TV

Shock and awww: Sad, weird Emmys didn't make much sense

Sep. 23, 2013 at 8:50 AM ET

Image: Emmy Awards
Getty Images
Scenes from Sunday's Emmys, clockwise from top left: Host Neil Patrick Harris hoping for two thumbs up, Rob Reiner paying tribute to Jean Stapleton, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler stealing the show in 2 minutes, and Aaron Paul photo bombing "Breaking Bad" co-star Bryan Cranston.

Sunday night's Emmy Awards did itself no favors by going up against the second-to-last episode of "Breaking Bad," the acclaimed show that won the night's outstanding drama series award.

Those who chose to forgo catching up with Walter White's meth-filled world to watch the television industry celebrate itself didn't find nearly the drama they'd have found over on AMC. But they did find an equally puzzling land, where some decisions made perfect sense, and others seemed about as well-thought-out as ditching your teaching career for a horrific ride through the land of illegal drugs.

Rewind the DVR with us as we take another look at what made sense and what didn't.

Made sense: Neil Patrick Harris' selection as host. Who doesn't love Doogie/Barney, who can play off the ridiculous and the vapid with ease?

IMAGE: Nathan Fillion, Neil Patrick Harris, and Sarah Silverman
Chris Pizzello / AP
Neil Patrick Harris, center, with Nathan Filion and Sarah Silverman, is a beloved awards show host who was misused at the Emmys Sunday night.

Didn't make sense: The poor use of Harris, who began with an excruciatingly boring setup where he imagined TV shows were talking to him, then took the stage to be harangued by former hosts of the show. His middle-of-the-show song-and-dance number was fun, but he was wasted again in a weirdly interpretative dance number of the year's best drama nominees. Did a frustrated dance major decide to present this via the nominees for best choreography? Does the world really need to see two Hazmat-suited men dancing with "Breaking Bad"-shaped periodic table element cubes? 

Made sense: The two people at the Emmys with perhaps as much stored public goodwill as Harris were Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who were the two highlights of that opening segment. Their goofball antics — chomping popcorn, wearing 3-D glasses and urging Harris to twerk — were typical Fey and Poehler gold.

Didn't make sense: Fey and Poehler were there, they seemed game — why not use them more? Even their clowning pratfall as they climbed the stage stairs in heels was more entertaining than most of Harris' lines.

Is this the end? We hope not. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler take a funny tumble on the way to the stage at the Primetime Emmys.
Mike Blake / Reuters
Is this the end? We hope not. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler take a funny tumble on the way to the stage at the Primetime Emmys.

Made sense: It was a tough year for Hollywood — James Gandolfini, Annette Funicello, Larry Hagman, Jean Stapleton and so many other iconic faces were lost to death. So it was only logical that the Emmys would want to honor its past and draw attention to the great actors, directors and others who passed away.

Didn't make sense: But not this way. Only a few people — Gandolfini, Stapleton, Jonathan Winters, writer Gary David Goldberg, "Glee" star Cory Monteith — were given individual tributes. And those tributes were delivered — though lovingly by friends — in stiff, book-report style. Wouldn't our fond memories of these legends have been better served by brief clip reels in which we saw the stars actually acting, making us laugh or cry, as they did on-screen? What would've garnered more smiles and applause, Rob Reiner remembering his TV mother-in-law, or sweet Stapleton admonishing "Aww-chee" in that way only Edith Bunker could?

Made sense: The new love for Netflix, the network that doesn't even show its programming on television but still earned 14 nominations, felt proper and timely. Netflix is blazing trails with shows such as "House of Cards" and "Hemlock Grove," and the Emmys were quick to recognize this new serious player.

Image: Kevin Spacey
Mike Blake / Reuters
Can we talk? "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey performs a cutaway scene during the opening act at the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Didn't make sense: That said, only "House of Cards" won anything, claiming a directing Emmy for David Fincher and two Creative Arts Emmys, one for cinematography and one for casting. Kevin Spacey about stole Harris' opening bit when he broke the fourth wall by turning to the audience, as his congressman character does on "Cards," and bragging about how the skit was all his plot to bring Harris down. Keyser Soze's still got it.

Made sense: It would've been a crime along the lines of anything Walter White perpetrated had "Breaking Bad" been ignored in this, its final season. No program has been talked about more, no program has been more ground-breaking in recent weeks. The show deserved its best drama Emmy and it was nice, too, to see overlooked Anna Gunn, who shines weekly as poor Skylar, win for best supporting actress.

Didn't make sense: But then Cranston loses to Jeff Daniels for "The Newsroom"? And Aaron Paul to Bobby Cannavale of "Boardwalk Empire"? Not taking anything away from their work, but it seems hard to grasp exactly why Daniels and Cannavale were the better choices this year.

Made sense: Bob Newhart making a too-brief appearance — he's still got that smile, and that voice. Will Ferrell and kids lighting up the biggest two awards of the night with typical Ferrell humor. Claire Danes' classy speech highlighting the work of the late "Homeland" writer Henry Bromell, who died in March, yet claimed a posthumous Emmy Sunday night. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and fellow Emmy winner Tony Hale reprising their roles as vice-president and toadying lackey while she accepted her award. All bright moments in a night that had far too few of them.

Didn't make sense: Perhaps the incongruity of the night can be best summed up by the show's bizarre tribute to 1963 that included Carrie Underwood singing "Yesterday," a Beatles song from ... 1965? At a time when television should be celebrating its exciting new changes and today's groundbreaking shows, the industry's major awards show chose to awkwardly look back.

Image: Louis-Dreyfuss accepts the award for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series for her role in HBO's "Veep" as co-star Hale looks on at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.
Mike Blake
Stars gather to celebrate and honor the best and the brightest in television.


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