Golden Globes: Fey, Poehler bring the barbs but soften the bite

Kudocast's co-hosts bring tonal shift from Ricky Gervais' approach

Well, that wasn’t so bad.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler shared a stint on “Saturday Night Live,” and their opening to the Golden Globes presentation felt a bit like a “Weekend Update” segment — a little hit-miss, occasionally quite funny, barbed, perhaps, but never cutting enough to break the skin. In that respect, they appear to represent a safer choice than Ricky Gervais, whose balls-to-the-wall approach clearly touched some nerves, even if it brought the show welcome and unexpected attention.

Fey and Poehler took playful jabs at various stars in the room, but the best line went out to “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow, whose film has engendered controversy for its depiction of the efficacy of harsh interrogation techniques. “When it comes to torture, I trust a lady who spent three years married to James Cameron,” Poehler deadpanned, appropriately bringing down the house.

Of course, having the two NBC stars handle the hosting chores also amounted to additional promotion for the network, which didn’t seem to even try hiding its interest in turning the show into a brazen promo opportunity at every turn.

Even the network’s arrivals show — featuring Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and other members of the “Today” crew — spoke to the desire to use the showcase to trumpet its key franchises, looking for any edge in its dogfight with “Good Morning America.” Small wonder both Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon earned time on the red carpet, for no reason other than intramural pom-pom waving.

The assignment also highlighted just how lightly regarded morning TV’s “news” component is, although at least there was slightly more talk about the actual movies before leaping straight to “Who are you wearing?”