The Emmy show gets off to a spectacularly bad beginning with a prerecorded comedy sketch. We see Conan O'Brien on a plane, asked by a flight attendant if he's nervous, and he says, "What could possibly go wrong?" There's an explosion that rocks the plane, and then there's a cut to a beach, with Conan crawling out of the surf and the plane, in the background, sinking into the ocean. The folks on the laugh track are yukking it up. That would have been pushing it, considering the recent foiled terrorist plot, but with a plane crash in the news today -- 49 people were killed -- it's just atrocious. Don't they have the sense to pull it? The message is, we've got this preprogrammed, and there's nobody here with a brain.
Well, they worked so hard on it. It's a play on "Lost," and Conan finds a hatch. Descending, he's in the set of "The Office." This leads into a "24" sequence. Am I forgiving them? No! He encounters "House," then he enters the "South Park" trapped-in-a-closet closet. And then on to a "Dateline" exposé about child predators.
Man, they put a lot of effort into this. They should have thought of the air crash problem when they planned it.
Okay, Althouse. Settle down. Your censoriousness will only drive readers away.
Conan paces back and forth on the stage, spitting out his monologue jokes, interspersed with shots of the audience, seemingly enjoying it. There's lots of actress flesh on view, and it jiggles as they applaud the jokes. Whatever happened to anorexia? Everyone looks plump tonight. Are the jokes any good? He hands out rules for acceptance speeches. Sample: "Anyone who makes a heavy-handed political comment tonight will be forced to make out with Al Gore in a Prius."
He does a parody of "Trouble" (from "The Music Man"). It's about how bad NBC ratings are. Why should we care? Get to the awards! It's like they're desperate to prove to us that they're putting on a show. And it's a show on NBC. And if this is your idea of a show, well, maybe you deserve your bad ratings. Go cry about it in private somewhere.
One of the first presenters is Ellen Pompeo, wearing a long dark blue dress that she's clutching together with her hand at the right buttock. Is she just holding it up so she won't trip? No, she's at the mike, and she's still keeping her grip! Must be a wardrobe malfunction. The award is Best Supporting Actress. Megan Mullally wins. Doesn't she always win? She's in dark blue too. Sort of a bathrobe-like thing. She incites us to be all emotional about the end of "Will and Grace." Sorry. I don't care.
In the next presenter set, we've got Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and she's wearing a white dress that has a sparkly black "H" superimposed around the breasts. The award is Best Supporting Actor. The clip of William Shatner makes me laugh out loud so I switch my loyalty t0 him from Michael Imperioli. Alan Alda wins, and he's the only one not there. That's so wrong.
Dragging things out, Conan has a comedy bit about how the show won't go over three hours. They've got Bob Newhart sealed in a tube with only three hours of air. He's about 80 years old, so threatening to kill him is a little disturbing. But it's nice to see Bob again, albeit entubed.
Martin and Charlie Sheen. They awkwardly read the cue cards. Best Supporting Actress again? Oh, now it's in a drama. Sorry, those previous awards were limited to comedies. Emmys, I see, follow the Golden Globe, not the Oscars, approach. Blythe Danner wins. She's all actressily effusive, like it's not memorized. And her dress is yards of teal-colored fabric that looks like it was draped together in a 1-day challenge by the losing contestant on "Project Runway."
Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Oh, I see the previous supporting actor award was for the drama actor. They are not doing this in an orderly way. I will catch on. As you can see, I'm not a regular Emmy viewer. The winner is Jeremy Piven.
Oh, Heidi Klum is giving an award. Variety, Music or Comedy Series. "The Daily Show" beats "The Colbert Report" (and Conan O'Brien).
Ooh, Simon Cowell, with the neck of his shirt all open revealing his furry chest. It's a tribute to Dick Clark and "Bandstand." You know, I watched that show, even as far back as the 1950s. I remember seeing "Little" Stevie Wonder on the show doing "Fingertips" on his 13th birthday. I remember when the kids who danced on the show were celebrities, written about in the teen magazines. It was once necessary when talking about Dick Clark to make a joke about how he looked forever young. But that's not the way it is anymore. He looks very old. He can't walk out, and, recovering from a stroke, he can't speak clearly, and his voice is very deep. He introduces Barry Manilow who comes out dancing -- and he has hip problems -- and demonstrates that the "Bandstand" theme song has lyrics.
Variety or Musical Performance is the next award. Manilow is one of the nominees. And he wins! Beating Stephen Colbert and David Letterman.
Guest Actor? Oh, come on. Too many categories. But they speed through this, and I'm glad to see Patricia Clarkson won for "Six Feet Under." I'm skipping some of these awards. I'd be crazy not to.
Conan does a routine on TiVo fastforwarding using TiVo fastforwarding, which I discover while fastforwarding on TiVo. So it's double fastforwarded. That was freaky.
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Tony Shaloub. Doesn't he always win? I don't watch his show, so I was rooting for Steve Carell or Larry David, whose shows I do watch.
Candice Bergen is stuffed into a white shirt and teal-colored skirt and held together with a big bulky leather and metal belt. She says something about TV not being a vast wasteland, and it just draws more attention to her vast waist land. She's introducing a tribute to Aaron Spelling. He was, apparently, a veritable god.
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert present the Reality show award, and Colbert throws a tantrum about losing to Barry Manilow. "Singing and dancing is not performing!" "The Amazing Race" wins. I've watched that a couple times. Don't enjoy it. Travel travails. Ugh! I wanted "Project Runway" to win. Did you notice they spotlighted Andrae in the little clip. What happened to Andrae?
In Memoriam: Shelley Winters. Don Knotts. Richard Pryor.
I love the look on Annette Bening's face when Helen Mirren beats her for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. [ADDED: It's the look of no reaction at all, except that in that frozen expanse, there is an expression.] And I love the way Mirren says, "My great triumph is not falling ass over tit as I came up those stairs." It's all British, so it's not rude, right? Ahhss.
Lead Actress in a Drama. Ah, here's a big category. Mariska Hargitay wins. Another show I don't watch.... so I have no opinion.
Actress in a Comedy. Okay. This is actually the only thing I care about. I want Lisa Kudrow to win for "The Comeback." Not that I think she will. Julia Louis-Dreyfus wins. She's all weepy, like she can barely get through it.
Actor in a Drama. Kiefer Sutherland. He's the opposite of Julia. He's all calm and mature. Dignified.
Bob Newhart is released from his tube to do the award for Best Comedy Series. He's bizarrely short standing next to Conan O'Brien. "The Office" wins. That makes sense.
Annette Bening does the Drama Series award. I only watch "The Sopranos," but I don't think it should win. It wasn't that good this year. "24" wins.
And that's it for a night at the Emmys!