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2009 Primetime Emmy Awards Mega Diary

Andrew Payne Andrew Payne
September 21st, 2009 9:55am EDT
Neil Patrick HarrisAh, the Emmys. The one Awards show on TV that has a nonchalant attitude toward its honorees and the medium it seeks to honor. A ceremony that seeks to put on a funny show, not blow smoke up the behinds of the many winners mostly seem like they'd rather not be there.

Sure, the last couple years were awful, but this year we have the inimitable Neil Patrick Harris at the helm, and with the possibility that this may be Emmy's final year on broadcast television, they're certain to pull out all the stops and ratchet up the funny.

And with that stellar introduction, here is the 2009 Primetime Emmy Running Diary:

0:00 - This old-time radio-style intro almost makes it seem like Emmy is recognizing the fact that after its two straight years of failed experimentations that it must go back to the basics in order to recapture any glory.

0:04 - Loved the Vegas lounge act musical number, another retro hint at Emmy's subconscious. Best bits, Paula's empty chair, and NPH's preference of Jon Hamm over Christina Hendricks. It's four minutes in and the host has already provided more entertainment than last year's quintet did for the entirety of the broadcast.

0:06 - Nothing like a multi-layered Kanye West joke. Yes, "30 Rock" will win, so Kanye better be happy about it.

0:07 - Neil Patrick Harris' tour around the stage just seemed to be there so people would notice all the new stuff. Otherwise it would have made no difference whatsoever.

0:08 - These moving screens in the auditorium look like they cost a lot of money. It's too bad they'll only really appeal to the folks in the audience who couldn't care less about the entertainment factor of the show.

0:10 - How do they get through a comedy montage without one of the five funniest shows on television - "Better Off Ted"? If it were on CBS we probably would have seen it!

0:11 - Wow, three actually funny jokes in the first category intro from Jon Hamm and Tina Fey. It's nice to have the Emmys back.

0:12 - Again, a reason why the Emmys are so much better than the Oscars. There isn't a chance in the world that any acting nominees would have enough of a sense of humor about themselves to don funny glasses. And Vanessa Williams' sinister refusal just the icing on the sight gag cake.

0:12 - Wow, what an uber-upset from Kristin Chenoweth. This show was on for like half-an-episode this year, and even the people who were watching it forgot about it, and how she wins!? Maybe we're actually in for some surprises this year.

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth © Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos

0:13 - I like the idea of people using the Emmy stage to look for work. Isn't that the ultimate resume posting? "Hello, I am holding an Emmy, I'm obviously good enough to be on whatever show I'd like."

0:14 - How did 'Gossip Girl' and 'True Blood' get nominated for most popular moment of the year or whatever that was? Their combined viewership is like half a CSI.

0:20 - Now we're actually mocking the Emmy winners? Gosh, it's nice to have Emmy back.

0:22 - Yes, "Reunion" was certainly the most memorable '30 Rock' episode of the year. I guess that's why it distinguishes itself as the best of the four choices.

0:24 - Neil Patrick Harris has finally become the first host to comment on the lameness of the jokes in each bit. How meta.

0:26 - Jon Cryer pulls the upset? What is going on? And did he borrow that vest from a member of the House of Commons?

Jon Cryer

Image © Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos

0:26 - Jon Cryer's saying that an award is a "True Measure of Worth" - Why are TV people so much funnier and self-deprecating than Oscar-winners?

0:33 - The big question going into the evening - how would Neil Patrick Harris follow hosting with either an Emmy or soul-crushing loss in tow. Turns out it would be funny.

0:35 - Wow, so that's what Burt Reynolds would look like if he were Stand-Up Comedienne. Thanks for answering that question, Sarah.

0:36 - Finally, I get one right as Toni Collette notches her first Emmy.

0:37 - Toni, you're rambling.

0:38 - How much mileage can we get out of the NPH loss - looks like the sky's the limit?

0:40 - And now through the glory of TiVo we fast forward through the Creative Arts Emmys and get straight to the funny with Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake who, unlike every single other year, did not present an award. Why didn't they just give them the awards on the night?

0:42 - Notice all the funniest pre-taped bits were from "30 Rock" directors, the funniest show on television. Coincidence? I think not.

0:43 - What's better than winning an Emmy? Getting to have a little conversation with Blake Lively as you walk off stage of course.

0:49 - Rob Lowe = News Anchor.

0:50 - After all those single-camera bits, it was almost refreshing to see Jim Parsons and Charlie Sheen act with the aid of a laugh track.

0:51 - Back-to-back for Alec. I didn't predict it, but I said he should! Counts for something, no?

