In a world where anything goes, this year’s specials offered the opposite of sensory deprivation — call it sensory rehydration.
“Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour At Madison Square Garden”
Why it might win: It’s hard to imagine a more relevant special than one covering one of the world’s biggest pop stars on one of the most successful tours of all time. Gaga provides a visual feast and touching behind-the-scenes moments.
Maybe not: Gaga can’t seem to escape Madonna comparisons – several critics pointed to Madonna’s 1990 doc, “Truth or Dare.” Others said the star was too expository, but some argued she didn’t seem open enough. In short, get to the top and you’ll be torn down.
Memorable moment: The Lady gave a soulful, a capella rendition of “Born This Way” during the credits, proving that even in the smallest of moments, she is a powerhouse. Her voice left us speechless.
“Pee Wee Herman Show On Broadway”
Why it might win: The success of Paul Reubens’ Broadway revival of his 1981 show has put the word “comeback” in almost every piece of media coverage about it. Those Melissa Leo-inspired “For Your Consideration” ads aren’t hurting, either.
Maybe not: Though Reubens’ show has made bank and sparked talk of a new Pee-wee movie, the show isn’t much different than the original. If a 30-year-old Pee-wee didn’t win, should a 58-year-old one?
Memorable moment: Reubens brings some new puppets to the stage, among them a talking ShamWow. Pop-culture relevance plus sarcastic fun: perfect for Pee-wee.
“Night Of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert For Autism Education”
Why it might win: The show delivered on its name, with everyone from Tina Fey to Tom Brokaw in the house. And it delivered on the funny, as few celeb-packed shows do anymore (the Oscars, anyone?).
Maybe not: With so many stars on hand, it’s hard to be cohesive. The award might go to a special that broke more artistic ground.
Memorable moment: The Steves: Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell headlined a song-and-dance number (complete with someone in a goose costume) paying tribute to U.S. Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger. When these old Second City pals get together, it’s never too many stars.
“The Roast Of David Hasselhoff”
Why it might win: The roast was a ratings hit thanks to the Hoff’s cult status. And he delivered, owning the night from the beginning with a rendition of “Hooked on a Feeling.”
Maybe not: The special took some dark, unfunny turns thanks to Lisa Lampanielli’s jokes about Roger Ebert’s cancer. Also, since it aired, Hasselhoff’s shortlived reality show proved that people might be just as happy to forget about the former “Baywatch” star as they are to watch him get insulted.
Memorable moment: Jeffrey Ross, not to be outdone, lip-syncs Hasselhoff’s “Looking for Freedom” in a speedo. As he put it, “Finally, a Jew gets to roast a German.”
Why it might win: Carrie Fisher’s show has earned critical acclaim since its 2006 Los Angeles premiere and got an extended run on Broadway, but was overlooked by the Tonys. With awards-darling HBO behind her, Fisher could finally get the recognition she deserves.
Maybe not: While Fisher keeps audiences smiling with such tactics as a spot-on Debbie Reynolds impression, she never delivers a deep, emotional explanation of her struggles with mental illness and substance abuse. We wouldn’t have minded seeing Princess Leia shed a tear.
Memorable moment: Fisher describes her English accent that mysteriously appeared and disappeared throughout the first “Star Wars” movie. Finally, someone acknowledges it!
Latenight comedians can sway opinion
Series | Specials