Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Emmy After thoughts

Since I was not invited to any Emmy After Parties...

I always write my reviews immediately after the show. Several reasons: Post it while it’s hot. By Wednesday everyone will forget the Emmys even occurred (except for those who lost – they’ll be bitter until Friday). Also, by posting early no one can accuse me of stealing someone else's material. And face it, how many two-headed Sarah Paulson jokes are there out there?

I never read any other reviews until I’ve posted mine. I don’t want to be influenced by them (not that the Hollywood Reporter is going to change my opinion about anything). So much to my surprise when I did check out the critical reaction this morning, most TV critics loved Andy Samberg. I don’t know what show they were watching, but ohhhh-kay. I decided to re-screen the opening monologue. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I was too harsh.

Nope. It was terrible.

This is the second time in two weeks I’ve disagreed with the critics. I was underwhelmed by the first Colbert late night talk show and many of them raved as if he was Jesus Christ Himself or Jon Stewart. I stand by my stands, but now worry – I’m really looking forward to SUPERGIRL. What if they love it? Will I be switching over to MNF by the first commercial? It’s gotten good buzz, which concerns me. But there is also some pushback because it’s SuperGIRL and not SuperWOMAN or SuperOPRAH  So there’s a chance, and I've got to take it.

Believe it or not, I go into these award show reviews hoping I will love them. And sometimes I do. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler’s hosting of the Golden Globes was a delight. It is possible to deliver a killer monologue. Award shows aren’t required to have Seth MacFarlane or Heidi Klum host. What’s more thrilling than sharing in someone’s ultimate moment of triumph and getting swept up in their genuine emotion?  All all before the play-off music. 
Remember, if you hate the show you can always switch to SNF, but since I’m reviewing them I have to stick it out till the bitter end. I would much rather be entertained than tortured. Unfortunately, the latter is true more often than not. And by the way, if you ever do attend a Primetime Emmys ceremony you’ll notice that by hour two half the industry is in the lobby.  Attendees don't like the show either.  Trust me, the OLIVE KITTRIDGE winners were giving their acceptance speeches to seat fillers. (Hey, here’s an idea: let TV critics be seat fillers. They’re the only ones who seem to like the show anyway.)

Yes, bad shows are easier targets. And they generally lead to funnier recaps. But I personally, would be happier to report that I loved the show. And even in reviews that are pans I still try to be fair and point out things I thought worked or moved me.

Some readers thought I was too snarky. Um, I’m always too snarky. As the great Larry Gelbart used to say, “If you write something that offends no one go back and do it over.” Like I said, I try to be fair, but come on people, this is a HUMOR blog. I’m trying to provide laughs here. And perhaps an observation or two that you hadn’t thought of.

If I’m not entirely politically correct, that’s by choice. I warned you in the first line of my review that snark was on the way. You were welcome to click over to the recap of SNF.

I mean, let’s get real. Whenever there is an Emmy or Oscar party, what do people do the entire night? Of course! Make ass fun of every dress, scream at winners to get the hell off already, and generally take potshots at any actor who uses the words “genius,” “journey,” “courage,” or “management team.”

You don't even have to go to a party anymore.  You can just sit home and live tweet. 

This year’s Emmy broadcast received the lowest ratings in the show’s history. Whoever produces the show next year, please make it better. Nothing would tickle me more than to write how much I loved it, and don’t worry that I won’t have enough funny stuff to write. There’s always the KTLA Red Carpet show.


Peter said...

I don't think any awards show or red carpet show can rival the moment when Danielle Demski asked Rashida Jones if she'd been on holiday because she looked really tanned.

VP81955 said...

Want better ratings for the Emmys? Schedule the Jacksonville Jaguars on NBC's "Sunday Night Football." (Good luck making that happen.)

ScottyB said...

I don't think @KenLevine has been too far off the mark with most everything, especially on his review of Cobert's debut show. But scratching deeper off the surface (especially given Ken's "we'll see how this shakes out in the weeks ahead to see it has any legs"), I've been pretty pleased with Colbert's performances while interviewing people of importance. His interview with presidential candidate Ted Cruz was stellar and at least for me, was a throwback to decades-ago late-night hosts like Dick Cavett who actually left us with something of substance. Johnny Carson was a great entertainer and an adept interviewer, but those were simpler times.

I think Colbert's show is shaping up to be something very interesting — but above all, something *useful*.

mmryan314 said...

