care any less about Jeff Probst and his dimples taking home the Best Reality Host award for the second year in a row, but he does have my respect for commending Neil Patrick Harris with “This is how you host the Emmys!”, referring to the dismal performance last year of the five nominees in his category. The Amazing Race took home the award for Best Reality Show once again. Backstage Probst suggested that Race should pull an Oprah and withdraw themselves from the category in order to make room for other nominees. Race producers replied that this was unlikely.

Tabitha and Napoleon’s hip hop number was well done but short. Still, I enjoyed the glimpse of quirky Mark Kanemura.

I don’t know anyone who has actually watched the nominees for Best miniseries and TV movie each year. The only one of the lot I had seen was 24: Redemption, but on a purely shallow level I did enjoy hearing Irish actor Brendan Gleeson’s acceptance speech.

As most have pointed out, the majority of the Emmys audience probably didn’t get the Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog segment at all, but this TV enthusiast adored it. As we’ve come to expect from the Whedon brothers, with the exception of some of Dollhouse, the writing was smart, and Neil (as the titular villain) and Nathan Fillion (as his nemesis Captain Hammer) nailed (yup, pun intended and I make no apologies) the segment, joking about the decreased screen size of the Internet and the buffering message familiar to us all, and even sneaking in a Tonys reference. I’d also hazard a guess that fans of Whedon will be using the phrase “sofa monkeys” in the future.

The other high point of the show, as usual, was Ricky Gervais. The British actor got in the following jabs about theEmmy broadcast quality and its ratings, “Better than last year, isn’t’? Though that was always in the cards wasn’t it?” and “That joke just for the 5,000 people in this room, not for the 5,000 people watching at home.” The Daily Show took home an award for Outstanding Comedy/Variety show and the team behind Hugh Jackman’s Oscar opening number deservedly won for Best Original Song/Lyrics.

Michael Emerson’s second win for his supporting role in Lost was deserved but expected, while Cherry Jones took home an award for her role as the President of the United States on 24.

Bill and Sookie's first meeting was voted "breakthrough performance".

Bill and Sookie's first meeting was voted "breakthrough performance".

Throughout the show, viewers were reminded that they could vote online for Best Breakthrough Performance, choosing between three nominees. Although the segments, hosted by So You Think You Can Dance‘s Cat Deeley, were meant to appeal to a younger female demographic, they only served to draw attention to the fact that one of the classiest hosts on television was one again snubbed. There’s always next year Cat. The performances themselves, taken from American Idol, Gossip Girl, and True Blood, were, much like the Emmys themselves, uninspiring. Predictably, the much loved HBO drama won the popular vote.

Like in the comedy category, the award for Best Writing in a Drama was dominated by one show and if you can’t guess this one then you’re not much of a TV enthusiast are you? Yup, it’s Mad Men. The night wrapped up with a series of wins, each more predictable than the last, as Glenn Close took Best Actress for Damages, last year’s winner Bryan Cranston took home a second trophy for Breaking Bad, and yes 30 Rock and Mad Men were named Best Comedy and Best Drama, respectively.

The general verdict is that Harris did the very best he could, changing up the order of awards, keeping the show moving, and presenting a look at what goes on behind the scenes of the Emmys. Maybe if he had also singlehandedly chosen the winners the show would truly have been legendary.

A complete list of the 2009 Emmy Award Winners can be found here.

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