Host Jane Lynch gave it her all to open the Emmy Awards Sunday night on Fox with a lavish song-and-dance number that co-starred Leonard Nimoy as the “President of Television.”
But for us, in a sea of comedic highlights, one line stood out. It came during that great bit produced for the Emmy telecast on the set of “The Office,” featuring various stars of that show along with dozens of stars from other shows speaking “extemporaneously” into cameras in the NBC sitcom’s signature “documentary” style.
And while the stars who appeared ranged widely from reality star Kim Kardashian and Cee Lo Green of “The Voice” to Ashton Kutcher of “Two and a Half Men,” our favorite line was the one uttered by Nathan Fillion of ABC’s “Castle” who griped, “All the black guys I work with call me White Castle!”
The line proved once again that simple, clever comedy writing can trump elaborate choreography every time, particularly when elaborate singing and dancing conspire to produce an evening’s most atrocious results, such as the production number led by “Saturday Night Live’s” Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island colleagues. The number included R&B artist Akon singing “I just had sex,” with additional lyrics that were likely highly unwelcome in millions of households where parents and their children were watching the show. Thumbs way down to the decision to allow this bit to air.
But thumbs way up for these highlights:
At one point in the opening number, Jane Lynch even admitted the number was too long — which it was — but we liked it anyway, as Jane sashayed through the sets of iconic shows such as “Mad Men” and “The Big Bang Theory.” And we loved seeing “Star Trek” legend Nimoy in a starring role (especially since the pre-show buzz was that he was a last-minute replacement for Alec Baldwin, who reportedly quit over the editing of some line about the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal. Oh well). Our favorite Nimoy line, addressing Lynch: “To men, you’re womanish. To women, you’re mannish!”
Even better than the opening bit was Jane’s incredible performance much later in the telecast as the tough-as-nails “Godmother” of New Jersey who was portrayed as the hidden power behind that state’s sudden motherlode of TV shows — from “Jersey Shore” and “Cake Boss” to “Boardwalk Empire” and even “House.” Co-starring in this bit: The entire cast of “Jersey Shore” and, incredibly, Anderson Cooper.
Let the record show that no TV show other than “Modern Family” won an Emmy for the telecast’s first 42 minutes. The “Modern Family” stranglehold was broken by Jim Parsons’ win for best actor in a comedy series (“The Big Bang Theory”). Lynch joked about “Modern Family’s” dominance after the show returned from a commercial break. “Welcome back to the ‘Modern Family’ awards,” she deadpanned.
Presenting the award to Parsons was none other than Charlie Sheen, who didn’t even make an ass of himself. Instead, Charlie recited some lines of support for his old show, “Two and a Half Men.” Said he, “From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best on this upcoming season. We spent eight great seasons together and I know you will continue to make great television.” Watching at home, we waited for a punchline, and when none came, we realized he was serious. For the record, the applause for Sheen seemed half-hearted to our ears, although Jimmy Fallon gave Charlie a one-man standing ovation for some reason.
We loved it when the six nominees for Best Actress in a Comedy — Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”), Melissa McCarthy (“Mike & Molly”), Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), Laura Linney (“The Big C”), Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”) and Martha Plimpton (“Raising Hope”) — all took the stage together before the winner was announced. We couldn’t tell if this show of unity was planned or spontaneous but it made for a touching moment, especially when McCarthy won.
The mystery of “Downton Abbey”: The mystery is this — when was this show on? Apparently, it was seen on “Masterpiece Theatre” on PBS at some point in the past season, but it totally eluded us. And that seems unfortunate because it was a big winner at the Emmys and now, we’d love to see it. Our suggestion to PBS: Air this thing again, and this time, try publicizing it!