Emmys Restrained, But Still Offers Surprises
The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards was a reasonably tight affair (only running 12 minutes over) with fewer song and dance numbers than you'd expect from host Neil Patrick Harris and a fair number of upsets. But despite Harris's reputation for keeping things upbeat, the night often slipped into a somberness that made the show feel longer than its actual 192 minutes.
The show opened with Harris sitting down to watch an entire season of television in what must have been an editor's nightmare as clips from various shows talked to him and to each other. That led into a delightful traffic jam onstage as past Emmy hosts appeared to offer advice. Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Fallon, and Conan O'Brien heaped on unhelpful help until they were upstaged by an aside from Kevin Spacey (as his "House of Cards" alter-ego Francis Underwood). "I was promised the hosting job this year and they turned me down," he snarled in a nod to the show that received nine nominations this year. The segment ended on a high note as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler demanded Harris take his pants off and "Twerk it!" "It would be degrading, but we would be de-grateful," purred Poehler.
The awards opened with the first of many of upsets to come as "Nurse Jackie's" Merritt Wever beat out heavy-hitters like Sofia Vergara and category favorite Mayim Bialik to take Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. No one apparently was more surprised than Wever herself as was evident in her acceptance speech: "I gotta go. Bye."
This year, in addition to the "In Memoriam" montage, the producers added five personal remembrances of people who had passed this year. Robin Williams recounted experiences with his mentor, Jonathan Winters (although Winters preferred the term "idol") which were moving, but also light. Later such segments — for Jean Stapleton (by her "All in the Family" son-in-law Rob Reiner), Gary David Goldberg (by Michael J. Fox, who starred in two of his most well-remembered creations, "Spin City" and "Family Ties"), Cory Monteith (by his "Glee" co-star Jane Lynch), and James Gandolfini (by his "Sopranos" wife Edie Falco) grew increasingly glum and permeated the night with a sad, reflective mood that, traditionally, only used to fall during a single obituary montage.