Might as well just come out and say this at the top: The 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were boring and predictable, even held against the low standards set by most awards shows. But none of that was Jimmy Kimmel‘s fault.
In fact, Kimmel did a workmanlike job of keeping things going and keeping the mood light. Did he come up to the level that his friend and fellow late-night host Jimmy Fallon did two years ago? No, but when you’re constrained by a particular format, there’s something to be said about a performance where there were a few highlights and no moments of awkwardness and embarrassment.
Kimmel didn’t really provide the amused outsider’s view that we would have expected from him, but as promised, he did pull a prank by enlisting the help of the viewers and the always-funny Tracy Morgan. How many Emmycasts have you seen where a guy lies on a stage for 15 minutes, pretending he passed out? And kudos to Kimmel for “throwing out” his parents after he lost the variety series Emmy, accusing them of lying to him about being able to achieve it all. While they seemed genuinely surprised, their laughter told us that they get this kind of stuff from their funny son a lot.
Where Kimmel mostly stood out was during the pre-taped bits, especially the mercifully brief opening video where he sobbed over a Botox treatment gone wrong, and the Emmycast’s women helped him out by beating his face until it was right again (though boo on Claire Danes for not participating and kicking butt Carrie Mathison-style). His “In Memoriam” for himself was also funny, though in retrospect the time could have been better used giving some of the major winners a little more time to speak, as it seemed like one after another was played off the stage by the director, Glenn Weiss (who also won and was self-aware enough to play himself off at the end of his speech).
Other bits that stood out were the cast of “Modern Family” being scared of their youngest castmate, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, “Breaking Bad” being reimagined as an “Andy Griffith”-style family sitcom and the improvised takes of award winners Jon Stewart and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Not only did Stewart gamely let himself get tackled by fellow nominees Fallon and Stephen Colbert as the approached the stage to get yet another award for “The Daily Show,” he also gave the guy on the delay button cold sweats when he mentioned “How repetitive these f***ing things are.”
JLD and Amy Poehler improvised a fun bit where the “Veep” star started reading Poehler’s speech, causing the “Parks and Rec” star to dash to the stage and hand over a wadded-up copy of JLD’s speech. The academy should nominate Poehler every year if she continues to come up with boredom-busting bits like these.
But the broadcast overall dragged, with the producers deciding to put the deadly dull miniseries/movies category near the end and extend it over what seemed like an endless number of commercial breaks. In addition, while Ron Howard‘s tribute to Andy Griffith was well-done, we were left to wonder where the tribute to Dick Clark was, especially because a) the man helped put ABC on the map and b) he produced or hosted a vast number of big shows over the years. Yes, it was a year chock full of big-name TV passings, but Clark should have gotten more than just the final slot in the “In Memoriam” montage.
As for the awards themselves… well, what can we say besides: “Jon Cryer? What the what?” He was among the people we thought had no shot at winning an Emmy, especially given the others that were in the category. It almost makes us feel like the academy doesn’t watch comedy and just gives the award to the most familiar name. But even that doesn’t make any sense, since Cryer also beat out repeat winners Jim Parsons and Alec Baldwin. Let’s just say we haven’t been able to wrap our minds around that one yet.
We were happy to see “Homeland” break “Mad Men‘s” Emmy streak, as much as we like the AMC stalwart, and it was refreshing to see Damian Lewis get his due, even if it’s at the expense of “Breaking Bad‘s” Bryan Cranston. Still, we do wish “Bad” would win the big prize at least once, though it wouldn’t be the first all-time best show to never get a series win. Louis C.K.‘s humility after getting his two awards was refreshing, even if that’s what we expect from him.
Otherwise, the night felt like a case of “if you’ve won an Emmy already, you’re pretty much a lock to win one tonight.” At what point does “Modern Family” fall off the academy’s radar? The wins for it and Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen weren’t a surprise, but considering the show had a less-than-stellar third season and the competition was better this year, you would have hoped that the academy would have at least acknowledged there were other comedies out there. But that might not happen for at least another year. Sigh. At least we get to hear Steven Levitan make funny speeches … if he doesn’t get played off.