Ken- You are not wrong in your review of Andy Samberg. I love Andy, he`s one of my favourite comedian/writers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is terrific but he seemed uncomfortable all night as the host. It almost made me uncomfortable like when you watch your own kid sink on a stage or something.

Peter J. said...

Colbert's celebrity chats are marginally better than James Corden, whose fawning "interviews" resemble The Chris Farley Show. He's better when he's off-the-cuff with political figures, but in those he's just playing a slightly less funny version of the old show's Stephen Colbert character.

The current late-night hosts are in a never-ending battle for "likes", at the expense of substance. Bring back Jon and Dave and Craig and Dick and Johnny. (Just not Jay. Please!)

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

A Show ABOUT Television should entertaining. It should be a lay up. Right?
We love TV and we spend hours just waiting and flipping for someone entertaining on it.

Let's face it...no one likes Award shows. Other than looking at fashion or the pretty ladies in fashion, is there a real reason a regular guy/gal would want to watch all the beautiful people being self-congratulatory?

Especially if they are NOT going to be entertained?

I used to watch the Oscars for Carson or Billy Crystal.
Since I have no skin in the game, I have no interest.

blinky said...

Too snarky?!?!? Now way. More snark, please. I am a fan of your wit and wisdumb. I am happy to read your musings on any subject. Do not under any circumstance get politically correct. You are super sparkle awesome power!

Jeff :) said...

I watched the entire show, and in my humble opinion the problem wasn't Andy Samberg. He was a serviceable host. I found his monologue humorous for the most part. A few clunkers joke wise, but that can be said about most hosts on most award shows.

To me the problem essentially boiled down to this. You selected Andy Samberg as host. Similarly to when they picked Seth MacFarlane to host the Oscars, the goal obviously was to try and appeal to a younger crowd. Andy Samberg is known notoriously for his silly Saturday Night Live sketches and music videos (Dick in a Box, I'm On a Boat, etc). A lot of older viewers would not be overly familiar with Samberg's work.

Yet nearly all of the nominations were for shows that are geared towards an older audience. Newsroom, House of Cards, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, Olive Kitteridge, etc etc. There were literally categories where I didn't know who half of the nominees even were.

I can imagine that if younger viewers tuned in and saw awards being won for Transparent, they were probably thinking, "I've never even heard of that show!". So you got the worst of both worlds. Younger audiences that could relate to the host but completely turned off by the shows and actors nominated, and older audiences who watch the shows being nominated, but hated the host because his humor is not geared towards them.

I maintain that's why Billy Crystal is a success as the Oscar host. I absolutely hate Billy Crystal. I consider him cringe worthy, but he appeals to an older audience, which most of the nominations for the Oscars also appeal to.

MrCarlson said...

I like my emotional speech delivered with genuine emotion. That's why I don't like agenda driven speeches, because, by their very nature they eliminate the basic emotional ingredient, which, in my view is spontaneity. If emotions are not spontaneous they are not genuine. That's why, although everybody lauded Viola Davis, I hated her speech, this isn't Roots, it's the Emmy telecast. On polar opposites of genuine speeches were Uzo Aduba, Regina King, but, best of all, Tracy Morgan, who gave a heartfelt speech without needing to win anything for it. That coupled with his former castmates laughing and crying at the same time while he was up there, made that a heart wrenching genuine moment, that, coupled with Hamm finally winning, made for one of the best moments of the night.

Anonymous said...

Who or what is Olive Kittridge????

gottacook said...

A question unrelated to personalities (although, as I wrote yesterday, Fox should have chosen Andre Braugher as host):

How is it that programs and series made for cable TV ended up competing in the same Emmy categories as conventional network shows? It's patently unfair for a series that produces 22 episodes a year to have to compete against one that produces 8 or 10.

I know there was once such a thing as the CableACE awards, but know nothing about how that went away and/or was merged into the Emmys - maybe someone here has a link to the true history?

(We don't have cable, by choice; can't see paying for commercials, which all except premium channels seem to be chock full of. Netflix, of course, offers many series that originated on cable, and those that it doesn't, I can wait to see.)

VP81955 said...

I know there was once such a thing as the CableACE awards, but know nothing about how that went away and/or was merged into the Emmys -- maybe someone here has a link to the true history?

