Seth MacFarlane accepted an assist from William Shatner to smooth his nerves during his first time as Academy Awards host.
MacFarlane, best known for behind-the-scenes Hollywood work as creator of the television series "Family Guy" and movie "Ted," seemed nervous in the traditional role telling jokes, although he did get in one quick poke at the academy for snubbing Ben Affleck as a best director nominee for the movie "Argo."
"The story is so top secret that the film's director is unknown to the academy," MacFarlane said.
One joke about "Amour" flew by so quickly that it was difficult to understand what he said.
He joked about "Lincoln" best actor nominee Daniel Day Lewis' habit of staying in character during filming days even when the cameras were turned off.
"If you bumped into Don Cheadle in the studio lot, would you try and free him?" MacFarlane asked.
A giant video screen was lowered near where MacFarlane stood, revealing Shatner in "Star Trek"-like regalia. Shatner said he was there trying to save MacFarlane from himself, showing a supposed headline from the future that declared MacFarlane the worst Oscar host ever.
It sent MacFarlane into more high concept comedy, with mixed results. MacFarlane was shown in a song and dance routine, backed by the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus, naming famous actresses and the films where they displayed their breasts. During a quick cutaway, Charlize Theron — one of the actresses named — did not appear amused.
In another skit, scenes from the movie "Flight" were performed by sock puppets. An overly long skit — again designed to illustrate MacFarlane's "bad taste" — showed him wearing a Flying Nun costume in an attempt to pick up Sally Field backstage.
MacFarlane made self-deprecation a theme of his Oscars hosting turn even before taking the stage, saying in interviews that he expected to get negative reviews.
He seemed to relax when the spotlight moved away and he had the quick job of introducing presenters with a handful of jokes. He had a handful of solid jokes when talking about Quvenzhane Wallis, the 9-year-old best actress nominess for "Beasts of the Southern Wild."