News Column

Emmys: The highs, the lows, the WTFs?

September 23, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 23--No one ever expects a TV awards show to be crisp, funny, smart and engaging, but the 65th annual prime-time Emmy Awards show was one of the worst in memory. And that's a line I will never write again, because I plan on forgetting the entire sad affair as quickly and permanently as possible.

Here are some highs, lows and what-was-thats from Sunday's show. May it rest in peace.

HOW I MET DISASTER: Neil Patrick Harris lost his crown as the most reliably entertaining awards show host around within the first minutes of the show. A typical Emmys exercise in self-congratulatory flatulence. The Kevin Spacey appearance didn't entirely stink.

BREAKING WIND: Vince Gilligan must be the only person in the universe who didn't expect "Breaking Bad" to win best drama. It was a shoo-in because even the dopey Emmy voters couldn't get this one wrong.

EXCESSIVE HURLING DISEASE: The silly "How I Met Your Mother" cast's take off on Excessive Hosting Disease was terrible. Worse, it went on way too long. Actually, that pretty much describes the nine-season run of "How I Met Your Mother."

SHORT/SWEET: Merritt Wever's acceptance speech for best supporting actress, comedy, for "Nurse Jackie": "Gotta go. Bye."

FIRST GOOD AWARD CHOICE OF THE NIGHT: Tony Hale, supporting actor, comedy, for "Veep."

SECOND GOOD AWARD CHOICE: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, lead actress, comedy, for "Veep."

THIRD GOOD AWARD CHOICE: Laura Linney for "The Big C."

FOURTH GOOD AWARD CHOICE: Anna Gunn for "Breaking Bad."

BEST PRESENTER: Will Ferrell. Best supporting presenters: His kids.

JON WE HARDLY KNEW YE: So was Emmy punishing Jon Stewart for taking that hiatus or has "The Daily Show" finally ceded front-runner status to "The Colbert Report"?

GIVE HIM A HAND: Michael Douglas accepting his win as Liberace in "Behind the Candelabra": "This was a two-hander," referring to co-star Matt Damon. Then to Damon: "Do you want the bottom or the top?" "Candelabra" justly wins best miniseries-movie.

A TOUCH OF CLASS: The master, Bob Newhart, wins best guest actor, comedy, for "Big Bang Theory." Another touch of class: An actual standing ovation for Newhart when he shows up to present an award with some guy named Parsons.

PUT 'EM AWAY, NPH: Harris dredging jokes from the dawn of time: "Jimmy Kimmel is really happy to be presenting with them ... I mean her," introducing Sofia Vergara. Jack Paar did that in the previous century introducing another buxom star: "Here they are, Jayne Mansfield." Who writes your material, George Jessel?

IN MEMORIAM: Rob Reiner's touching remembrance of Jean Stapleton, quoting Archie Bunker when Edith died: "You had no right to leave me that way, without giving me just one more chance to say I love you." We did. And we always will. Equally moving: Edie Falco remembering the warmth, talent and giant genius of James Gandolfini. "It's Jim, the man -- the very dear man -- that I will miss most of all."

TIMELESS: Diahann Carroll a picture of class as she observed, "The men are much more beautiful than when I was doing television." She then referenced Lloyd Nolan, and no one in the room reacted. Hey, he did all those Polident commercials, which is probably in the gift bags at this year's Emmys anyway.

OH COME ON: Jeff Daniels and Bobby Cannavale over Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in the actor/drama categories? Whatever credibility the Emmys had, and it wasn't much, just went down the drain. Unlike Jim Parsons, Paul deserved a third Emmy for his performance.

SAFE AT ANY SPEED: Awards to Jim Parsons, Claire Danes, "Modern Family."

GOODBYE YELLOW DRECK ROAD: What was the worst part of Sir Elton John's appearance? So much to choose from. Well, there was the wink-wink, nudge-nudge coyness about the whole gay thing. Dude, it's 2013. What was worse, so much worse, was the song, "Home Again." Whew, now I don't have to buy the new album.

-- For more coverage and photos from Sunday's Emmy Awards, go to www.sfgate.com

David Wiegand is The San Francisco Chronicle's executive features editor and TV critic. E-mail: dwiegand@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @WaitWhat_TV

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