Trying to imagine the press reaction if the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW) went the CableACE route in reverse and instituted their own over-the-air-broadcast awards (the Otabs?). It would be received with derision from many TV snobs, I fear.

littlejohn said...

FOR GOD'S SAKE...DO NOT STOP THE SNARK !!! If anything, fire away more. Most of us tune in for a professional's view of a world we are fascinated by, however, we want a view with an edge. We're NOT looking for a documentary for Pete's sake...end of rant.

By the way, what's your beef with robots ? I see that if I am a robot, as opposed say to simply being robotic, that I can't post. Are you a robot racist ? A robot hater ? A closet robot yourself ? Hmmm, that might explain your fascination with baseball.

Keep up the great work .


Jon B. said...

The Emmy show was bad. The ratings were bad. Had the show been good, the ratings still would have been bad.

Next year, the show could be great. Even if it turns out that way, it won't mean the ratings will be any better.

Ratings and quality aren't tied together. If new host A knocks it out of the park next year and creates enough buzz and then agrees to return the following year, the ratings might be impacted by the quality in the future.

But even then a good NFL match-up (like this year) could significantly impact the ratings more than anything else.

Dave Creek said...

"How is it that programs and series made for cable TV ended up competing in the same Emmy categories as conventional network shows?"

Because it's all television. How finely would you parse this idea? Would shows originating on Netflix and Amazon have their own awards, as well? What about upcoming limited series on broadcast television like the new X-Files episodes? Where would they fit?

John Hammes said...

The CableACE awards originally aired every January, then moved toward year's end late in the run. Presenters and acceptors were gracious in moments of triumph, though sometimes acknowledging that nobody was watching/knew that the telecast was scheduled/knew even what a CableACE was. Actually a fun broadcast with speeches kept (mostly) succinct and actually ending (mostly) on time. Cirque du Soleil were musical guests one year (mid '90s ?) so they did pretty decent on talent. Kinda miss it, actually.

Raise the ratings for the Emmys? Give the telecast the whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. An ingenious idea, if I do say so mysel -- oh, wait a minute.
The twittersphere already serves that purpose: We are ALL MST3K...

(Channeling Gilda Radner: "...nevermind..." ) .

John Hammes said...

Negected to mention, by the late '90s, basic cable was finally reaching the large, mainstream audience that over-the-air networks had held for generations. As mentioned above, the Emmys were already merging cable offerings with the "traditional" networks. CableACE, seeing their contributions successful and their particular era complete, willing rode off into the sunset.

Speeches kept (mostly) succint and actually ending (mostly) on time... dang. Now I REALLY miss it.

Sal said...

Wait, this is a humor blog?

MikeK.Pa. said...

"And face it, how many two-headed Sarah Paulson jokes are there out there?"
Sad that Sarah didn't win. She was great in AMS. This was the rare case in which two heads weren't better than one.

"So much to my surprise when I did check out the critical reaction this morning, most TV critics loved Andy Samberg."
Imagine if Fox's first choice, Homer Simpson, had hosted.

"I was underwhelmed by the first Colbert late night talk show and many of them raved as if he was Jesus Christ Himself "
In that vein, don't be surprised if the Pope doesn't show up in Colbert's guest chair. He's in NYC Thursday and Friday.

"Award shows aren’t required to have Seth MacFarlane or Heidi Klum host."
But Heidi's a lot better to look at than Seth, or Andy. Aging like fine wine.

"But there is also some pushback because it’s SuperGIRL and not SuperWOMAN or SuperOPRAH."
FYI. You do realize that saying SuperOPRAH is redundant.

Finally, it was cool that Bill Murray blew off the Emmys for his son's wedding. I'm sure he would have found another reason to blow them off, but in typical Murray fashion he was out and about town the night before buying drinks and posing for photos.

Gary said...

Ken, any thoughts and/or personal stories about Jack Larson, TV's original Jimmy Olsen, who died this week at 87? For Superman fanatics in my age bracket (old), this was like losing a good friend.

Unknown said...

I agree with you 98% of the time (Jon Stewart, I don't get it)

One show you will NOT have to make fun of come Emmy time 2016 "Life in Pieces". This show is a piece alright a piece of crap. So this maybe a Friday question. How, no how the hell, did this make it to air? Is it because it has Tom Hank's kid in it? I don't get it. All of the punch lines are so predictable it's scary. I'm saying the lines before the actors and I don't have a script. I'm not blaming the writers so much as blaming the suits who told them what they want. Really? Has the country as a whole gotten that stupid?