0:52 - Wow, more Lorne Michaels love. Does he have a weather machine waiting that we don't know about?

0:53 - I normally detest all things 'Family Guy' and this beat down of Brian stopped being funny about 45 seconds before it ended, but when Stewie grumbled about breaking the "Bro Code", I laughed audibly.

0:55 - Why is it that 97% of the best moments in reality made me roll my eyes and wonder when our society is just going to collapse into a giant sinkhole?

0:57 - Yes, I fast-forwarded through the dance from the SYTYCD crew. No, I don't regret it.

0:59 - I really with they would have put a /Last Year's Emmys next to many of the nominees for Best Reality Hosts' names. It would have been so perfectly rude.

1:00 - Thank you, Jeff Probst. For having enough humility to admit the train wreck that was last year's Emmys and for seeming actually grateful for actually achieving your goals, rather than appearing jaded by what happened after that.

1:06 - Tracy Morgan just seems like the type of nervous child you'd like to pat on the head and say, "You Tried Your Best" to as he presents this award.

1:07 - Make that seven. SEVEN wins-in-a-row for "The Amazing Race". This is getting to be like the dominant Little League Baseball Team they force to disperse its players among the other teams because they're making the other kids feel bad.

1:09 - Don't hand the Emmy to Jerry Bruckheimer. Doesn't he have enough already? Y'know, Emmys, Oscars, Tonys, Planets, Solar Systems. . .

1:10 - Quick, a thousand bucks if you can name the Miniseries/Movie in which Sigourney Weaver appeared during that montage. Yes, the genre is dead.

1:12 - Why is it that this category's nominees often inform viewers for the first time that their Miniseries/Movies even exist?

1:13 - Why was Shohreh Aghdashloo the first winner not to be made fun of? She's an incredibly respected actor, it's not like we need to treat her with the kid gloves we would a child actor.

1:14 - So the old guy with the toupee from 'Grey Gardens' (Yes, this is the level of fame he possesses) takes a stranglehold on "line of the night" with his remark about a congressman or rapper interrupting him. Said with a crotchety wit that would make Andy Rooney rethink his place in the world.

1:22 - Not even close to getting sick of Neil Patrick Harris introducing people with their fledgling screen credits, but wouldn't mind one of the presenters actually acknowledging that.

1:23 - Trivia: Brendan Gleeson becomes the second actor to win the same Emmy for the same role in the same "Storm" series of Winston Chruchill movies. Albert Finney was the first.

1:25 - Again, NPH outdoes the joke by remarking on it. This is Letterman-esque self-awareness.

1:26 - That "Medium" joke was almost funny - it just needed to be written in a way that didn't give away the punchline before the premise.

1:27 - Oh really, the guy who wrote the miniseries we all just learned existed won't be here tonight? Gosh, what a shame.

1:28 - Ah, but the director is there. Isn't about time to phase out a category that nominates about 90% of the eligible programs each year? Where's the honor in a nomination in that scenario?

1:33 - What exactly does it say when the funniest part of the television awards thus far comes from something that comes from the Internet yet makes fun of things that come from the Internet in favor of television and eschewing the Internet all the same? Is the Internet better or worse? I'm confused. I'm laughing, but confused.

1:33 - Yes, young actors it doesn't get any better than actors like Drew Barrymore. Who is old enough to be your. . .slightly older sister.

1:35 - And the Emmy Award for most generic acceptance speech goes to. . .Jessica Lange! Congratulations, Jessica!

1:46 - I don't know what "Little Dorrit" is. Judging by the slew of awards it's the greatest thing ever made, but there isn't a chance it's even close to as good as "Generation Kill". I guess it's just impossible for Simon & Burns to win an award since you have to watch their works in their entirety to glean any sort of accurate picture of their quality. Something Emmy voters seem incapable of doing.

1:51 - Wow, Bruce Gowers directed the "Bohemina Rhapsody" video! Where does that rank on oddball list of credits that make a good resume amazing? Somewhere between writer on David Letterman's morning show and supporting actor on "Good Morning Miss Bliss" no doubt.

1:53 - Is there a more reliable bit of comedy ever year than the variety writers nominee introductions? That's right, there isn't.

1:55 - Whenever I hear that 'Daily Show' theme, I can't help but think of Craig Kilborn manning the night desk at a Motel 6 in Tujunga and looking at the TV with the anger of guy watching his hot ex-girlfriend marrying a millionaire.

2:02 - Jimmy Fallon won an Emmy? For what? Best performance by an out-of-place non-professional nervously laughing at himself?

