The five hosts: Heidi Klum, Tom Bergeron, Howie Mandel, Ryan Seacrest, and Jeff Probst. Probst lost his tie in a fight with a bear, apparently.Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
The Emmy ceremony on Sunday night was a stupefyingly bad show, even though it managed to get a lot of the awards right. Boring except when it was eye-poppingly terrible, the show still honored good work from Mad Men, 30 Rock, and the HBO miniseries John Adams. It was kind of like throwing a birthday party for someone you really like -- and serving tainted food.
Having five hosts was a bad idea; using the five nominated reality-show hosts turned out to be a much worse idea than it initially seemed.
For all that this will lead to a lot of smug commentary about the stupidity of reality shows, that wasn't the problem at all: With the exception of Heidi Klum, those hosts have demonstrated an ability to riff comfortably without help.
But the sheer number of people involved often made the stage look hopelessly cluttered, and it seemed to make them all edgy.
That's not to mention the true horror that was their "We've got nothing planned" opening, which fell on its face so spectacularly that it is probably, even now, having its fractured nose set by a surgeon.
The marginally successful visual gag of having all five of them -- including tall, glamorous Heidi Klum -- wearing dark suits was spoiled by Survivor host Jeff Probst's insistence on going without a tie and leaving his collar open. (Non-fans of Survivor have no way of knowing this, but Probst's need to look rugged and more-manly-than-thou plagues him everywhere, and this was no exception.)
More about the ceremony and the winners, after the jump...
The only host who looked good was Dancing With The Stars host Tom Bergeron, an underrated performer with a long history of hosting game shows and talk shows, who managed to seem relaxed and funny and would have been a perfectly lovely solo host.
The worst performance was from Klum, who looked grumpy and irritated the entire time, and who read from the teleprompter with all the flair of a local furniture-store owner making his first commercial.
The worst moment of the show not involving the hosts was Josh Groban's atrocious medley of TV theme songs, which was so bad that I'm glad it's on YouTube so you can see it for yourself. Were it not, you might well believe I had taken too much cold medicine and made it up:
This misbegotten thing was apparently supposed to be funny at times -- as you can tell from his performance of the South Park theme -- but mostly it was just a collection of Groban-ified versions of theme songs, as with The Jeffersons. Listening to nobody laughing at his increasingly manic antics hurt a little bit, and the chorus-girl kick line to "Suicide Is Painless" (from M*A*S*H) will appear for years to come on lists of the worst things that have ever happened on awards shows.
The winners were deserving, in most cases -- Mad Men and 30 Rock took Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Comedy respectively, and James Spader didn't repeat as Outstanding Lead Actor. He lost (in a development I told you was very unlikely, which is why I don't put down money on awards shows) to Bryan Cranston of AMC's Breaking Bad -- who did indeed beat the more talked-about Jon Hamm of Mad Men.
My heart was broken again, as I knew it would be, by the ridiculous repeat win for Jeremy Piven of Entourage, who took the Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy trophy that rightfully belonged to Neil Patrick Harris. (But without an injustice or two, it wouldn't be the Emmys.)
The Wire and Battlestar Galactica both lost that writing award to one of the Mad Men episodes, Tina Fey did win for Lead Actress In A Comedy, and The Amazing Race won Outstanding Reality-Competition Show for the sixth year running. (The Daily Show, also going for the sixpeat, took the prize as well.)
And now, a new season is beginning -- tonight brings the premieres of Dancing With The Stars, How I Met Your Mother, and Heroes -- and in a year, we'll do it all again.
But not, it's safe to say, with these hosts.