In Defense of the Emmys

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The initial Twitter response to last night's 62nd Emmy awards--like the initial Twitter response to just about anything--was less than positive. The show was too long. Host Jimmy Fallon's song parodies were stale. The wrong people won. NBC was somehow screwing everything up. Not surprisingly, a more balanced assessment of the evening emerged in the morning's day-after recaps.

  • A Running Start  The unquestioned highlight of the evening was the pretaped opening number, a "Glee"-inspired performance of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run," (embedded below) featuring--among others--Fallon, Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Joel McHale, Jane Lynch, Jorge Garcia, and Randy Jackson. It was hardly a spot-on performance (only Hamm and Jackson nailed Springsteen's signature growl), but it set the tone for the evening, argues the Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara. "By using current touchstones as diverse as Kate Gosselin and Betty Whites the number brought a palpable energy to the room, and the screen," writes McNamara. "It also served as a crucial reminder that nothing moves these things along better than humor, and a little humility (can you imagine any Oscar nominee taking a red slushee in the chest during the opening number?)."
  • Consider the Event  NPR's Linda Holmes was just happy to see a ceremony with a little verve. "It was a startlingly good show," writes Holmes, "particularly given the Emmys' well-earned reputation for dull, inexplicable repeat winners and very little actual entertainment." Holmes says the ceremony's producers were clearly working from the blueprint that has made 'Glee' a breakout hit. When "everyone is having a transparently wonderful time," writes Holmes, "you're most of the way there already, whether the performance is perfect or not."
  • Fresh Faces  Surprise wins by Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad"), Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer"), and Archie Panjabi ("Modern Family"), left some viewers grumbling, but Time's James Poniewozik believes the upsets kept the evening fresh, even if he didn't agree with them. "Even in the categories I thought Emmy got wrong, it at least showed a willingness to break out of its rut," concedes Poniewozik. "How much so? 'The Amazing Race,' which I am pretty sure has been winning Competitive Reality Show since well before the actual invention of television, was compelled to pack its knives and go by 'Top Chef.'"
  • The Fallon Factor  Forbes' Lacey Rose says host Jimmy Fallon (who took over "Late Night" from Conan O'Brien last year when O'Brien left for his ill-fated stint on "The Tonight Show") was a revelation, and takes at least some of the heat off NBC's beleaguered late night programming division. Fallon's performance "gave the network and its executives plenty to be proud of Sunday evening," writes Rose. " Fallon's collection of pre-taped bits and laugh-out-loud musical numbers provided a much-needed comedic jolt to a historically tedious awards show." Fallon also showed nerve, Rose argues, with his willingness to "[serve] up the kind of NBC-themed quips displaced host Conan O'Brien no longer has the megaphone--or the legal capability--to dish."
  • Ricky to the Rescue  Ricky Gervais' was a love-him-or-hate-him host of the Golden Globes last year, but The Washington Post's Jen Chaney says his possibly NSFW riffs on--among other things--best direction in a variety, comedy or music special winner Bucky Gunts made him the "best presenter of the night." Says Cheney: "As hard-working and energetic as Fallon was, let's be honest: during his five minutes on stage, Ricky Gervais was more bitingly funny."
  • Flat Twitter Jokes  One aspect of the night's festivities almost universally recognized as a flop? Fallon's periodic sampling of Twitter responses to the show. This was perhaps inevitable, suggests the Associated Press' Jake Coyle. "Few places in broadcasting," notes Coyle, "are more likely to exhibit an awkward relationship with social media than award shows. They have all tried various gimmicks, and those trotted out Sunday night by the Emmys fell flat." Still, there was "reason to have hoped for better [results] this time," considering that Fallon is an "avid Twitter user with nearly 2.8 million followers [whose] "Late Night" show has successfully embraced social media." Instead, Coyle writes, the use of Twitter was "clunky," and the tweets themselves just weren't funny enough to sustain the bit.

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