TV Review: ‘The Golden Globe Awards’

Ricky Gervais hosting Golden Globes 2016
Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Ricky Gervais’ impish approach to comedy revels in making audiences wince and squirm – hardly a custom-made formula for the worshipfulness of award shows, even one that cultivates a loosey-goosey image like the Golden Globes. The British comic’s fourth turn as host produced the expected barbs, but more awkward moments than genuine, funny or spontaneous ones weighed down the bloated, ungainly telecast that surrounded him. However much the producers and NBC relish the publicity that Gervais generates – and apparently, they don’t know how to quit him – it’s time they put more effort into shaping the broader ceremony.

As is so often the case, Gervais and all the “Oh my, who will he offend this time?” hand-wringing was something of a cheat, a promotional hook for the telecast given the relatively modest role the host occupied in terms of actual screen time. Not surprisingly, he got the Sean Penn-El Chapo joke out of the way early, saying he planned to go into hiding after the ceremony, and “not even Sean Penn will find me.” Gervais also gleefully bit the hands that feed him, referencing the Globes’ spotty history by suggesting that the awards were bought (and the camera dutifully found mogul Harvey Weinstein, which magnified the gag); ridiculed the nomination of “The Martian” as a comedy; and jabbed NBC for being shut out in this year’s TV nominations.

In theory, it’s great to have a host who will let some air out of the event’s self-importance and puffiness. The challenge is to not allow that to become something approaching a toxic leak pervading the room. “That award is, no offense, worthless,” Gervais said, amusingly, at the outset, urging winners to contain their enthusiasm.

Seven minutes of monologue, however, does not a show make, and in some respects, Gervais felt like the most restrained (or at least predictable) element of the evening, amid a flurry of dragged-out presenter exchanges, bleeped-out utterances and rote acceptance speeches.

The Globes really should be built for speed and made for TV, with categories designed to put a parade of stars on the screen. Dispensing with production numbers, the show tries to keep things moving by bringing out as many actors as possible, including those who appear simply to introduce clips of nominated films.

The producers kicked off the 73rd annual installment with what turned out to be a harbinger of things to come – an amateurish bit in which Jonah Hill played the bear from “The Revenant,” unleashing some invective that prompted him to be bleeped for an extended stretch. Jane Fonda’s pained reaction shot pretty much said it all.

Those interludes careened unevenly throughout the night, from the occasional bright spot – Eva Longoria and America Ferrera messing up each other’s names; Ryan Gosling feigning anger at Brad Pitt; Jamie Foxx spoofing Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe screw-up – to virtually everyone else, including too-long riffs from the pairs of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg and Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence.

As the show progressed, memorable moments, such as a spontaneous standing ovation for Sylvester Stallone, proved few and far between. And while it was kind of funny to see Gervais make Matt Damon uncomfortable by introducing him with a shot at pal Ben Affleck’s personal life, couldn’t the host have ad-libbed a joke at Mel Gibson that didn’t have to be bleeped to the point where the audience at home didn’t hear a word of it?

By the final hour, when the big movie awards were handed out, and Denzel Washington received the Cecil B. DeMille Award, even Jim Carrey couldn’t rouse the show from its stupor.

The top awards spread the wealth, while showering the most on “The Revenant,” whose star, Leonardo DiCaprio, delivered an impassioned plea to respect indigenous peoples and protect the planet – one of the few political statements, notably, other than Gervais’ glancing shot at Donald Trump. Director Ridley Scott shook his head over “The Martian,” then proceeded to deliver a note-card-reading speech – thumbing his nose at the music trying to play him off – that was numbing until he got to the end, acknowledging his late brother, Tony.

Certainly, in the TV categories (dished out almost comically early, reflecting where they reside in the pecking order), the HFPA voters outdid themselves in terms of picking winners that not many people have seen, with the notable exception of Lady Gaga, who was surely deemed worthy of having on stage for the sheer theater of it.

Inevitably, there was lots of promotion during the commercial breaks for NBC programs, and almost as much for the network’s talent during the awards. NBC again gave the “Today” show crew red-carpet duties, and Matt Lauer responded by looking like he yearned to be someplace else, bidding goodbye to interview subjects with the slightly cloying sendoff, “Have fun tonight.”

Still, other than a few of Gervais’ best digs, there just wasn’t much fun to be had. The host groused about halfway through the telecast, “This show is way too long, isn’t it?,” but returned to that gag at least once too often. Nevertheless, it was certainly hard to argue with the sentiment.

TV Review: 'The Golden Globe Awards'

(Special; NBC, Sun. Jan. 10, 8 p.m. ET)

Production

Broadcast live from Los Angeles by Dick Clark Prods. in association with the HFPA.

Crew

Executive producers, Mike Mahan, Allen Shapiro, Barry Adelman. HFPA President: Lorenzo Soria; director, Louis J. Horvitz; writer, Adelman; special material, Ricky Gervais, Jon Macks, Dave Boone, Matthew Robinson. 3 HOURS, 6 MIN.

Cast

Host: Ricky Gervais

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  1. Jay says:

    I LOVE gervais and hes the reason why I watch the Golden Globes…Tina Fey& Tina Fey jr suck…. Gervais doesnt give a funk, and has the GUTS to poke fun at 2 Hollywood “NO NOs” …transsexuals/gays & the jewish establishment. ALL people need to lighten up and learn how to take a joke.

