Jan 172012

Arts Fuse TV Critic Molly Jay thinks that the Golden Globes telecast was a dud but that the group’s TV awards were mainly on target.

By Molly Jay.

Returning Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais -- this year most of his material was flat.

There are few awards shows more fun to watch than the Golden Globes. Perhaps it’s because it is one of the few times that television and film are recognized together. But more likely it’s because the guests can drink freely during the event, leading to candid onstage banter and unbridled acceptance speeches. This year’s Golden Globes telecast was one of the most hotly anticipated awards shows in recent years, and for one reason—returning host Ricky Gervais.

As many of you may recall, Gervais’s stint as host last year gave way to a flood of controversy. No subject was off limits—he drew the most flack for a wonderfully cutting joke about Scientology. Gervais had a ball shredding Hollywood’s elite to pieces, and the viewers at home loved watching him do it. He infused the show with a captivating electricity that is often missing from such programs. So when NBC announced that the acerbic-tongued Brit would be emceeing this year’s Golden Globe Awards, everybody was instantly excited for the big show.

Last year as soon as the telecast began, critics and viewers alike were Tweeting about Gervais’s routine, blogging as to whether he had gone too far. Unfortunately, such questions weren’t and won’t be raised regarding his routine at Sunday’s event. Though his opening monologue was heavy with his bitter and smug snark, Gervais’s jokes seemed a bit safe. Most of the material was stale—NBC, Kim Kardashian, and Justin Bieber—and many of the digs lacked his trademark edge (though he did get in a brilliant one-liner about Jodie Foster, who appeared to take the remark in stride). The monologue was amusing, but it fell a bit flat given expectations.

Gervais was at his best, however, after the monologue, when he introduced various presenters—especially Johnny Depp. Calling him “the man who will wear literally anything Tim Burton tells him to,” Gervais stayed at the podium to rib Depp a bit more about his 2010 bomb The Tourist. (Last year Gervais joked that the only reason the film received a nomination was because the HFPA accepted bribes.) Before leaving the stage, Gervais placed a hand on Depp’s arm and asked cheekily, “. . . have you seen The Tourist yet?” while giggling gleefully. After the audience applauded and Depp replied with a sheepishly good-natured (and seemingly honest) “No,” Gervais left the stage, grinning devilishly.

Sadly, Gervais didn’t make many more post-monologue appearances. It seemed that NBC used him more as a marketing ploy than as a host, which isn’t necessarily surprising, but it was disappointing. The rest of the telecast could have used more of Gervais’s electricity. With the exception of an awesomely adorable (and impressively in-tune) duet by husband-and-wife presenters Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, Tina Fey and Jesse Tyler Ferguson “photo-bombing” their friends, and the onstage appearance of the dog from The Artist when the film won Best Picture/Musical or Comedy, the awards show was fairly dull—trophies were doled out, and acceptance speeches ran long.

Perhaps our expectations were too high following the 2011 telecast, but it seems the 2012 show was just a dud. This year’s Golden Globes did little more than capitalize on the buzz from last year’s telecast, and one thing is clear: Next year’s show won’t have that luxury.

Bryan Cranston — he should have won a Golden Globe for BREAKING BAD.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out trophies at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards for the best in film and television in 2011. And while there were a few surprises, the HFPA mainly got it right, honoring what truly was the best in the year of TV.

In the Dramatic categories, Showtime’s freshman series Homeland took home the award for Best Series and Best Actress (Claire Danes), which was both expected and deserved. Surprisingly, Kelsey Grammer picked up the Best Actor statue for Boss, which should have gone to Bryan Cranston for his amazing portrayal of Walter White on AMC’s Breaking Bad.

In the Comedic categories, Modern Family won best series (the only network show to earn an award during the night), which was expected given its success at the 2011 Emmy Awards, where the show won Outstanding Comedy Series, Supporting Actor and Actress, Writing, and Direction in a Comedy. Back at the Globes, Episodes’ Matt LeBlanc beat out three-time winner Alec Baldwin and two-time winner David Duchovny for Best Actor. It’s nice to see LeBlanc finally get recognized—he has been nominated in this category three times before for his work on Friends and Joey. While I was hoping Amy Poehler would finally be recognized for her stellar work on Parks and Recreation, the Best Actress award instead went to Laura Dern for the critically acclaimed Enlightened. Frankly, Poehler deserved it more.

No one show dominated the TV-Movie or Miniseries categories. Luther’s Idris Elba and Mildred Pierce’s Kate Winslet picked up the two acting awards, and Downton Abbey went home with Best TV-Movie or Miniseries.

For reasons I will never understand, the HFPA condenses television’s entire year of supporting performances to only two categories, Best Supporting Actor and Actress in a Series (both comedy and drama), TV-Movie, or Miniseries. The result is an unfair, mismatched grouping, where Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith and Mildred Pierce’s Guy Pearce go head-to-head with Modern Family’s Sophia Vergara and Eric Stonestreet. When you have an ABC sitcom going up against an hour-long PBC dramatic miniseries, one would think it would be time to flesh out the categories a bit.

This year Peter Dinklage won Best Supporting Actor for his brilliant performance in Game of Thrones. And, in one of the more surprising (but extremely warranted) announcements, American Horror Story’s Jessica Lange took home the trophy for Best Supporting Actress.

While the television categories are not nearly as comprehensive as those at the Primetime Emmys, it’s nice to see so many worthy shows and actors get recognized. It’s still disappointing that Bryan Cranston and Amy Poehler left empty-handed—and that Kelsey Grammer won at all—but overall, the HFPA got it right.


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