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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