  2. Jo says:

    I watched an hour of the Golden Globe Awards and then just had to switch the station. It was painful to keep watching as it wasn’t really funny or all that entertaining. What I observed is this; for a start something I have noticed has been happening for a while now, SWEARING! Why is there swearing on a show like the Golden Globe Awards? What happened to a clean entertaining show. As for the people chosen to host such an elaborate vent, why not put someone that has some respectful history behind him or her. For a start, Harrison Ford. He would have made a great host. No offensive and maybe it is just me that finds Ricky Gervais, slightly somewhat ANNOYING!. Even Tina and Amy were not right to host the show. Again, it could be just me, but bring back older, wiser and more experienced people, please!!! Older people and especially over the age of sixty, these days, are the ones that not only have skills,communication and great stage presence, but also know how to basically run a show and treat a large crowd. Let bring back older people and not only in shows like this, but for movies and employment and so on, because without them, we are slowly loosing all the great values man kind brings to the universe. Lets hope the Academy Awards are better. It has to be understood also, the actors of once upon a time, were very different to the actors today. Everything worthy takes time, patience, hard work and control of oneself in any situation. If actors do not have or embrace these behaviours and qualities, then they get forgotten as time goes by. Also Ricky, for the record, a good host does not need to poke fun, embarrass and/ or try and humiliate celebrities and assume it is all part of entertainment. A good host works with people and doesn’t try to over power them with a stupid mouth.

  3. QueenMDNA says:

    Your take seems to be just about the complete opposite of mine. Gervais was definitely the MOST predictable part of the show. Jamie Fox’s “Steve Harvey” bit wasn’t a bright spot but simply a(nother) disrespectful egomaniac stealing the spotlight of someone else’s moment. The JLaw/Amy and Mark/Will pairings were both fresh and funny, and so (surprisingly) was Jim Carrey. The best part of the night was a cutaway shot of Titanic pair Kate and Leo talking to each other during a commercial break. The producers are correct in that the spur-of-the-moment aspects of the show are the best, but they try to stimulate that off-the-cuff atmosphere in the wrong way. They should make the presentations 100% unscripted and call people from the audience up AT RANDOM and pair them RANDOMLY with other people from the audience and that would give them the vibe they keep trying – and failing – to achieve. And speaking of JLaw and Amy – I think they would make great co-hosts in the same vein as Tina and (that other) Amy… who were sorely missed this year.

  4. LGMike says:

    Golden Globes have, in my opinion” been going the wrong way for serveral years. Last nights bleeped messages just proves they don’t have a clue as to what a good awards show should be.
    I would still like to know how you can nominate “The Martian” as a “musical or comedy” move. It is a dramatic movie. This is not to say it doesn’t deserve an award, but not this way.
    Also, the top rated TV show for many years in comedy has been “Big Bang ” and it was not even nominated. Does the Hollywood Foreign Press not know good, or are they just plain stupid.
    There is also a big difference between TV broadcast and cable/stream video. If they want to be correct, it should be two distinct categories ( see Peoples choice awards). And stop being snobbish about what is good or award winning.

  5. Dunstan says:

    Brian, one correction: Eva Longoria and America Ferrara were not “messing up each others’ names;” they were humorously chastising those in the public who can’t seem to remember which Hispanic actress is which. I thought that was one of the best bits of the evening.

  6. Nancy says:

    I want to know when the awards will separate network TV series from cable and premium channel series. Networks cannot win against the cable and premium channels with the limitations set forth on them. It’s not fair to them.

  7. lboles says:

    I have always enjoyed the Golden Globes, but when I learned who the MC was, I decided to watch something else. Sounds as if my decision was a wise one.

  8. Evelyn Owens says:

    The Golden Globe Awards show was disgusting—foul language with bleeps–some totally unprepared —those who announced the category and the receivers. Also, some of the gowns were
    disgraceful.need to present themselves appropriately. I changed channels.

  9. Nancy says:

    Ricky Gervais was very rude in his MC spot last night. He may think he is being funny but found his jokes embarrassing and not very proper to jab at those sitting in the audience. Why not find a host who is kind and considerate of those who have very sensitive feelings.

  10. Eliades Pastor says:

    The audio levels were a mess covering up dialogue blaring at breaks – very bush production values.

  11. Fred Mertz, Jr. says:

    Frankly, I thought Mel Gibson had the best line of the evening.

  12. I agree this was the worst GG award show in years. Several awards predictably went to those who don’t have a chance in hell for an Oscar. The Martian and The Big Short in the comedy category…? Perhaps that WAS the joke. Gervais’ comment that this award is bought and sold seemed uncomfortably accurate.

  13. Howard Carey says:

    Blowry so sad. Sorry you have to work as a demolition “expert” without any tools. Chin up buddy maybe one day you’ll be invited to the party. Have you ever hosted anything? Poker game? Cookout? Keep blowing!

  14. mightymad says:

    Seriously, this was one of the worst directed award shows I’ve ever watched.
    Directing tip 101: if you’re looking for reactions shots in the audience, make sure you’re not picking the ones when your subject has absolutely no reaction whatsoever. Regardless of how famous said subject is.

    It’s telling that the most professional person in this whole production was Gervais – he did exactly what he was expected to do.

  15. John Freimann says:

    Why no mention of ALL the commercials? That had a great deal to do with the length and “stupor” of the show.

  16. Jacques Strappe says:

    Good, even-handed review. I found myself channel surfing during much of the telecast

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