News Column

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Sonya Sorich column

September 23, 2013


Sept. 23--I think the Emmys suffered an identity crisis Sunday night.

The goal of the 2013 Emmy Awards should've been simple: honor recent achievements and milestones in the TV world.

Sure, they handed out some TV awards. However, it seemed like much of the show was devoted to oddly placed musical numbers...and a pretty big focus on death.

I'm all for paying tribute to entertainers who died recently. The ceremony featured stand-alone tributes for Jonathan Winters, Cory Monteith, David Goldberg, James Gandolfini and Jean Stapleton. (Monteith's tribute came with some controversy. Learn more here.)

In addition to those tributes, we got an "in memoriam" montage that included a variety of people from the entertainment world who recently passed away. No wonder one of the award recipients jokingly dubbed the show "the saddest Emmys of all time."

The somber tone felt even odder when paired with the show's other dominant element: musical numbers. Carrie Underwood seemed random and out of place while singing "Yesterday" to pay tribute to the '60s. While good in theory, a dance number celebrating TV choreographers appeared, well, a little cheesy.

Despite its chaotic formula and head-scratching wins -- Jeff Daniels, anyone? -- the show had some redeeming moments. Neil Patrick Harris was decent as a host. Merritt Wever from "Nurse Jackie" delivered a refreshingly short acceptance speech.

Michael Douglas gave the ceremony some energy while accepting an award for his role in "Behind the Candelabra" -- even if he had to rely on some juvenile humor to do so. Interestingly enough, Douglas also thanked his "wife, Catherine," despite news that they separated. (By the way, check out what Michael Douglas said backstage after his win.)

Here's the problem: Ceremony organizers want to achieve contemporary appeal while awarding TV shows that aren't always mainstream.

How would I improve things next year?

First, ditch all the "miniseries or movie" categories -- or make them significantly more exciting.

Second, make me want to watch the shows you're honoring. That means more clips, more montages and fewer dance numbers.

Finally, I'm all for some throwback appeal. But instead of having a 30-year-old singer pay tribute to the '60s, why not simply reunite some of our favorite TV casts? Just look at what the *NSYNC did for the MTV Video Music Awards.

Here's a full recap of the ceremony. Share your reactions in the comments section.


8:02 -- The show kicks off with a humorous segment in which host Neil Patrick Harris tries to watch a whole bunch of shows at once. Then, he takes the stage and delivers his monologue. He jokes about "Orange Is the New Black." The joke? "As Paula Deen now has to call it, 'Orange is the New African American.'" Awkward.

Previous hosts Jane Lynch, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien join him on stage for some comedic bits. Humorous shot of a spooky Kevin Spacey in the audience. "It's all going according to my plan," he says. From the audience, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler ask him to twerk. He declines the request.

8:16 -- With that, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler present the night's first award. Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series goes to Merritt Wever for "Nurse Jackie." Best acceptance speech ever: "Thank you so much. I've gotta go...bye." Yep, that's all.


8:24 -- Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series goes to Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield from "30 Rock."

8:27 -- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series goes to Tony Hale for "Veep." He calls the award "mind-blowing." He gives a shout-out to family in Macon, Ga. Learn about his Macon connection here.

8:29 -- Robin Williams pays tribute to Jonathan Winters, a comedian who died in April 2013.

8:37 -- So, what do you think of Jon Hamm's beard?

8:38 -- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series is Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "Veep." Tony Hale accompanies her on stage, holds her purse and adds some humor to the acceptance speech.

8:40 -- Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series is Bob Newhart. Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series is Melissa Leo.

8:42 -- Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series goes to Gail Mancuso from "Modern Family." She gets the music sendoff midway through her acceptance speech.

8:46 -- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series goes to Jim Parsons for "The Big Bang Theory." He gives a sweet, emotional acceptance speech. This is his third Emmy in that category.

8:49 -- Rob Reiner pays tribute to Jean Stapleton.

8:56 -- Elton John performs a new song, "Home Again," and dedicates it to Liberace. Side note: According to my Twitter feed, a lot of people changed the channel to "Breaking Bad" midway through this performance.

9:03 -- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie is Laura Linney for "The Big C: Hereafter." She's not at the ceremony.

9:10 -- Cute pre-taped comedy bit with the cast of "How I Met Your Mother" telling Neil Patrick Harris he has "Excessive Hosting Disorder." Arsenio even makes an appearance. They refer Neil to "The Ryan Seacrest Center for Excessive Hosting." Haha.

9:13 -- Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series goes to Henry Bromell for "Homeland." He tragically died earlier this year. Sad. His wife accepts the award in his honor.

9:14 -- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series is Anna Gunn for "Breaking Bad." She gives a pretty standard emotional acceptance speech.