2:03 - Okay, so that Auto-Tuned bit foolishness was actually very funny. Just when you think Jimmy Fallon has no redeeming qualities whatsoever he gives you one small reason to not completely hate him.

2:04 - Wow, this actually might be one the least deserving wins we've ever come across. Did anybody watch the three minute laugh-fest that was "Motherlover" and think, "Well, this is funny, but it's no Academy Awards opening number!"

2:06 - You wonder if NPH refused to insult Ricky Gervais because he's the one person capable of out-quipping our grand host.

2:07 - As demonstrated. How is he ALWAYS transcendently funny?

2:09 - And Craig Kilborn downs another shot of 2-dollar Scotch as he begrudgingly takes a complaint about the lack of clean towels in room 312.

2:17 - Wow, "House" got a crazy cheer from the audience. Is the cast just sitting near a microphone or are we poised for an Emmy upset?

2:18 - Nevermind, "True Blood" and "Lost" made the "House" cheer look incredibly weak, and if we'd gotten a "Mad Men" clip, the speakers may have melted.

2:20 - These cheers are getting out of control. Are they pumping pure oxygen into the auditorium or something?

2:21 - OK, I watch "Lost" too much, because Michael Emerson's heartfelt and pleasant speech totally creeped me out and I kept wondering what his ulterior motive was.

2:22 - My predictions are essentially too awful to discuss at this point, but I did say that Cherry Jones deserved this award. So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

2:23 - This is officially the first time somebody has mentioned Chatsworth at an award show other than the Adult Video Awards.

2:24 - There were so many awful things about the Oscars this year, the five actor salute, the incessant musical numbers, the "this is how a film is made" format, but nothing was worse than having a live song steal focus from paying tribute to those who have passed on. Why is that the one thing they took from the Academy Awards over to this one?

2:27 - It was close, but Patrick Swayze takes home this year's prize for loudest applause during the In Memoriam Tribute. I had my money on Bea Arthur.

2:34 - Wow, how much makeup did they put on Carol Burnett for Law and Order SVU? She looked like Jonathan Pryce's mom in "Brazil".

2:35 - I think Rod Holcomb deserved the award simply for his little bit of directorial advice. Good thing he won.

2:36 - Five-way tie for best taped writing piece. Did anybody notice "30 Rock" and "Mad Men" accounted for 80% of all the writing nominations? Any way they can cap that at one per series?

2:38 - What about people on the couch in their living room wearing a bathrobe writing on a laptop that's actually sitting on their lap, Mr. Weiner? Wait, did I just give away too much?

2:40 - Holy moly, that was Jason Stackhouse on SVU! Was that the episode about vampire murders?

2:40 - The clip they showed for Elisabeth Moss' nominee intro was the best-written scene on television this year. No arguments allowed.

2:41 - Why do I get the feeling that the Best Actress in a Drama Series page on Wikipedia is going to have Glenn Close's name in boldface for the next five years straight?

Glenn Close © Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos



2:48 - The huge cheer for Bryan Cranston seemed completely honest and organic, then all the applause for the subsequent actors appeared to rise to a level designed not to make them feel bad for not being as great as Bryan Cranston who wins once again! Finally, Emmy's insistence on honoring the same people every year seems completely sage.

2:54 - And that, kids under the age of forty, is a small glimpse of why Bob Newhart is a comedy legend.

2:55 - Hey, look. That girl who won the contest is actually sitting right next to the '30 Rock' people.

2:56 - Does anybody else get sick of Tina Fey's continual baying about how much work it is to put '30 Rock' on, and how hard it all is, and the burden of it all? Umm, Tina, we love the show, but if it's so hard you could probably quit and live happily and luxuriously for the rest of your life, unlike the construction worker getting paid half-time when he works 70 hours each week.

3:02 - Matthew Weiner apparently can't believe 'Mad Men' won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama. That makes one person who feels that way.

3:03 - Are they actually attempting to play him off right now? It's the end of the show! It's already over time! What difference does one more minute make! Agh!

Final Thoughts:

A good Emmy ceremony. Not quite as good as the boffo ones hosted by Conan O'Brien and Ellen Degeneres a few years ago, but certainly enjoyable all the same.

Neil Patrick Harris didn't quite live up to expectations, but he probably could have juggled six grand pianos and not met the extraordinary heights many assumed he would summit.

All in all, it was nice to have the Emmys back to being a tongue-in-cheek awards show that seeks more to entertain that it does feed the egos of its nominees. Especially after the messes of the last two years.

Andrew Payne
Story by Andrew Payne

Starpulse contributing writer