It felt like deja vu tonight at the Emmy’s. AMC’s “Mad Men” and NBC’s “30 Rock” won the two drama and comedy awards respectively – just like a year ago.
The drama actor and actress went to Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” and Glenn Close from “Damages” – again. (”I’m thankful Glenn Close is a woman, Cranston cracked during his victory speech.) And Alec Baldwin took home the best actor in a comedy role for a second time, too. The only newbie is Toni Collette for best actress in a comedy.
By being repetitive, perhaps folks might remember these winners in two weeks. But probably not.
The bottom line: the Emmys don’t matter to the average viewer. They have not shown any influence whatsoever on what people watch. This contrasts to the Oscars, which frequently fuel the box office gross, and the Grammys, which can stoke CD (and now, download) sales.
But they can give struggling shows a bit of prestige and helps the resumes of the winners.
Take the first person who won: the charming Kristin Chenowith, who took home the Emmy for best supporting comedic actor for her role as the pining Olive Snook on the now-cancelled ABC series “Pushing Daisies.”
“I’m unemployed now so I’d like to be on ‘Mad Men.’ I like ‘The Office ‘and ‘24,’ ” said a crying, visibly emotional Chenowith. She’ll get other work, no doubt.
Jon Cryer for his role on “Two and a Half Men” won his first Emmy as best supporting actor in comedy. It helped that three-time Jeremy Piven wasn’t nominated for the first time in years. And it was about time a show that has been the most popular sitcom for several years finally got some recognition. (And he beat former Atlantan Jack McBrayer from “30 Rock” and host Neil Patrick Harris for “How I Met Your Mother,” among others. Harris proceeded to joke about it several times after he lost.)
Another surprise: Toni Collette won for lead actress for a comedy in “United States of Tara” on Showtime. It helps that Tara is a character with multiple personalities. She’s also well respected in Hollywood for her film work, wihch always helps get votes. Incredibly boring acceptance speech, though.
The first nonsurprise was the comedic actor of the year, Alec Baldwin. This is his second victory playing Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock.”
Later, it was great to see Michael Emerson, who plays the haunting Benjamin Linus in “Lost,” finally take home an Emmy for best supporting actor after two missed chances in 2007 and 2008. Ditto for the winner of supporting actress in a drama Cherry Jones, who was the fictional president on “24″ this past season and did so with grace and aplomb.
Atlanta’s TNT had two drama actresses again who didn’t win: Kyra Sedgwick from “The Closer” and Holly Hunter in “Saving Grace.” (Credit Glenn Close for locking up that category again.)
New host Neil Patrick Harris did his best to wipe out the bitter taste left from last year’s disastrous “buncha reality show hosts” hosts. His opening singing routine was amusing. Other attempts at laughs fell a bit flat, though that was more a writing problem, not his delivery. A “joke” where a “super fan” Emmy winner gets bad seats was dead on arrival, for instance.
Jeff Probst beat Dunwoody’s own Ryan Seacrest and others as best reality show host. He basically acknowledged what a bomb 2008 Emmys was. “This is how you host the Emmy’s,” he said to Patrick Harris. “Nice job.”
Despite talk of “innovations” for this awards show, it felt like any other awards show. They added teases on the screen for upcoming presenters, stolen from news programs. The stage included band (instead of sticking them in a pit) and for no particular reason, the control room. The guy who reads a tidbit about the prize winner as he/she/they walk up to the stage makes up stuff that isn’t usually very funny.
-The reality show montage featured “Real Housewives of Atlanta” Sheree Whitfield getting it on with that party promoter. So she can now say she was on the Emmys! I’m in fact sure she’ll be saying it.
-Lovely touch: having Sarah McLachlan sing “I Will Remember You” live during the dead folks montage.
Earlier this summer, CBS wanted to air certain categories “non live” and edited down, especially things like writers, directors and miniseries. But the Hollywood unions and brass rebelled so CBS relented. The result: this long boring stretch with folks winning in categories hardly anybody cares about. A Washington Post story said they would cut short dull speeches but they didn’t appear to do that.
The best variety program writing was “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” which won from 2003 to 2006 but lost the past two years to Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert. The show also won the overall prize for the seventh year in a row.
-Funniest moment in awhile at 10:03 p.m.: Jimmy Fallon using a T Pain synth echo voice runs around, then slips on the floor and writhes about. A little physical humor never hurts on such a generally moribund telecast.