The host's feeble wisecracking may have been meant to provoke, but provoke what?
The best moment of Seth MacFarlane's Oscars hosting gig may have come late in the night when, in announcing Meryl Streep, he said "our next presenter needs no introduction" ... and then just walked away.
If only he'd kept his mouth shut more frequently.
That's not to say the Family Guy and Ted creator made for an out-and-out terrible host. His lack of nervousness, his throwbacky radio-broadcaster voice, and his clean looks added up to a charisma score greater than zero, which is more than could have been said for James Franco. And at the very beginning of the evening, it seemed as though we were in for a tolerable if insider-y night: joshing about Ben Affleck's directing-award Oscar snub, referencing the unimpressed Tommy Lee Jones meme spawned at the Golden Globes, drawing knowing chuckles by observing that the film industry's big box-office haul this year meant Hollywood accountants had to "work harder to prove that nothing made a profit."
But then William Shatner was beamed in for a Family Guy-esque experiment in the meta. Captain Kirk had come from the future to reveal that the headlines the next day would proclaim MacFarlane the worst Oscar host ever, unless he changed his routine. Cut to a clip—from the future, see—of MacFarlane performing "We Saw Your Boobs," during which he essentially read off a Mr. Skin database of shirtless-actress appearances over time. The bit could have been a hilarious acknowledgement of MacFarlane's past idiocies—if it had been, like, five seconds long. But no: We got a full minute-plus of breast chronicling, followed by MacFarlane's definition-of-homophobic insistence to Shatner that he wasn't a member of the gay men's chorus he'd just sang with.