TV Review: Golden Globe Awards

Golden Globe Awards

There wasn't much golden about the play-'em-off awards; Woody Allen had the right idea

Well, that could have been better. These actors did know they might win an award, right – that if their names were called, they’d have to get up and speak? What might go down in history as the pregnant-pause, followed-by-being-played-off Golden Globe Awards proved a curiously awkward affair, even by the standards of an awards showcase with a reputation for looseness and unpredictability. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reprised their role as hosts, but the duo failed to produce more than sporadic moments of mirth, in a show where honorary-award recipient Woody Allen looked prescient, in hindsight, by staying home.

The Globes have a reputation for letting stars talk – and let’s face it, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has a penchant for recognizing big names – and for approaching this hosted-bar affair with less stuffiness than the Oscars.

Yet beginning with Jacqueline Bisset’s deer-in-the-headlights acceptance speech for a Starz miniseries that one suspects almost nobody in the TV audience had even heard of (“Dancing on the Edge,” for the record), the 71st edition of the Globes produced a litany of rambling, dead-air, thank-my-agent/team moments, until Andy Samberg’s hyper-caffeinated, satirically earnest remarks after winning for Fox newbie “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” felt like an enormous breath of fresh air.

Fey and Poehler did have some fun lampooning the HFPA’s image (they referred to a fictional member writing for “Das Tits”), and joked about how the audience for the show consisted of “all the women and gay men watching at home.”

For the most part, though, the show felt even flatter than usual, the recipients less prepared for their big moment. And while it’s fun to treat it all like a great party – like seeing a shoeless Emma Thompson bring a drink onstage – there is a bit of actual business to be transacted, if only to provide NBC with content to air between all those promos for its primetime lineup, latenight baton pass and the Sochi Olympics.

The late Gil Cates spoke about the “award show gods” delivering spontaneous moments to producers, and the Globes had a few – starting with Bisset’s frozen, rambling, bleeped mess of a speech. Still, the gods have a way of helping those who help themselves, and the producers failed to capitalize on their best opportunities, such as some sort of on-the-fly follow-up (beyond a fleeting and lame one) to the Bisset moment.

In that respect, the Globes’ virtual all-actor format proves something of a double-edged sword. People are accustomed at the Academy Awards to seeing editors and cinematographers hearing those “Wrap it up” strains, but an eloquent Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Voight and Amy Adams?

Moreover, unlike the Oscars, NBC doesn’t like to let the Globes run way past their allotted time. So at a certain point, the prevailing sense was those receiving awards earlier in the evening were either unconcerned or tone-deaf about those who might be honored later.

Even Poehler – a winner for NBC’s “Parks & Recreation” – didn’t have much to say, after an amusing bit in which she made out with Bono. The show also squandered “The Tonight Show” host-in-waiting Jimmy Fallon – who we’ll surely be seeing a lot of in the next month – in a go-nowhere routine with Melissa McCarthy.

Finally, simply from a logistical standpoint, while the walks to the stage have always taken awhile for the lower-on-the-marquee winners, they felt almost interminable this year. Assuming the Beverly Hilton continues to be the venue, somebody ought to figure out a way to navigate talent to the podium that takes less time than producing a Pixar short.

Part of the allure of the Golden Globes, historically, is that they’re supposed to be fun – that nobody really has to take them all that seriously. Some of that relaxed attitude could be seen in the number of people who got bleeped, including Diane Keaton – interrupted for so long as to instantly produce drinking games regarding what she might have possible said during her acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille award on Allen’s behalf. (Ironically, Bono – whose use of the F word during a past Golden Globes resulted in FCC headaches for NBC — managed to get through his best-song speech unfiltered.)

A few presenters delivered amusing moments, among them Jim Carrey and Robert Downey Jr. Yet it was indicative of how generally off-kilter the night was that even many of the reaction shots — courtesy of director and award-show veteran Louis J. Horvitz — felt misdirected.

NBC once again dispatched the “Today” show crew to handle its national arrivals show, and Matt Lauer’s dark sunglasses suggested just how enthusiastic he was (in a witness-protection-program way) about manning the red carpet.

As it turned out, a sprinkler accident that soaked part of the arrivals area served as a kind of omen. Because while expectations for award shows should always be tempered by the ungainly nature of the beast, after a pretty laborious three hours, that carpet wasn’t the only thing that looked all wet.

