The 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (2009). Host: Neil Patrick Harris.
It was an evening of toasting and awarding the best and brightest in primetime television, hope you tuned in, but if not here’s the rundown.
Apparently, the way to be a good host is to sing. And sing it LOUD. Whether it’s Hugh or Billy at the Oscars or anyone who hosts the Tony awards, the singing opening monologue is a sure crowd pleasure and a classy way to start the evening. That being said, Harris’ was nothing but class and smooth sailing, but wasn’t anything particularly memorable. And although being joyous and lightly clever throughout the evening, Harris was just merely enjoyable.
The Emmy’s design also took a similar approach to this past Oscars in March, by explaining the mechanics behind a part of the industry. Like the Oscars breakdown of the production process, the Emmy’s and Harris took a tour of the night’s stage, pointing out the parts of the show and the inclusion of the media/production room on stage. Even after each commercial break was over there were split screens of in the moment production shots of the evenings festivities. This marks new media’s continuous attempts to break down and reveal the mechanics behind the industry. Something the Tony’s shy away from as theater rather attempts to keep it all behind the curtain.
The evening was split up into 5 genres: comedy, reality, movie/mini-series, variety, and drama while saving the big series awards until the end. Instead of the usual flow of the evening, this division actually provided easy bookmarks for the show and allowed the night to move smoothly. These bookmarks and their introductions also gave more for Harris to do amidst his introductions of award presenters. With his gag of introducing people, mostly actors, using obscure and unknown jobs/performances they did, never getting old. What also does not get old is Ricky Gervais. Witty and wry as ever, his presentation begs the question, why hasn’t he hosted an award show yet?
The night’s winners held only a few surprises. Right out of the park Miss Kristen Chenoweth won for Pushing Daises, a show previously on the Emmy radar, but canceled by the ABC network. Also, Toni Collette’s win for HBO’s The United States of Tara, a show that was straining to be picked up, was a surprise despite her apparently being prepared with a “piece of paper.” Mostly it was also just nice to see Tina Fey not win for NBC’s 30 Rock. And although Alec Baldwin walked away with another award, it was just simply refreshing to see the awards passed around in comedy. However, both reality and variety genres stayed true to previous winners with the movie/miniseries category honoring some newbies.
It was also significant and refreshing to see some women receive awards for other than acting. However, they were predominately British or Irish women, most notably four women representing the BBC project Little Dorrit based on Charles Dickens novel of the same name. This is wonderful and illustrates how television can and should cross borders, cultures, and provide opportunities without sacrificing creativity and identity. Creativity that is more poignant each year with the “In Memorandum” section. Sarah McLaughlin lent her haunting vocals to the standard slide-show and was able to provide such atmosphere rather than distraction as everyone was reminded of the shortness of life and who has been lost both personally and creatively.
Speaking of Lost, Micheal Emerson’s supporting role win for the ABC hit was much deserved and will satiate fans like Cherry Jones’ win will for Fox’s 24. And with Glenn Close (FX’s Damages) and Bryan Cranston (AMC’s Breaking Bad) wins for best actress/actor in a drama, the evening was full of repeats. And what better repeat than 30 Rock and Mad Men for best comedy and drama, proving that good television can sustain interest and appeal. So although this didn’t make for an nail biting end of the evening for the television watchers, it certainly was a reinforcing one for those in the industry.
And as award show season officially kicks off and films start vying for nominations, be thankful that television will quietly continue for the rest of the year!