Somebody please give Ken a job! Please it's for the good of the country if not humanity.

Unknown said...

More snarkbell, please.

Don Reed

D. McEwan said...

I will confess I enjoyed Andy Samberg. Have I seen better? Oh yes, but I enjoyed him.

Don't mean to put you off Supergirl in advance, but I've seen the pilot and I thought it was very good.

Diane D. said...

I have to disagree with the commenter who said, "Let's face it, no one likes Award Shows." I have always loved them, even the years when they're not as engaging as one would like. There will always be awkward and uncomfortable moments, disappointments, boredom, and outrages. But there will also be charming and heartwarming moments, justified recognition of outstanding work, and (hopefully) laugh out loud funny moments.

For those of us who are not a part of that world, it's a chance to see which actors, writers, and other creative people are considered worthy of being honored by their peers. It's easy to forget what a brutal business it is, and what courage, commitment, perseverance, and sacrifice are commonly required in order to succeed. Most of us ordinary people couldn't endure in a lifetime, the amount of rejection most of these people are accustomed to getting in any given year (especially in the early days of their careers).

I think they deserve any awards they get, and I am forever grateful for the many hours of laughter, tears, excitement, and wonder that I have experienced because of film and television.

mdv1959 said...

The ratings being down had a lot more to do with Seattle-Green Bay than anything in the show.

I liked the Samberg pre-taped opening and thought the monologue was serviceable if not predictable given the politics of Hollywood. I thought the Samberg / Seth Meyers bit was funny, the Kimmel intro was funny and I even chuckled at Ricky Gervais, even though that has gotten a little old.

Here's the problem with the Emmys; 26 awards in 2 hours and 5 minutes of air time. They've already cut it to the bone with mostly "marquee" categories on the prime time broadcast and they can't cut anymore without a civil war amongst the guilds. They have to give a award out every 4.75 minutes, less if you factor in the 5+ minute 'In Memoriam' package and credits. There is virtually no time left for entertainment. I thought they did a good job and considering it's live, and the nightmare logistics of coordinating with all the participants, I'll bet producing this show is 10 times harder than putting together an episode of MASH.

Barry Traylor said...

As my wife and I do not get HBO and most of the nominees were from HBO there seemed little point in watching the Emmys.

MikeN said...

Ken, you should be careful with your reviews.
This Emmy WINNER stabbed his roommate when he scoffed at the idea he would win 5 Oscars

AlaskaRay said...

Ken, for once I have to disagree with you. I think Adam Sandler did a wonderful job hosting this year's Emmys.

DrBOP said...

I think we are experiencing a rubicon of sorts....a sea-change in what people find as funny based upon age. The 'yoots were raised on a steady diet of Simpsons(woo-hoo)/SouthPark/Portlandia comedic sensibilities, while we were exposed to three generations of comedy originally-sourced in vaudeville.
Not sure where to go with this thought.....just something about the automatic laughing, the CONSTANT kindergarten class out-of-control screaming (STOP STOP STOP ! ! ! ), the over-editing of supposedly "live" material.....it's feeling like it did for many folks after WWII, that "the rules" were changing without them having a say. If comedy has any rules, the morphing is well under way.

Oh....right.....S T O P S C R E A M I N G ! ! !

Anonymous said...

On your note about the "critics" LOVING this broadcast.... I worked for a top name entertainment news show (and now website) last year. Not once did the TV critic write something critical. Why not? Because she wanted the publicists to keep sending her exclusives -- which is how she can prove to her bosses that she shouldn't be fired. You, on the other hand, answer to no one... so you get to say your actual opinion. Business. It's all business.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

The first two episodes of Colbert's Late Show were shaky, but he's found his feet more quickly than any talk show host since Letterman and has been rolling ever since. Most of his desk pieces have been funny and are perfectly in keeping with his "Colbert Report" style minus the O'Reillyian persona. And his interviewing style is nimble and has heart.

Now if he could only stop doing the Ellen dance during the entrance with the weird-faced bandleader. Also, the never-ending quest to concoct a "viral" clip for each "A" guest gets tiresome, but I suppose that YouTube horse has left the barn.

Justonce said...


Just because you and your wife don't understand HBO shows, it doesn't mean you won't get the Emmys. It is a straight forward awards show.