9:17 -- Jane Lynch pays tribute to Cory Monteith.

9:24 -- Time for a highly anticipated musical number from Neil Patrick Harris. Sarah Silverman and Nathan Fillion make cameos. I'm impressed. Well, sort of.

9:29 -- Outstanding reality-competition program is "The Voice." Wow...I'm surprised it beat "The Amazing Race." Hey, at least this gives Carson Daly a chance to get on stage.

Shocked that The Voice won. Not so much for #SYTYCD but for #AmericanIdol. The first, the best and the program that changed the face of TV.

? Nigel Lythgoe (@dizzyfeet) September 23, 2013

I'm talking about over the 11 years American Idol changed the face of television across the World it didn't win an Emmy. Not just lately.

? Nigel Lythgoe (@dizzyfeet) September 23, 2013

9:38 -- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series is Bobby Cannavale from "Boardwalk Empire."

9:40 -- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series is Jeff Daniels for "The Newsroom." Um, I think he's chewing gum on stage. I can't see Jeff Daniels without thinking about "Dumb and Dumber." Go ahead and judge. Anyway, the Twitter world doesn't seem too happy about this one...seeing as he beat names like Bryan Cranston and Kevin Spacey.

9:43 -- Don Cheadle tells us about the power of TV in the '60s, chiefly due to historic events like the assassination of John F. Kennedy and The Beatles performing on TV.

9:46 -- Carrie Underwood pays tribute to the '60s. She sings "Yesterday." It's pretty...but I was expecting more. This whole segment seems incredibly random.

9:54 -- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series is Claire Danes for "Homeland." This is her third Emmy win. She acknowledges "Homeland" writer Henry Bromell, who died in March. Kerry Washington was nominated in this category. If she won, she would've been the first African-American winner in the category.

9:58 -- Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series is Dan Bucatinsky. Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series is Carrie Preston.

9:59 -- Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series goes to David Fincher for "House of Cards."

10:02 -- Outstanding Writing in a Variety Series goes to the team from "The Colbert Report." Stephen Colbert accepts the award while accompanied by the cast on stage.

10:06 -- Outstanding Directing in a Variety Series goes to Don Roy King for "Saturday Night Live." He says, "This is an embarrassment of riches."

10:09 -- Michael J. Fox pays tribute to Gary David Goldberg, the "Family Ties" creator who died in June.

10:14 -- Time to present the Outstanding Choreography Emmy. But wait...this is going to be cool. The nominees collaborate and choreograph a performance. The result? Neil Patrick Harris singing "Luck Be a Lady" and a whole bunch of TV-themed dancing is happening. Maybe this is one of the better parts of the show. But it doesn't seem to fit with a TV awards ceremony. Strangely, Daft Punk music is involved.

10:19 -- By the way, Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum won Emmys for Outstanding Reality TV Hosts.

10:20 -- Outstanding Choreography goes to Derek Hough for "Dancing with the Stars." This is a pretty big deal, since the majority of choreographers were from "So You Think You Can Dance."

10:22 -- Oustanding Variety Series goes to "The Colbert Report." Stephen Colbert accepts the award for the team. "I want to thank my mom for believing in me," he says. He also thanks Jon Stewart.

10:24 -- Edie Falco pays tribute to James Gandolfini.

10:33 -- Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or Movie goes to Abi Morgan for "The Hour." I like how she uses the expression "goodness me."

10:35 -- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Minseries or Movie is James Cromwell for "American Horror Story: Asylum." He's apparently the only actor to utter the phrase "Star Trek" on "Star Trek." Really, Emmy announcer?!? That's the coolest thing I've learned all night.

10:39 -- Time for the "in memorium" segment.

10:46 -- Best Directing for a Miniseries or Movie goes to Steven Soderbergh for "Behind the Candelabra." He keeps the speech short and I'm very grateful.

10:48 -- Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie goes to Ellen Burstyn for "Political Animals." I love how her granddaughter accompanied her to the show.

10:56 -- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie is Michael Douglas for "Behind the Candelabra." Hmm...I believe he's wearing his wedding ring. He thanks co-star Matt Damon and calls the performance "a two-hander." He says Matt deserves half of the award: "Do you want the bottom or the half?" OK, I see where this is going. More importantly, he thanks his "wife, Catherine" -- despite news that they separated.

10:59 -- Outstanding Miniseries or Movie is "Behind the Candelabra."

11:05 -- Oh man...Will Farrell is presenting the two most important awards of the night. With kids.

11:06 -- Outstanding Comedy Series is "Modern Family." Duh. While accepting the award, executive producer Steve Levitan jokes that this may be "the saddest Emmys of all time." TRUE STORY.

11:08 -- Outstanding Drama Series is "Breaking Bad."

11:10 -- We're done! What did you think?


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