TV Review: Golden Globe Awards

(Special; NBC, Sun. Jan. 12, 8 p.m. ET)

Production

Produced by Dick Clark Prods.

Crew

Executive producers, Allen Shapiro, Mike Mahan, Barry Adelman; director, Louis J. Horvitz; writer, Adelman. 3 HOURS

Cast

Hosts: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler.

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  1. TV101 says:

    Wow Brian – we must have been watching two different shows. Sure you mentioned all of the “awkward” moments but to only mention a few funny moments made your review (forgive me you are my favorite writer out there Sir)… Brian it honestly felt that you’re jaded and seen too many award shows. It was FUNNY. It was ENTERTAINING. People had FUN. Now, the one thing I will say, and I have been to the show before – Dick Clark really is missed – his yelling at everyone to sit down in their seats… STAT… made for better television after returning from commercial breaks. Back then, you could actually hear the presenters and at lease as a viewer felt the audience was paying attention. Not last night. People talked over the hosts at every commercial break. I do agree the cut-away shots were awkward he had so many shots to choose from I kept thinking, “what is he doing?” Very strange. New blood needed for award show directing. Brian, you know ONE of these award shows CAN BE entertaining, c’mon. It was fine. Your review was a bit more of a downer then it actually was. Will ANY reviewer EVER write a good review about an award show? It’s really becoming ridiculous at this point. It was good. Amy & Tina were funny, the speeches were FINE, they don’t all have to be “moments.” Don’t change the venue due to people not getting up on stage fast enough. But next year DO try and not play important folks off. And NBC, it really wouldn’t kill you to go over a smidge if you have to. Though sitting in that room – people want to leave. It’s a fun show, it was a fun show. Surprised by your review Brian. Jaded. Said with respect.

  2. Kimzilla says:

    From the awkward camera angles, to the miscued teleprompter for Jonah Hill, to the ridiculously bad seating arrangements, to a seemingly drifting-to-nowhere pan shot of the Breaking Bad crew onstage – it was just a HOT MESS. I started to think that maybe some of the people in the control booth had visited the open bar a little too much. And between the time it took the first coupla winners to make it to the stage and then give their speeches, you could tell they were going to have to rush the last half of it to fit the time schedule. I was expecting much more professionalism than this and was disappointed. Fey and Pohler could have been absolute, on-the-mark, fantastical, premiere hosts and I still would have walked away shaking my head.

  3. KP says:

    Going against the tide here, but I liked it. Sure, it was a bit sloppy, but that’s sort of to be expected at the Golden Globes. I thought Amy and Tina were even funnier than last year and as a viewer I appreciate the fact that everything, for the most part, had to be wrapped up quickly.

  4. crt124 says:

    So tired of hearing “this is so unexpected”. Also why give Woody Allen an award when he hates award shows and never goes to them? I love his films but give the award to someone who cares.

  5. Ken says:

    I remember the Globes back in the early 70s when they were taped and syndicated (and in my area, broadcast late night) — it was a smoky, boozy, bawdy affair – like you were at a real party…and they were FUN to watch. Now, they’re a big deal with big hype with minimal schmooze factor…and half the primetime length is spent watching winners navigate they way through all those jammed-together tables. This is fun? And where were the writers helping Tina and Amy to toss out some funny rejoinders after winners and presenters left the stage? Still, glad for Cuaron and Blanchett who most deservedly earned their trophies.

  6. Sarah Johns says:

    All that star power in one room and it became a big yawn fest. Love Matthew Mc speech, crazy dresses on Julia R. and Paula P. The show did not flow well, and they are hosting again next year.

  7. Ganieda Moher says:

    Someone please get Robert Downey Jr. to host the Globes, the Oscars or something. One of the few genuine wits who’s actually interesting onstage. Oh, wait – they can’t afford him.

  8. Erin says:

    Thank goodness Downton Abbey was on, I had an escape hatch. The production was amateur hour – like the production team just
    remembered early this morning that it was tonight and threw something together.

  9. stephanie says:

    It was annoying that most weren’t prepared or the lousy acting of “it was a surprise” or “I’m not worthy” baloney!

  10. Iguanavision says:

    Thank you for the review. If I had one word to describe the program, “Sloppy”.

  11. Jacques Strappe says:

    Spot on review, Mr. Lowry. A real snooze fest, the most boring Globes I’ve seen which prompted lots of channel hopping at home between those interminable slow moments

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